Our intent since inception is to form a mentoring lodge, in support of – not in competition – with the other lodges of the state of Minnesota.
Reinvention. Clarity. Civic engagement. History. Morality.Through these aims, or methods, we attempt to distill the Essential Core of Masonry. Topics of our discussions tie to these concepts. The brethren of our little lodge want to understand, “what makes a good lodge, ‘good’?” We knew at the start that we wanted a British theme, honoring the roots of the fraternity which began there. We knew we wanted a strong social component. Yet social interaction is not the only sturdy leg of a good lodge. We are an historically-minded bunch, so it was natural that Churchill, an extraordinary man and a Mason, was an easy choice as our patron. We wanted a strong philosophical grounding, signaling real engagement and depth. With all these in place, by happenstance, we struck up a relationship with several Grand Lodge of DC Masons who introduced us to Cuba, and the opportunity for international connections. Wouldn’t Churchill himself have applauded such a venture? Finally, and back to the concept of mentoring, we wanted to understand and offer a vision for the future of Freemasonry; and because Masonry is experiential, we sought to build it, then share it. Whenever possible, we open our events to guests, including with delight any Masons from other lodges who are active officers or who have the benefit of years of experience. We seek to include them in the conversation, to learn from them and to share our ideas, which they can take back home. Where they would seek to better their own lodge. We are convinced the affinity concept can be useful for existing lodges, whether they be healthy traditional lodges or when a few brethren take it upon themselves to restart a sleepy lodge. Our British/Churchillian ideas work for us, today, but we are learning that there are simply hundreds of other affinity ideas available. If you seek to better your home lodge, think about ‘specializing’ in some aspect of interest to your brethren… For example, we’ve heard of lodges formed for men who work third shift, meeting in the morning. Or groups of Civil War buffs. There are many Historians’ Lodges, encouraging the study of any aspect of history. Spanish speakers have lodges in many states. In Wisconsin there is a German-speaking lodge. We certainly could support such a group here, or Finnish-speaking for that matter, or Norwegian, Swedish, or one of the many immigrant languages that are present in our state. How about a group of police officers forming a lodge? Or firemen? Or lawyers? Call those Guild Lodges… A University Lodge would be a fine addition, or lodges that adopt a nearby school. There is room for a “Traditional Observance” lodge in each of our big cities, or perhaps an artists and poets lodge, or one for the construction trades… Churchill men support lodge formation as a healthy exercise for a grand lodge. Many of us are already Past Masters, and several have served in statewide volunteer offices. Still, working through Sir Winston Churchill Lodge, we want to do more. If you feel similarly moved to help the Craft, we welcome your participation with us. Download a copy of our brochure below for those interested in membership. We have discovered that an affinity lodge, in the formative years, may benefit from regular discussions of its purpose. Out of these discussions we have developed a Culture of the Lodge document to clarify expectations of our members.
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Yes. First, you should know that the founding brethren of Churchill Lodge come from several strong Twin Cities lodges. Almost all of us maintain membership in both lodges, called a “Dual“ or “Plural“ membership. It isn’t surprising that we’re loyal in this way: over a hundred years ago, the British poet, Rudyard Kipling, wrote a poem about his “Mother Lodge” in India, long after returning to London. Though he joined a second lodge, Brother Kipling never forgot his roots.
Thus we take inspiration from other good lodges and attempt to blend these insights together with many new ideas into our new lodge, sharing these good ideas back with our home lodges. In keeping with that philosophy, we regularly discuss “purpose” and “what is Freemasonry” when we gather, and we invite you to join in that discussion.
As a simple, five-line description, Masonry is a philosophical and educational system that brings together good men seeking to become better men. It references all of Western Civilization for instruction, and has been described as “the Companion of Religion”. While not a religion itself, Masonry reminds us to be humble, honest seekers. Our degrees are metaphors of the three ages of a man’s life, and offer much material for reflection. A man’s lodge ought to be a place where he can work through the burdens of his day, surrounded by good fellows.
Masonry itself is experiential: while reading about it from the outside can be helpful, our best advice for honest seekers is to show up as our guest, and engage in a conversation. We hope that that launchpad would serve as a foundation for more personal engagement, unique to each individual.
Our aim is to help make good men better.
Membership is an agreement between the lodge and the man. He is found to be of good character, and well-recommended, and in turn he has gotten to know the men of the lodge and enthusiastically chooses to join. If already a Mason, he petitions for Affiliation; if not yet a Mason, he petitions for Degrees.
