Freemasonry is a fraternity or brotherhood-not a religious society-based on the belief that each person has a responsibility to help make the world a better place. Freemasonry encourages good men to become better men by promoting a life dedicated to high ideals, community service, and benevolence. Masons believe in the importance of religion; men of all faiths and religious beliefs are members of the organization. Freemasonry celebrates ethnic diversity and welcomes men of all racial backgrounds. Membership in the fraternity is comprised of all nationalities and faiths.
Masons are deeply involved in helping people. Their compassion for others manifests itself in many ways, from housing neglected and abused children to helping seniors remain independent. Masons contribute more than $1.4 million every day in the United States to aid individuals who are sick, aged, or destitute, or whose physical, emotional and psychological needs are not being met. The vast majority of Masonic philanthropies assist people who are not Masons. Freemasonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization. It is a body of knowledge and a system of ethics based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
Act with honor and integrity in everything you do.
Believe in a Supreme Being and keep faith in the center of your life.
Be tolerant and considerate of different religious, social, and political views.
Strive to leave the world a better place than when you entered it.
Practice mutual help-give and accept help when it’s needed.
Uphold and maintain the principals of good government; oppose divisive and degrading influences, and be a good citizen.
Value self-improvement over financial success.
Remain good at heart.
Strive to live a brotherly life.
The mission of the Grand Lodge of California is to understand and convey the wisdom of Masonic teachings to its constituent lodges in a way that engages and inspires members to conduct their lives according to Masonic tenets and values. The Grand Lodge charters and guides Masonic lodges within California and provides important resources and unity to lodges and members.
Our Mission is guided by the enduring and relevant tenets of our fraternity – Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth – and our core values, which include:
The fraternity values religious, ethnic, cultural, social, and educational differences. We respect the opinions of others and strive to improve and develop as human beings.
Masons value the liberties outlined in the U.S. Constitution and continually promote freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship a Supreme Being in an individual way, and other important liberties. We believe it is our duty to vote in public elections and to exercise all of our liberties within due and proper bounds.
We make a difference in our communities through charitable giving community service, and volunteerism.
We strive to be better spouses, parents, and family members and are committed to protecting the wellbeing of members and their families, especially when they are in need.
Our continuous pursuit of knowledge, ethics, spirituality, and leadership brings more meaning to our lives.
Our lives are based on honor and integrity, and we believe that honesty, compassion, trust, and knowledge are important.
Freemasonry in California is a relevant and respected fraternity committed to attracting, developing, and retaining members of high quality who seek self-improvement and opportunities to make a positive difference in their communities. Through the study of our heritage and dedication to new and ongoing Masonic education, members understand and can apply the tenets of Freemasonry. The organization is well led and governed.
Our vision is measured by member vitality, lodge prosperity, and the general awareness of Freemasonry throughout California
Masons in California are informed and well connected to their lodge and to the Grand Lodge. They understand and practice what it means to be a Mason both inside and outside the lodge. They actively develop their Masonic knowledge and share it with others. Key measures of member vitality include:
Personal and professional achievements
The quantity and quality of new shared Masonic study
Participation in lodge, district, Grand Lodge, and community activities and programs.
A lodge is a brotherhood of Masons who attract and develop leaders, retain quality members and inspire pride in the membership and the community.
The prosperous lodge possesses the ability to:
Attract quality members
Impressively convey Masonic teachings through a relevant and thought-provoking performance of the ritual
Sponsor worthwhile educational, philanthropic, and social activities
Govern and manage the business of the lodge and center association effectively, efficiently, and with high standards of integrity and accountability
Maintain a Masonic center that demonstrates commitment to providing a quality environment for Masonic and community activities through the maintenance and renovation of existing centers, or the development of new ones.
California communities are aware of Masonry’s mission and values through lodge activities and programs that improve public education and the general well being of fellow citizens. Lodges and the Grand Lodge effectively use the Internet and local media to communicate with their communities.
Community awareness is measured by:
The frequency and quality of lodge participation in community activities and programs
Media coverage of Masonry
The quality of lodge and Grand Lodge Web sites
Public inquiries on lodge and Grand Lodge Web sites.
Facts about Masons:
Masonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization. It is a body of knowledge and a system of ethics based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity. As Masons, we lead by example, give back to our communities, and support numerous Masonic philanthropies.
There are approximately 5 million Masons worldwide, including 2 million in the United States. There are more than 60,000 Masons and about 340 lodges in California.
Freemasonry dates back to the guilds of European stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals during the Middle Ages. Because of the inherent danger of their work, stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those who were killed on the job. They also used lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize.
The first grand lodge was established in England in 1717; by 1731, Masonry had spread to the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, and other founding fathers were among the first Masons in the United States. The Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento in 1850 during the height of the California Gold Rush.
The mission of Freemasonry in California is brotherhood, community involvement, and self-improvement through education, family values, moral standards, and charity. We invest in children, our neighborhoods, and our future. Our mission is guided by the enduring and relevant tenets of our fraternity: brotherly love, relief, and truth.
Membership in the Masons is open to men 18 or older who believe in a Supreme Being and meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation. One of Freemasonry’s customs is not to solicit members; men must seek membership on their own. Anyone is welcome to request information about the fraternity.
What do Masons do?
Charity is at the heart of most Masonic activities. Each year, California Masons donate millions of dollars and thousands of hours to both small and large philanthropic causes. Masonic charities receive no local, state, or federal funding and are supported entirely by member contributions.
Masons were instrumental in establishing the public education system in the United States and have an ongoing commitment to public schools, and have enabled thousands of students to attend college with scholarships awarded annually by the California Masonic Foundation. The Foundation also supports nurse leader training in California and facilitates community partnerships between lodges and public school districts throughout the state.
The Masonic Homes of California have been committed to fraternal care for more than a century. Established in 1898, the Homes provide housing and health care to Masons and their wives or widows at campuses in Union City and Covina. Masonic Senior Outreach provides ongoing care management and financial support to help older members stay healthy and safe in their homes or in retirement facilities in their home communities. Masonic Family Outreach offers services and programs to California Masons and their families who need help dealing with today’s complex issues, such as the impact of divorce, the stresses of a special needs child, and other significant life challenges.
Freemasonry is made up of many organizations, each with a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. After a man has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other affiliated organizations. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite. There are allied Masonic organizations for women and others that admit both men and women. Eastern Star is the largest coed fraternal society in the world. Youth orders include DeMolay for young men and Rainbow for Girls and Job’s Daughters for young women.
Many world leaders in business, politics, science, religion, military, sports, entertainment, and the arts have been Masons, including:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Sen. Barry Goldwater
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Sir Winston Churchill
Gen. Douglas MacArthur
History of Freemasonry & How Freemasonry began:
In the Middle Ages, the term “freemason” was awarded to highly skilled stonemasons hired as free agents to build castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. Because of the inherent danger of their work, stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those killed on the job. Lodge members met in temporary buildings, built next to the cathedrals, to receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize.
The first Grand Lodge was established in 1717 in London. In 1718 English Freemasonry spread to France and Spain, and after 1729, to India, Italy, Poland, Sweden, other parts of Europe, and eventually the American colonies. In 1733 the first American lodge was established in Boston under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. Of the 39 men who signed the U.S. Constitution, 13 were Masons.
Freemasonry in California:
Freemasonry has been an integral part of California for more than 150 years. During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of settlers came to California in search of fortune. Those who were Masons brought their rich traditions with them, soon establishing some of California’s first Masonic lodges in the mining towns of the Gold Country. In 1850 – the same year that California became a state – the Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento.
Within 10 years, the number of Masonic lodges had grown from 11 to 130, while membership soared from 258 to more than 5,000. Over the years, the Masons have played a key role in shaping the history of California. To date, 19 California governors have been Masons, and at least four California Masons have been elected to the U.S. Senate. Today, the Grand Lodge of California has more than 60,000 members and about 340 lodges located throughout the state, making it one of the largest grand lodges in the world.
A Legacy of Philanthropy:
Throughout their 150-year history, California Masons have remained steadfast in their commitment to helping others and serving the community, volunteering hundreds of thousands of hours and donating millions of dollars to support a wide range of charitable programs. Among the fraternity’s first charitable activities was helping victims of the great cholera outbreak in Sacramento in 1850. With a membership roll of roughly 300, California Masons raised more than $32,000 within 10 months to help build and maintain a hospital at Sutter’s Fort.
Masonic Philosophy and Values:
Freemasonry is a fraternity based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity. As Masons we value and promote:
Masons believe in the importance of religion; men of all faiths are members of the organization. Freemasonry celebrates ethnic diversity and welcomes men of all racial backgrounds.
Masons practice a lifestyle based on honor, integrity, and philanthropic values. We believe there’s more to life than pleasure and money.
