Lodge, the Word
Since the middle of the Nineteenth Century American Masonic jurisprudence has given the word Lodge a fixed and (comparatively) rigid meaning: first, it is a body of Master Masons working under a Warrant or Charter; second, it is the consecrated Room in which they meet. Before that date the word "Lodge" had everywhere a more flexible meaning. Before the erection of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 many Lodges were "Private" and met in private homes.
The Stewards of the Grand Lodge were formed into the Grand Stewards' Lodge. A Grand Masters Lodge was formed. For some years Masters Lodges were separately formed, and a number of Lodges might send their members to the same Masters' Lodge to be Raised. There were special Relief Lodges, Charity Lodges, etc. When the two Grand Lodges of Moderns and Ancient prepared to unite they formed a Lodge of Reconciliation expressly for the purpose of preparing for the Union consummated in 1813. (The effect of the work of this Lodge and of the Union on American practice has not received adequate attention.) At the time of the Union a special Lodge of Promulgation was formed to teach Lodges the new "working." Prior to this period there existed (and some continue to exist) special Lodges of Instruction, the functions of which were similar to those of an American Grand Lecturer, or Grand Custodian of the Work. In 1886 the first Lodge of Research was warranted in England, to be followed by many others.
It is evident that the restricted meaning of the word "Lodge" in American Jurisprudence, and without calling it into question, does not rest on an old or a general tradition; is not a Landmark. A regular Warranted Lodge consists in reality of four Lodges- to conduct the Regular Order of Business it is one Lodge to Enter an Apprentice it is an Apprentice Lodge; etc. The word "Degree," the more rigorous Masonic authorities are agreed, is a misnomer, and should be replaced by the word "Lodge"; a Candidate is Initiated in a Lodge of Apprentices, is Passed in a Lodge of Fellowcraft, is Raisedina Lodge of Master Masons; so that he does not become a member of an Entered Apprentice Degree (and so on) but of an Entered Apprentice Lodge. A number of American Grand Lodges, following the lead of North Carolina and New York, have since 1931 granted Warrants to Lodges of Research. A few Grand Lodges art discussing the possible formation of Relief Lodges, Instruction Lodges, etc.
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Brother Ofotsu, Upper Marlboro, MD