There were lodge Inspectors of Working until a few years ago. Their role was to observe, counsel and or report on the proceedings of the lodge meeting to ensure that it conformed with our Constitutional requirements. You have to wonder when they were disestablished whether or not “the baby was thrown out with the bathwater”.
Lodge Inspector of Workings were selected from another lodge and they were invariably experienced, knowledgeable Past Masters who had a good manner necessary to discharge a regularity duty. Their independence was an advantage. They visited their assigned lodge frequently but irregularly but always could be expected, for example, to be present if a lodge was entrusted to initiate a candidate assigned by Grand Lodge, especially if that candidate was out of the main stream of candidates.
The likelihood of the Inspector of Working’s presence promoted a high level of effort to do a good job. If something was going radically wrong he could stop the ritual but I have never seen that happen. If necessary, after the meeting he would have a quite word with the WM and perhaps the Director of Ceremonies and that would be enough. He would submit a report to the Grand Inspector of Workings and this could initiate a series of corrective actions which if not followed, could result in the Lodge’s Warrant being withdrawn but again I have never seen these actions taken.
An Inspector of Workings would notice if a lodge did not open on time and if the furnishings of the lodge and regalia was not placed in the lodge room before the meeting, including a Volume of the Sacred Law for the Candidate’s Obligation that is the basis of his beliefs. He would normally be sympathetic to inexperienced junior lodge officers having a little difficulty with their movements and ritual if they tried. However, it is not hard to guess his reaction if a senior lodge officer or the Worshipful Master read any, particularly all of his ritual. He would know that a formal retirement of the WM and the brethren in the East is part of the ritual.
The duties of the Inspector of Workings extended to the South as it is part of our proceeding until the Tyler’s Toast. He would be aware that the formal nature of the South do not include drinking beverages from bottles. He would expect the person allocated the duty, indeed the privilege, of proposing the Toast to the Candidate to have taken the trouble to find out something about him – where he came from, his profession, family circumstances, friends in or encounters with Freemasonry, his motivation to join and so on. He would expect the toast effectively to introduce the new brother to the Lodge: the brother should feel good afterwards. The non-provision of a suitable meal and beverages consistent with the new brother’s religious beliefs and a breach would have been noted. Finally, as the formal lodge proceedings do not conclude until after the Tyler’s Toast, he would note if masonic dress was not worn which include a bow-tie (Rule 387). In summary, he would have been aware that the WM is the custodian of the Constitution, etiquette and tradition and that he promises to preserve them and therefore the Inspector of Workings would have acted accordingly.
I am all for lodges being as independent as possible but with this there comes an obligation to self regulate: I am not confident that there is a satisfactory way for this to be done. So when Inspectors of Working were discarded like the bathwater, is there a strong possibility for the potential for lodge standards to go out with it?
Yours fraternally ,