Grand Lodge of Virginia
The Grand Lodge of Virginia ( The term “lodge” implies both a group of Freemasons who meet together and the building in which they meet. The terms Freemason and Mason are interchangeable.) is the oldest independent body in the United States. The organization also constitutes the oldest fraternal organization in the U.S. The Masonry was functioning in Virginia before any official lodge was in use. Most unofficial lodges operated under the law of “immemorial custom,” meaning that the clearance of charter had yet to be deemed official by the Lodges in Europe. In 1778, Virginians founded the first independent grand lodge in America, with members including Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Lafayette, and Benedict Arnold. The lodge became intertwined with Virginian, American, and world history. The historical impact of the Freemasons in the thirteen original colonies and the lodge in Richmond, Virginia is enormous. Thirteen signers of the Constitution, fourteen U.S. Presidents (including George Washington), eight Vice Presidents, and forty two Supreme Court Justices have been Masons.
While the Masonry is not formally a religious organization, it is religious in the sense that all Masons are required to revere one God. All members are also encouraged to attend the church of their choice. On the altar of any masonic lodge there is a Holy Bible. Freemasons do, however, make it quite clear that religious affiliation should be a personal decision and not forced imposition. Even so, the lodge is frequently referred to as the “handmaiden of the Church,” for its basic principles of goodwill and brotherhood are closely aligned with those of Christianity and its members are largely Protestant Christian. The Masons at the Grand Lodge of Virginia claim to “unite the Brotherhood of Man Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Buddhist, who set aside their differences in seeking to serve God and their brethren.” In the records of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, one will learn that Masonic lodges have strict codes of ethics that govern lodge events and the conduct of their members. Those accused of crimes outside the lodge must also attend trial in the Masonic courts for “unMasonic conduct.” The group is not as secretive as envisioned by the general public. Masons conduct meetings in well-marked buildings and members make no secret of their allegiance. In reality, it is not very different from any other fraternity.
The Grand Lodge of Virginia states that its mission is “to teach and perpetuate a way of life that promotes the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God and to assist its Lodges to grow and prosper.” The Masons vision is to be the leading organization of men with integrity and character- family men who believe in God and work to help others. The Freemasons believe that philanthropy, brotherly love, and truth are the basic tenets of their fraternal order. Through charity, goodwill, and community service projects, the Masons of Virginia (and all Masons) serve many people across spectrums of faith and geography. They are well known in Virginia for doing valuable charitable work. Virginia Freemasons maintain the Masonic Home of Virginia in Richmond (separate but in the same area as the Grand Lodge of Virginia). This Home is used for the care of retired Masons and needy children. Freemasons also conduct blood drives, raise money for scholarships, and contribute to disaster relief efforts. The Grand Lodge of Virginia, like all Masonic groups, does not recruit members as it is against their policy. The order’s membership is dwindling rapidly, but membership in the Commonwealth still is around 50,000.
Grand Lodge of Virginia
4115 Nine Mile Road
Richmond , Virginia 23223
Grand Secretary Alan W. Adkins
Profile prepared by Julie Philp