Out of Adversity Can Come Good.
Twelve months ago, today, I awoke to the destruction that the Kaikoura earthquake had caused in Wellington. Five days out from the Grand Installation of MWBro. Winger and the various functions, we learnt that our venues were all closed and one of our hotels could not provide 115 of the rooms we had booked. Penny and I, with the assistance of our team, went into contingency mode and seven days later we emerged having run a successful event.
So what relevance does this have today?
It shows that Freemasons can rise to the occasion in times of adversity and work together for a positive outcome.
So why can’t we do it in our day to day Freemasonry?
There can not be one amongst us who does not acknowledge that we have too many buildings for the number of Lodges we now have.
A Lodge is not a building, it is a group of like minded men who meet for fellowship, if every Lodge building in Wellington had been destroyed in the earthquake (as they were in Christchurch) then the buildings would have gone but the Lodges would have survived.
The same applies to every Lodge in the Division. If your building was gone tomorrow, your Lodge would survive because you are the Lodge not the building.
So, moving forward I have a simple request.
Please be proactive and take a realistic look at your accommodation, does it favourably reflect Freemasonry, can you afford it?
If it was your personal property and personal money involved what would you do?
Lodge Almoner or Lodge Charity Officer?
Does your Lodge have one of each?
Do you understand their respective roles?
At his investiture, the Lodge Almoner is told:
Your jewel is a scrip purse with a heart engraved thereon, an emblem of Brotherly Love and Benevolence.
Your duty is to visit the sick and such of your Brethren as are in need, to dispense such comforts as in your opinion are necessary, reporting back to the Lodge for further action if required, always remembering that brightest jewel of our Order, charity, raising
His duty is to the Brethren of the Lodge and to the Lodges Widows. He may be involved in applications to the Freemasons Charity when assistance is required, but primarily his role is one of maintaining contact with the brethren and widows and reporting back to the Lodge as and when required.
The Lodge Charity Officer on the other hand is the direct link between the Lodge and The Freemasons Charity. Their role is to apply for and manage the dispensing of charity from the Lodge to the respective recipients, who may not necessarily be masons or have a masonic connection.
Within a Lodge, the Lodge Almoner and Lodge Charity officer may be the same person though we recommend that they not, so that the two roles are kept distinct and are not confused.
So how should it all work?
Masonic Assistance: Should assistance be required for a brother or widow then the Lodge Almoner should bring this to the attention of the Lodge who will in turn decide on what action is required. If an application is to be made to the Freemasons Charity for assistance, then at this stage the Lodge Charity Officer should become involved.
Non-Masonic Assistance: If the Lodge wishes to undertake a lodge project, regardless of whether it is going to require assistance from the Freemasons Charity or not, this should come under supervision of the Lodge Charity Officer.
What does the Lodge Charity Officer have to do?
Before the Lodge commits itself to any project or any form of benevolence, masonic or otherwise that may require Freemasons Charitable assistance, the Lodge Charity Officer should contact the District Charity Officer to ascertain if the application will meet the criteria as required by the Charity. If it does, then the Lodge Charity Officer can proceed with the formal application.
What happens next?
The Lodge application once completed, is forwarded to the District Charity Officer, who after confirming that it is all in order and that the application meets the criteria then forwards it to the Divisional Almoner for approval and processing. Once approved, funds are deposited into the Lodge bank account.
NOTE: We do not give away cash. Funds deposited must be used for goods or services.
So why should I make an application to the Freemasons Charity?
The Freemasons Charity is your charity and its role is to aid the Lodges when they embark on a charitable or benevolent project (subject to criteria of course).
For example, your Lodge may have a project in mind that requires $2000.00 to complete. An application to the Freemasons Charity which meets the criteria may see it qualify for a 1 for 1 subsidy, meaning your Lodge now only needs to contribute $1000.00 or half of what is required.
In some circumstances, a multi Lodge project or a District project may qualify for an even higher subsidy.
What does my Lodge Need to do?
