The Freemasons are a very interesting group of people. They have a rich and long history, but there are many questions about them. One of the most common questions is how much does it cost to be a Freemason. There are a lot of costs associated with being a Freemason. Here is a breakdown of these costs and how much they might be.
By Brother Jared, a Master Mason of Grad Lodge Mississippi
Cost to Join Freemasonry
Today’s reader question is: I’m enquiring at a local lodge and was told that I needed to pay $50 for my petition and $350 before things could move forward. Is that typical? The truth is that I have no idea if it is considered average. I don’t have that information because there are so many distinct lodges in so many different jurisdictions. So all I can do is tell you what kinds of things would normally cost money, and I’ll tell you how much my lodge now charges, and you can proceed from there. I believe there are still lodges in Mississippi that charge only $25 per year in dues. That should surprise you. It astounds me. My lodge has the second highest dues in the entire state, in my opinion.
Our annual dues are $100, and I believe there is a lodge that charges between $125 and $150. So those are the annual dues you must pay. In Mississippi, you do not pay those dues until you are a master mason and can stay as a fellow craft or an apprentice for as long as you like. There is no time limit before you fall off the rolls.So you might become an entering apprentice and never pay your dues or any other lodge dues for the rest of your life and yet be an entered apprentice. Whether it is correct or incorrect is a different discussion, but to bring it back up a notch, you must also pay for your actual degrees. There are several causes for this.
To begin with, having a monetary interest in anything does assist. It’s a psychological phenomenon. You spent money on something. You want to know that you got your money’s worth out of it. As a result, the majority of people will be more interested in learning their competency in achieving that next degree because they have an investment in it, but it also goes to pay for putting on the degree outside of that. Previously, that may have been geared toward the lodge having to rent a location to do your degree in, where their normal meetings were held, but now they’re going to do this degree and they’re going to have brothers coming around from other places to help put on the degree, or they may just want to watch it or be a part of it, and they need a larger facility for that.
So it would only assist a little with the cost of simple things like hiring a place for the night. Now, I believe it’s more prevalent because it’s a degree and we’re going to increase the number of meals offered, so there’s an extra expense for the meal and those kinds of charges more than anything else. There is, however, a cost for each degree. The cost of a degree in my lodge is $75. Then, under our bylaws, we specify how we divide that out. We divided the $75 into a few distinct types of journal entry accounts. So, can a lodge require you to pay for all three degrees at once? Or do you pay each time you receive your diploma? In Mississippi, things are a little murky. I believe you can understand it to indicate that you might receive one fee for the entered apprentice degree and then turn around and claim that the fellow craftsman and master mason are free, so you collect all of the money up front and obtain the person’s investment.
And then you won’t have to do that for any other lodges similar to mine. We charge on a per-degree basis. Thus, when you obtain your entering apprentice degree, you are paying for it that evening. And then, when you approach your fellow craftsmen and master masons, you pay for them individually, up to the point of a petition fee. That is something I had never heard of before. It would be fascinating to learn if or not it is a regular practice in other jurisdictions in the comments section below. I’m not aware of any provision in our bylaws prohibiting a lodge from charging that, but I don’t believe there is one. Thus, I say it that way because our Grand Lodge gives a template for the bylaws of subordinate lodges, and it states pretty plainly that the bylaws for a lodge will be exactly what is there and filled in the blanks, and thus you cannot make any further changes to include a petition fee.
As a result, I’m unsure how that is handled in other jurisdictions. I’m sure they either don’t have the template or their template does not include it, or it’s left entirely up to the lodge’s discretion. Thus, here is what you must do. You are aware that this is your money. and the worst that any lodge can say is no; even in Mississippi, there are over 200 lodges, so wherever you are, I’m sure if you’re not satisfied with the way that lodge conducts business, you can check with another. Simply consult another. You’re becoming a member of a fraternity. There is no harm in stating the obvious “Okay, so I contacted this lodge and am now contacting this other lodge. That is acceptable. You may feel uneasy about this because you are not a fraternity member, but nobody on this side of the door cares. Come check out my lodge, then visit the one down the road and join whichever one makes you feel most at ease. They will fully comprehend that it is your money and that you have the right to say, “What will this money be used for once I pay the $350? Am I going to have to pay for my fellow craft degree a second time?
Is this enough to complete all of my degrees? Is that enough to cover my first year’s dues? When will I have to pay my next dues? What are my annual dues? So those are all things that, in my lodge, when we go through the investigation committee, we take the time to spell out to someone because we don’t want them to feel later like, “Oh man, nobody told me I was going to have to pay this at this particular time, and we want them to know right up front what kind of financial expectation is involved.” And, in reality, this is a two-sided coin. We want to make certain that you do not enter into any financial obligations with us that will have an impact on your family. As a result, we have no difficulty with you asking us what financial responsibility will fall on you.
So, by asking us, “Where does this money go?” And when will I have to pay more? It does nothing more than inform us that you are accountable, which is fantastic. That is the type of stuff we are looking for. So, don’t be afraid to ask the lodge probing questions to find out what the money is for and when you’ll have to pay more. So I apologize for not being able to precisely answer your question about whether or not this is typical. But, ideally, it gives you something to think about. While my lodge’s annual fee of $100 is one of the highest in the state of Mississippi, I’m sure it’s still relatively modest in many other jurisdictions. I’ve heard of lodges charging up to $500 each year, and I’m sure there are more that charge much more.
So, by asking us, “Where does this money go?” And when will I have to pay more? It does nothing more than inform us that you are accountable, which is fantastic. That is the type of stuff we are looking for. So, don’t be afraid to ask the lodge probing questions to find out what the money is for and when you’ll have to pay more. So I apologize for not being able to precisely answer your question about whether or not this is typical. But, ideally, it gives you something to think about. While my lodge’s annual fee of $100 is one of the highest in the state of Mississippi, I’m sure it’s still relatively modest in many other jurisdictions. I’ve heard of lodges charging up to $500 each year, and I’m sure there are many more that charge much more.
So, before we finish up the Scottish Rite Master Craftsman program, one of the things they talk about is how much dues were back in the day. And if you ever wonder, you know, Golly, this lodge only wants $100 a year. How in the world did Freemasons ever build these massive cathedral-like structures that had to have cost insane sums of money? It’s because it used to be prohibitively expensive to become an apprentice. The cost of being an apprentice has decreased significantly over the years. So, while you’re trying to grasp that, remember that it wasn’t always so cheap, and hopefully, whatever you have to pay to join the fraternity, you don’t let that price dictate its worth.
Make sure you’re doing everything you can to promote the value of the fraternity, not just for yourself, but for everyone else in your lodge and looking ahead to the future. Because it’s far better for someone to walk in and say, “Man, I can’t believe I got all of this, all of this relationship, all of this learning, all of these various things for $25 in an entire year.” That’s insane money, that kind of money. But if they can come in and say this is fair, that’s fine. I’m getting back what I put in financially. … there’s enough left over to do these charity and other things. That’s reasonable. That’s where I believe you’ll find that ground. It’s the same as any other type of negotiation.
That involves currency, and you’re trying to find a way that both parties, the seller and the buyers, say that was fair. And if you can hit that fair, it ought to be the same number that’s paying your expenses, and everybody can be agreeable. So, that’s what I would look for. And I hope that somewhere in this message you can find the answer that you are looking for. And maybe some unasked advice as well.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read. I’m curious what kind of dues your lodge requires in order to join or remain a member. And if you happen to require entered apprentices and fellow crafts to pay dues, I’d love to know. We’ll see you next time.