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The investigation committee is one of, if not THE most important aspects of admitting new members into the fraternity. The investigation committee is supposed to meet with the candidate, discover more of their motives, and ensure they are of good character. They are a key influence on the vote of the lodge.
I remember my own investigation committee. I had submitted my petition and was told about what to expect next: a few people would contact to meet with me, my references would be contacted, and my petition would be voted on next month, etc.
It wasn’t until the day of the next stated meeting that I contacted the lodge asking when this investigation was supposed to take place. I was told, “Oh, they haven’t met with you? Just come on by the lodge before the meeting.” I felt like the entire investigation was shallow and rushed. How could you possibly know me in 15 minutes? I was still excitedly anxious to hear the outcome of the vote, but I remember leaving with the impression like it wasn’t important or I didn’t have to prove myself worthy for a noble fraternity.
Looking back, the investigation committee isn’t only for the lodge, but it is also for the candidate. Going through a proper investigation assures the potential member that their character was looked into and they still found worthy.
Moreso, the lodge needs to protect the West gate and only allow members who will conform to the tradition, customs, and rules. There are many who know of the reputation of Masons and would like to become a Mason to feel prestigious and exclusive by becoming a Mason in title alone without ever changing themselves.
Think about it, according to some Grand Lodge rules, one member’s “blackball” could reject all future candidates. If a lodge admits an unsavory character and permits him to pass to a Master Mason, that member could potentially cast a blackball and reject every single future candidate petitioning the lodge, thus killing the lodge. As all ballots are secret and against code to share or reveal your vote, no one would ever know.
On the other hand, a proper investigation committee could also prepare the candidate for a great experience.
Here are a few of my suggestions to run a great investigation committee:
- Check their Facebook page; what kind of character do they portray themselves as?
- Do a basic Google Search for their name.
- Check public records, many states release public records for crimes.
- Meet in their home. Is their home in order? Is their spouse aware and supportive of them joining?
- Are they aware of the time and financial obligations?
- Did you call and speak with their character references and masonic recommends?
How was your investigation committee experience? What have you seen done well? What have you seen that could be improved upon.
There are some Grand Lodges running a one-day classes to mass initiate a group of candidates. Essentially, they go through all three degrees in one day. There is only one actual candidate and the rest are viewing from the seats. There is very little if any memorization work involved.
Many of us when joining Freemasonry, don’t really know what we are getting ourselves in to. Sure, we’ve done preliminary reading, research, and talking with others. But at the end of the day, we can’t verify if what’s said is true until we embark on the journey ourselves.
One of the assurances given us is: as all have done who have gone this way before. This simple phrase has a lot of meaning. 1) That you know all the men in the lodge, as well as all the great men of history, have experienced the exact same thing you are about to go through. If if you are familiar of their character, should assuage some of the fears. This is not some degrading college fraternity. 2) You are about the experience the exact same thing that all Masons around the world have gone through.
When comparing any topic, I usually like to consider the extremes to find the issue at hand and take a middle ground. Let’s take this to the extreme: If going through the motions or viewing the ritual makes one a Mason, or if our motives is to initiate as many men due to time constraints, why not have an online video? Men can pay to view the video online then TADA! They are now masons (I’m saying this facetiously here.)
We CANNOT Cheapen the experience. We need to stop making Masons by title only.
Some arguments I have heard for the one day Classes include: “What if a brother in the military is being deployed? What if a lodge doesn’t have enough members to confer the degree.” You’ll hear me harp on this a lot. This should be the exception and NOT the rule.
If anything, I think these would be the only circumstances a candidate should go through such a class. Even then, there are ways to accommodate these situations. A military brother could simply wait. Nothing wrong with that. A visiting lodge, or even Grand Lodge Officers, could help the lodge put on the degree.
I would imagine the candidate being deployed would want to still have the full experience. President Abraham Lincoln submitted a petition to his local lodge but decided to postpone until after his election. As you know how the story goes, he never made it past his presidency.