Planning a `white table'
The objective of a `white table' is to
stimulate an interest in Freemasonry from
wives, family and friends and to dispel fears
and misconceptions that prevent suitable
candidates from seeking membership of
Planning arrangements are crucial,
and a satisfactory outcome depends on the
quality and quantity of initial research and
planning. Responsibility for planning should
not be left to one individual it is a matter
Past Masters and officers should be well
experienced to contribute to creative ideas,
carry out research, e.g., history of the Lodge
etc, and meetings should take place with
the planning team to establish a sensible
and practical format.
An agenda might be:
-- Open the Lodge
-- Read the minutes of the last regular meeting
-- Deal with any important items of business
-- Close the Lodge
Members remain in their places in regalia
and the Director of Ceremonies invites
ladies and invited guests Masonic and non-
Masonic may attend to enter and are seated.
It is most important to maintain a friendly
and relaxed atmosphere a Lodge room may
be unusual and solemn to the guests. The
Master gives a brief address of welcome and
explains the purpose of the meeting. He also
introduces his officers with a brief explanation
about who they are and their duties.
It is most important that the meeting is
not advertised as a recruitment campaign.
A very brief history of Freemasonry can be
given, perhaps a short resumé of the history
of the Lodge, and an explanation of the
layout of the Lodge room.
This is an opportunity for a member
to pass around the Lodge to describe the
furniture, the Warrant etc., and a description
of the Lodge Banner and its history may
be of interest.
Regalia worn by the principal officers
and those depicting the Three Degrees,
followed by those of Provincial Grand
Lodge and Grand Rank is explained.
As reference is made to each item of
regalia, a brother wearing the apparel rises
to his feet to display his apron, collar and
jewels where appropriate.
As a finale, a carefully abbreviated version
of the Charge to the Initiate can be read
from the Junior Warden's pedestal or from
a suitable lectern.
It is considered better to read the passages
rather than to deliver a piece of Masonic
ritual from memory, which is not
appropriate for the occasion.
The Charge to the Initiate is by far the
most powerful piece of public relations
material that could be written or spoken
in support of the aims and objectives of
Freemasonry, and an edited version is
therefore suitable for this meeting.
There then should follow a question
and answer session. Visitors at this stage
may be deep in thought about what
they have just witnessed, or somewhat
overawed by the proceedings and
atmosphere, and this may stifle a flow
of suitable questions.
It would therefore be appropriate to
select a few suitable questions, and `plant
them' by prior arrangement in the audience.
This enables the Lodge to prepare well-
considered answers in advance to important
and difficult questions.
A last question about charity provides
a wonderful opportunity for the Lodge
Almoner or Charity Steward to explain
the work of the four main Masonic charities
and refer to the Non-Masonic grants given
each year. The meeting concludes with
remarks from the Master.
The Lodge being closed, there is no reason
why the Brethren should not procession out
whilst the Closing Ode is sung, thus bringing
the proceedings to a neat conclusion.
Guests are requested to remain in their
places until after the procession has left,
and then invited by the Lodge Director
of Ceremonies to join the brethren for
A copy of the Lodge Summons, together
with other relevant or interesting material
can be given to each guest as they retire
from the Lodge room or at the end of the
evening. The festive board can follow the
traditions of an informal Ladies Night.
The quality of performance of the
Lodge team will depend on the preparation,
editing and timing of the material to be
used. The whole programme should not
exceed about one and quarter hours.
Several rehearsals are essential to ensure
a polished performance, to say nothing of
the pleasure of doing something out of the
ordinary as a great team effort.
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