Dropping Masonic Titles

Can such a change defuse Masonic politics?

Harmony is an essential ingredient to any Masonic Lodge. It is one of the main reasons men gravitate to Lodge; to escape the harsh realities of the world and sit among men who enjoy the company of others and respect the dignity of each other. To this end, it is forbidden to discuss religion and politics, be it related to government or the fraternity. Even during Masonic elections, campaigning is rebuked as it may offend someone. Despite our best intentions though, politics creeps into Masonry, particularly at election time.

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It is not uncommon to have Masons whisper behind the scenes to garner votes, to seek endorsements, and run a political machine to maintain control. Far too often we have seen people elevated to a level of responsibility, yet accomplish nothing of substance during their tenure, whether it is a Worshipful Master of a Lodge, a District Deputy Grand Master, or a Grand Master. In such cases, people are looking for nothing more than recognition to feed their ego. This is why such things as aprons and titles are coveted, thereby representing badges of recognition.

Read: The Mystical Meaning of So Mote It Be

It has become customary to recognize Masons as “Worshipful,” “Right Worshipful,” “Very Worshipful,” or “Most Worshipful.” Further, in correspondence we recognize ourselves as PM, PDDGM, PDI, PGM, etc. I have been guilty of this myself, but have been having second thoughts about such pompous titles. It is my belief Masons meet upon the level; that equality is of paramount importance in a Masonic Lodge; that each member’s voice weighs no more than another. Unfortunately, this is no longer true and we bow to men of title instead.

Wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment to drop the titles completely, particularly those no longer in office? Instead, we just refer to each other as “Brother” such as, “Bro. Bryce,” “Bro. Smith,” “Bro. Jones,” etc. Allow sitting officers to carry the title of their office, but when finished, revert back to the “Brother” moniker.

Some might resist and complain, “But I worked too hard for that title!” For whom did you work? A fraternity that promotes meeting upon the level or for your personal glory? Eliminating such titles could very well help defuse the politics of Masonry and encourage those people who truly have the best interests of the fraternity in mind.

What do you think?

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant who writes commentaries about the times we live in be it in the corporate world, the Masonic world, or our personal lives. His writings are well known on the Internet and are humorous, educational, and at times controversial. You won’t always agree with him, but Tim will definitely get you thinking.

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  1. Thank you for this viewpoint. I was raised one year ago, and one of the inconsistencies I have felt between the teachings and practice is the use of titles.

  2. Excellent point of view. As someone who has a few of these “titles”, I really wish we would dispense with them. I’m Brother Nick or Brother Johnson, we meet on the level. Great essay.

  3. I rather tend to agree. It’s fine with me either way, but it’s when I see finer points of protocol—ESPECIALLY outside of the tyled Lodge—turn into finer points of finger-wagging…yeah…

  4. Interesting to say the least, I have feelings both ways, I know that it seperates us but it also shows respect for our accomplishments, So????

  5. Bro. Ed – Offhand I would agree with you, but I have seen far too many who accomplished nothing and just wanted the title.

  6. Yes of course we meet on the level,but the order of precedence and respect must be followed naturally without any prejudice or ill will. The Ladder must be climbed in the queue to maintain the framework of the order. This is how King Solomon meant it to be.

  7. Really? You have first hand knowledge of King Solomon’s meaning? Yes, we meet on the level, and Yes, we afford respect to the officers of the Lodge. My point is, after serving your position, what does the title really buy you? Personal prestige? That’s not what I’m in this for, and I suspect a lot of other Masons feel the same way.

  8. Brother,
    I am a newly raised Master Mason. I don’t mind calling a Brother or introducing a Brother as, “Past Master Tim Bryce”. I’ve been a Master Mason for a month or two now. I guess the titles could go to a brothers head. But it’s fine to show accomplishments, though, isn’t it? “I was PM of BG Lodge #73, GM of Kentucky” etc, only shows their accomplishments in the craft.

    Zach Powell
    Bowling Green Lodge #73 F&AM, Bowling Green Kentucky, USA

  9. I was raised by my DeMolay Executive Officer (05-19-1971), who was a PGM of Masons in Massachusetts. His advice was ” I’m Most Worshipful in the Lodge, out here I’m Neil” My view

  10. Bro. Tim that is an interesting but IMHO roundabout way to attempt to solve the problem of men being placed into positions for which they are unsuitable. I believe a better solution would be to “NOT ELECT” those men.

