Tell us about Arts & Sciences Lodge.
Arts & Sciences Lodge was formed to fill a need that many Masons have. This need was to have a place to explore the philosophy of Freemasonry on a deeper level, to make it more personal and contribute to a transformative experience. We sought more intense Masonic relationships and a common interest in helping each other grow as men using the framework of Freemasonry as our setting. This sets us apart from most lodges as we spend many hours getting to know those interested in Freemasonry in general and our lodge in particular before a man becomes a member. Those who are more interested in social and charitable activities quickly seek other lodges. We are well known around the country as a lodge that takes its study of the philosophy of Freemasonry seriously and use our growing understanding to improve ourselves as men and Masons to the benefit of all those around us. Our passion for the ritual and demanding educational program for our members set us apart and continue to yield Masons with a deep knowledge of our craft while greatly improving them in general.
What is the community of Hilliard like?
Hilliard is a small community that is rapidly growing as a place to live while working in the metropolitan Columbus area. It maintains a small town quality with a vibrant and growing downtown with unique shops and places for dining and entertainment. Our lodge is located in the same Masonic Temple with Avery Lodge who has been a part of the Hilliard community since 1878. Both Lodges keep a low profile in the community relying on the word of our works to speak for us. At Arts & Sciences Lodge, we have embraced a special education program in the Hilliard City Schools helping with the expense of supplies and equipment for handicapped children on several occasions. We look forward to resuming this charitable program in the near future.
Why does your Lodge have such a focus on education?
Our Lodge chooses education as our purpose as we see Freemasonry as a framework to build a better understanding of what constitutes a good man with a well developed sense of morality. The teachings in our ritual often point out the value of a life long education and the study of our symbols and their applications. Our method of education uses Socratic discussions rather than expert presentations or lectures. We see the administrative activities of the Lodge as a necessary duty that can easily dominate the time we have together and detract from our true purpose which is the development of better character in our members. In essence, Freemasonry without education in its proper role can quickly devolve into a mere social club that is a shell of its original self as it grew from artisan trade guild to a place of philosophical exploration in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Our purpose is to reclaim these traditions and goals and practice them to the best of our abilities.
How do you integrate education into the Lodge’s meetings?
Every meeting has a discussion of some aspect of Freemasonry and the lessons embedded in our symbols, allegories, and the experiences of the ritual. These discussions last from 20 minutes to over an hour. We gather suggestions from the brothers as to what they would like to discuss early in the year so we can peruse materials and generate thoughts and questions on the topics. When we gather, each of us offer our thoughts and observations, ask questions, and discuss these Masonic theories. Through this method we teach each other what we have learned and we all leave knowing more than when we arrived. I want to repeat that we emphasize this at every meeting. To avoid having evenings that are too long, we keep our administrative activities to 15-20 minutes. This leaves time for discussions. We hold festive board events or Masonic dinners twice a year at the feasts of the St. Johns which typically include an outside speaker for a new perspective on some aspect of our Royal Art.
How do the Brothers of your lodge engage with Lodge events? With each other?
We meet all year long and hold several social events. We start each meeting with dinner at a local restaurant where we dine in a private room, share fellowship, discuss the events of our lives, and strengthen our fraternal ties. We also gather after the meeting for informal discussions of the events of the evening after the close of the formal meeting. We hold social events such as family picnics and often organize activities together such as traveling to a Masonic conference or visiting other lodges. When someone is absent, we call them to learn about their situation as we have formed a truly special bond with each other and care about their well being. As a result, we typically have 50% to 70% of our membership at most meetings.
Does your Lodge have any upcoming events you’d like to share?
Every stated meeting is a special event with the dinner preceding the meeting and the fellowship following the meeting. We will be holding a Brother’s weekend retreat at a cabin in the woods in southeastern Ohio in mid-october.
What about this Lodge made you want to be part of it?
I wanted to dive deeper into my studies of the philosophical side of Freemasonry. I met like-minded individuals and we formed a dinner and discussion club in 2007. Our discussions lead to an exploration of our ritual and how we could make our Lodge-stated meetings more powerful. We discussed different ways to improve the education and training of Masons at all levels. To put our ideas to the test, we decided to seek a charter from the Grand Lodge of Ohio to form a new lodge. In essence, our lodge is custom tailored to the needs, ideas, and goals of the brothers who formed it. In our discussions about this new lodge, I was selected to be the charter Master of Arts & Sciences Lodge as I was one of the core group discussing the needs, options, and directions a lodge should follow to live up to the promise of Freemasonry. With the support of my brothers, we received our dispensation in October 2009 and our charter in October 2010. With these documents authorizing us to work, we set out to make Arts & Sciences the kind of lodge that holds meetings you wouldn’t want to miss. I believe we have succeeded and have drawn the attention of curious masons from around the world. We have visitors from many lodges at most meetings. Our lodge has been recommended to brothers moving to the area from other jurisdictions because of our reputation for excellence. Several magazine articles have been written about what we do and how we do it and I have written 2 books based on my experiences at Arts & Sciences Lodge that are published by Macoy Masonic Publishers and Supply. The first book is titled, The Craft Driven Lodge and covers the principles that drove the formation of this lodge and the ongoing operation where the lodge exists to serve the needs of the craft. The second book is called, The Purple of the Fraternity which focuses on the principles of servant leadership and offers suggestions for those in leadership positions within Freemasonry I have spoken at Masonic events regarding our lodge, its principles, and methods of operation in Boston, Montana, Florida, Texas, Philadelphia, and will be in Alaska in February 2023. Our Lodge attracts men who are seeking more from life than a job, good pay, and good entertainment. We attract men who recognize they are part of a larger community and have a duty to that community to improve themselves as a way of improving their community. We are very selective about who we admit to our lodge, we have a very particular style and character.