Generation Z discovers Masonry
By Omaid Hiwaizi PAGDC, MetGCO
“If you want to share a community and make a difference, then come along:” Four Young Freemasons tell us what Freemasonry is to them.
Freemasonry has long been an institution steeped in tradition, with a rich history that stretches back centuries. But in recent years, our ancient fraternity has undergone a subtle transformation. Younger Freemasons from ‘Gen Z’ (26 or under), are joining the ranks and bringing fresh perspectives, ideas, and energy into the craft. We spoke to four Gen Z Brethren: Dan Erskine, Pierre-Jean Clausse, Yves Davis, and Adam Mills, to understand what motivates these young Masons. Their voices collectively form a compelling narrative about how the fraternity adapts and evolves, while maintaining its timeless values.
Meet Bro Dan Erskine
Bro. Dan, a 25 year old mobile maintenance engineer, was initiated into Lodge of Union No 166 in 2022. He was brought in by his dad (who also brought in Dan’s elder brother). He’s already taken the three degrees and is revelling in it, gaining a real insight by visiting other Lodges to see all the ceremonies, including a Welcome Project event, and loving the First and the Third the most. He was initially nervous about getting things wrong but soon realised the Lodge was really supportive and encouraging, saying “why did I put so much pressure on myself?”. He’s become a very keen Mason but didn’t look things up before he joined: “I was worried I might spoil it for myself!”
Dan’s already become Inner Guard, and is next jumping to Junior Warden, with his brother as Senior Warden and his dad in the Chair. “I’ve skipped a few Offices, but will go back. From saying a few words as Inner Guard, I feel I’ve really got to get things right.”
He was received enthusiastically by his Mother Lodge, but it does have an older demographic and they see him and his 28 year old brother as the future. Lodge of Union has social events outside meetings, but in recent times hasn’t had too many rehearsals. Dan thinks it would be useful to get these going again for younger masons who haven’t been through the offices before.
Dan believes that Freemasonry can give younger members a chance to have an impact in their communities and deepen connections between them. Opportunities to give back, with a social side.
I love: Getting to know really diverse people’s backgrounds
Favourite memory: The Third Degree.
Biggest Challenge: Learning the ceremony and getting it right.
Big message to other Gen Zs: “Do it – you’ll get a lot more out of it than you might expect. It helps you with your mental health – you can get your body and head focussed and in sync.”
Meet Bro Pierre-Jean Clausse
21 year old PJ is a French national of Polish origin and came to the UK to study at King’s College, London. He was Initiated into Lodge L’Entente Cordiale No 2796 in 2022. He’s now studying for a Harvard Masters Degree in International Development and works for the European Commission as an ambassador on climate action and energy.
PJ has enjoyed meeting some great mentors in life and has met many others in Freemasonry, “people who are a bit older and are happy to share their competence and knowledge”. He actually applied to join via the University Scheme when he was 17 and after he’d had a couple of Zoom meetings, was introduced to Lodge L’Entente Cordiale because they’re a French speaking Lodge (even though it’s not a University Scheme Lodge).
Lodge L’Entente Cordiale is very mixed, with a large influx of younger Brethren after PJ joined, and a great culture of mentorship. They do Emulation Ritual in French, which is quite the experience for visitors! He also took his Second Degree in another Lodge (in English), which has given him further new perspectives.
I’m inspired by: “The values and structure of English Freemasonry – particularly charity and friendship.”
Favourite memory: “Impromptu meetings with different people.”
Biggest Challenge: “The Ceremony – doing the best for the Candidate.”
Big message to other Gen Zs: “Join and you’ll be positive surprised by all the opportunities Masonry has to offer”.
Meet Bro Yves Davis
19 year old Yves is from Kent and is studying Media and Communications at Bristol. He was Initiated in 2022 into London Irish Rifles Lodge No 2312, following his dad and grandad into the Lodge. He’s already taken the three degrees and is extremely keen.