    Too many Masons are either unengaged with the selection of officers or feel that progressing towards the East is automatic without regard to the consequences of those elections. I have watched successful Lodges and Grand Lodges that have been crashed and burned by men elected to important stations who had not made suitable proficiency in the proceeding chair.

    I strongly feel that we should be men and only pick the best man for the job from the Brothers “among whom no contention should ever exist, but that most noble contention, or rather emulation, of who can BEST WORK and best agree.” Automatic progression fails this charge.


    W.B. Bro. Tri Kvin Sep

  11. I agree that the removing of titles is something that makes perfect sense. Indeed we meet upon the level and we are supposed to be coming together to work together. Lord, how many times have I heard the introductions for lodge and have a Senior Deacon struggle to say “Right Worshipful Brother John Smith, Illustrious 33rd KYCH”. You know what shows you’re KYCH? The pendant. Right Worshipful? Purple Apron.

    As someone who has MANY pins/awards/pendants and doesn’t wear them because it makes me look like an ego driven goof ball, I see the point of Bro. Bryce.

    To quote Manly P Hall:
    “Watch fobs, stick pins, and
    other material insignia do not make Masons;
    neither does the ritual ordain them. They are
    evolved through the self-conscious effort to live up
    to the highest and greatest within themselves…”

  12. Brother Sep –

    I agree with you, and I wish more people would do as you suggest, but that is not what I’m driving at here. I simply want to promote the three tenets of Freemasonry: Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly love. Using a title while a person is still in office is one thing; using it afterwards doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to me (someone who has different titles).

    All the Best,

  13. I hadn’t thought of it from a tongue-twister point of view, but you are right.

    Whether people use my title or not, they know who I am and what I have done. I need no further accolades than “Thank you” or “Well done.”

  14. I was recently informed that, in Scotland, the practice is to attach the honorific (Right Worshipful, etc.) to the office, but not to the man’s name. So, you might say “Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden,” but when addressing the man, you would only say “Brother MacKenzie.” I rather like that, and it says a lot about the egalitarian manner of the Scots.

    In Traditional Observance lodges, it is common practice to dispense with titles and introductions at their formal dinners, called Agapés. They also dispense with the formal toast list, in which everyone from the Grand Master, the District Deputy, and the Worshipful Master, are toasted. This toast list is replaced with three or four well-written toasts to, say, Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, or to Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.

    But, in the end, there will always be those who are only in it for the self-aggrandizement, and that will never change. They would be just as happy climbing the ladder to the top whether a fancy title comes with it or not.

  15. i was past master 6 times–done funerail sevices—-lectured–for 20 years–now im expelled—-im still just brother ron to my friends-all ways was- dont want to be any thing else—-if i meet a mason i tell them right off–im expelled–not ashamed of it—i was expelled by a man i lectured—the first time he ever set in a station was the w. m. station of our lodge—yep he was told he had the title of w.m. and he could do any thing he wanted—yea–titles are one thing our othes are another—think i will stay with my othes—lets stay on the level brother –titles or no title–on the level-thats masonry-

  16. I am a lifetime member of my lodge who has seen ego and greed for title go hand in hand. Not all brothers exhibit this trait, actually they are few, but well known. This tendency of some brethren has really turned a really great thing into something I tend to avoid now.

    I joined the Shriners a few months after becoming a lifetime member of my lodge, and I have seen very few nobles in the Shrine who exhibit the networking and title hunger I have seen so blatantly in the Blue Lodge.

    I really like the true sense of brotherhood of the Shriners. Nearly all of us joined for the noble cause of raising funds for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and I try to attend as many events as I can.

    Great thought and thread. Ray Kustush, title withheld

  17. An interesting proposal, but I would have to come down against such a proposal. Isn’t it the responsibility of the craft to exercise their votes properly and determine those who would not labor in the quarry and would be fence sitters?

    Here in Texas, we see men who are elected into the Grand South and then advance in lock step to the Grand East. The membership of Grand Lodge does not review the progress of these brethren. Thankfully, the men who have made it to the Grand East have been worthy of the title they have acquired, but the potential for abuse exists.

    The Subordinate Lodges generally hold their officers to a higher standard as I have seen several men removed from the line in their lodges because the membership didn’t want them to take the next step.

    The point is if we review the performance of officers as they progress to a point where they gain a permanent title, then only those men who are in the line for Masonry’s sake would earn that title.

  18. I have never liked titles but out of respect I do recognize while in lodge, chapter, council etc my brothers/companions by their titles. Most know me simply as Brother Camp or Danny and that is how I prefer it. As masons we are taught many things by our masonic rituals/lectures etc. We are taught that we are to show brotherly love, relief and truth to our fellow man especially a brother. We are to whisper good counsel in a brothers ear and to assist a fallen brother. All too often we see brothers who are only in the fraternity for what it can do for them which is wrong. But it is also wrong of brothers who see this and then ignore it instead of whispering good counsel in a brothers ear – not out of anger but out love and concern for him. So brother Tim I thank you for caring about your brothers in bringing the subject of titles up. Take care and rememder we meet upon the level, act by the plumb and part upon the square.

    Fraternally Danny

  19. Why Mr Chasteen your not even or have ever been a Mason, but rather an Internet Anti-Mason stalker who has used handles such as Joel Woods, Killumiati, majikstikk, Joel Ryan Chastain,ect..

  20. brother clark—im sorry ==but==i havent a clue what your talking about===if you knew me or knew any one that did know me==grin===you would laugh at your own self===even expelled===i hold to my heart masonry==im ron chasteen===nothen more===but im not going to let the grand lodge of arkansas and jasper 21 steal 20 years of my masonic life—my perpetual dues–scare my so called friends into hiding—tell lies on me–ect ect—listen—my phone no. is 870-446-5665—-call me or just email me your no. and let me call you–i promise you—im sorry but you dont have a clue–that is said with out hate—faternaily ron chasteen

  21. I believe that titles have very little to do with the politics in the Lodge. But, rather the ones who have influential power over the majority aka the guy who has the most people in his corner. This has absolutely nothing to do with titles, but of sheep who rally around their herder. The man or select few men who do their best to keep the truth under raps. What I mean by truth is how the proceedings should go in Lodge, what the by-laws & traditions of the lodge are, what the Blue Book of Masonic Law has to say, not communicating information of events to speak with well informed brethren, not helping brothers learn the ritual, ect… This is the problem not the titles in my opinion.


  22. When the Caledonians visited our Lodge they advised that in the Scottish rite they have done away with much of this and the only Worshipful Bro is the incumbent Master of his Lodge

  23. While it’s true that some may hold their titles above all else – I disagree with dropping titles as it’s what helps to identify what a Brother has done for our Craft. The same way I wouldn’t call a past president of the United States “Bill”, George”, or “Barrack” … is the same reason why I wouldn’t call a Past Grandmaster “Bro. Bob”. Also – the Apron is the badge of a Free & Accepted Mason … more honorable than the Star & Garter … why wouldn’t we want to personalize these and wear them proudly? Most simply wear the cloth ones that a Lodge would have on hand instead of bringing in their own. Not taking our traditions seriously enough is just part of reason why there are Lodges that are successful with the focus on esoteric work, and those that serve as mere social gatherings.

  24. great change. if we no longer belong to the hierarchy of the lodge Bro. is the most proper address. we operate always on the level.

  25. Good and interesting post. My Lodge was founded by RCAF personnel 56 years ago. I think it has permeated our culture. While our official communications carry titles, aside from the WM we rarely use titles, if ever. It’s not a disregard but more a mutual recognition of all being on the level. When the GM or DDGM visit, such titles are used in open Lodge, but we’re just not about huff n puff…perhaps that’s a Canadian thing too? Simply “Brother” is the greatest respect one can share.

  26. That’s how it works in Scotland. Honorifics go with offices. We don’t have Officers, but Office-bearers. When you’re out of the office, you lose the honorific. The Master of the Lodge is addressed as Right Worshipful Master, but a Past Master is simply addressed as Brother.

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