Address of R.W. Bro. James F. Kirk-White
On His Official Visit to Muskoka Lodge, March 02, 2004

Sharing Freemasonry Within Your Community

Brethren, since delivering the Improper Solicitation message in January, I have received requests for further clarification of what ‘may’ be said. So tonight’s message should reveal to the brethren the intensity in which one might communicate Freemasonry to any person or group, and to do so with confidence.

To accomplish this, I will be repeating a speech which I presented to the Burk’s Falls Lions Club the year Corona Lodge celebrated their 100th anniversary, and in which the Lions were involved. Like many organizations, the Lions are always looking for guest speakers and our particular subject matter will peak their interest. Some of you might consider offering a similar speech to your own community service clubs.

Let’s begin: “Lion President and fellow Lions: Tonight I have been asked to speak to you on the subject of Freemasonry in general, and of the Masonic Lodge in Burk's Falls in particular.

I'd like to begin with the observation that many current and past members of this Lions Club were also Freemasons, and as you will soon discover, it is by design that these community minded people wear two such hats in order to enjoy a full life.

Let us proceed by comparing the structure of our two great organizations, starting with membership qualifications:

The Lions Club’s membership is open to male and female and has affiliated groups, like the Leos, Lioness and Lionettes. The existence of female groups is due to a time when Lions Clubs were a male only organization. The membership is now a mixed gender which was established in accordance to law, and by its membership several years ago.

Masonic membership is primarily male. Although females have joined thru-out time, it is the exception rather than the rule. Male only membership is recognized by law and preferred by the majority of the membership.

There are affiliated groups, such as the Shriners, the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Demolay, Jobs Daughters, and the Order of the Eastern Star to mention a few.
Jobs Daughters, and the Eastern Star enjoy female membership and leadership.

Lions Clubs are ‘service’ clubs by Constitution and Mission statement.
Their motto is; “We Serve”.

Masonic Lodges are ‘fraternal’ organization by Constitution and Mission statement. Their motto is “Making Good Men Better.”

About Membership Development:
Lions are encouraged to solicit every person they feel would be a good community worker and do so with enthusiasm and consistency.

Promoting Masonic membership is the opposite. Tradition requires that a prospective member should first demonstrate an interest in Masonry, in fact we have a slogan which states, "To be one, Ask one".

The Governance of our two great Organizations:
The Lions Club is an International Organization, founded by Melvin Jones in 1917. It has one central International ruling body. The mission being: to provide 'service' to people and communities by utilizing a grass roots structure.

The first Speculative Grand Lodge began in 1717 in England. (It seems 17 is a very good year to begin important things.)

Freemasonry's governance, although international in scope, has no singular international ruling body. The governance is performed by individual Grand Lodges. For example, The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario is the sole governing body of all lodges and districts in the Province of Ontario and Corona Lodge in Burks Falls is part of the Masonic District of Muskoka-Parry Sound. To explain further; there is no Grand Lodge for all of Canada, and no Grand Lodge for all of the USA. But rather Grand Lodges of individual Provinces, States and of course many countries.

The District Deputy Grand Master is the representative of the Grand Master in his District – he is similar to the Lions Club’s District Governor. The Master of a Lodge is similar to the President of a Lions Club -however their directives are quite different.

Service work and charity:
Every community which has a Lions Club can, and will, be proud to show off their Lions Club projects and service accomplishments.
The glue that binds Lions together through-out the world is pride in service.

Freemasonry refers to Service Work as Charity or Benevolence and here, although we have quiet traditions, the accomplishments are many.
The glue that binds Masons together through-out the world is a fraternity which is based on brotherly love, relief and truth.

Charity is a fundamental principal and primary virtue of Freemasonry. Masons learn that charity is the top rung on the ladder of life, and we are taught the importance of benevolence and in giving, -personally and quietly.

The exception to quietly is the Shrine Club whose charity works are widely known -by the way, the Shriners would be an interesting subject for a future meeting.

Lions, it is now time to discuss Masonic secrets;
Contrary to public belief, there are very few Masonic secrets. The deep, dark foreboding myths of Masonry being a secret society are exactly that, myths.

First of all, we are not a secret society. Masonry is a fraternity with some secrets and I assure you that none of our secrets are harmful or evil. Take a look around you, the people you personally know to be Masons would never be a member of an evil or harmful organization. Quite the opposite in fact; as loyalty to our country; our laws; our family; our community; and to each other is a virtue for which we strive.