Yves recalls his dad and grandad coming home from meetings in suits and going to social events at the Tower of London – and his experience hasn’t disappointed: “Meeting new people, hearing their stories, I love it because it gives me something to look forward to – both the Lodge and the Connaught Club pub drinks”.
His is the youngest member of his Lodge by far, but has been very positively received. The Lodge is associated with the erstwhile London Irish Rifles Regiment, famous for kicking a football across no-man’s land during an attack in World War 1; and the Lodge carries a replica ball into the Lodge in memory of that moment. Going forwards, Yves hopes to take office and will start attending Lodge of Instruction regularly (LoIs have recently been held at the Tower of London as the current master is a Yeoman Warder).
“I love finding things in the media or when I’m out and about walking around Bristol,” he reflects. He thinks that for younger masons, especially those moving away from home, Freemasonry gives them a sense of belonging and is a common interest to build friendships. A constant in times of change. “People my age don’t know what Freemasonry is or have misconceptions.“ He feels that having a presence at Freshers’ Fairs could make a big difference to inform and educate young people about the order and what they could do within Freemasonry, with social media and podcasts being a great step forward.
I love: “The sense of belonging.”
Favourite memory: “My First Degree.”
Biggest Challenge: “Learning the words.”
Big message to other Gen Zs: “You’ll get a new sense of belonging and get involved in charitable work. It will likely make you a better person and you’ll see the world from a different perspective.”
Meet W Bro Adam Mills
Adam is 26 and has just become the Worshipful Master of Horus Lodge No 3155 – the Craft Beer Lodge. He was Initiated at 20 in 2017 in Ostrea Lodge No 8209 in Essex. He lives in Colchester and works for a pension company in Ipswich. He joined Freemasonry out of curiosity – “looking into the ritual raised more questions than it answered” he says. He was introduced by a university friend who was already a member of Ostrea Lodge No 8209, a University Scheme Lodge, and who also shared a passion for historical re-enactment. “I was sold from the first conversation”.
Adam’s been able to contribute hugely in his time as a mason, particularly as part of the committee which formed the Masonic Craft Beer Society and revived Horus Lodge as the Craft Beer Lodge, which came out of the extremely busy “Craftwork” Whatsapp based community. Horus meets twice per year and offers a new take on the festive board, with talks on craft beer and paired beers with each course.
He’s particularly positive about how welcoming his mother Lodge (Ostrea) was, being warm and making allowances for those who are studying or starting their careers. The Lodge has thus brought in large numbers of under 30s, despite the oldest member being over 90.
“Freemasonry helps you come out of your shell, build public speaking confidence and social skills which people my age can benefit from in every aspect of life. After the pandemic it gave me an excuse to start going out again.”, he says.
Adam adds that Freemasonry has made him think more deeply, making positive choices, impacting his and other people’s lives and the world overall. He talks about having a “charitable mindset”, noting “It’s shaped me as a person.”
What more could Freemasonry do for younger people? “My biggest thing is mental health, which is a much larger issue than before. Many Lodges offer a safe place for people express themselves in a gentle environment and encourages them to be better people.”
I love: “The social aspect – even more when I smash a piece of ceremony out of the park.” Favourite memory: “Being Installed into the Chair of Horus Lodge, with Brethren from all over the world attending.”
Biggest Challenge: “The time commitment, in my new role I don’t want to let people down.”
Big message to other Gen Zs: “If you want an opportunity to step out of your everyday and spend time with people you’ve never met before, while doing good for the world and good for yourself, then Freemasonry is the thing for you.”
Freemasonry is attracting a new audience – young men who see it as a stable space for personal growth and wellbeing in an unstable world; and who in fact respect the unique bond between members of different generations. Dan, PJ, Yves, and Adam show how Freemasonry is evolving and adapting, while holding steadfast to its timeless values – and is all the better for it.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 53 December 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 53 here.