The lodge gets to know its candidates before, during or after meetings, over coffee, or at a man’s home, traditionally by three members whom he didn’t know at the beginning of the process. All new members have been similarly met. Once these three report favorably to the lodge a vote is taken; candidates are then welcomed in (if affiliates) or a schedule of the three Masonic degrees is worked out, convenient for the candidate and the lodge, typically one degree each month. It is at the culmnation of the third of these degrees that a man becomes a Master Mason.
When you are ready, here’s how to join Churchill Lodge.
Let’s set the stage. A committee of expert ritualists, Minnesota’s Board of Custodians, is responsible for the ritual used within our Grand Lodge. “The Minnesota Masonic Ritual” is similar to that used in most US states. It is often called the American Preston/Webb Work, after a British writer and summarizer of the lectures and content of his era, the early 1700s, and after an early 1800s traveling lecturer who taught it around the US. At one point in US history, traveling lecturers were very much in demand during a time when Masonic rituals were only transmitted mouth to ear, or in group ‘lodges of instruction.’ Over time, very small variances between states have crept in, due to the influence of a mistake-ridden exposure written by a fellow named Lester, and other such errors over the years. But by and large, Minnesota’s ritual looks much like that used in Wisconsin, or New York, or Arizona.
Churchill is no different. We open, close and do degree work using our standard state ritual. However, in addition to this, Churchill Lodge is set up to practice and share the “Emulation Work,” a version of the Masonic ritual practiced by about 60% of the lodges in England, along with most of Canada, also Australia and New Zealand, and in the other English Constitution lodges around the world. Emulation is also the basis for the ritual in many other languages, among these, Spanish, and therefore it is no overstatement to say that it is the most popular ritual in the world. –We practice Emulation and will show it as part of an exemplification, or educational program. With the help of friends from England and Canada we’ve pretty well learned the First Degree, and are beginning work on the Second.
Learning and performing this British-style ritual is an opportunity to learn about our roots, and better see the meaning of our own ritual by comparison. It is different from ours, and wonderful to watch.
As indicated earlier, when we raise candidates, we will do so with the Minnesota Work, unless or until down the road a future Grand Master grants a dispensation to do otherwise.
There is much precedent for this: Other US states allow several ritual variations, including the option for a Spanish ritual, or for use of Emulation or some other more exotic text. Our neighbors in Wisconsin permit Ben Franklin #83 to use the Emulation Work to raise candidates. Wisconsin also has a German-speaking lodge. DC has several Emulation lodges and multiple languages permitted, as do other states. New York and Louisiana allow multiple rituals. So do many Canadian grand lodges, just across our border. Pennsylvania’s ritual is markedly different, adhering to an older style than that used by most other US jurisdictions. In parishes (~counties) in Louisiana, a French-derived ritual born from the Scottish Rite is used in place of the rituals used in other US states. In England herself, lodges operating under the United Grand Lodge of England choose from among over seventy different rituals, some of which are maintained by semi-autonomous schools of instruction, and some of which are maintained only by their proponents or users. For example, we are told the ritual used and maintained by 17 lodges in and around the English city of Bristol, “Bristol Working,” is profoundly beautiful. Ireland and Scotland too enjoy several ritual variations.
The fact is, throughout the world, English Constitution lodges work side by side under the Emulation or other ritual, while local jurisdictional lodges work their own forms, possibly in English, or in the vernacular of the land.
In the United States, in order to slow the process of unintended ritual change or variance, many jurisdictions have opted to publish the ritual in ‘cypher’ form that ensures consistency and serves as a memory tool. The cypher may reduce words to a single letter, or two letters. A handful of states continue the mouth-to-ear tradition, keeping only a single hand-inscribed copy safe in the Grand Lodge archives, to settle arguments.
Most of us here are Past Masters from active lodges. We are proud to know our own Minnesota work. Learning the Emulation ritual just helps us reflect on the deeper meaning that connects all these rituals with the larger message of Masonry. Here’s how to join us.
If Emulation degree work interests you, the brethren of Churchill Lodge regularly show our skill at it. We are available to perform the Work at your lodge for an educational program to coincide with our quarterly meetings. All Master Masons in good standing are welcome to join us at any of our events. Click HERE for further information about when we meet.
Members may be recognized by their distinctive lapel pins, designed especially for our lodge. The Master will often present these to guests of the lodge, who hail from outside of Minnesota. Or, SWC members may bring them to other lodges as gifts wheresoever their travels may take them. –A delightful tradition.
Several items are available for purchase from Churchill Lodge’s e-commerce page on Square, at this link: CLICK HERE to browse and purchase pins, aprons and other regalia.
