The Worshipful Master

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The Master or Worshipful Master, as he is sometimes known, is the highest ranking member of a lodge. This position rotates annually, so that eventually almost anyone in a lodge may hold the position for a year. The Master is similar to the President of a club or association – he is the highest authority in the lodge and he presides over Mason’s meetings or lodges.

Conspiracy theorists make much of the fact that lodges are overseen by men known as “Worshipful Masters,” and some argue that Masons must obey these Masters in all matters or suggest that the term “Worshipful” suggests that Freemasonry is a cult. In fact, this is not the case. The Master is elected by his fellow Masons and is still answerable to higher authorities in Freemasonry. He cannot overstep his authority and is not allowed to simply do what he likes; what the Worshipful Master says and does in the lodge is carefully dictated by the rites and rules of Freemasonry. The term “Worshipful” Master is merely a term of respect and certainly does not suggest that the Master must be worshipped in any way. The term is similar to the term “your honor,” sometimes used when referring to people of high office. Finally, since members of a lodge select a new Worshipful Master each year, the office is in fact very democratic and inclusive and is certainly not as dictatorial as conspiracy theorists suggest.

Although there is much mystery and confusion surrounding the office of the Worshipful Master among those who are not Masons, the office is in fact very similar to the office of a president of a local civic or volunteer organization. Just as such a president does not demand service or undue obedience, the same is true of the Worshipful Master of a lodge.

The duties of a Worshipful Master vary slightly from lodge to lodge, but may include:

1) Opening and closing lodges or meetings, which includes calling everyone to order and initiating rites to confer degrees.

2) Agreeing with and obeying the laws and rules of Master and Grand Lodges. Although local lodges may pass by-laws, the Worshipful Master must ensure that these laws do not curtail, oppose, or in other ways alter the laws or regulations of the Master or Grand Lodge.

3) Assemble a lodge. A Worshipful Master may call a lodge into session at his will, to confer degrees or to conduct other business appropriate to the lodge.

4) Oversee all lodge business and work. A Worshipful Master oversees and controls his lodge, deciding when things will begin and end. He has a gavel that helps him gain control over the room. A Worshipful Master can second motions, suggest motions, vote, and so forth. Only a Deputy or Grand Master can suspend this authority, and generally only when there is something very wrong (i.e. if a Worshipful Master attempts to do something counter to the rules of Freemasonry).

5) Confer degrees.

6) Resolve issues that have gone to vote and have resulted in a tie.

7) Decide who will enter and leave a lodge. A Worshipful Master may deny any visitor or Mason entrance to a lodge and may ask a Mason to leave, although generally he must have good reasons for such actions.

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