Useful information from the Grand Secretary

I wish to explain the process of becoming a Mason and a member of a lodge in Rhode Island. We have one approved application form which is the only version all lodges should be using. All information, such as names and dates on the application should be clearly printed.

When the application for the degrees of Freemasonry comes in, the first step is to contact Grand Lodge with the candidate’s name and date of birth. Grand Lodge will apply for the National Background Check. All candidate applications should be accompanied by a check made out to the lodge, or cash to cover the cost of the National Background Check. Once Grand Lodge notifies the secretary that the candidate is “clear” his application can be read in open lodge and an investigation committee can be formed. The investigation reports must be returned to the lodge secretary before the next meeting so he may publish the name in the monthly notice and inform the members that a ballot will he held.

After the ballot is held, the secretary should inform the candidate of the outcome and either let him know that he can re-apply later if he was rejected, or that he was accepted and when he will be expected to come to the lodge for his first degree. The secretary should also have the candidate entered into the “ROLLS” database.

When an application is submitted for affiliation, the brother applying should either supply a demit form or at the least, the information about the lodge he belongs or belonged to. If he is from another jurisdiction, the Grand Lodge of must be contacted to obtain a “letter of good standing” from his home jurisdiction. Once that is obtained, the name is published for the ballot to take place. The applicant’s dates of degrees as well as his mother lodge information should be entered into ROLLS. If he is an “unaffiliated Mason”, that is, not a current member of a lodge anywhere, a National Background Check must be performed. The degree dates are always necessary.

The best thing you can do when in doubt is to call the office and get the advice you need. The importance of entering everything into the ROLLS database cannot be stressed enough. This is the job of the secretary and once all the information is entered, it is not difficult to keep it updated. It is most important that all data be entered including birth dates, spouse’s name, etc.

A brother who is not a member of a lodge is known as an “unaffiliated Mason”, but he is still expected to live according to the obligations he took at the altar of Freemasonry. He loses all privileges of being a member of the Craft, he will not be eligible for Masonic charity, may not attend lodge meetings, and will also lose membership in the appendant bodies such as the York Rite and Scottish Rite.

Your membership in the Craft is one of your most valuable assets. Do not let it fade away for lack of attention. Keep your lodge up to date on your contact information.

I wish to thank M\W\Charles B. Fowler, Jr., PGM, of Connecticut, for the inspiration and for allowing me to use most of his article.