Q. Is York Rite an extension of regular Masonry with additional degrees?
A. York Rite is a separate group of three (in Virginia and West Virginia the Council and Royal Arch Chapter are combined and meet as one body, a Royal Arch Chapter) hierarchical bodies that require their members to be Master Masons. These bodies are entered sequentially, i.e. you must join a Royal Arch Chapter and complete its degrees prior to joining the Council of Royal and Select Master Masons (in Virginia and West Virginia all the degrees are conferred in the Royal Arch Chapter) and receive its degrees and finally both of those must be completed to receive the Orders of the Knights Templar. You may stop after Chapter or Council or be a member of all three.
Q. Can I just be a Royal Arch Mason or Knight Templar upon completing all these degrees requirements?
A. You may decide to be active primarily in any one of these bodies, but maintaining an up to date membership with current dues card is required in descending order, i.e. to be a Knight Templar you must be current in all three bodies, or to maintain the Council membership you must be current in both Chapter and Council (in Virginia and West Virginia being current in your Royal Arch Chapter is required). Loss of membership in any lower body will cause forfeiture of membership to the others. This, of course, applies to membership in your Blue Lodge; lose that and you lose all appendant body memberships, like the Royal Arch, Knight Templar, Shriners, Scottish Rites, Grotto, High Twelve, Cedars of Lebanon, etc.
Q. How are these bodies organized?
A. All are similar to Blue Lodge with a “master in the East”, Treasurer, Secretary, Tiler and all the other Warden and Steward roles, although sometimes with a different title and duties. They typically meet once per month and open on a particular degree, conduct the regular business meeting and confer any degree work scheduled.
Q. How much more will this cost me?
A. Dues range from $69 – $75 per body annually and there is a Petition fee of $200 – $225 as well. This is considerably lower than your combined Blue Lodge and Grand Lodge annual dues, but it is in addition to that.
Q. Are there additional expenses for uniforms and regalia?
A. Yes. While not required, for the Royal Arch Chapter you will need a red jacket and for Council you will need a purple jacket (in Virginia and West Virginia you will only need a red jacket). Should you choose to join the officer line in the Knight Templar Commandery you will need a chapeau and sword. Some are available for loan/use during ritual conferral of Orders and the annual Inspection & Review, but you may purchase your own. Also in the Knight Templar Commandery, a uniform or dark suit and tie is expected as well for members to wear to meetings with their Order of Red Cross, Order of Malta and Order of the Temple medals displayed.