The precise origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time, however, its
traditions date back to the Middle Ages and to the stonemasons who
built the cathedrals and castles of Europe. To construct them, it was
necessary for men to have considerable knowledge of geometry,
arithmetic and engineering. These highly skilled masons formed
themselves into lodges to protect the skills and secrets of their trade
and to pass their knowledge on to worthy apprentices. Importantly,
these men were not bondsmen, hence the word "free" in Freemason.
By the 17th Century, when the building of castles and cathedrals
diminished, Masonry began to lose its 'operative' aspects and worthy
men who were not craftsmen were also accepted into its membership. It
was from this time that Masons were known as 'free and accepted'
Masons, as they continue to be known to this day. Freemasonry was
recorded as coming into England from Europe in the Regis Manuscript,
the oldest known Masonic document, which dates to 1390, but claiming to
have existed for some 350 years previous to that. In that Manuscript it
is said that the Craft entered England during the reign of King
Athelstan (895 - 939), and most date that to 926. Freemasonry was
widespread throughout England, Scotland and Ireland by the time the
first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717, and thereafter
Freemasonry spread rapidly throughout the world. The oldest known
Lodge minutes are that of Lodge of Edinburgh (St. Mary’s Chapel) No. 1,
dated Juy 31, 1599, in which a member voiced his concern at the
numbers of men who were not operative masons joining the Lodge.
Contrary to popular opinion, Freemasonry is not a ‘secret society’, it
is however a private organization, not unlike thousands of
organizations world-wide whose operations and internal functions are
not widely known. Most things about Freemasons are indeed known, their
meeting places and dates, their membership, and in certain cases
minutes of their meeting have been published. There is almost
nothing about Freemasonry you cannot learn by visiting a reputable
library anywhere in the world. In fact you can purchase “Freemasons
For Dummies” at Amazon.com for $13.99, which in my opinion is
one of the most in-depth books on Freemasonry ever published.
Freemasonry holds as its credo “To make good men, better”.
Freemasonry is heavily involved in charitable giving, donating millions
of dollars to worthwhile causes worldwide. Freemasons maintain
Masonic Hospitals, where people needing prolonged or exorbitantly
expensive medical treatment beyond their means can apply, and receive
that medical treatment free of charge. All these noble endeavours
are often overshadowed by the claims of the conspiracy theorists of
world domination. I submit for your consideration, that if the
world was run by Freemasons it would be a far better place.
It is my honour and pleasure to have been a Freemason for coming up on
40 years. I was initiated into Lodge St. George, No. 200, St.
George’s, Bermuda, the oldest Scottish Lodge outside of Scotland, in
1977. Over the years I have served in almost every office in that
Lodge, and was Right Worshipful Master thereof three times (1982,
1991 & 1996), served seven years as Director of Ceremonies, and six
years as Director of Music. I was elevated to Honorary Grand
Lodge rank, by the Grand Lodge of Scotland to Hon. Asst. Grand Director
of Ceremonies in 1996, promoted in 2007 to Hon. Junior Grand Warden,
and promoted once again in 2012 to Hon. Senior Grand Warden. In
2007 I was particularly honoured to be appointed Right Worshipful Grand
Superintendent for all Scottish Lodges in the District of Bermuda, an
appointment I held for five years. Freemasonry is the most honourable
organization I have even been associated with, and it certainly lived
up to its credo with me, changing me for the better.
Right Worshipful Brother Leslie T. Center, HSGW
Past Grand Superintendent, Bermuda District
The Grand Lodge of Scotland A. F. & A. M.