Lodge Officers Duties
Below are the descriptions of the Lodge Officer Duties carried out in a Masonic Lodge.
Worshipful Master (WM)
The Master’s jewel is the Square, a stonemason’s tool to ascertain true and correct angles of the cut and smoothed stone … thus his jewel symbolizes virtue.
The Worshipful Master sits in the East of the Lodge room, symbolic of the Rising Sun in the East, and directs all of the business of the Lodge. While most Masonic Lodges are built with an East-West orientation, even if the building faces a different direction, the Master is said to be “in the East”. He also presides over ritual and ceremonies.
His position is similar to a President of any other organization. As Master, his word is final over any and all actions pertaining to his Lodge.
It is his duty to, “… set the Craft to work and give them wholesome instruction for their labor”.
The Worshipful Master is responsible for every single thing within his Lodge during his year as Master. He is ultimately responsible for every other Lodge officer and their duties, every Lodge committee, ritual and degree work, Masonic education, social functions, fundraisers, District and Grand Lodge Liaison, Trestleboard (Newsletter) Communication, etc.
Senior Warden (SW)
The Senior Warden’s jewel is the Level … symbolizing (and helping to ensure) that all Masons meet on the level, without regard to social, political or religious beliefs or status. He is the second in command within the Lodge Officers.
In the absence of the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden assumes the Worshipful Master’s duties. The Senior Warden of a Masonic Lodge sits in the West, symbolic of the setting sun, assisting the Worshipful Master in opening and closing the Lodge.
The Senior Warden is in charge of the Lodge when it is “at labor”. His position is similar to a Vice-President of any organization. His ancient duties were to pay the Craft (the members of the guild) their wages and to handle disputes among the workers. It is his duty to support the Master and to prepare himself for that office during the following year.
Junior Warden (JW)
The Junior Warden’s jewel is the Plumb, a stonemason’s instrument used for determining the alignment of a vertical surface. It symbolizes upright behavior among Masons.
The Junior Warden is the third in command of the Lodge. He sits in the South, symbolic of the position of the sun at mid-day and is responsible for the Brethren while the Lodge is at ease or “refreshment“.
His position is similar to a Second Vice-President. The Junior Warden, too, may open the lodge if the Master is unable to attend the meeting. It is his duty to arrange meals for the lodge, aided by the Senior and Junior Stewards.
Symbolically, it is also his duty to make certain that the members do not convert their refreshment into “intemperance or excess“. This is a holdover from earlier days, which still remains as part of the Junior Warden’s job description, even though in most North American jurisdictions, alcohol is barred from the Lodge.
Senior Deacon (SD)
His jewel is the Square & Compass with the Sun in the middle. The sun signifies that his position is on the lower level, to the right of the Worshipful Master in the East. His primary duty is to act as a messenger for the Worshipful Master.
The Senior Deacon of a Masonic Lodge is an assistant officer of the Lodge. He also welcomes and escorts both visitors and candidates into the Lodge and introduces distinguished visitors.
It is his duty to assist the Worshipful Master and carry orders between the Worshipful Master and the Senior Warden. During degree rituals, he guides the new candidate and conducts him around the Lodge room.
During the opening and closing ceremonies, the Senior Deacon opens the Volume Of The Sacred Law to the correct passage of the degree being worked and closes it after the Lodge is adjourned. He also lights and extinguishes the candles at the altar. In some Lodges, he carries the ballot box around the Lodge when new members are being voted upon.
The Senior Deacon’s position is similar to a Manager. The Senior and Junior Deacons both carry long staffs or rods, because as messengers of the Worshipful Master, the staffs are symbolic of the caduceus (or wand) that the Roman winged god and messenger Mercury carried during his duties. On top of the rods are the jewels of their respective offices.
Junior Deacon (JD)
The jewel of his office is the Square & Compass with the Moon in the center (rather than a sun, as with the Senior Deacon), which signifies that he is in the West.
The Junior Deacon of a Masonic Lodge is an assistant officer of the Lodge. He sits to the lower right of the Senior Warden.
The Junior Deacon’s principle roles are to assist the Senior Warden by carrying messages from the Senior Warden in the West to the Junior Warden in the South and to guard the inner door of the Lodge.
It is also his duty to ensure that the Tyler (also spelled “Tiler”) is guarding the door and only allowing visitors to enter after they have been properly vouched for. The Junior Deacon and the Tyler communicate with each other by knocking on the door … the Tyler from the outside, the Junior Deacon from the inside.
The Junior Warden’s position is similar to an Assistant Manager.
Senior Steward (SS)
His jewel is also the Cornucopia, an exact duplicate of the Junior Steward’s jewel. The Cornucopias signify a “Horn of Plenty”, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables to denote the “fruits of one’s labors” and representing “a job well done“.
The Senior Steward of a Masonic Lodge is an appointed officer of the Lodge. He is also understudies the Junior Deacon’s position, filling in for the Junior Deacon when he is absent.
The Junior Deacon’s principle role is to prepare candidates during ritual, escort them to the Lodge room and assist the Senior Deacon. In their entry-Officer positions, both the Senior and Junior Stewards typically handle kitchen duties and act as wait staff for the members.
The Senior Steward’s position is similar to that of a Supervisor.
Junior Steward (JS)
Like the Senior Steward, the Junior Steward’s Jewel is also the Cornucopia, and, like the Senior Steward, he is an appointed officer of the Lodge.
