Charles R. Seaford, 32
Front Royal, Virginia

Welcoming every new member and visitor with open arms is essential to maintaining Masonic membership.

As a youth of 12 while on summer vacation, I remember working for my uncle as a “go-for” while he built his house in Fairfax, Virginia.

On certain evenings he would quit work early and rush off to attend the Masons. I remember wondering, “They must be important for him to quit work early to attend!” He would often tell me how much they had helped him and how they continued to be of help in many ways. Although I didn’t know at the time what he really meant, I liked what I did know about the Masons.

Years went by, and my uncle never asked me to join the Masons. I wondered why, thinking I was too young because most of the men that I knew who were Masons were much older than myself. I remember being afraid to ask to become a member because I just knew that the men would peer over their glasses and sternly ask, “Why do you want to join this Lodge, boy?” The thought of this happening frightened me and made me wait until I was much older to finally ask.

A friend at work was telling me how his father-in-law had got him into the Masons. I asked him if he could help me join. He said, “Why don’t you ask him?” I did, and in short order I petitioned Elmer Timberman Lodge No. 54 in Annandale, Virginia, and received my Degrees. As is so often the case, my work schedule kept me from attending Lodge on a regular basis. When I did attend, I was welcomed and made to feel at home by everyone in attendance. Brothers, that old-timer looking over his glasses still exists in too many Lodges today. If we are to see our Fraternity prosper and grow we must make every effort to make every new Brother and visitor to our Lodges feel welcome, no matter what his age or station in life. Remember that around Masonry’s altar you have promised to befriend every Brother who should need your assistance. This generous principle should extend to a new member or visitor who needs your assistance in getting acquainted around the Lodge. Make it a point to shake his hand and welcome him to your Lodge. You might just make a friend for life.

If we are to see our Fraternity prosper and grow, we must make every effort to make every new Brother and visitor to our Lodges feel welcome, no matter what his age or station in life.

I remember moving to a new town and finding a local Mason to show me the Lodge. There I faced what I had dreaded earlier, an old-timer looking over his glasses asking, “What do you want in this Lodge, boy?” Well, I didn’t rush to return, and it was about 10 years before I did.

One Friday night, I was determined to attend Lodge. I showed up at the local Lodge not knowing a soul. Having no one to vouch for me, I filled out a visitor’s card. The most delightful gentleman took me to a small room and examined me. He was cordial and friendly, not threatening, throughout. Then, he took me into the Lodge room and introduced me to just about everyone. When Lodge opened, he proudly vouched for me, and we became good friends. I have rarely missed a meeting since. In the ensuing years, I have been signed up by this gentleman to the Royal Arch, the Commandery, and the Scottish Rite. Also, I served as Master of Unity Lodge No. 146.

Remember Brethren, welcome every new member and visitor with open arms. He just may become a great asset to your Lodge. If not, you have done your part in the best manner to befriend every Masonic Brother who may need your assistance.