Masonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization. It is a body of knowledge and a system of ethics based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
As Masons, we lead by example, give back to our communities, and support numerous Masonic philanthropies. We invest in children, our neighborhoods, and our future.
Our Mission is guided by the enduring and relevant tenets of our fraternity–Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth–and our core values, which include.
Our lives are based on honor and integrity, and we believe that honesty, compassion, trust, and knowledge are important.
The fraternity values religious, ethnic, cultural, social, and educational differences. We respect the opinions of others and strive to improve and develop as human beings.
Our continuous pursuit of knowledge, ethics, spirituality, and leadership brings more meaning to our lives.
We make a difference in our communities through charitable giving, community service, and volunteerism.
We strive to be better spouses, parents, and family members and are committed to protecting the well being of members and their families, especially when they are in need.
Masons value the liberties outlined in the U.S. Constitution and continually promote freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship a Supreme Being in an individual way, and other important liberties. We believe it is our duty to vote in public elections and to exercise all of our liberties within due and proper bounds.
For further information about Freemasonry in California, please visit the Grand Lodge of California website.
Masons of California
In the Beginning
In the Middle Ages, the term “freemason” was awarded to highly skilled stonemasons who were hired as free agents to build castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. Because of the inherent danger of their work, stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members as well as the widows and orphans of those who were killed on the job. Eventually, men who were not skilled stonemasons wanted to join the group for the many advantages it offered. These men were known as accepted masons rather than working masons. This is how the group began to shift from a craft guild to a fraternity.
The first Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was established in 1717 in London. In 1718, English Freemasonry spread to France and Spain, and after 1729, to India, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. Freemasonry spread to other parts of Europe and eventually made its way to the American colonies. In 1733, the first American lodge was established in Boston, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. The United States now has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Masonry in California
Masonry has been an integral part of California for more than 150 years. During the Gold Rush of 1849, thousands of settlers came to California in search of fortune. Many of these men were Masons and brought with them Masonic values and traditions. Not surprisingly, some of California’s first Masonic lodges were established in the mining towns of the Gold Country. In 1850 – the same year that California became a state – the Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento.
Within 10 years, the number of Masonic lodges in the new state had grown from 11 to 130, while membership soared from 258 to more than 5,000. Over the years, the Masons have played a key role in shaping the history of California. To date, 19 California governors have been Masons, and at least four California Masons have been elected to the U.S. Senate. Today there are more than 60,000 members and about 340 lodges, making the Grand Lodge of California one of the largest in the world.
What We Do
- Together we make a profound difference
- The Masons of California are committed to personal growth and making a profound difference in the lives of others.
- For members
- We are committed to engaging and retaining members and their families through an enhanced, sustaining, and relevant membership experience. Fellowship, family, and lifelong learning are important to us. Leadership development and Masonic education are offered in a variety of formats to assist members in their continuous pursuit of knowledge, helping them excel both inside and outside the fraternity.
- For California public education
- As a fraternity, we have championed many great causes – but perhaps none so personal, or so affecting, as that of public education. From helping to establish the nation’s first public school systems to helping bring California’s public schools out of crisis in 1920, Masons have been on the forefront.
- We continue to be leaders in statewide support of public schools in three critical areas: early literacy skills for kindergarteners at high risk for educational failure; support for advancing instruction in middle school algebra; and scholarships for deserving – but often overlooked – high school seniors who might not otherwise have the ability to obtain a higher education.
- The Foundation and California Masons support a number of other important education programs, including advancing nurse education and programs benefiting under served youth.
- For those in need
- Relief is one of our enduring and relevant values. We take responsibility for the well-being of our brothers, our families, and our communities. It’s our obligation. Our philanthropic causes are supported entirely by our members’ generous contributions.
- Excellent care and critical services are provided for Masons and their wives and widows at our residential communities for seniors and through our statewide outreach programs for members and their families who are struggling with life’s challenges and transitions.
- The Masonic Center for Youth and Families answers the need for integrated help for youth who struggle with behavioral or mental health issues. The center is an expansion of the fraternity’s commitment to serve youth and families in a meaningful and innovative way.
- Center staff- experts in the field of youth psychology- work as a team to provide testing, assessment, and treatment planning services under one roof. A new approach, this comprehensive, integrated model of care is unavailable anywhere else in the country.
Applying for Membership
- One of Masonry’s customs is not to solicit members; men must seek membership on their own through a Mason they know or a local lodge.
- California Masonic membership is open to men age 18 or older who meet the qualifications and standards of character and intention, and who believe in a Supreme Being. Men of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are welcome.
- A Mason who recommends you for membership will assist with completing and submitting the application. After submitting the application, you will be interviewed by members of the lodge you wish to join so they can learn more about you and you can learn more about Freemasonry. If the interview is favorable, your application is presented to the lodge for a vote. If the vote is affirmative, you receive the Entered Apprentice degree – the first degree of Freemasonry. When you advance through the next two degrees, you are a Master Mason and a full member of the fraternity.