I came to the realization today that I have been a member of the Masonic Society for 5-years now (as of April). I joined while deployed in Iraq to have access to their forum and to their excellent journal. It wasn't until 2014 that I was able to attend their annual meeting and dinner at Masonic Week (called a First Circle gathering), but I look forward to it each year.
The Masonic Society was founded on May 1, 2008, by a group of Masons from around the United States to create what has become the fastest growing Masonic research organization. The purpose of the Masonic Society is to be a "center of union for Freemasons who desire to study and promote Freemasonry, its history, philosophy, rites, customs and practices while promoting the common good and general welfare of its mystic art." To accomplish this purpose, the Masonic Society holds conferences around the United States and also wishes to assist individual Research Lodges around the world. One of the way the Masonic Society wishes to assist Research Lodges is by giving their members the opportunity to publish their own research papers.
The Masonic Society is governed by a Board of Directors composed of the President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, Editor-in-Chief, Fellow Directors, and Member Directors. The President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Editor-in-Chief also constitute the Executive Committee of the Masonic Society. The first officers of the Executive Committee are elected while the Secretary-Treasurer and Editor-in-Chief are appointed.
The Masonic Society is open to any Master Mason in good standing of a recognized Lodge. For both those seeking membership in the Masonic Society or just a journal subscription (for non-Masons) the annual dues are $39 per year ($49 for those outside of the US). Members, upon joining, receive a commemorative pin, a patent of membership, an annual dues card, and quarterly issues of the Journal of the Masonic Society.
The Journal of the Masonic Society doesn't just include articles on the history of Freemasonry, but also includes articles that explore the challenges facing Freemasonry now and what is on the horizon. The article has included pieces by well known Brothers and was for a time edited by Bro. Chris Hodapp.
Members of the Masonic Society also have access to the online forum. Those who only have Journal Subscription-only do not have access to the online forum. The Masonic Society also has created the Masonic Society School which will start in October 2016 and this first course will be a video lecture series covering a wide range of topics.
In recognition for a member's intellectual and Masonic contributions to the fraternity in general and the Masonic Society specifically, they may be named a "Fellow of the Masonic Society." The Masonic Society also awards each year to a Masonic research an award called the Masonic Society Scholar. The recipient of this award receives "a $2,500 grant to conduct a Masonic research project during the following year." The Masonic Society Scholar is required to be available for presentation at various Masonic events. At the end of the year the The Masonic Society Scholar will present his research at an event set up by the Board of Directors.
The Annual First Circle gathering is held at Masonic Week each year, but other First Circle gatherings may be held in the form of symposiums or conferences. Masonic Society members may hold local, state, or regional meetings which are referred to as Second Circles. For those Master Masons who are desirous of furthering their Masonic education and wish to perform their own research should join the Masonic Society.