What is Freemasonry?

Introduction

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. The following information is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is practised in Victoria, Australia under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria. Much of the material on this site borrows heavily from the information posted on the web site of the United Grand Lodge of England.

The explanation may correct some misconceptions.

Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.

The Essential Qualification for Membership

The essential qualification for admission into and continuing membership is a belief in a Supreme Being.

Membership is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfil this essential qualification and who are of good repute.

Freemasonry and Religion

Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The essential qualification stated above means that it is open to men of many religions and it expects them to continue to follow their own faith. It does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.

The Three Great Principles

For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:

  • Brotherly Love – Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
  • Relief – Freemasons are taught to practise charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
  • Truth – Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.

Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.

Charity

From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. In addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.

Freemasonry and Society

Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives.

Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members’ duties as citizens. Indeed, they should strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities.

The use by a Freemason of his membership to promote his own or anyone else’s business, professional or personal interests is condemned, and is contrary to the conditions on which he sought admission to Freemasonry.

His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who as acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.

Secrecy

The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition. It is not a secret society, since all members are free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to enquiries for respectable reasons. Its constitutions and rules are available to the public, and their offices are in the telephone directory. There is no secret about any of its aims and principles. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members.

Freemasonry and Politics

Freemasonry is non-political, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.

Other Masonic Bodies

Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges with standards similar to those set by the Grand Lodge of Victoria. There is no universal governing body in Freemasonry.

There are some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g. that do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or that allow or encourage their members as such to participate in political matters.

These Grand Lodges and bodies are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of Victoria as being Masonically regular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.

Conclusion

A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatever name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbour through charity and service.

None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic, but all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them.

History of Gregorios Lodge

The Gregorios Lodge was Consecrated and came into existence in March, 1980. This is how it all started.

In 1967, WBro. Dimitri K. Zervos was installed as Master of the Lodge of Cordiality No. 331 under the register of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, Australia. Amongst the visitors on this particular occasion was WBro. William (Bill) Campbell GStdB, member of the John Knox Lodge No. 636 and an officer of the Grand Lodge active team. At the south, when the time came for the newly installed Master to propose the toast to the Grand Master, Dimitri asked Bill to do the honours, as he was the highest ranked officer. This gesture pleased Bill who subsequently visited Dimitri at many meetings and a strong friendship developed between the two men.

On one of the visits to the Cordiality Lodge, Bill mentioned that he was about to retire, and that as a reward for his many years of loyal service to the company that he was working for, he had been offered a six-month paid holiday, and that he was wondering where he could go that was not too expensive. At that time, Greece was well known as a low-cost holiday destination, and Dimitri suggested that Bill and his wife might enjoy a visit there.

One thing led to another, and Bill and his wife Irene did indeed spend an extended holiday in Greece, where they were looked after by Dimitri’s relatives and acquaintances. They enjoyed themselves so much, that they returned there several times. While there, Bill visited Greek lodges and became quite interested in Greek Freemasonry.

In 1975, Bill and Dimitri (as well as their wives) were in Rhodes together. The two men discussed Freemasonry and how beneficial it would be for the Greek community in Melbourne to establish a Greek Lodge under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria. By this time, both Bill and his wife had become really enthusiastic about the Greek culture, so much so that, back in Melbourne, they attended night classes to learn the language.

About that time, the Greek immigration in Melbourne had reached the 200,000 mark. Indeed, Melbourne became the third-largest Greek-speaking city in the world. The Greek culture began to influence the social life of Melbourne. The Greek cafes, groceries with products never before seen in Australia, the Tavernas with the bouzouki and excellent mezethes became very popular, and Greek music was played everywhere. There were many Greek businessmen, university graduates, lawyers, doctors, scientists – indeed, there were Greek Australians in every field of endeavour in Melbourne’s society.

The Greeks in Victoria constituted one of the strongest ethnic groups in Australia, and many members had joined Freemasonry and progressed to senior positions within various Lodges. There were, however, many Greek Australians who, for lack of confidence in or knowledge of the English language, were reluctant to join Freemasonry. Bill Campbell, bearing this in mind, discussed with the Grand Master the idea of forming a Lodge under the Victorian Constitution that would be Greek in character and thus help those people to become Freemasons. This was not unprecedented, as there were already German and Yugoslav Lodges in existence at the time.

The Grand Master was very sympathetic towards the idea and was prepared to support its foundation as long as it was financially sound, and held enough experienced members to carry out the ceremonial work strictly as per the Victorian ritual.

Encouraged by this favourable attitude of Grand Lodge, Bill and Dimitri started to plan how the project might be realised. In 1978, then Bro. Nick Pateras, who was Senior Warden of Cordiality Lodge, asked that Dimitri carry out his installation as Worshipful Master of that Lodge assisted by a team of Past Masters of various Victorian Lodges. A team was recruited, and trained by Bill Campbell and some colleagues from the Grand Lodge team.

The installation was a great success, and the ritual work was of such a high standard that all were convinced that the level of experience was indeed more that adequate to ensure that a Greek Lodge would be able to perform the ritual work at a high standard.

Work then began in earnest, and on March 15, 1980, sponsored by Cordiality Lodge No. 331, Gregorios Lodge No. 865 was consecrated in a ceremony presided over by MWBro. R.E.Gregory, MBE, G.M.

Although WBro. Chris Chris was elected as Master Elect to become the first Worshipful Master of Gregorios Lodge, his wife Mary was taken seriously and suddenly ill, so he was unable to continue. The first Worshipful Master of Gregorios Lodge was WBro. Terence Pampakas.