What’s been happening.
I know that the Lodges have been remarkably busy as Freemasonry in the District has forged full steam ahead with social, ceremonial, and charitable activities. It has been a pleasure to attend the events that I have managed to fit in to my schedule. There has been too much write a full report but I have sent out the highlights to all Lodges.
The PDF can be downloaded here: Download Update12%20June.pdf
Update 31 March
Dear Brethren all,
What a great turn out to the GM’s Roadshow in Napier. About a quarter of the District’s members were present. Thank you for making the effort and thank you, Scinde Lodge, for hosting this event. I know there have been mixed reactions and that had been anticipated. I know that some attendees went straight back to put some ideas directly into action. One Lodge immediately amended the duties of the SW and JW to regularly follow up calls to members who do not attend. They also added to the Tyler's duty that of being a “meeter and greeter” at the start of the evening, particularly welcoming visitors.
I have deliberately waited until now to write to you, having only just read all the feedback comments from the Napier Road show AND the other two Road shows held in the Division. We are at a watershed and need to join the One Team. I apologise for the length of this update but encourage you to carefully read and consider what I say and view things through the eyes of newer members.
The bottom line is that Freemasonry will not survive unless there is a change. That change cannot be magicked from above, it has to come from the actions of its members over a period of time. We have the promise of improved resources and websites and we also have the expertise of a National Executive Officer who has been able to objectively view our situation and, working with the Grand Master, has offered us a call to action. We need a person from each Lodge, not necessarily tied up with the hierarchy, to be a champion for their Lodge’s path to becoming (or remaining) a thriving Lodge in this modern world (THAT IS OUR ONE VISION). From them I would like to find one or two District champions to help coordinate and share ideas and this could involve facilitating District socials; BBQs, get togethers; working bees – anything that, in turn, enables Lodges to thrive. Zoom communications will be available to assist.
Used here, the word “champion” means “a person who vigorously supports or defends a person or cause”. That cause for us is the active promotion of THRIVING lodges with ENGAGED brethren.
Our Divisional Grand Master, Russell, has written:
“To be clear – I have no intention to formalise the role of the Lodge champion in this Division. I don’t want to bog the role down with prescriptive job descriptions, the role has no rank, it is not ‘invested’ at installations – it’s a person in the lodge who will coordinate and “own” their Lodge’s “road” to thriving. The champion will most likely be a newer member; not a grand lodge officer; not a senior office holder in the lodge and be prepared to do the role for at least 3 years.
I would much rather a lodge not have a champion than have the wrong person. I am happy for District Grand Masters to call a District Meeting and talk about the role of the champions ahead of each being selected.”
As I see it, our committed, established Masons have much to pass on to the next generation and will continue to do so as they guard the Landmarks against encroachment. A new Master and his Wardens have a huge task in terms of ritual and planning meetings. With the best will in the world they cannot fully attend to these other issues. Other Master Masons also have much to offer. They could well be the champions we need to make Freemasonry a more enjoyable experience.
Recent surveys have identified the attributes that make some Lodges thrive. These will be shared through the Lodge champions. It will be useful for Lodges to look at each of the attributes; apply a ‘test’ to see whether they meet the bar – to learn what work then needs to be done. Lodges who have a living strategic plan have already done this. So, here is a possible plan for action:
The Lodge champion will be responsible for driving an annual (but rolling) exercise within Lodges to mutually identify and agree barriers to them being thriving. Each year each Lodge should choose no more than 3 improvement areas and focus on fixing them.
The Lodge champion will, in conjunction with other Lodge champions and the District champions define the interventions required by the Lodge as part of the improvement programme. What needs to happen; who needs to do it; how long will it take; and how they will know they have nailed it. The champion will ensure the Lodge celebrates small milestones on their “journey to great” (always knowing there will be bumps and setbacks along the way).
The Lodge Champion should be given 5 mins at each Lodge business session to outline what was achieved in the previous month and the plan for the next month.
So, the Lodge collectively decides what needs to be worked on; the champion facilitates, brokers and influences achievement of those outcomes by defining and measuring the small incremental activities required to deliver the bigger picture.
I propose to hold two short (1 hour) informal District meetings for ANY brethren to attend if they want to know more about champions:
These meetings may have 2 or 20 attendees – it doesn’t matter. It is for Lodges to ask questions or for individuals who are interested in becoming a Champion to present themselves. If you can’t make the meeting, I am happy to receive direct enquiries by phone, text, or email.
I have just viewed the final draft for the divisional conference that will be sent to all members in the next day or so. It looks exciting. A Charity Dinner on the Friday night with Ladies Programme and Conference on the Saturday. I hope that at least four members from each Lodge will attend including your champions or prospective champions.
This conference is an important step in the process of effecting change. It is important for all Lodges to support it in whatever way they can. There will not be another one for three years.
With the announcement of Freemans NZ sponsoring the Special Olympics, Lodges may wish to direct their charitable efforts towards event. This sponsorship, along with the two district projects, individual lodge projects, and the increasing social media presence, put Freemasonry very much in the public eye and men are wanting to join. Let us make sure that they join thriving Lodges.
Liberal Arts and Sciences
With all the talk about change, we should never lose sight of why we exist as a group. The sentiments expressed in our ceremonies are important and if we are true, we need to walk the talk. It, therefore, seems appropriate to include an article I put together in my own Lodge’s newsletter:
On a Mason’s journey through life, he is encouraged to pursue the study of the seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. If you Google “liberal arts and sciences masonic” you will find enough links to keep you occupied for a number of hours. In my search, I found the following graphics rather helpful.
Download nl.docx (Download to view graphics more clearly)
….and have found the following quotes interesting:
“The modern freemason can apply to the seven liberal arts and sciences a special and appropriate metaphor for a life of self-improvement and mental growth. This goal is symbolized in our lodges by the rough and perfect ashlars and by the Masonic agenda of taking a good man and making him better.” https://skirret.com/papers/seven_liberal_arts.html
“We may go a step further. Suppose a lodge member is critical, captious, fault-finding, prejudiced, and ignorant; he adds nothing to the Brotherhood, and he is a cause of trouble. If the lodge could persuade him to ascend the seven steps of the arts and sciences consider how it would affect him; his prejudice and vanity would drop away, for these are fruits of ignorance; his captiousness would vanish, for that comes from a lack of culture; his enlarged mind would make him more tolerant of others’ opinions and more patient with others’ faults, for great knowledge always begets humility. The man who has captured even a little vision of the wide world of knowledge can never be bigoted or vainglorious because he has learned how little he himself really knows. Masonry needs the Arts and Sciences for the sake of brotherhood itself!”
I might suggest that “captious” and “vainglorious” are attributes of the “cringe factor” in our meetings. Let us all guard against this. As I said in the recent Freemason magazine;
Our ONE TEAM needs to be: