(re) joining Masonry

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(re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:30 am

Please forgive naievity as this is my first post having joned this site. I was initiated a few years ago into my old school lodge. I later joined the army and was posted to Germany where I was a member of an Anglo-German lodge recognised by UGLE. On my return I became rather lax despite a couple of requests for subs from my mother lodge. This must have been about four years ago. I have a few little excuses as i have been serving in iraq and Afghansitan - but I have been larelgy in the UK for the latest two years (so no excuse).

I would now like to re-start my interest in Masonry, but embarrassment and ignorance of what i might have to do has made me join this site to ask for information. Is it possible to 're' join, as it were? i am sure i must have been struck off (or whatever the term is) for non payment of subs. Can one offer to pay them en bloc and put matters right? How ought I proceed?
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(re) joining Masonry

Postby jackal » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:45 am

Firstly welcome to the site!

Next, to join or rejoin a lodge is pretty much the same process for both scenarios.

You will need to complete registration form P and forward it to the secretary of the lodge you want to join / rejoin together with, and in your case the important bits, clearance certificates from EVERY lodge where you have been a member. Your new lodge will also need to see your GL certificate at some point.

So if you have left a lodge at some point in your past and owe it money you will need to contact that lodge and pay them what you owed. On receipt and clearance they will send you the appropriate clearance certificate. It happens all the time so don't worry about it.

Your old lodge will just be grateful to receive the outstanding amount. Trust me on this!

How far did you get in your Masonic career? Were you raised to MM?

Have you found somewhere to chat to members about your potential joining? If you are unattached, which I suspect you are, you can visit a particular lodge once to see if you like it. As we are about to recess for summer it might be a good idea to see if a potential lodge are holding any social functions which you could attend so both they and you can get to know each other, as it makes joining easier and more enjoyable to both your new lodge and you.

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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:56 am

Thank you for your prompt reply. I was raised a MM. At one point I was a mmeber of both my old school lodge and the Anglo-German one. I left the latter one in good standing as i was posted to the UK. This happens all the time with that particular one (it tends to have a young, but transitory membership as most are serving military personnel on the move). I am at present not a member of any lodge and have sort of lapsed.

I ask because I am shortly to be posted to the North of England and might like the change-of-scene and the variety of companionship that a lodge would give me - as I will be living in the Mess. Similarly, I leave the Forces in about 4 years so would like to getr ready to take up Masonry again.

Do I understand therefore that I ought to write to my mother lodge (who have patiently written to ask for subsrciptions and been igonred partly due to my travels!) and het a Clearance certificate? Or pay and rejoin that lodge and visit in the North (as i will be returning South in due course).

The first step therefore is to make contact with the lodge to whom I owe about four years subscriptions?

Thank you
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:16 am

Hi , welcome.

Yes each Lodge with any Joining member has to get a clearance certificate from any other Lodge which has you as a current or past member. Provided it is within the UGLE sphere of influence

Now the new Lodge can add you to its membership but if they take you in without this cert the Lodge irself becomes responsible for any outstanding fees. So it is like not to work that way.

Yes you need a cert but it is normal for the New Lodge Sec, to write to the Old Lodge for this cert.

It is basicallt a letter saying that you do not owe anything. So you have to get in and square away any backlog first. Its not a big problem it happens all the time.
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(re) joining Masonry

Postby jackal » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:44 am

Also you won't owe 4 years back subs.

There is a rule in UGLE BoC that effectively ceases your membership after 2 full years of arrears thus limiting the lodges liability and yours to this maximum.

The lodge can make it shorter by use of rule 181 in its by laws but cannot extend it!

You will therefore only owe a possible maximum of 2 years subscriptions.

The sooner you communicate with your old lodge and make arrangements to pay off what you owe the easier for everyone this becomes.

If you wish to rejoin your old lodge you will still need to pay off the old debt and then go through the usual practice of that lodge for accepting new members so it makes little difference if you rejoin your old lodge and visit wherever you want to or move to a completely new lodge.

For me personally, if my old lodge were where I were to eventually end up in life, I would rejoin it, and visit other lodges as I wanted to.

I worked away in my early life, retained membership of my mother Lodge but only attended installation for many years, meanwhile I became a PIG (permanently invited guest) at a lodge close to my work and attended that lodge without missing a meeting for almost 10 years.

Now I am retired I have an office in my mother lodge and go to every meeting whilst I now make the effort to attend installation at the lodge I was a PIG at. For me it has worked well.

I have always been made more than welcome at both lodges, but that's what FM is all about!

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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:47 am

Yes, that is the case Jackal

However it only works if the Lodge is fully aware of what they have to do.

In my experience very few Secretary know what to do.

