Duties of an Investigating Committee

Date: Saturday, July 10, 1999 1:04 PM



By Bro. William Simpson, Hanna No. 78

The Investigating Committee can be considered the most 
important committee in a Masonic Lodge. It is the duty of the 
members to realize that the quality of the accepted 
candidate is paramount to the establishment of a sound 
membership in the Lodge.

The outside world judges Freemasonry and Freemasons not 
always by the good and true, not always by the men who are 
ready to assist others, but by those who have failed to 
realize the true value of Freemasonry, its great teachings 
and high ideals.

It is admitted that it takes all sorts of men to make a world. It 
is also undeniable that good, bad and indifferent are found 
in every circle of life. Human nature is a peculiar quality, but 
as Freemasons it is our duty not only to speak the word, but 
to practice in our daily lives those attributes which have so 
often been heard and .expressed' by our Brethren.

The responsibility of the Investigating Committee is indeed 
important. Therefore, members selected by the Worshipful 
Master to serve on this committee should be chosen with 
care and should preferably be Brethren who are not well 
acquainted with the petitioner, so that no personal bias 
would be likely to enter into their eventual report. All 
members of the Lodge should consider that they have a 
responsibility in connection with the selection of candidates 
and should forthwith report to the Master of the Lodge if they 
are in doubt regarding the character of the petitioner.

The first steps that should be taken by the committee on 
being notified of their responsibility should be to visit the 
petitioner at his home. Other inquiries will develope his 
reputation. Skilful interviews with the petitioner will go far to 
reveal what he actually is and will give some information as 
to his general approach. Careful observation may do much 
to confirm or to dispel first impressions.

If the petitioner is married the interview should be conducted 
in the presence of his wife; in this way it may be ascertained 
whether or not she approves his seeking admission into 
Freemasonry; if a wife disapproves of the application for 
membership there is every possibility of difficulty at some 
stage of membership. It should be made clear that the family 
of the petitioner is entirely clear that Freemasonry is not a 
benefit society, insurance avenue or burial organization and 
that members are not generally entitled to assistance other 
than that extended gratuitously to those who, through no 
fault of their own, have met with misfortune.

If the wife and family have a basic understanding of 
Freemasonry at the outset it is likely to assist the petitioner 
if admitted, and to clarify their understanding of our 

Members of the Investigating Committee should not hesitate 
to ask personal questions and should be rigidly strict as if 
the petitioner were seeking admission to their own homes. 
An applicant is seeking something of Freemasonry and it is 
the absolute right of the committee to be fully informed 
regarding him before the privileges of Freemasonry are 
granted him.

In addition to the interview information should be sought 
from the employer or from fellow employees who may be in 
a position to give valuable information. Obtaining the names 
of members of the petitioner's family who are members of 
the Order would also be of value. The reason for inquiries 
should generally not be divulged and, as a period of sixty 
days is usually granted for securing information undue hurry 
is not at all necessary.

When the committee has completed the investigation and 
are prepared to compile their report, the following questions 
should be seriously considered.

What is the conception of the petitioner with respect to 

What he thinks Masons seek to accomplish by their 
association, one with another.

Whether he is of a charitable disposition and contributes to 
charitable causes as far as his means will permit.

Whether he is charitable in thought and action toward his 
fellowman, or bigoted and prejudiced, considering all men in 
error who do not view life along his own particular vision.

What Church affiliation, if any, he may have and the 
religious connections of his family.

What his financial position is and whether he is considered 
altogether reliable and whether he is in a position to 
maintain the responsibility of Masonry without detriment to 
his family.

Whether the members of the family concur in his desire to 
affiliate himself with Masonry.

No set of questions can be compiled on a hard and fast 
basis; the character of the petitioner will doubtless suggest 
avenues of investigation and the committee should be fully 
sure of their ground before making the necessary report to 
the Lodge, this being a vital part of the duty of the 

While we do not expect perfection in an applicant it is 
essential that there must be a foundation upon which we can 
build; there must be intellect and character to grasp what 
Freemasonry has to offer, always bearing in mind that a 
Masonic Lodge is not a reformatory, but is, rather, an 
institution which has for its chief objective the making of 
good men into better men. Unless there is basic strength of 
character in the petitioner the likelihood of the objective 
being accomplished has little chance of success.