Duties of an Investigating Committee

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 organization.

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 Masonry.

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 committee.

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.