Mentoring Best Practice

From the Start…

Mentoring should start from the earliest possible time, the appointment of a Personal Mentor should be considered at the interview stage of a potential candidate. The earlier our new candidate acquaints himself with his personal mentor and is comfortable in his company the better. Having a definite point of contact from the interview stage all the way through to initiation has to be a good thing. This may well be his sponsor or seconder which obviously would make the introduction process much easier.

Properly Prepared

The only surprises for the candidate on the day of his initiation should be the form and splendour of the 1st Degree Ceremony. On all other matters he should be well informed and properly prepared.

  • Make sure he is aware where he is going and at what time he is expected to be there. Having a lift to the Lodge building with his sponsor, mentor or other brother would be a great way to take some of the pressure off the candidate, but if this is not possible he must as a minimum be met by arrangement at the lodge building.
  • He must be informed well in advance on the correct dress code of the Lodge and not be told on the day that he requires a dark suit or dinner jacket.
  • Ensure he is aware of all the costs of that evening and beyond, lodge fees and other mandates, charity collections and raffles, bar costs etc.
  • Make sure he is aware that he will be expected to reply to his toast and advise him appropriately on a suitable response.
  • From being met at the lodge building by a friendly face the candidate should not be left on his own. Consider introducing him to the Junior Deacon, without giving any secrets away the candidate can be informed and reassured that throughout the ceremony he will be in regular contact with Junior Deacon and at times he will be given some instructions and asked to repeat some words. This could also assist in putting the Junior Deacon at ease, especially if it is his first ceremony in that office.
  • Take care that the candidate is prepared correctly for that ceremony and is as comfortable as possible. There would be nothing more unnerving or off putting for the ceremony to be interrupted because the candidate has been incorrectly prepared or his form of dress has to be re adjusted.

The Ceremony (The First Step)

Once the candidate has passed the Tyler and Inner Guard there is very little the Lodge Mentor or Personal Mentor can do to influence proceedings, it is up to the Worshipful Master and his team of officers to make that first impression.

On completion of the Ceremony and Prior to the Initiate taking his seat in the Lodge, the Lodge Mentor should be given the opportunity to formally introduce the new mason to his Personal Mentor and also present him with a copy of the Freemasons Companion and Entered Apprentice handbook. These publications together with the Fellow Craft and Master Mason handbooks are sent to a Lodge Secretary by the Provincial Office on receipt of a Lodge Summons indicating a 1st Degree Ceremony. The respective handbooks should be presented to the new mason at the same point in the 2nd and 3rd Degree ceremonies. The Freemasons Companion contains a lot of information useful to the new mason and should be taken by him to all meetings.

Following the presentation of the literature, the new mason can then take his seat in the Lodge accompanied by his Personal Mentor. If this is not possible, then another appropriately experienced Brother should be selected to carry out this duty.

The Festive Board (Here’s to his Health)

The new mason should be sat with his Personal Mentor and sponsors at the dinner table. He should be introduced to as many of the members as possible and try to get him involved in the conversation. It is all too easy for small groups to form at the table and start talking on topics of which the new mason has no knowledge, leaving him feeling excluded and isolated.

He needs to be made aware of the format of the Festive Board,

  • what collections and raffles will be held
  • what he is to do if asked to ‘take wine’
  • Does he have a word sheet for any hymns or prayers
  • Instruct him on the format of the Toast List
  • Make sure he is aware and prepared to respond appropriately to his toast

Following the Ceremony

Contact should be made with the new mason as soon as possible after the lodge meeting, either a phone call, or preferably, meet at a convenient location where you can talk privately and in comfort about:-

  • His thoughts on the Ceremony and basic questions about the ritual
  • Any concerns or fears
  • Arrange a visit to a lodge holding a 1st degree ceremony
  • Go through the learning required of him to prepare for the next ceremony
  • Make sure he is aware of the dates of the Lodge Meetings and when his next ceremony is to be
  • Inform him of details and dates of any other visits, functions or social events on the lodge calendar.
  • If appropriate give him information on the Colonnade Club

Passing and Raising

The new Mason needs to be well informed about when he is to be Passed and Raised and again it is for his Mentor to make sure he is properly prepared for these occasions. As much attention should be given to the new Mason in these further ceremonies as at his Initiation

  • Has he learned the answers to the questions he will be asked
  • Has he received a summons and aware of when and where he should arrive
  • Confirm dress code
  • Can someone give him a lift or again at a minimum he should be met at the Lodge building
  • The Mentor should accompany him at all times
  • Is he in possession of his Freemasons Companion, hymn or ode sheet
  • At his raising, is he required to supply his own regalia
  • Are there any other expenses he will be required to pay at either of these ceremonies

Daily Advancement

It is hoped that the new Mason will build a bond of trust and friendship with his Mentor and through him increase his circle of Masonic friends so that he is comfortable to ask questions about Masonry and the ceremonies he has been through. This close contact with the Personal Mentor and the friendships he makes should ensure that the new mason, from a very early stage, has a common understanding of the ritual, which should lead to the ability to answer questions from friends and family without embarrassment on all the usual topics including the classics of rolled up trouser legs and funny handshakes.

It is for the Mentor to point the new Mason in the right direction for information as he requires it, allowing his Masonic knowledge to build and grow. This knowledge should give the new Mason the confidence to speak openly with friends, family and other non Masons about what Freemasonry means with the aim to have as many members as possible as Ambassadors for our Craft.

Following the 3rd Degree

Mentoring a new Mason does not end after his 3rd Degree ceremony. He may well now be wearing the badge of a Master Mason and sat among his fellows in the Lodge room indistinguishable from the others. However we must not let them be forgotten or ignored, continue to involve them and make them feel part of the Lodge they have joined. The Mentor should be the Brother best placed to assess how our new Master Mason is progressing and if he is ready to take on any tasks or small pieces of ritual in any of the ceremonies. Many Lodges are now inviting junior members to present the Working Tools to the new Master at the Installation Festival. These small passages are a great introduction for new members to the floor of the Lodge and involve them in an important part of the Lodges calendar.

Mentoring our Officers

Mentors should be considered for the officers of your Lodge particularly the progressive offices. Most Deacons rely on the Director of Ceremonies for support and advice but he has many other tasks to attend to, so it would be great for them to have a dedicated mentor, experienced in the workings of the Lodge, to assist them. Likewise the two Wardens, now only a short distance from the Chair of King Solomon, appointing a Past Master with recent experience of the Chair, as their Mentor, could help them prepare for what is ahead. He can advise of what expected of them both as Wardens and as Master when they reach the Chair. Their commitments to visit other Lodges, social events they are expected to arrange of attend, committee meetings etc.

It is understood that in Lodges with smaller numbers the appointment of a number of Personal Mentors is not practical. This is not ‘one size fits all’ and the mentoring programme within your own Lodge has to adjust so that it works effectively with the available resources.

In Conclusion

This brief document is designed to provide some guidance for Lodge and Personal Mentors to carry out the important duties of their office effectively. It is not prescriptive, but it is believed that if followed, it will assist in developing a successful mentoring programme within the Lodge thereby ensuring our new brethren get the best possible start to their masonic careers. Keeping our new masons informed and making them feel part of the Lodge from the start can only help in retention. Hopefully this will encourage them to speak openly and positively about their masonry to family and friends thereby assisting with recruitment and securing the future of our lovely Craft.