The Junior Steward understudies the Senior Steward’s position, filling in for the Senior Steward in his absence. The Junior Steward’s principle role is to assist the Senior Steward and the Senior Deacon in the preparation of candidates.
Both the Senior and Junior Stewards carry rods, on top of which are the jewels of their offices. The rods represent England’s Lord High Steward’s rod in the House of Lords.
The Junior Steward position is similar to that of an assistant Supervisor.
Lodge Officer duties for those that are not necessarily in the progressive line …
The following officers do not usually need to move in the progressive line. Many times they have already progressed through all the chairs and have chosen to serve their Lodge in different positions. Treasurers and Secretaries often serve in their respective positions for many years.
Continuity in these positions is vital to a well-run and efficient Lodge. Training takes time and if these officer positions changed each year, secretarial, financial and accounting chaos could occur.
The Secretary’s jewel is the Crossed Quill Pens. He acts as the Lodge Recorder, functioning similarly to a corporate C.O.O. (Chief Operations Officer).
The Secretary’s Lodge Officer Duties require a high degree of Lodge experience, Masonic knowledge, diplomacy and, above all, detailed paperwork skills. The Lodge Secretary is the backbone of any Masonic Lodge and he holds a position of great responsibility. He sits to the left of the Master.
His duties require him to handle all correspondence to the members, minutes of Lodge meetings, petitions of new candidates, maintain a continuous (and accurate) Lodge member roster, and many other administrative duties. He compiles an ongoing list of new candidates, tracking which degrees each candidate has undertaken. From his member list, he sends out the annual dues notices and receives dues payments. He communicates with other Lodges and the Grand Lodge, types letters, retrieves the mail and helps the Master organize his meetings.
The Secretary must be well versed in Grand Lodge By-Laws for his jurisdiction and his own Lodge By-Laws.
A very experienced member usually resides in this chair … he may be a Past (Worshipful) Master of the Lodge. While it is not a prerequisite, due to the number of hours that this position requires, most (but not all) Lodge Secretaries are retired, therefore enabling them to devote the many hours required which are necessary to this position. Depending on location and Lodge preference, the Lodge Secretary is often the only paid position within the Lodge.
The Treasurer’s jewel is a pair of Crossed Keys, signifying he is the Collector and Distributor of all Lodge Monies as he holds the keys to the cashbox.
The Treasurer of a Masonic Lodge is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Lodge. He sits to the right of the Master and behind the Senior Deacon.
The Treasurer is responsible for all financial transactions. He receives all money, pays all debts by order of the Worshipful Master with the consent of the Lodge and renders financial reports when requested.
While the Treasurer does not need to be in possession of an accounting degree, past experience with bookkeeping and accounting is a definite asset. Financial bookkeeping transactions may be performed either by hand or by the use of accounting software.
The Marshal’s jewel is the Crossed Batons. The Marshal, an appointed officer of the Lodge, is the Lodge’s Conductor or Master of Ceremonies.
The Marshal’s duties and principle role is the organization of processions and ensuring the correct precedence and etiquette in formal proceedings.
It is his duty to formally conduct visitors into the Lodge and introduce them to the members when the Lodge is in session.
The Chaplain’s jewel of office is an Opened Book, symbolizing the Volume of Sacred Law. Since Masonry is non-denominational, depending on a member’s individual beliefs, this might be the Christian Bible, Hebrew Torah or Tanach, the Muslim Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas or other Holy Books. He is an appointed officer of the Lodge, sits to the left of the Master and may or may not have any past religious experience.
The Chaplain is the spiritual leader of the Lodge. While he may or may not be a real-world minister, priest, rabbi or Imam, in the Lodge, the Chaplain is responsible for non-denominational prayers at both the opening and closing of meetings, during degree ritual ceremonies and before meals.
Some Lodges in various jurisdictions may also appoint Lodge members as an Organist and a Historian. The Organist, obviously, takes care of music for various Masonic ceremonies within the Lodge.
The Historian maintains a history of the Lodge via writings, photographs and news clippings, and, in our current electronic age, other digital and electronic media.
Tyler (or Tiler)
The Tyler’s jewel is the Sword, by which he symbolically refuses entrance to anyone who is uninitiated in the Craft. The sword has no scabbard, as it is his symbolic duty to always have his sword drawn, ready for the defense of his post.
As an appointed officer of the Lodge, he is sometimes known as the “Outer Guard“, sitting outside the closed door of the lodge room, armed with a sword.
The Tyler’s duties and principle role are to ensure that only those who are duly qualified are allowed to enter the Lodge Room. He guards against “cowans” and “eavesdroppers”. During the Middle Ages, a cowan was an uninitiated or non-apprenticed stonemason who built stone walls of poor quality.
While the Tyler is sometimes called upon to assist in the preparation of candidates, his chief duty is to (symbolically) keep unskilled workmen from overhearing any conversations within the Lodge room that they are not qualified to hear.
After the Lodge members are inside the Lodge room, the door closes and it is the Tyler’s duty to decide whether late arrivals may enter. It is also his duty to make sure that each visitor is “properly clothed”, which means they must be wearing their Masonic apron.
To be fully and properly dressed before entrance into the Lodge room, the visitor must be wearing their apron over the top (on the outside) of their suit coat and the apron strings must be fully tied before the Tyler will allow the visitor entrance. Those present claiming to be visitors from another Masonic Lodge have to answer a number of questions to test their claim of actual membership in the fraternity.