I messed up a few times and ended up with 3 or 4 years in arrears. All fixed now but there are things the Sec has to do to conform to the BOC. Anyone can go on line and have a read up at the UGLE web site. Its a bit boring but rule 181 is where to start.

To the best of my knowledge is there have been requests for dues left unpaid for 3 or 4 years thet remain overdue. i am happy to be corrected.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Trouillogan » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Rules 148 and 181 B of C would appear from what you say to apply. You are, then, faced with making up the maximum of two years subscription and no more. Then that Lodge will be able to issue a clearance certificate.

Although this doesn't apply in your case, if money is owed to a Lodge that has now been erased, then you would still have to pay the Grand Lodge dues part for the two years - and GL charges that at the current rate, not the amount it would have been at the time!

So, just possibly, your Lodge might charge you the current rate. If you feel the Lodge secretary might not have done his sums right, you can always ask the relevant Provincial Grand Secretary.

Don't feel embarrassed - it happens all the time with people on the move.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:10 pm

Yes there is the 2 year rule but I can not find anywhere where it says that a maximum of 2 years can be levied against a member in overdue fees.

The rules seem to cover exclusion and re joining thats fine. But what if the Lodge does not do what the BOC says and puts the exclusion into affect, its not minuted and not put up for a vote. Does the membership just role on.

For example if a member was in financial problems and asked for time to pay then could not complete.

There is discretion at Provincial level and to some ectent at Lodge level but is there a specific rule that says a member can only be asked for 2 years subsciption.

I am interested becuse I am dealing with a case like this now. And I am not sure.
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(re) joining Masonry

Postby jackal » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:36 pm

Bill

I speak from experience where as someone whom took over at exceptionally short notice the office of secretary where a serving army brother had been absent from lodge (both physically and financially) for 4 years.

On my taking over the job I found this and enquired of both my province and the Grand Secretaries office what to charge should the ex member concerned ever apply to rejoin.

I was instructed in no uncertain terms that the charge was limited to the 2 years permitted by rule 148. Grand Lodge did not provide me with a specific rule but stated:

"If the lodge has allowed him to be registered as a member and paid his dues on his behalf for longer than the period specified under rule 148, then that is entirely the fault of the lodge and not the concern of the member, after all he cannot be held responsible for the failings of others whose job it is to deal with such matters."

Your right though, a good many secretaries just aren't aware of their responsibilities in this field.

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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby middlepillar » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:54 pm

I would like to add a couple of thngs!

First I am sure your Mother Lodge will be delighted to hear from you and well pleased you are willing to pay your arrears.

Secondly I would just like to wish you all the best on your return to The Fraternity

Best

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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:14 pm

Thank you all for your sound advice and kind good wishes.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:33 pm

Yes, J I would see where you would be told that.

My problem is that it does not actually say that. It might do but I have been unable to locate a section that says it. It certainly seems logical.

Anyways I am asking over exactly this the next few days what we should do and when I get the answer I will come back here and let you know.

By the way I am not Treasurer or Sec. I seem to be the guy that sweeps up after everyone else had a a few beers and gone home.

You see the Lodge has paid the Grand and Provincial Lodge fees for the 3 years and if you are right can we ask for that excess of 2 years to be credited back. The new Lodge asked for a clearance sert and I advised 'no 2 years areas', missing paperwork etc. so it took a year to complete all questions from Province hence 3 years requested in fees. The New Lodge that accepted him with no cert should pay the fees whatever they are. Interesting conundrum.

I intend to bat it on to the Prov. Sec.

Luckily the Lodge has sufficient funds not to panic but a new Lodge may find it a big problem.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Richard George » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:00 pm

Rule 148 states that membership ceases after 2 years (accumulated) arrears, but that lodges can reduce that by excluding someone under Rule 181. If you want to rejoin, you are required to pay the outstanding arrears - whether this happens to be 2 years worth or less (less by virtue of Rule 181). The secretary is obliged to state on the AR1 (annula return) by how much each member is in arrears. If the lodge has chosen to pay 3 years worth, they can only claim 2 years worth of arrears - they'll probably charge 2 years at the current rate unless they have a record of how much is owed (unlikely!).
If the lodge has since folded, Registration will likely ask for 2 years GL dues at the current rate (I recently had to handle this for one of our members).

Note: it's the lodge you are JOINING that is liable for the arrears (assuming they accept you), so it's sometimes easier (particularly as you say you're a bit embarassed) to ask the new lodge to find out how much you owe and pay via them. What you can do therefore, is to declare the arrears to the new lodge, ask them to find out how much you owe, pay them the money and ask them to forward it. GL/Province will (or should) pick up the fact of the arrears and ask if a clearance certificate has been seen before accepting the Registration. Given the lodge secretary has to see it, he could make the initial enquiry, tell you how much is owed, you write out a cheque which the secretary forwards and get the clearance in return. Just make sure that GL are notified that all arrears have been cleared.

