From About Freemasons
Officers are the members of a lodge who are either elected or appointed for specific offices or roles when the lodge meets. In most Jurisdictions, officers serve their offices for one year. Officers usually have their duties, titles, and ceremonies based on customs and traditions. Like the officials in 1400s England, Masons proclaim their titles by wearing jewels which serve as badges of office. Today's masons use symbolic jewels only.
Officers in a Lodge
Every regular craft Lodge has a number of officers including: The Worshipful Master, The Senior Warden, The Junior Warden, The Senior Deacon, The Junior Deacon, the Treasurer, and the Secretary. However, depending on the jurisdiction and the lodge, a Lodge may have different names for their officers or may have fewer or more officers. Despite this, Masons traveling from one jurisdiction to another and visiting recognized lodges in that jurisdiction will be able to recognize the basic officers at their destination.
Masonic officers are part of a succession line that is referred to as "going through the chairs." This means that a Mason holding office one year will move up in position providing that he does a good job. For example, if a man becomes a junior steward, if he does a good job and continues to work at it he will be able to be a worshipful Master in seven years.
Masons are not supposed to campaign to be an officer. That is one reason why each mason simply advances from office to office depending on the year. It ensures that no lodge has to deal with a political campaign or a juggling for power. And eventually, the idea is that most men will be able to hold each of the positions available. This system of gaining office also serves to enhance the tenets of brotherhood and the equality Freemasonry preaches. No matter what a man's economic or social position in the lodge or outside of it, he can still become Master of the Lodge at some point in his career.
The Worshipful Master is the head of the craft Lodge. He sits in the east area of the lodge room, because the east is symbolic of the rising sun. The Worshipful Master is similar to the chairman, president, or other leader of an organization. He determines the actions of the lodge and his word is the final say on any conflict or any issue that requires resolution. The Master is also responsible for providing instruction to Masons and for ensuring that the lodge works as a whole. He is the person who confers degrees officially and presides over lodge meetings. The Master’s symbolic jewel of office is the right angle of the square. This is the tool that stonemasons once used to ensure that an angle was correct. In modern Freemasonry, this jewel of office represents virtue and truth.
The Senior Warden is the officer who helps the Master close and open the lodge meetings. The Senior Warden sits in the west end of the large room, which is considered symbolic of the sun set. The Senior Warden is considered to be the vice president or second-in-command. Therefore, if the Master is not able to attend a lodge meeting, The Senior Warden is allowed to conduct business, open the lodge, and do everything necessary in order to head the meeting. The symbolic jewel of office for The Senior Warden is the level. For Freemasons, this represents that all masons are equal.
The Junior Warden is third in command at a lodge meeting and generally supervises the Masons during periods when the meeting is in recess. In some cases, he is allowed to open meetings when the Master and Senior Warden are unable to attend. The Junior Warden sits in the south end of the large room, because this is symbolic of midday, the traditional time of breaking for refreshment. In today's lodges, The Junior Warden is usually responsible for arranging refreshments or meals at a lodge meeting, often with the steward's help. The symbolic jewel of office for The Junior Warden is the plum. This is a tool that stonemasons traditionally used to verify the alignment of a surface. This tool is traditionally used on vertical surfaces and therefore symbolizes “upright” conduct.
The Senior Deacon is the messenger for the Master. He sits to the right of the Master and escorts and welcomes new candidates and visitors into the lodge. If a Lodge has a visitor, The Senior Deacon will usually introduce them to the lodge. During rituals, he guides in new candidates around the large room. The Senior Deacon is also responsible for opening and closing the sacred volume at large meetings and for lighting for extinguishing the candles that surround the sacred book at the altar. When members are voted in, The Senior Deacon in many lodges is also the person in charge of the ballot box. The Senior Deacon, like The Junior Deacon, carries a long rod. This is symbolic of the wand that the Roman god Mercury, also messenger, carried. The rods are topped by the jewels of office, which for The Senior Deacon are a square and compass with the sun in the middle. This jewel represents the fact that The Senior Deacon is there to assist the Master.
The Junior Deacon is the messenger to The Senior Warden and is also the doorman of the lodge, guarding the door while the lodge is in session. The Junior Deacon usually sits to the right of The Senior Warden and communicates with the Tyler to ensure that no one interrupts the meeting unnecessarily. In some Jurisdictions, The Junior Deacon’s office is split into two offices -- that of The Junior Deacon and that of the inner guard. The symbolic jewel of office for The Junior Deacon is a square and a compass with a moon at the center. The symbolizes that The Junior Deacon is in the West
The Senior and Junior Stewards assist The Junior Warden with all his duties and also set up the large room for meetings. They help new candidates who must prepare for their degree rituals and bring them into the large room when a rite is about to be performed. In some cases, they help the wait staff and the kitchen staff of the lodge. The stewards carry a rod that are topped with the jewels of their offices, which are the cornucopia. This symbolizes the food that the stewards are often responsible for.