CONDITIONS OF JOINING
To become a member of the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta is not only a privilege but also a commitment to Freemasonry in a broad sense. To be considered as a Candidate one has to be a Master Mason, a member of the Holy Royal Arch and a Christian. One might ask why this qualification is necessary. The answer to this question is found in our past and in the history and traditions of our Masonic Order.
The oldest Knight Templar unit in Yorkshire is based in Hull (although originally in York) and can demonstrate a continuous existence from 1778. This is the Ancient York Conclave of Redemption ’B’ Time Immemorial. The Plains of Rama Preceptory, No. 3, in Keighley was warranted in 1792 and the warrant of Hope Preceptory, No. 4, dates from 1793. It is no wonder then that such Preceptories quite rightly take great pride in their history.
In the mid-18th Century the ancient form of masonry practised in our area involved all these degrees being carried out under the Craft Lodge warrant, the three Craft Degrees, that of the Royal Arch and the Knight Templar Degree. They were all regarded as part of a single progression. It was also the time when Freemasonry was a Christian institution. It was therefore neither unusual nor surprising that all these degrees were enacted under the single Lodge Warrant. Those members of the Grand Lodge of York at that time progressed from the Craft to the 4th Degree of the Royal Arch and then to the 5th Degree of a Knight Templar.
As time moved on and the Orders became separated, the Craft and the Royal Arch lost their Christian base, although there are many remnants of this still to be found in Lodge rooms. Much of this well understood and natural connection was lost. However, the historical connections are fully maintained within our Order and indeed parts of our ceremony point out and explain the link and progression between the Craft, the Royal Arch and Order of Knights Templar.
It is quite correct then to emphasise the conditions of entry into the Order, that a Candidate should be a Master Mason, a Companion of the Royal Arch and a Christian (preferably active in all three) in order to be considered as a candidate for the Knight Templar Order.