You may have seen “plain” cotton aprons, and decorative dark blue aprons worn by Masons. But ours have light blue trim. What is the difference?
An apron is the “Badge” of a Mason; its trim and trappings are decorative, and may indicate rank or office. Thus in processions, or when visiting a lodge, a Mason may simply borrow a plain apron and wear it during the meeting. Throughout the world, each Mason is presented a plain, white apron at the completion of his Third Degree ceremony, or “Raising”, to be kept safe at home for a solemn, later usage. This plain apron is hence, ceremonial, and therefore not the “working” apron a man would wear at lodge. Later, if he serves as master of a lodge a brother is traditionally presented with a Past Master’s apron and case, or, if not serving as a lodge master, he may opt for an apron with the rosettes, as pictured below.
At Churchill Lodge, in token of our affinity to all things British, we proudly wear working aprons trimmed in light blue, used by most British, Canadian, and Commonwealth lodges. While we practice the Minnesota Work (~ritual) for our formal meetings, we also know the British Emulation Work, and in token, have opted for light blue trim.
Plain aprons are used in a pinch by all Masons, but in conferring degrees, new initiates receiving the Entered Apprentice, or First Degree are given a plain apron to wear during the degree conferral, or “Initiation”. These may be trimmed in white satin, but more often are without trim, in leather or cotton.
White aprons are also used by visitors, regardless of Masonic rank.
When an Entered Apprentice is “Passed” to the Second Degree, he earns the right to wear a Fellowcraft Apron, with TWO rosettes. An Emulation lodge will only have a few of these, as for most new members, the Fellowcraft stage only lasts a month or two.
If you’ve seen rosettes with a dash of scarlet at the button, those indicate a Mark Master: a separate, UK order.
When a Fellowcraft is “Raised” to the Third Degree, he earns the right to wear a Master Mason Apron, with THREE rosettes. Technically then, most members of a lodge have the right to wear these aprons, unless serving or having served in a higher office. In a pinch, many will opt for a plain white apron, for convenience.
While a brother serves as the Master (~president) of his lodge, he earns the right to wear the Masters’ (pictured) or Past Master’s Apron, distinct from the regular members, whether he is a current or former master. The upside down “T” symbols are levels, symbolic to the ritual of the lodge. The trimmed, hanging tassels are merely decorative, as is the addition of silver trim, called “silver ball and chain”. A man’s office may be indicated by the symbol at center, bottom, in this case the Square. Each office may have a different symbol at the center bottom of the officer’s apron, the designs of which are familiar to US Masons.
At the completion of his term, the Master of a lodge joins the ranks of Past Masters, and may continue to wear a Past Master’s Apron to symbolize this rank. Here is a version, trimmed with two tassels, again, officially called “silver plated ball and chain tassels.”
Some lodges place the embroidered seal of the lodge in the lower center, as is our practice. Optionally, some lodges opt for the past master’s symbol.
Here is the Past Master’s symbol. It may be used at the lower center of a Past Masters apron unless the lodge prefers a crest, or on a pocket jewel, or hung at the front of a ceremonial collar like an officer’s jewel. Collars may include a decorative silver braid around the collar, centered or on the edges, in addition to a standard vertical braid, extending to where the jewel hangs.
Alternatively, a Pocket Jewel may be worn to indicate the rank of Past Master, where it would be inappropriate to wear a collar and jewel. (at a meeting, wear the collar. At a dinner, wear the jewel.)
Technically, once a man has completed his term as Master, he may continue to wear the jewel of his prior office, the Square, but you should notice that lodges append this with a rectangular device hanging beneath the Square. Photographed here as a set is a more elaborate Immediate Past Master or Past Master Apron and its accompanying Jewel, hanging from a formal collar. Officers wear such collars and hanging jewels to designate their office; Past Masters are entitled to wear a PM collar and jewel.
Traditionally, in the US and elsewhere, lodges use silver in their color pattern, complimenting either the light blue of Emulation lodges or the dark blue of American-style lodges.
You may at times see Masons with gold and purple trimmed aprons. Where the apron is white, purple and gold throughout, these colors indicate Grand Lodge rank or service.
We have members whose aprons have splashes of gold trim on the rosettes, which is a design choice used by some Canadian lodges, indicating where they were Raised.
In the UK, other colors indicate various branches of Freemasonry, with Red trim used to denote Royal Arch lodges. A splash of red on a light blue apron indicates Mark Master lodges; other colors are used to indicate membership in dozens of other branches of our gentle craft.
