The Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite Of Freemasonry
Orient of Florida, Valley of Jacksonville AASRVJ
Knights of Light Education Series
Getting the Call, to the Ceremony; The red Tape of Masonic Funerals
One of the most important ceremonies we can provide is the last rites for our fellow brother.
You have received a call from a grieving family member about a brother in your lodge. Even if you are not the Worshipful master of your lodge this call may still be come to you. What do you say, what do you ask, how do you proceed? This is a time where emotions for the family members is high, so accuracy in information provided, and empathy of their situation is of the utmost importance. So, what do you do? This presentation is to provide you a quick list of the dos and don’ts of masonic funerals. But it is important to state upfront this is not all encompassing, and, when in doubt, it is ok to tell someone you don’t know, and need to ask someone who does, and let them know you are doing it so to make sure they are getting accurate information.
One of the first questions you must establish an answer for is, if the Brother is a Master Mason in Good Standing. Whereby special dispensation may be granted, for the most part if a brother is not in good standing, a masonic funeral can not be provided. Most occurrences of this happen due to NPD status. And this usually occurs when a brother has had an illness or advancing age, and this has caused his finances to be handled by another. A lodge with a strong Funeral committee will have a plan in place for this and how the lodge wishes to handle it. Some have a fund available to bring the brother back into good standing, others do not. There is nothing worse than to have to refuse Masonic Funeral services because a brother of 20, 30, 40 years or more feel ill and his family let his dues lapse. Have a plan or make one today.
Once you have learned the Brother is qualified to have the funeral, additional questions can quickly be asked and answered. Among them are the date, time, and type of funeral, and disposition of the brother. The answers to these questions will help the Funeral Worshipful Master prepare appropriately for the services to be rendered.
Next and optionally is the order of the services known. If the brother will receive military honors, we need to perform the services after the honors, so that the apron does not cover the flag. We can fit in our services wherever we need to around Police honors, religious aspects, or any other aspects of the service for that matter. Be ready to adjust where needed so as to make everything transpire as smoothly as possible.
Once you have these answers the last step is to contact the Funeral team to provide them the most amount of time available to practice and make things perfect. If possible the point of of contact for the family should introduce the Funeral Worshipful Master to the Widow, Orphans, etc…
1. Is the Brother a Master Mason in Good Standing
a. Check with the lodge secretary or Grand Lodge
2. What is the Date/time of the funeral?
3. What is the type of funeral?
a. Will it be graveside, in a chapel, in the lodge room, or some other arrangement
4. Disposition of the Brother
a. Is the Brother in a coffin, cremated, or is he not present?
5. Order of the services
a. Will there be Military, Police, or other honors, Religious aspects, or other parts to the ceremony?
6. Who is your Funeral Worshipful Master, and funereal team?
a. Not all lodges will have someone proficient in funerals, however all lodges should have a few members who can be at the ready to assist.
The Wilmer Atwell Addition and the Masonic Service Record
The ceremony in the blue book being what most are familiar with, begins with
“We have assembled here today as Freemasons to pay respects to the memory of Brother George Washington, who’s remains lie before us, and to intern him with Masonic Rites.”
After which the masonic service record is read, and the remainder of the ceremony begins and concludes.
The Wilmer Atwell Addition
What follows is the Wilmer Atwell addition. It is to be inserted after the intro above, and before the Brother’s service record.
But before I begin, I would like to make a few brief remarks about Freemasonry, and review Brother Washington’s Masonic record.
Freemasonry is a Fraternal order founded upon the brotherhood of man, under the fatherhood of God.
Freemasonry is not a religion, because it does not provide a system of faith, nor a plan of salvation. However, each man, must pledge his belief in God, before he can become a Mason.
Freemasonry being a moral institution, it teaches its initiates, brotherly love, truth, relief, and charity, more especially to the widows and orphans of its brothers.
Its universal objective is to take good men and make them better men.
Perhaps Brother Washington recognized these characteristics and traits in the men whom he knew were Freemasons, which lead him to seek membership in the order.
I use the word seek because Freemasonry does not solicit members, A man must seek out membership of his own free will and accord
Having conceived a favorable impression of the Ancient and Accepted fraternity, Brother Washington asked a Masonic friend to recommend him on his petition.
With this petition he sought initiation, knocked on the door of Freemasonry, and it was opened to him.
Masonic Service Record
The Masonic Service record is of extreme importance as it lists out all of the Masonic accomplishments of the brother. While I have not read any right or wrong ways to provide this during the ceremony, I have listed my approach and some key points to know and use.
The Masonic Service record should be broken up into three main parts. In the example I mark the areas. The first part is the dates of initiation, passing, and raising of the brother. Part two is of any Officer positions, proficiency cards, and education completions the brother has received. And lastly are any Service awards the brother may have received. The Service record is the concluded by announcing the total time the brother has been a Master Mason in Good Standing.
Be aware that if the Brother was made a Master Mason in a jurisdiction other than Florida, that all his information may not be included in the profile. Positions within the lodge, education, etc. may not show at all.
Although I was a Master of my lodge, and sat in all the officer’s positions, neither the W.M. nor none of the officer positions are shown in my history.
One place that can provide clarity is the title. This title can have Bro, indicating brother or a W, indicating Worshipful Master.
Accuracy of one’s record is also of concern and should be checked any time there is an addition or change to be made. At the very least a yearly routine of every brother to check their profile is well recommended.
Although I was a Child ID Chairman for several years, not all of those years are showing. Some fixes can be made by yourself in circumscribe, others your Secretary can adjust, still others may take assistance from the Grand Lodge.