Young Masons: Value of a warm welcome

Sunday, 01 July 2007

Being made to feel welcome is the biggest bonus for an initiate, says Ben Maffin

I came into Freemasonry at a rather obtuse angle – one could say almost by accident.

Being aware of the organisation in the vaguest of senses, I was invited to attend an informal interview at a local pub with a work colleague. A naturally inquisitive sort, I went along to see what the fuss was about – and never looked back.

Walking into Cheshire’s Cornerstone Lodge No. 6630 for the first time, with so many older unfamiliar faces, was a daunting event. Never have I been made to feel so welcome, by so many people who were strangers to me at the time.

Looking back, the encouraging greetings by one and all, was very important to me.

Now, when new candidates for initiation arrive, I try my best to make them feel welcome, knowing that not so long ago it was I who was looking at the sea of dark suits and unfamiliar faces.

So far, I have found every aspect of Lodge life interesting. From the nerve-racking ordeal of having to learn the lines for my Second Degree, to responding to toasts, all of which get the blood pumping.

I am, however, never worried about making a mistake. Almost every one of my Brethren has been in a similar position and offer support and encouragement, rather than ridicule and scorn. If only the other aspects of one’s life could maintain such integrity.

Cornerstone Lodge has been described as 'progressive' by many of my peers and this is the only way we can keep Freemasonry alive. We rely heavily on teamwork and the involvement of all our members, be they newly initiated or experienced Past Masters.

The work is shared, and everybody is encouraged to take an active part in the ceremonies from the moment they join.

Although I have little experience of other Lodges, our Lodge is growing organically, having attracted a number of younger members this year. I have not as yet proposed anyone for initiation, but I am in no rush to get names on forms.

My 'non-Masonic' friends have expressed an interest and I am always as open and honest about what we do as my sworn obligations allow. They will become members of our fraternity when they are good and ready and I want them to feel (as I did), no pressure to join.

The social aspect of Freemasonry is a facet I had failed to consider before joining.

The festive board is something which I look forward to with great anticipation, the fun of which I think is enhanced by helping out as a steward. Not only do I get to meet members of my own Lodge, I also get the opportunity to meet visiting brethren.

I would like the general public to have a greater understanding of what Freemasonry is about. When people do not understand something they fear the worst, and more often than not fill in the gaps themselves.

I see no reason to be specific about our rituals, but I am proud to be in the Craft, a body of men who – yes – do have a good time, but also raise millions of pounds for good causes.

As a Freemason, I have met people who will be friends for life – people who are honest, true to their word and great company. The Craft is something I enjoy and I hope to be able to participate in for many, many years to come.

Ben Maffin is a 29-year-old company director from Merseyside, and was initiated in November 2005.


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