Appoint a Lodge Charity Officer, then make contact with your District Grand Master and District Charity Officer who will walk him through process of what is required to make an application to the Freemasons Charity.
And once he is appointed use him. Become active in your community and more importantly support your brethren and widows when assistance is required.
2018 CENTRAL DIVISION CONFERENCE
2019 GRAND INSTALLATION
Two important events that every Brother should attend.
Both are open to all Masons – from Entered Apprentices, Fellowcrafts and Master Masons through to the Grand Master.
2018 Central Division Conference – 24 March 2018 in New Plymouth
Organise the brethren of your Lodge now and make it a road trip.
2019 Grand Installation – 15/17 November 2019 in Wellington
This is our Triennial premier showcase event. Lodges should ensure that their Master and Wardens attend. Start putting away funds now.
By the way - How many Lodges have you visited this month?
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working in the USA and have had the opportunity to visit three Grand Lodges whilst on my journey. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee, the Grand Lodge of New York and the Grand Lodge of New Mexico. I tried to visit one of the Prince Hall Lodges but without success, maybe next time.
In my discussions, they face the very same problems that we face, dwindling membership, retention of new members and the cost of properties.
Membership is an age thing, they too are losing more members to the Grand Lodge above than they are initiating, though it was interesting that they are seeing much younger candidates coming through than in recent years, though this brought its own problems. Those of you who heard Mike speak at the Divisional Conference will remember him saying that the problem with millennials is that they don’t want things today, they want them yesterday.
Here they are finding that initiates are not prepared to wait for months to work through the system of interviews, then degrees, but rather they want to be Master Masons yesterday with all the privileges they perceive this will give them. Consequently, retention is down as they drop out through dissatisfaction.
In the Division, we have been discussing the implementation of Lodge of Workings where in a Lodge is formed for the sole purpose on conducting the ceremonies of the three degrees. I will not go into the mechanics of this right now but here in New Mexico one of the Districts has a policy that a Lodge does not initiate its own candidates, it must be done in their lodge room but by another lodge.
This has had 3 positive effects:
Another interesting concept is a Lodge that holds special meetings in the homes of aged brethren who are house bound or can no longer travel out at night. This way they get to attend a meeting and enjoy in the fellowship of their brethren. They use a shortened opening and closing but still conduct an actual Lodge meeting.
Finally, property. They are finding that lodges cannot afford to keep their buildings, they have too many buildings for the number of lodges – sound familiar???
Some of their lodges are joining with churches and other community groups to share facilities. We have discussed this as an option for some lodges in our division, especially those in small communities.
So I just want to finish on this note.
How many of you attending the recent stone laying ceremony in Lower Hutt where the Grand Master was received by the brethren of the Lower Hutt Lodge, prior to the actual ceremony?
Here is a photo of the lodge room, which is the recreation room of the Woburn Masonic Village. Took a team of brethren 10 mins to set it up and break it down.
Do we really need dedicated Lodge Rooms anymore???
If your Lodge was to close tomorrow would your local community notice?
Is your Lodge part of its community – or is it just “that drab building” that occasionally has cars parked outside and men coming and going?
If we want good men to join us then we need to be visible and the best way to do this is to become part of our local communities, show them who we are and what we believe in.
How do we show them what we believe in?
Simply by becoming involved in our community and I don’t mean by throwing money at project, all too often we see this as the all solving solution to benevolence, I mean by getting out and being involved.
Have you considered having your neighbours over for “tea and a scone”?
Find a group, an organization, an individual who needs assistance, the local play group, toy library, fitness club, see what they need, no doubt most will welcome financial help but they may also welcome free use of the Lodge Rooms on Saturday for a book auction or as an occasional meeting place, it could be as simple as them using your parking when there is no lodge meetings on.
Do you remember a couple of months back the marae that opened its doors to flood victims? Would your lodge be prepared to do this in the event of a local emergency?
Our survival lies in our local community, it is right outside our doors!!!