Below is a brief description of the duty and the jewels representing each officer of the lodge.
The office of Worshipful Master is the highest honor to which a lodge may appoint any of its members. This position is similar to a CEO or president of a company. The office is filled by election, generally by means of a secret ballot. However, in most lodges the progression is such that the post will almost always be filled by the previous year's Senior Warden.
Use of the word implies its original meaning, "to give respect", similar to calling a judge "Your Honor" or a mayor "Honorable". In fact, mayors and judges in parts of England are still called "Worshipful" or "Your Worship." French Masons use the word Vénérable as the honorific for their Masters.
The Senior Warden is the second of the three principal officers of a lodge, and is the Master's principal deputy. This role is similar to a COO of a company. Under some constitutions, if the Worshipful Master is absent then the Senior Warden presides at meetings as "acting Master", and may act for the Master in all matters of lodge business. In many lodges it is presumed that the Senior Warden will become the next Worshipful Master.
The third of the 'principal officers' is the Junior Warden. The Junior Warden is charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is in recess for meals or other social purposes. Think of this role as a Senior Executive VP.
The role of the ‘Treasurer’ is to keep the accounts, collect annual dues from the members, pay bills, and forward annual dues to the Grand Lodge.
The annual presentation of accounts is an important measure of the lodge's continuing viability, whilst the efficient collection of annual subscriptions is vitally important, as any lapse in payment (deliberate or unintentional) can lead to a member losing voting rights, being denied the opportunity to visit other lodges, and finally even being debarred or excluded from his own lodge.
Although any member may hold the office of 'Secretary', it is almost universal practice for an experienced Past Master to hold this position. It is also common for the same member to hold the office of Secretary for a number of years, for the sake of continuity; although again, there is no rule to this effect, and annual re-election/appointment is necessary in all jurisdictions.
The Secretary's office is sometimes said to be the real power base of a lodge. It is certainly true that the position is an influential one, and in those lodges which do not have an active general committee, the Secretary inevitably ends up making many key decisions in the life of the lodge.
The Secretary's role includes issuing the 'summons' (a formal notice of an impending meeting, with time, date and agenda), recording meeting minutes, completing statistical returns to the Grand Lodge, and advising the Worshipful Master on matters of procedure. The Secretary is almost always a key figure in the interviewing of potential new members of the lodge.
In most Masonic jurisdictions, each lodge will have a 'Chaplain'. The principal role of the Chaplain is to lead prayer before and after the lodge meeting, and to say grace while the lodge is at dinner. In many lodges this position is filled by a clergyman (an ordained minister, priest, rabbi, imam, etc.) who is a brother of the lodge. However, it is not required that the Chaplain be a clergyman, as prayers are non-denominational.
The principal roles of the Senior Deacon are to conduct candidates around the Lodge during certain ceremonies and formally to assist the Worshipful Master and to carry messages between the Master and the Senior Warden. In some jurisdictions he is also responsible for accommodating and introducing visitors.
The office of Junior Deacon is similar in many respects to that of Senior Deacon. The principal roles of the Junior Deacon are to assist the Senior Warden, conduct certain candidates, and carry messages between the two Wardens. In some jurisdictions he is also responsible for guarding the inside of the main door of the lodge and ensuring that the lodge is tyled.
'Stewards' are commonly appointed to fulfill a number of junior assistant roles. There is considerable variance, even within the same jurisdiction, as to the precise roles played by Stewards. Some of their common duties could include the following:
Some jurisdictions specify that each lodge has two Stewards, known as the 'Senior Steward' and 'Junior Steward'. Other jurisdictions put no limit on the number of Stewards who may be appointed, and in this respect the office is unique.
There are jurisdictions in which the office is distinct from any other, in which cases the duties of the office revolve around the organization of processions and ensuring the correct precedence and etiquette in formal proceedings, including the introduction of visitors to the lodge. This is distinct (in such jurisdictions) from the role of the Director of Ceremonies in supervising the ritual of the lodge's degree ceremonies. This officer is also responsible for the smooth flowing of ceremonial and ritual and may hold rehearsals. He may be responsible for prompting other officers who forget their lines. In some jurisdictions, he directs proceedings during the installation of a new Worshipful Master.
This officer's primary duty is to prepare candidates prior to each of the three degrees. They also help conduct the candidates during the degree conferrals.
The 'Tiler' is sometimes known as the 'Outer Guard' of the lodge. His duty is to guard the door (from the outside), with a drawn sword, and ensure that only those who are duly qualified manage to gain entry into the lodge meeting. In some jurisdictions, he also prepares candidates for their admission. The Tyler is traditionally responsible for preparing the lodge room before the meeting, and for storing and maintaining the regalia after the meeting,
In some Jurisdictions the Tyler is a Past Master of the Lodge while in others he may be an employed brother from another lodge.
Images provided by: Texas Lodge of Research
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