Through the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, Churchill Lodge is in amity with the United Grand Lodge of England, and all recognized grand lodges in the world. Yet we have special, and personal friendships that have been improved by regular visitation, by correspondence, and by mutual aid.
1. Led by PGM Rice, many of us have a relationship with brothers from The Martello Lodge #7121, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, UK, of the United Grand Lodge of England.
2. MWB Jackson serves as an Honorary Past Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Cyprus, and supported their efforts to gain Masonic recognition worldwide.
3. We recently lost a founding member, WB Frank Harris, who enjoyed membership in Internet Lodge #9659 under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England. We met members of this lodge in the summer of 2011 for fellowship and a shared meeting here in Minneapolis. He was also our former Grand Rep to Malta.
4. We’ve a relationship with WB Alan Tibbetts of Granite Lodge #446 in Ft. Francis, of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.
5. We’ve a relationship with Ben Franklin Lodge #83 of Madison, Wisconsin, of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin.
6. Many of us enjoy connections through our relationship with Cincinnatus Lodge #76 in Washington, DC, of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
7. Led by PGM Jackson, brothers Berger, Gann, Genz, Blakesley, Kraska and Jackson built a relationship with the Grand Lodge of Cuba when in Jackson’s term as Grand Master they delivered a half ton of medical supplies, children’s toys, electronics and other goods to many of the lodges on that island. Not linked here for security reasons.
8. RWB Bob S. Davis led a contingent of Churchill brethren to the Dominican Republic during 2013, to forge a relationship with English-speaking Mount Moriah Lodge #52.
9. We’ve a relationship with Thunder Bay Lodge #618, of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario.
10. MWB Jackson served as Chairman of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota’s External Relations Committee in 2011-12, a role which some jurisdictions know as Chancellor. In this capacity he aided the Grand Lodge in determination of potential treaties of amity between jurisdictions.
11. A number of Churchill members have previously served, or have been designated by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as Grand Reps (~ambassadors) to foreign jurisdictions, many of which are out of the United States. (Masonically, a “foreign” jurisdiction is any outside our borders or outside one of the 160 constituent lodges of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Thus even our state’s Prince Hall jurisdiction is ‘foreign’.) Here is the list of our reps:
Grand Reps who are members of Churchill Lodge #351
Africa / Burkina Faso – WB David Johnson
Cuba – WB Jason Berger
District of Columbia – MWB Tom Hendrickson
England – MWB Andrew Rice
Puerto Rico – RWB Robert S. Davis
San Marino – WB Shane Wendt
Previously, many Churchill men have served as Grand Reps, and we thank them for their service. Such appointments change with the requirements of each Grand Master, and our lodge is proud that so many of us are willing and able to serve in these valuable roles. Previous Grand Rep appointments, no longer serving, include:
Alaska – Bro. Gary Twigg (now deceased)
Andorra – WB Bradley Skeel
Arkansas – MWB John Gann
Bolivia – WB Steve Genz
Columbia / Bogota – MWB John Gann
Columbia / Cartagena – WB Ted Martz
Cyprus – MWB Thomas C. Jackson
Germany – MWB Neil Neddermeyer
India – WB Daniel F. Akins
Israel – WB Peter Nickitas
Kentucky – Bro. James Martin
Malta – WB Frank Harris (now deceased)
New York – Bro. Paul Kraska (now deceased)
South Carolina – Bro. Chris Taylor
Each of these brethren serve or have served the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as the Grand Rep, or ambassador, assisting travelers who are Masons and who are traveling to or from their assigned nation or state. These men provide guidance and the sometimes vital link of aid for such travelers. Minnesota Masons may contact these men through our lodge secretary, and external Masons may contact them via your Grand Secretary who will contact ours, Rt. Wor. Keith Reierson, in the US at 952-948-6700 or via e-mail at “grandsecretary (at) mnfreemasons.org”. Bro. Reierson will also assist Minnesota Masons to identify Grand Reps serving other jurisdictions not listed.
Note: Unless or until an introduction is made, long-standing Masonic protocol indicates that Masons ought to establish foreign lodge relationships via their own Grand Secretary rather than directly contacting the foreign lodge. An exception is made when you are actually sojourning within the boundaries of another state or nation, and may in an emergency contact the Grand Secretary there, who will extend to you every Masonic courtesy while confirming your affiliation with your home jurisdiction. Some other exceptions are made that allow you to easily join a foreign research lodge, or when encountering Masons during the course of commerce or social events. Once an introduction is made, of course, the relationship is yours to develop and cherish as you wish.