The fraternity transcends religious, ethnic, cultural, social, and educational differences. We respect others’ opinions and strive to grow and develop as human beings.
Masons opened some of the first public schools in America and lobbied in the 1800s for state-supported education and colleges. Today, Masons provide support for California’s public schools in many ways.
We are committed to make a difference in our world through community service, volunteerism, and charity. It is estimated that Masons contribute more than 1.4 million charitable dollars every day in the United States in support of public education, community programs, and individuals in need.
Strong family relationships are important, and we include our families in many of our activities. Striving to be better husbands, fathers, and family members enhances our fellowship.
California Masonic Foundation:
A charitable trust in support of education
Education has always been a key focus of Freemasonry. Masons started some of the first public schools in America and championed legislation to help make education accessible to everyone
The California Masonic Foundation is a charitable trust established in 1970 to help further the education of young people, from kindergarten through college.
The Foundation supports a number of important programs in support of education, including a robust Masonic scholarship program, partnerships with state universities, and charitable programs benefiting underserved youth. These programs have helped thousands of students improve their lives through education and intellectual growth.
Masonic Homes of California:
In 1898, the spirit of Masonic charity and the need to assist the widows and orphans of Masons led to the creation of the Masonic Homes of California. These retirement communities in Union City and Covina offer care and services tailored to the changing needs of the individual and designed to help residents enjoy the best possible quality of life. Residents share common interests built upon the solid foundation of Masonic values.
Masonic Home at Union City:
Founded in 1898 and located on 267 acres in Northern California, this unique continuing care retirement community currently provides independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care to about 300 senior residents.
Masonic Home at Covina:
Originally established in 1909 as an orphanage, the 33-acre Masonic Home at Covina currently provides independent and assisted living is now home to about 80 seniors in a neighborhood setting.
Masonic Senior Outreach:
Masonic Senior Outreach offers assistance with the services and resources fraternal family members need to stay healthy and safe at home or in a retirement facility in the home community.
Masonic Family Outreach:
These support services are available to California Masons and their families who need help dealing with complex issues such as the impact of divorce, the stresses of a special needs child, job loss, and other significant life challenges.
For more information about the above programs, contact Masonic Assistance at masonicassistance@ mhcuc.org or call (888) 466-3642.
The Acacia Creek senior community, located on the campus of the Masonic Home at Union City, is a Continuing Care Retirement Community that provides independent-living residences for Masons, their wives and widows, members of allied organizations, and residents of local communities. For more information, call (888) 466-3642.
California Masonic Membership:
California Masonic membership is open to men age 18 or older who meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation, and who believe in a Supreme Being.
Men of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are welcome. One of Masonry’s traditions is that we do not solicit members. Men must seek membership on their own initiative.
To become a member, a man must be recommended by two members of a local Masonic lodge and file a petition through that lodge. After submitting the petition, the applicant then meets with a committee to discuss Freemasonry and learn more about the organization. If the interview is favorable, the petition is presented to the lodge for a vote. If the vote is affirmative, the individual receives the Entered Apprentice degree – the first degree of Freemasonry. Once a man has completed the next two degrees, he is a Master Mason and a full member of the fraternity.
The fees for degrees range from $150 to $200. Annual dues are set by the individual lodge and are usually between $12 and $100.
How the fraternity is organized:
The fraternity is organized into jurisdictions, each presided over by a grand lodge. Jurisdictions vary in size and composition; for example, there is a single grand lodge for the entire country of England, while there is a grand lodge for each state of the United States. Today, the Grand Lodge of California has more than 60,000 members and about 340 lodges located throughout the state, making it one of the largest grand lodges in the world.
A grand lodge serves as the administrative center for a Masonic jurisdiction. It sets policies and procedures, ensures that rules and regulations are followed, charters new lodges, provides information and assistance to its constituent lodges, and serves many other purposes. The Grand Lodge of California is headquartered in San Francisco, where a small professional staff handles daily operations.
Each lodge is led by a line of elected officers, headed by the lodge master. At the grand lodge level, each jurisdiction is led by a line of elected grand lodge officers. The grand master, the top elected position, is the chief executive officer of the jurisdiction. Grand lodge business, including legislation proposals and decisions and grand lodge officer elections, is conducted at the annual member meeting, called Annual Communication.
A man first becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other allied Masonic organizations, each of which has a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite.
For more information regarding Freemasonry visit Masons of California