THE INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE
This article is the small fold-up booklet printed by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia dated Sept 1989
One of the most significant tasks of the Master of a Lodge is the appointment of committees to investigate petitioners. The importance of choosing brothers who will project the precepts that we, as Masons, are dedicated to cannot be over-emphasized. The first impression of the Lodge's fraternalism is made by the brothers who officially represent it. Moreover, the petitioner's Masonic future will be permanently affected by the manner in which the investigators conduct themselves and do their work. Hence the image left with the petitioner must be above reproach.
CHOOSING AN INVESTIGATING TEAM
Care should be exercised by the Worshipful Master to select Masons who:
- Are active in the meetings and functions of the Lodge.
- Have displayed a knowledge of Freemasonry (The number of years a brother has been a member doesn't insure Masonic awareness).
- Are enthusiastically involved in improving Masonry through excellence within and without the lodge.
- Are able to express themselves in an expeditious manner.
- Are truthful when relating personal observations.
- Are prudent in their everyday dealings with others.
- Are thorough when doing a job.
- Are likely to be there when the petitioner is elected and receives his degrees.
- Have attended a training session for investigators.
- Are not related to or a close friend of the petitioner.
You should choose at least three members of the lodge to perform this important duty, thus insuring that you will receive a variety of reports on the character of the man being investigated.
Members of the team should work independently of each other, making their own appointments to meet at the convenience of the petitioner.
PREPARATION FOR THE INTERVIEW
Each member of the team should prepare for the interview by becoming familiar with the information supplied on the application. Investigators should take particular note of:
- The petitioner's occupation and place of employment.
- Marital status.
- Number and ages of children.
- Health and physical status.
- Application history.
The investigator should leave with the petitioner a package of Masonic information containing the following, if available:
- The Voice of Freemasonry.
- Friend to Friend pamphlet.
- Freemasonry, A Way of Life.
Preparations to be made by the investigator prior to the visit include:
- Making an appointment well in advance of the desired meeting date and place, which should be at the petitioner's home.
- Having at least two dates available in case your first choice cannot be met by the petitioner.
- Making the appointment at a time convenient for the petitioner and his family.
- Requesting that as many as possible of the family be present.
- Wearing a jacket and tie.
- Remembering that you have only one chance to make a first impression.
Call the night before to confirm the appointment. Make sure you arrive on time. Being too early is just as bad as being late. Introduce yourself. (Give the position you hold or have held in the Lodge.) Refuse a drink if it is offered! You aren't making a social call. Present the package of information, giving a very brief explanation of each pamphlet. Make sure that the petitioner is informed of:
- The meeting dates of the Lodge.
- The cost of yearly dues and assessments (Can he financially afford being a Mason?).
- The cost of the three degrees.
- The commitment he must make when receiving the degrees.
- The memory work that is required.
Ask what the petitioner expects to gain by joining the fraternity. Find out the extent of his involvement in his church. Confirm that he isn't an atheist. Be attentive to the reactions of his wife and family and be ready to answer their questions. Discuss other organizations related to Masonry which may interest others in the family, such as DeMolay and the Order of the Eastern Star.
Explain that Freemasonry is not a religion with a plan of personal salvation, but a philosophy that is in keeping with religious devotion and good morals. A good Mason should be a good churchman, and in his church he will find his plan of salvation.
Emphasize that Freemasonry is not a political organization. It endorses no candidates or political party, and permits no partisan political discussions within its Lodges. It does instill patriotism and admonishes Masons to be good citizens. In all matters, it teaches men to think for themselves.
Make sure that the petitioner appreciates that Freemasonry is not a means of promoting selfish interests.
Make your meeting as brief as possible, don't overstay your welcome, but make sure all questions are answered satisfactorily beforeyou leave.
If you don't know the answer to a question, be big enough to admit it. Write the question down, find the answer, and share it with the petitioner as soon as you can.
If possible, invite the petitioner to a Lodge function in order to introduce him to the Master and other members of the Lodge.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Fill out the investigation form. Do not do this during the interview. Have the courage to make a report recommending rejection if you would not careto take this petitioner by the hand as a brother.
Be prepared to make a verbal report in open Lodge if requested by the Master.
Give the brothers who signed the petition the courtesy of an explanation, if your findings are not favorable.
Join the petition signers in attending the meetings when the candidate is receiving his degrees.
Insure that the candidate feels welcome by introducing him to the membership of the Lodge.
Be ready to assist the candidate in any way you can.
WHAT A PETITIONER MAY EXPECT FROM FREEMASONRY
A way of life, one of high ideals, which makes a person a better man in all respects.
A wonderful fellowship, present, past, and future. Present because of the association to be found among Masons. Past because of the great Masons of other years, whose heritage is an incentive to us. Future, for Masonry belongs to the ages.
An opportunity to serve Masonry—which means service to God, country, and fellow man.
A special kind of education, which cannot be found anywhere else.
Assistance in time of great need. Obviously with fees and dues so small, Lodges cannot provide an insurance program, but there are many other ways of helping those in distress.
WHAT FREEMASONRY EXPECTS OF lTS PETITIONERS
Loyalty to the Fraternity, his family, country, and God.
Brotherly love for all mankind.
Belief in freedom of thought, speech, and action so far as it is compatible with the rights of others.
Enmity of ignorance, falsehood, bigotry, oppression, atheism, and all else that makes for spiritual, mental, and physical servitude.
Participation in the relief of the widow, the orphan, the weak and the oppressed.
Exemplary behavior demonstrative of the high calling of Masons.
After the interview the petitioner should have an excellent understanding of the Fraternity in which he desires membership. He has thus already begun a course of instruction and indoctrination which will make him a loyal and active member of the Craft. Such a Mason will support our Fraternity and add to its greatness.