The senior officer of a Masonic Lodge is the Master, normally addressed and referred to as the “Worshipful Master”. The Worshipful Master sits in the East of the lodge room, directs all of the business of his Lodge, and is vested with considerable powers without further reference to the members. He also presides over ritual and ceremonies.
The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. The office is filled by election, generally by means of a secret ballot. However, in most Lodges the progression is such that the post will usually be filled by the previous year’s Senior Warden.
Immediate Past Master
At the conclusion of his term of office, a Worshipful Master becomes known as the Immediate Past Master or IPM and will usually take the masters place if he in unable to attend for whatever reason.
The Senior Warden is the second of the three principal officers of a lodge, and is the Master’s principal deputy. In many Lodges it is presumed that the Senior Warden will become the next Worshipful Master.
The third of the principal officers is the Junior Warden. The Junior Warden is charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is in recess for meals or other social purposes.
The Wardens are regular officers of the Lodge, meaning that the positions must be filled.
The role of the Treasurer is to keep the accounts, collect annual dues from the members, pay bills, and forward annual dues to the Grand Lodge. The annual presentation of accounts is an important measure of the Lodge’s continuing viability, whilst the efficient collection of annual subscriptions is vitally important, as any lapse in payment (deliberate or unintentional) can lead to a member losing voting rights, being denied the opportunity to visit other lodges, and finally even being debarred or excluded from his own Lodge.
It is common for the Treasurer to be an experienced Past Master, but this is not required.
The Secretary’s official duties include issuing the summons (a formal notice of an impending meeting, with time, date and agenda), recording meeting minutes, completing statistical returns to the Grand Lodge, and advising the Worshipful Master on matters of procedure. Many individual lodge bylaws add to these duties by mandating, for example, that the Secretary serve on specific committees.
Although any member may hold the office of Secretary, it is typically held by an experienced Past Master.
A Deacon is a junior officer in the Lodge. In most jurisdictions, a lodge has two Deacons, styled Senior Deacon and Junior Deacon
The principal duties of the Senior Deacon are to conduct candidates around the Lodge and speak for them during certain ceremonies, to assist the Worshipful Master as needed and to carry messages between the Master and the Senior Warden.
The office of Junior Deacon is similar in many respects to that of Senior Deacon. The principal duties of the Junior Deacon are to assist the Senior Warden, and carry messages between the two Wardens.
Stewards fulfill a number of junior assistant roles. There is considerable variance, even within the same jurisdiction, as to the precise roles played by Stewards. Some of their common duties could include the following:
Stewards are often tasked with an understudy role to fill the position of the Senior Deacon or Junior Deacons, in their absence.
Stewards have a traditional role in many jurisdictions of serving wine during any meal served after the lodge meeting. This is often extended to a general supervision and planning of catering and refreshments.
Although newer members usually fill the office of Steward, in some Lodges it is traditional for a Past Master to be appointed to supervise the work of the Stewards.
The ‘Tyler’ is sometimes known as the ‘Outer Guard’ of the Lodge. His duty is to guard the door (from the outside), with a drawn sword, and ensure that only those who are duly qualified manage to gain entry into the Lodge meeting. He also prepares candidates for their admission. The Tyler is traditionally responsible for preparing the Lodge room before the meeting, and for storing and maintaining the regalia after the meeting,
In some Jurisdictions the Tyler is a Past Master of the Lodge while in others he may be an employed brother from another Lodge.
The office of ‘Inner Guard’ is common to UK Lodges, but is rare in American lodges. This position is commonly assigned to a fairly junior member, as it provides an opportunity for him to observe ceremonies and learn.
The task of guarding the door is shared with the ‘Tyler’ (see above). The Inner Guard is on the inside of the door, and in some jurisdictions is armed with a poignard, or short dagger.
In most Masonic jurisdictions, each lodge will have a ‘Chaplain’. The principal duty of the Chaplain is to lead prayer before and after the lodge meeting, and to say grace while the Lodge is at dinner. It is not required that the Chaplain be a clergyman, as prayers are non-denominational.
Director of Ceremonies
The ‘Director of Ceremonies’ is responsible for the smooth flowing of ceremonial and ritual and may hold rehearsals. He may be responsible for prompting other officers who forget their lines. In some jurisdictions, he directs proceedings during the installation of a new Worshipful Master. He is also responsible for forming processions and introducing visitors, except in those jurisdictions which appoint a ‘Marshal’ for these latter purposes (see below).
The ‘Almoner’ is responsible for the well-being of lodge members and their families. He remains in contact with members who are unwell, and also maintains a discreet presence in the lives of widows of former members, so that the Lodge may readily assist them should they find themselves in any particular need.
Of necessity the Almoner must be well versed in local and national Masonic charities and the scope of their charitable work, so as to offer advice to those who might qualify for such assistance.
The ‘Organist’ provides musical accompaniment to lodge proceedings, although there is no set form. Many lodge rooms are equipped with a pipe organ or electronic organ, and in others, there is provision for a wider range of instruments.