Incoming grand master discusses efforts to ‘re-brand’ and ‘re-modernize’ Utah Free Masons

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - It’s an organization steeped in history, and veiled in secrecy, but the Utah Free Masons incoming grand master says his goal is to dispel some of the public misconception.

Wesley Ing will be seated as 2016 Grand Master in a public ceremony Saturday. He said free masons are often perceived as a secretive sect, and while some things are secret, those rituals don’t define them.

“We take good men and make them better,” Ing said. “We give them an opportunity for self improvement.”

Ing said in 2015, Free Masons donated $250,000 toward student scholarship programs and critical care charities. The organization's 3,500 members are also deeply involved in community affairs and are meeting this week to discuss legislative bills.

“We all have the same goal of wanting to better ourselves and better the world around us,” said Free Mason Matt Nelson. “So it is an opportunity for me to be able to meet with like-minded people, but from various walks of life.”

Free masonry has deep historical roots that some say date back to the middle ages. That history is represented in the design of the Salt Lake Masonic Temple. Meeting rooms have Egyptian, Gothic, and Moorish themes. Most of the elements are symbolic

It’s a community Ing says has struggled in the past, as senior members pass away. But the organization continues to stay strong, despite having a stigma of being an “old man’s club.”

“We are refocusing, re-branding ourselves, re-modernizing,” Ing said. “Young men today want something of value. We want to do good, we want to make the world better, we want to make people better."

There are 30 Masonic lodges across the state. In an effort to connect with the community, lodge masters hold open houses and offer weekly tours of the Masonic Temple.

Ing says they’re fairly open about what they do, but some aspects will always remain mysterious.

10 comments

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  • Alan

    The Grand Lodge of Utah, rebranded or not, will be stuck in the 19th century until they accept women, and openly accept the LGBTQ community into their order.

    • RickyTheKillerMason

      They do. There are many openly gay Masons. There are no sexual orientation requirements to be a Mason.

    • Chad

      Alan, Freemasonry is not a sexist organization. It’s a fraternity for the purpose of brotherhood. Women won’t get much out of it, as its about making good men better. On the other hand, The Order of the Easter Star, which is affiliated with Masonry, is made up of men an women.

      Women would not enjoy regular Freemasonry, much like you would probably not enjoy a women’s only book club, or women’s church meeting, and they would feel just as out of place as you would in say, a womens restroom.. It has nothing to do with exclusion or sexism.

      • Rob

        Hey Chad, Temples are usually a place for worship so I’m curious as to what kind of worship, if any, that happens inside of a Masonic Temple?

      • Alan

        Then why would an organization like the Grand Lodge of France recognize many lodges and orders of masonry either comprised exclusively of women, or any number of masonic lodges that include both men and women. Clearly there is some benefit for both men and women for these organizations to flourish as they do in areas that aren’t stuck with antiquated mysoginistic stereotypes and exclusions.

        I think given the opportunity here, women would find the same value in freemasonry that women have had enjoyed in europe since the 19th century.

      • W

        Rob, the term temple is used for its original root meaning, “a place reserved for a special purpose” rather than the religious meaning as a house of worship we think it refers to today. To try to avoid confusion many Masonic temples have renamed themselves “Masonic Centers” though I don’t like that change. Either way, it’s not a term that has religious or house of worship significance.

      • Darrell

        Alan – As mentioned, Free & Accepted Masons of Utah is a fraternity. The very nature of the word “fraternity” indicates it is an institution comprised of men. I may not pay that much attention but I don’t recall seeing much fuss about men not being allowed to join a sorority, other than the occasional young man, creating turmoil and looking to make a name for himself in the ranks of the Social Justice Army. The Grand Lodge of France would be better suited to answer questions about which Lodges it recognizes and why. Bear in mind that the overarching precepts of Masonry are universal but HOW we conduct business and who is actually admitted to sit in our Lodges is dependent upon the Grand Lodge under whose jurisdiction we fall.

  • Ricardo

    Where do these Masons advertise I have not seen them in the yellow pages. I am on a limited budget and have some brick work I need done finding a Free Mason would certainly help out my situation.

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