Masonry has been labeled a cult. Many great things may be called a cult. The dictionary’s definition of a cult is “a system of worship”, it does not refer to the system as being bad or good, so all religious organizations may be labeled a cult.

Another definition of a cult is “a devotion to an idea”. Therefore it is impossible for most organizations, including the Lions Club and the Masons, to deny that we are a type of cult, -due to the very definition of the word.

Why does secrecy have to exist in today’s world? Frankly, it has to do with tradition.
The first secret that comes to my mind is due to the fact that Freemasonry is quite ancient. Our history is somewhat veiled and muddled even to ourselves. We are constantly researching our roots because we do not know our own true beginnings.

I am not denying we have secrets -for we do. The secrets we do not share publicly are symbolic in nature and relate to; traditions, teaching techniques, and are part of the philosophy of our fundamental tenants and principals. You see, tradition is extremely important to Freemasonry.

The public would gain nothing in knowing of these secrets. Whereas Masons, with the help of other Masons, become better men because of how symbols and allegories are put to use, -expanding upon an individual’s morals and virtues.

In fact, many such Masonic symbols have become a part of today's every-day communication -for instance: "Are you on the level?" or "Hey, I want a square deal.", and I am sure you have all heard of, "Faith, Hope and Charity" to mention a few.
It is no accident that these publicly known Masonic symbols, or so-called secrets, all refer to ethical behaviour and universal benevolence.

There are symbols that Masons use to recognize each other -no matter what part of the world we visit. Like the Lions, we too proudly wear our lapel pins and rings, -displaying the Masonic Square and Compasses.

Because of Masonic tradition, and its timeless inheritance, other means of Masonic recognition are kept secret. Secrets that at one time were essential for the protection of the community and the safety of their building projects. They are still used to this day and are known by Masons throughout the world. These are secrets based on tradition -and must never be used for dishonest purposes.

Many of our symbolic secrets are in fact written, and open to the public, you just have to read the Bible. But to be honest, only a Mason would recognize them as being part of the Fraternity.

We use the Bible -does that mean Freemasonry is a religion?
No it does not, for we are not a religion. There is however, a prerequisite to becoming a Mason and that is you must have a belief in the Supreme Being. You must believe there is a God –and that God will reward virtue and punish vise.

Masonry encourages all Masons to attend a religion of their choice, but Masonry does not express any preference towards any particular religion. And like the Lions club, Masonry does not permit the discussion of politics or religion within a lodge meeting.

What is Freemasonry history and how did it start?
We are not exactly sure, so I will begin with the Operative Freemasons during the Medieval times, which were a strong force of society, and were the single most important body of men in the history of civilization. Their roots are founded in the genius of architecture and construction of 'monumental' buildings around the globe. Even now the Middle Ages are often represented by a picture of a stone cathedral. The impact they made on society is still felt today.

When new projects were started by Operative Freemasons, a lodge building was the first building erected at the new site and Freemasons were called to work from everywhere. This immediately created a self-supporting community. The lodge thus became the school, church, office and workshop for their community.

All Freemasons world-wide knew the same symbols and trials pertaining to their particular degree of skills. They would only be allowed entry into the lodge once proof of being a Freemason was presented to the Master -thus protecting the integrity and safety of their project and community.

They were called Freemasons because these Masons earned the right to travel freely around the globe to perform their duty. A right granted by the Kings and Rulers of all nations. A right based on the Freemason's credentials- a lifetime of study. These Masons willingly passed on their knowledge to protégés, which was protected by secret obligations, secret communications, and secret symbols. To know the skills was to know the secrets.

A morphing process from Operative to Speculative Freemasonry began, and eventually the Freemason's tenets and principles evolved from being tools for Operative Freemasons to earn a living, to tools for today's Speculative Freemasons to improve themselves -creating a “university for the common man”.

Lions: Thank you for this opportunity to share Freemasonry with you tonight.”

And finally, brethren: I hope this illustration has helped you in your researches.

An interesting note relating to tonight’s message: Corona Lodge’s newest Entered Apprentice is the current President of the Lions Club of Burk’s Falls. He is now one of many Corona Lodge members who have proudly worn two hats for their community.

As usual, this speech will be placed on our District website for your further use. I trust you will make good use of tonight’s information as you shine with Masonic pride within your community.

Brethren for the fine banquet, your warm hospitality and your friendship, I thank you very much.

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