Prince Hall Freemasonry is a rewarding experience and membership is open to all men aged 21 years or over. Like many membership organizations, there are certain prerequisites that potential members must satisfy when applying to be a Prince Hall Freemason. To become a Prince Hall Freemason a person needs to:
As Prince Hall Freemasonry offers many unique benefits, these prerequisites ensure that those who join get the most out of becoming a Prince Hall Freemason.
If you satisfy these requirements and are interested in joining Prince Hall Freemasonry, there are two ways in which you can apply to become a Prince Hall Freemason.
APPROACH A FREEMASON YOU KNOW
If you know a Prince Hall Freemason, approach him and inform him of your desire to join. After discussing your intentions, he would probably become your ‘nominator’ and make arrangements for you to become a member of his Lodge (Masonic meeting group).
APPROACH THE MOST WORSHIPFUL PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
If you do not know any Freemasons, you are welcome to approach the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, which is the governing body of Prince Hall Freemasonry in these areas. If you are interested in joining you will be put in contact with one of the local lodges. You will be informed of the necessary steps you need to take to become a Prince Hall Freemason. Throughout this process, you will be asked to attend a preliminary interview with a representative of the local Lodge you may join.
THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
Once this process has started you will be required to attend an interview and certain questions will be asked pertaining to your application. This is a standard procedure and gives any potential member an opportunity to meet with members of the Lodge and ask any questions he may have about Prince Hall Freemasonry. Provided that you and the Lodge are satisfied with the interview, a date would then be arranged for your admission into Prince Hall Freemasonry.
EXPECTATIONS OF MEMBERS
Having joined Prince Hall Freemasonry there are several criteria that are to be respected by members. As Prince Hall Freemasons come from all walks of life, members are expected to interact with each other free from religious or racial prejudice.
FREEMASONRY IS NEITHER A RELIGION, NOR IS IT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR RELIGION.
Its philosophy is designed to encourage its members toward self improvement.
Members are encouraged to support Masonic Charities which perform valuable services throughout Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
A Prince Hall Freemason is required to pay annual membership fees to his Lodge and to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. A joining fee is also charged by most Lodges. The average yearly cost to members varies between Lodges however the fees are explained to potential members before joining.
The following gives an overview of Prince Hall Freemasonry:
The Beginning of Prince Hall Masonry in North America
Black Freemasonry began when Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated by members of Lodge No. 441, Irish Constitution, attached to one of General Gage’s regiments—the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army garrisoned at Castle Williams Island (now Fort Independence), Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775. The Master of Lodge No. 441 was Sergeant John Batt. Along with Prince Hall, the others were Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiber, Duff Bufform, Thomas Sanderson, Prince Payden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Fortin Howard and Richard Tilley. There is some variance in the spelling of the names, depending on the source. When the British Army left Boston, Lodge No. 441 granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as a Lodge and to go in procession on St. John’s Day. They were also given authority to bury their dead. However, they could not confer degrees or perform any other Masonic “work.”
African Lodge No. 1 was organized on July 3, 1775, with Prince Hall as Worshipful Master. Official acknowledgment of the legitimacy of African Lodge No. 1 was made almost immediately by John Rowe of Boston, a Provincial Grand Master for North America holding authority from the premier Grand Lodge of Freemasons, the Grand Lodge of England. He, too, issued a permit authorizing African Lodge No. 1 to appear publicly in procession as a Masonic body for the purpose of cele¬brating the Feast of St. John and to bury its dead.
By the end of the American Revolution, in 1781, American predomi¬nately white Lodges had begun declaring independence from the English Grand Lodge. They were not interested in granting a charter to Prince Hall or African Lodge. Although the members of African Lodge No. 1 were free men, black men were automatically assumed by the Masonic colonists to have “obligations” to masters. Thus, predominately white Lodges in America were not interested in reciprocal recognition with African Lodge, nor were they interested in bringing them under their jurisdiction.
On March 2, 1784 and June 30, 1784, African Lodge No. 1 petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant (or charter) to organize a reg¬ular Masonic Lodge, with all the rights and privileges thereunto pre¬scribed. Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England through Worshipful Master William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 55 (London, England) for a warrant or charter. The charter was prepared and issued on September 29, 1784, although it would be three years before African Lodge actually received it. The Grand Lodge of England assigned number 459 to African Lodge No. 1. Captain James Scott deliv¬ered the charter on April 29, 1787. Captain James Scott was Master of the Neptune, and also worked with John Hancock, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. By virtue of the authority of this charter, African Lodge No. 459 was organized one week later and began work as a regular Masonic Body on May 6, 1787. The warrant to African Lodge No. 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity. It is also the only known charter in existence in America issued by the Grand Lodge of England.
Subsequent to establishing Lodge No. 459 of Boston, Prince Hall established African Lodge 459, F. &A.M. of North America at Philadelphia in 1797 and also a lodge at Providence, Rhode Island. Shortly thereafter he chartered Union Lodge No. 3 and Laurel Lodge No. 4 of Pennsylvania. These Lodges remained subordinate to the Mother Lodge in Massachusetts until December 27, 1815, at which time the three Pennsylvania Lodges met in general assembly and organized African Grand Lodge of North America with jurisdiction over the State of Pennsylvania and the South including the District of Columbia. Thus we have the succession of events leading up to the petitioning of the subject Grand Lodge in Washington, D.C., by the founders of Social Lodge.