Richard H. Ryder, 2017
As we all know, Freemasonry is a membership based organization that always requires men to regularly join and keep the member population growing. As you bring friends and family members into the Craft it is important to realize that your responsibility may not end there. As his sponsor you have a role and a responsibility to help the applicant and candidate during those first few formative months until he becomes engaged in the lodge. It is during this critical period that he will shape his impression of Freemasonry and the direction he will take following his third degree.
Remember when you first inquired about Freemasonry? Maybe you did some research online or read Freemasonry for Dummies. Maybe you viewed a DVD on Freemasonry or discussed Freemasonry with someone who was a Mason. Maybe you attended an open house or was referred to a lodge via Grand Lodge. At some point you met members of your lodge to learn more. Liking what you heard and saw, you completed an application and soon were taking your degrees. Then, you tried to determine where you fit in.
Most likely this whole process took several months. Where you left alone without someone to guide you through the process, answer questions, and mentor you? If you had a good sponsor then you probably had a good experience. Someday, hopefully soon, you may have the opportunity to recommend someone for membership. If so, you will be their sponsor and when this happens how do you know what to do?
Here are some roles, responsibilities, and resources to help you.
Working closely with the applicant and candidate, ensure he receives a positive experience up to and beyond his third degree. As a mentor, assist the new member in becoming actively engaged in the lodge in whatever capacity makes sense. To increase your effectiveness as a sponsor, expand your understanding of Freemasonry.
- Single point of contact for the candidate from the time of appointment as sponsor until the candidate successfully completes all required Lodge of Instruction sessions
- Attend all events attended by the candidate, including:
- regular lodge meetings
- lodge instructor sessions
- lodge of Instruction
- Be available to the candidate via phone, email, or in person to mentor, answer questions and participate in problem resolution
- Be aware of Lodge of Instruction objectives and topics
- Serve as a mentor during the candidate’s first year of membership, answering questions, encouraging participation in lodge events, and, as able, attending lodge meetings with the candidate
- Strengthen skills by gaining:
- a working knowledge of the Candidate Lectures
- a working knowledge of the book “Freemasonry in Massachusetts”; especially the following topics: the three degrees, symbols, rituals, the organization of a lodge and Freemasonry, and Masonic protocol
There will be times when the person recommending a member cannot fulfill the responsibilities of a sponsor. During these times someone from the lodge must serve in this capacity. It is best to anticipate this may happen and the lodge should be prepared. Consider someone in the lodge who is knowledgeable, personable, and has time to fulfill the responsibilities of a sponsor. A Past Master or junior officer may be the ideal person. Work with the member to understand the responsibilities listed above; provide and point out the listed resources. Encourage the member to learn as much as he can about the application and degree process.
Partial Booklist for the Sponsor
- Freemasonry in Massachusetts
- Freemasonry for Dummies
- Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry
- The Craft and Its Symbols
Internal and External Resources for the Sponsor
- Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
- Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA
- Lodge officers
- Lodge ambassador/membership chairman