(If you take a look at my signature, you'll see that this is just one of the things I deal with on a regular basis)
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:38 pm

All sounds perfectly reasonable and to be honest I would be happy if the rules slearly stated 2 years and no way, no more than that.

But what happens if the Lodge does not carry out the votes and exclusion.

The problem with all rules is it can not cover any and all circumstance.
148 - 161 - 181 instructs the Lodge to vote and declare. What if the Lodge forgot or just did not do it ?

What if the member, to clear arrears agreed to pay say £35 a month at the end of 2 years but did not complete the promise.

I am interested in 'can poor people be Freemasons' but I will start a new thread I think rather than confuse this one.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Richard George » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:18 am

That's the point; under Rule 148, the lodge has no say in the matter. They don't vote, membership just ceases. The lodge can't claim fees if the individual is not a member!

-quote-
148. Should the subscription of a member to his lodge remain unpaid for two full years, at the expiration of that period he shall cease to be a member of the Lodge ... (etc).
-unquote-

Doesn't say anything about voting.

Remember also, that I stated that it's 2 years ACCUMULATED arrears (that's the 'full' bit). That means (for example) .. let's say subs are £50 pa and the member is paying £40 pa by standing order. His membership ceases after 10 years .. 2 years accumulated at £10 arrears each year. But remember that a lodge has the power under R181 to exclude before that length of time (see below!) if it's (for example) obvious he's never going to pay the difference before the 10 years are up. Also remember that if someone else chooses/agrees to pay the outstanding, Province/GL aren't bothered. If the lodge decides to cover someones expenses and never reports it, 'we' (royal we) will never know; any Rule can only come into play if the lodge reports the non-payment .. the lodge itself has (note: HAS!) to pay Province/GL regardless of if they recover that money from the member (Rule 147).

It's therefore basically down to how long the lodge wants to cover for the member. When they start to report it, 148 comes into play when they report that '2 years arrears' (either just 2 years non-payment, or as described above) has been reached (no vote), or the exclusion under 181. Yes, it's up to the treasurer/secretary to report it, but that's what they've volunteered to do by accepting those jobs. Rule 148 just places an upper limit on how long a lodge can carry a member (again, assuming it's reported).

Now, of course the interesting point is what the lodge chooses to do with any money it might receive via a standing order following a 148/181, because you can be sure that if the individual couldn't be bothered to increase it in line with increases in subs, he probably won't bother cancelling it ....
----------------------------------

NB: I know of lodges that can invoke R181 after 1 year to limit how much they have to fork out; I also know of lodges that basically say - "if your subs are unpaid after 6 months we reserve the right to exclude you" - although personally I think that's a bit draconian; they have to pay whether he's 6 months or a year - the cost is the same.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Sat Apr 12, 2014 5:31 pm

Thank you all for your advice and encouragement.

I think it might be a good idea to re-join my mother lodge as that it where I shall probably end up eventually. Being in the army, I tend to be posted to certain locations from two to three years and then moved on. Perhaps it might be a good idea to visit other lodges in (say) the North West whilst being a Member of my old school mother lodge.

It may be premature to admit, but I am also rather interested in Rose Croix.
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Rowan » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:42 pm

Sebastian,

Glad to hear that you are looking at re-engaging with Freemasonry. I cannot really add to that which has been said other than that it might be worth considering a military lodge. There are quite a few with strong military connections and you may find that your regiment has a lodge. The advantages are that these lodges are usually very understanding of military life and so are sympathetic when it comes to advancement through the various offices. My lodge is very accommodating of those who are deployed or even just can't get the time off work due to exercises etc, as long as the individual is willing and capable they can progress even having missed a few meetings.

Have a look at the website of the Circuit of Service Lodges: http://www.militarymasons.org.uk

Let me know if I can be of any help.

Regards,

Rowan
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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:51 pm

Dear Bro Rowan (and any other interested Brethren)

Thank you for your kind and helpful reply.

I have had a look at these and they do seem to be rather far away from either home or where i am to be stationed (West Lancashire).

Even if i re-join my Old School lodge, it might be fun to visit lodges in West Lancashire that have a larger proportion of service or retired service personnel. I will be near Preston, and nearer still to Blackpool.

The military lodges certainly look interesting.

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Re: (re) joining Masonry

Postby Sebastian » Fri May 09, 2014 10:50 pm

Apologies as I posted this elsewhere. My mother lodge has graciously decided to propose me once again for membership when the new term begins, thereby making me liable only for that year's subscriptions. That is most kind of them. i am delighted to be reunited with the brethren and the Craft.
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