District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Jamaica and Cayman Islands
by G. Michael Fisher
For a freemason entering a Mark Masons lodge for the first time, the Overseers will be one of the most distinctive features of the room. Seated in the middle of the room, they stand out as something new and different.
After the ceremony of Advancement, the thoughtful candidate will realise that an important part of the teachings of Mark Masonry is communicated by the Overseers. The Candidate is well served in reviewing their discourse with, and the conversations between, the Overseers, and to then apply in their lives the principles demonstrated.
Some of the principles demonstrated are - to work hard and honestly; that work worth doing, is worth doing well; mistakes must be corrected; to believe in yourself and the quality of your work; and that being different is not an impediment to quality, importance and usefullness. It really is a ceremony that demonstrates practical, life lessons.
For the Mark Mason acting in the role of Overseer, it can sometimes be a challenge. Being out in the open, away from the rest of your brethren, unable to see all that is going on; it can be a little disconcerting. It is a very important role however, and one that, if conducted with the confidence and theatrics it lends itself to, can have a lasting impression on all the Candidates you come in contact with. Have fun with it and endeavour to know by rote your brief but critical part of the ceremony.
Historically, the Overseers are believed to have emerged from amongst the Glasglow Cathedral builders prior to 1550. These builders are said to have had two lodges, one for Fellows [Master Masons] and another for Apprentices, over which an Overseer sat as Master. Then, as now, the Overseer was responsible for the work of the craftsmen under his care; he was in possession of the plans and inspected the work for conformity with those plans. His was the job of approval or rejection.
The Overseers are an interesting part of the Mark degree and hopefully, as one researches their symbollism and history, your journey will expand to reveal the many important life lessons imparted by the Mark degree.
Cryer, N: The Arch And The Rainbow, Lewis, Addlestone, 1996.