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!!!
Brethren often ask me what I do when I say I have been away working on the rugby, so I said I would share some photos of the DHL Lions Tour. Here are a few of the All Blacks Hospitality village on the No 2 Ground of Eden Park, Auckland.
Some interesting statistics:
A successful event (despite the score line) and great for New Zealand. The Lions fans were good fun and they really knew how to enjoy themselves and as I mentioned in my last newsletter, I met many masons as well.
Have you visited a Lodge other than your own this month?