Description: Freemasonry is the world’s first and largest fraternal organization. It is based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. There are approximately 5 million Masons worldwide, including 2 million in the United States. The Grand Lodge of California has nearly 90,000 members and about 400 lodges throughout the state.
History: Freemasonry dates back to the guilds of European stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals during the Middle Ages. Temporary buildings called lodges were built next to the cathedrals, and the Masons used them to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize. The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717; by 1731, Masonry had spread to the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, and other founding fathers were among the first Masons in the United States. The Grand Lodge of California was established in Sacramento in 1850 during the height of the California Gold Rush.
Mission: The mission of Freemasonry in California is brotherhood, community involvement, and self-improvement through education, family values, moral standards, and charity.
Membership: Membership in the Masons is open to men 18 or older who believe in a Supreme Being and meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation. One of Freemasonry’s customs is not to solicit members; men must seek membership on their own. Anyone is welcome to request information about the fraternity.
What do Masons do? Charity is at the heart of most Masonic activities. Each year, California Masons donate millions of dollars to both small and large philanthropic causes. This strong commitment to public education is exemplified by the California Masonic Foundation, which offers an innovative outreach program for educators and a generous scholarship program for approximately 100 high school students each year.
Another result of the Masons’ spirit and brotherhood is the Masonic Homes of California. Established in 1898 to help make Masons affective by the cholera epidemic, the Masonic Home at Union City and Covina provide housing and health care to Masons and their wives or widows.
Originally a refuge for orphaned children called the Masonic Home for Children, the renamed Masonic Home at Covina today offers care and assistance for children who suffer from neglect or abuse. Since 1899, more than 1,800 children have thrived in this caring and compassionate environment which is open to all deserving children. In 1990, the Masonic Home at Covina added separate apartments to provide independent and assited-living care for senior Masons and their wives or widows.
It is important to note that Masonic charities receive no local, state or federal funding and are supported entirely by member contributions.