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masonic matters

Investigating Committee

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

“Many individuals have, like uncut diamonds, shining qualities beneath a rough exterior.” Juvenal

“Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.” Samuel Johnson March 1776

Dear Brother___________,

I am appointing you as a member of the investigating committee for the enclosed petitioner. All the paperwork you need is enclosed in this large envelope. When you have completed the investigation please either mail or give the completed investigation form to me, so that the petition for this man and your investigation report can be read at our next stated communication.

Being on an Investigation Committee is an honor, but it is also a responsibility; I am confident that you will make sure that your duties as an investigator are carried out in a friendly but thorough way, and that you will leave the petitioner and his family a good impression of yourself and our Lodge.

A man’s journey into Freemasonry begins with his petition, and it continues by meeting Masons who are on this committee who will do their best to get to know him and help him get to know us. His journey may continue on through the three degrees and for the rest of his life if he is elected to receive the degrees by the brethren of the Lodge, or it may end quickly; we will find this out when his petition is voted on at our next Stated Communication. It is at this beginning stage, when you are visiting with him, that some questions are asked and answered both by you as the investigator, and by the petitioner and his wife.

A very basic, important duty and privilege the Master of a Lodge has is to be the one who selects and appoints the committee to investigate petitioners for the degrees and also for membership. The importance in selecting the Brothers who will project the tenets and virtues that we Masons are dedicated to by a proper, dignified and friendly representation of our Lodge and the Brethren cannot be overemphasized, and that is the reason I’m appointing you as an investigator. In addition to the brothers who signed the petition for this man it is you and the other two brethren on the investigating committee that deliver the first impression the petitioner and his wife have of our Lodge. It is from this first impression that he will base his opinion, and will also be investigating us, to know how we act and to learn what may be expected of him in regards to his actions should we elected him to be with us in Freemasonry. Therefore, the brethren who are appointed to be an investigator need to do their utmost to conduct themselves in a manner that is above reproach, and I have complete confidence in you to do that.

Those I have appointed to be on the investigation committee are known only to me, you are not to be known to each other. You are to call and make an appointment as an individual member of this Lodge. Should the petitioner mention another Mason, coming to call, resist the temptation to be there at that time too, instead make your meeting with him for just you and he and his wife. Investigators are not to complete the investigation as a team.

The following are suggestions that I offer to each and every Mason I appoint as an investigator should they be needed and wanted.

Phone to set up an appointment well in advance of the meeting, and try to set it up at the petitioner’s home.

Later phone to confirm the appointment, and suggest that his wife’s presence would be nice.

Dress appropriately, you will be a guest in the petitioner’s home and you should behave as a guest, and that begins with arriving on time. Being a good guest helps make a good first impression.

You should introduce yourself and give the position you hold, or have held in Lodge, or in our Grand Lodge.

If an alcoholic drink is offered, refuse it. This is not merely a social call; it is to respond to this man’s request, through his petition to our Lodge for the degrees of Masonry.

When the time is appropriate present the enclosed information about Masonry, which includes the dates and times of our Stated Communications; the amount of the annual dues; the commitment a petitioner needs to make when he is receiving the degrees, including the education and proficiency that is required here in Minnesota.

Ask him what he 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 Freemasonry, which may interest others in the family, such as DeMolay, Job’s Daughters, and the Order of the Eastern Star.”

Additionally you as an investigator will want to make sure he is a man of good morals, and that he does not consistently use foul language in his conversation;

You should, if it comes up, tell the petitioner 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. That our fraternity is not a political organization; it does not permit partisan political discussions within its Lodges, but it does instill patriotism and expects its adherents to be good citizens; it does not tell a man what to think or believe, it teaches men to think for themselves.

Make your meeting as brief as possible, don't overstay your welcome, but make sure all questions are answered satisfactorily before you leave. And if you don't know the answer to a question, be big enough to say so; write the question down, find the answer, or come to me for my help, and give the answer to the petitioner as soon as you are able.

At the end of your visit you may want to leave him with some information, such as some booklets from the Masonic Information Center, which are enclosed with this letter. I recommend “What is a Mason?” “Who are the Masons and what do they do?” “There’s no Sin in Symbols;” “Friend to Friend pamphlet;” and “Freemasonry - A Way of Life.” Use any or all of them as you see fit.

If possible, invite the petitioner to an upcoming open Lodge function so he can see our building and meet some of our members and families. If you do this please know you will be one who helps in introducing him to others at the function, and to act as a good host.

Sincerely and fraternally,

I. M. Friendly
Master of Pleasant Outlook Lodge #1

“Come; give us a taste of your quality.” Shakespeare – Hamlet.

From the Great light of Masonry = “Give thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12 NIV

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Last modified: March 22, 2014