Service and membership in the Masonic Lodge is not as complicated as you might think. The first hurdle is the often-quoted motto, “You have to ask a Mason to be a Mason.” While this has held true for many years, it’s an easy fix. Ask one. If you’re reading this you obviously are interested in our fraternity. You have received this from a Mason so ask him.
So you’ve asked a Mason, “I want to join!” What happens next? Well, you have some choices to make. Depending on the Mason you ask will determine the Lodge you join. Think of this organization like a franchise corporation or business. Each state has a governing body which supervises a large amount of Lodges. These Lodges vary in where they meet, (whether in their own building, or a rented building or some other gathering place), where they meet and how often they meet.
Each Lodge has its President, (referred to as the Worshipful Master) and its officers, (Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary, etc) who run the individual Lodges. They run the monthly meetings and the general operations of the Lodge. These positions are progressive in that a member is in a position for one year and works his way through each position learning ritual and operating procedures. Theoretically each member moves up a spot until becoming the Worshipful Master.
Masons are involved in Philanthropy, Service, (Nevada’s Grand Lodge runs a child I.D. program at many public events) and social events, (Bar B Ques, Formal Dinner/Dances, and Sporting Events).
Some smaller rural areas will only have one Lodge whereas larger geographical areas may have multiple “Lodges”, or in simpler terms, the group of Masons who meet each month together. One of these Lodges is where you will “Petition for the Degrees of Masonry.”
In just the Reno, Sparks, Washoe County area you have seven Lodges to choose from. They are Reno 13, who meet in downtown Reno, Wadsworth 25, who meet on Pyramid Way in Sparks, Washoe 35, who meet on Peckham Lane in Reno, Mt. Rose 40, who meet in Downtown Reno, Pyramid 43, who meet on Stardust Lane in west Reno, Benjamin Franklin 45, who meet on Energy Way in Reno and Golden 50 who meet on Peckham Lane in Reno.
With additional Lodges Carson 1, Amity 4, (Silver City) Escurial 7, (Virginia City), Lander 8, Douglas 12, Elko 15, Eureka 16, Winnemucca 19, Hope 22, (Yerington), Churchill 26, Humboldt 27, Tonopah 28, Montezuma 30, (Goldfield), Carson Valley 33, (Gardnerville), Fernley 34, Brucite 42, (Hawthorne) and Guardian 53, (Fallon), there are plenty of choices.
You should be furnished with a petition. The petition comes in the form of a questionnaire. You fill this questionnaire out, and it is submitted to the Lodge you a petitioning to join. With the petition you must submit a one-time fee that varies from Lodge to Lodge. For Example, Reno 13 has a one-time fee for the Degrees of Freemasonry of $350.00. After that, each Lodge has a yearly fee called dues. They vary from Lodge to Lodge and can be between $35 and $135 a year.
To even be considered a candidate must;
Your petition is read, and a background check is conducted to confirm you are a man of good morals and good reputation. The Lodge you have applied to will vote on your membership and if you should be found worthy you will continue your journey on becoming a Master Mason.
Once voted in you will be contacted by the Secretary and instructed as to when and where your “First Degree” or ceremony will take place. Becoming a Mason involves memorization of our ritual, but do not worry. Many Lodges have scheduled study places and times you can meet to practice and receive help. If that doesn’t work, any Mason can be contacted and will be willing to help coach you through the process.
So, you have become a Mason, now what? There are many different and exciting organizations you are allowed to join once you have become a Master Mason. Some of those are Scottish Rite, York Rite, Eastern Star and of course, The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, (A.A.O.N.M.S.) or “Shriners” for short.
The Shriners, (or Shriners International as of 2010) are an organization, headquartered in Tampa, Florida. a Fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth with approximately 340,000 members from 195 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe and Australia. The local temple in Northern Nevada is named Kerak after a fortress in the middle east.
Despite its theme, the Shrine is not connected to the Islamic religion except where a member may be Islamic. It is a men's Fraternity rather than a religion or religious group. Its only religious requirement is indirect: all Shriners must be Masons, and petitioners to Freemasonry must profess a belief in a Supreme Being.
You’ve probably seen a Shriner, wearing the traditional Red Fez, maybe in a local 4th of July or Nevada Day Parade. Kerak Shrine maintains several parade clubs and units. These clubs and units promote a positive image to the public. Some of Kerak’s clubs and units are: The Arabians, a Shrine themed band, The Honda Hotshots, a group that drives lawn mower powered cycles, The Klowns, who dress up like traditional clowns and provide entertainment for the Hospitals and Circus and the Provost Marshall, who provide security services for Shrine events.
Should any of that sound fun, you can join Shriners in much the same way you do the Masonic Lodge, except on key point. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK ONE TO BE ONE! After you have become a Mason, you complete a similar petition to the one for the Masonic Lodge and attach a check with your one-time fee. Again, a vote takes place and if your membership is confirmed you are scheduled for our ritual/ceremony.
The typical ceremonial weekend begins with a dinner on the Friday evening before the event. Saturday morning includes the 1st section of the ceremony followed by a brief lunch. Next comes the 2nd section. Then we would have a semi-formal dinner and the Fezzing ceremony to follow. Please keep in mind, THERE IS NOT ANY MEMORY WORK INVOLVED! Once you have been through the ceremony you are welcome, and may be recruited into further participation with the Kerak Units and Clubs.