What to Expect at a Masonic Installation of Officers

I’m using the “better late than never” strategy for the blog currently. I apologize in advance if there is continued delay or lack of posts on my part, I am still struggling with health issues, hopefully we will get it figured out soon, and we can get back to the regularly scheduled programming.

As I said in my previous post, January is a very common month for installations. Many Lodges and Chapters choose to do their installations just before the Grand Lodge communication. In Nebraska, ours is in February, so we have installations in January. I know of other jurisdictions who’s Grand Lodge is in July or August, and they typically have their installations in June.

I was lucky enough to witness one installation, of T’s Lodge, which means his year as Master is finally over (yay!), and, I was also installed as Esther, a star point, in my Eastern Star Chapter.

What should I expect from an installation?

Every installation will vary a bit from Lodge to Lodge, or Chapter to Chapter, as well as from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, they all tend to follow the same general format:

  • Everyone assembles in the Lodge room
  • Introductions and opening remarks are made
  • A non-denominational prayer
  • Installation of officers
  • Presentations and closing remarks
  • Cake!

If you are interested in watching one, Sharptop Lodge #680 has their entire officer installation available on YouTube! (It is just over an hour.)

The number one thing to try to keep in mind is to be on time. In some Masonic organizations, there may be a lot of floorwork that goes on during an installation, and if you are late, you may detract from that, or worse, cause someone to lose their place.

As I said, everyone does their installation a bit different. At both Mizpah’s (T’s Lodge) and my installation, introductions of visiting Worshipful Masters, Matrons, Patrons, and Grand Lodge officers were all made after installation.

For the actual installation part, the format is almost universally the same in every Masonic organization. The Marshal will go and retrieve the person to be installed from their seat (usually somewhere on the Lodge room floor, and not on the sidelines), the Marshall will lead them to the altar, where they will be presented to the Worshipful Master (Worthy Matron. etc), they will take their oath of office, and then the Marshall will lead them to their new seat- usually the chair of their office during a normal meeting. In some Lodges, some parts will be done at the same time. For instance, at T’s Lodge, the Junior and Senior Deacons took their oaths at the same time, as did the Junior and Senior Stewards. At my installation, all of the star points were presented to the Worthy Matron at the same time. This helps cut down on the overall time of the installation.

Elected officers of Austin Lodge #12 waiting to be installed.

After the installation is complete, there is a chance for presentations, to the new Worshipful Master. This is usually from heads of other Masonic organizations (Scottish Rite, the Shrine), or may be personal (T got a watch and a pie server). If you have a gift for the new WM, this is your time to give it, whether you are a Mason or not. Note- it is not common to give gifts to the new WM, unless you are a close friend, or otherwise.

Directly after the installation, there is sometimes a receiving line to congratulate the new officers. There may also be photo opportunities.

What would a Masonic event be without cake? After the installation, refreshments are typically served. At T’s it was just cake and punch, and many met up for dinner at a restaurant later. Mine had a full, albeit small meal of sandwiches and chips. Regardless, there is sure to be time for fellowship. Be sure to congratulate the new officers, especially the new WM.

You can expect for a typical Masonic installation to last about an hour, not including refreshments and fellowships. Other organizations, those with more officers, such as Eastern Star or the Shrine, may take considerable more time. I know that my OES installation was about 2 hours, not including refreshment and fellowship afterward.

A final note about installations – check your local Masonic calendar to find out when they are. If they are open, and they will say something like, Mizpah Open Installation of Officers, or Mizpah Installation – Open, that means that anyone can attend. If someone walked in off the street and wanted to go, they could. If it is closed, and again, they will say something like Mizpzah Installation -Closed, that means that only the people who are members of that organization can attend. That being said, if you are at all interested about what goes on during Lodge, or any other organization, an installation is an excellent way to get some insight on how they do everything.

Aw yeah, Masonic cake!

Next week I will go over how to prepare for Grand Lodge, so be sure and check that out.

As always, I hope you have a great week!

History of the Installation of Officers

These next few weeks may be a small deviation from what you’ve come to expect from The Mason’s Lady. I am dealing with some health issues that make it hard to sit down and write for lengths of time. Because of this, I will be writing mini articles instead, for instance, the article for this week and next was originally to be one. Hopefully we will be back to regularly scheduled programming shortly.

January is a very popular month for installation of officers. In Nebraska, we use the calendar year as our Masonic year, so any officer’s term is from January to the next January. All officer terms all for a full year, regardless of when the installation occurs. Other common months for installation are June and July.

Installation of an officer

What exactly is an installation? How does it differ from an initiation

An installation is basically the swearing in of the officers for the year. Think of it kind of like when the president takes his oath. The officers take an oath, are given the jewels of their respective offices, and then we eat cake. Look next week for more about what actually goes on during an installation. Often, installations are public, meaning that anyone, Mason or not, can attend. If you have the opportunity, I would recommend that you go. Initiation on the other hand, is when someone becomes a member of the fraternity, when someone actually becomes a Mason, and takes the degrees. An initiation always closed, meaning that only Masons of a certain degree may attend.

Old school cool

What is the history of the installation ceremony?

The history of the installation ceremony is very unique, because before the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717, there is no mention of any kind of ceremony for installing officers. The Worshipful Master was elected, but there was no ceremony after the election.  The ceremony first came about in 1722, when the Duke of Wharton, who was the Grand Master of UGLE at the time, decided that when a new Lodge was formed, they must also have an installation of the first Worshipful Master. The rest of the proclamation from the Duke laid out the foundation for the ceremony. Throughout the years, the ceremony was adapted to include the rest of the officers, which is what we still use today.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the installation ceremony, check out Volume 18, issue 4 of the September 2008 magazine The Lectern. You can read it here: The Lectern.

That’s all for now, I apologize for it being short but sweet. Next week we will be looking at exactly what happens during an installation. If you have any questions about officer positions, you can check out this post.