The Ritual – the minimum number of officers required



What is the minimum number of officers required to open a Lodge?

This is an area in which the Masonic Law and the Masonic Ritual are in conflict, and when that happens the Law prevails. There is a Judge Advocate opinion saying that a Lodge can open a communication with as few as three officers, so that is the law of the land. However, six officers opening as a Master Mason Lodge is the least number that can perform the opening ceremonies within the spirit of the Ritual.  These would consist of the three principal officers together with a Chaplain, a Junior Deacon and a Tiler, with one of the officers inside the Lodge room recording minutes and the Junior Deacon attending at the Altar. Whether it would be a good idea for a Lodge to open with only six Masons present—never mind as few as three—is a separate and important question.  It’s hard to imagine a circumstance in which it would be necessary and advisable to open a Lodge with an insufficient number of Masons to perform the opening ceremonies as written.  Note also that as few as eight can open a communication on the Second and Third Degrees in full form with the Secretary at his desk, and only one more is needed to open on the First Degree.  I should hasten to add that the minimum numbers specified in the opening ceremonies for the various Degrees are meant to be symbolic, not literal.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

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