With the ‘changing of the guard’ at the Grand Installation management of the pillar initiatives has been reorganised under one national operational advisory team otherwise known as NOAT. The team will consist of a chairman, three Divisional Pillar Coordinators each representing a Division, the Chair of the National Education Committee Dr George Allan and the new Grand Almoner Bob Monson.
I have the privilege of taking on the chair role and ensuring the NOAT fulfils its brief of identifying the resources required, then developing and undertaking the necessary projects to create them, followed by coordinating the roll out of such resources to the Lodges through the Divisions and Districts.
Much work has been achieved during the last three years since the current Strategic plan and the seven pillars of Leadership, Education, Membership, Charity, Community Engagement, Communication, and Organisational Development were launched. But there is still much to do. While we have an excellent foundation of resources and initiatives, and more in the pipeline, they are of little use unless Lodges are actually using then and making the changes critical in meeting the needs /desires of brethren and growing the Lodge.
Ensuring implementation of the tools and recourses is a critical aspect of NOAT’s work-plan – how do the brethren at Divisional and National level best assist you and the brethren in your Lodge to achieve?
If you have views on this, membership or any idea that will benefit Freemasonry in New Zealand please don’t hesitate to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. No one brother, including me, has a monopoly on best practice and it is critical we share ideas and potential resources with one another. I look forward to hearing from you.
Warwick Bell, NOAT Chair
Freemasonry as an organization espouses as its reasons for existence three key themes of brotherly love, relief and truth; or better explained as fellowship among men (expanded to include families and spouses / partners); charity / benevolence; and education / self-development.
Just as each company / business needs a point of difference to differentiate itself from its competitors, membership organisations do as well. i.e. other similar community organisations such as Rotary espouse one or possibly two of the above themes, but only Freemasonry does all three.
But are these themes a sufficient point of difference for a lodge in your community? Furthermore what differentiates your lodge from any other neighbouring lodge?
In answering these questions every lodge should take time in their planning to identify what makes your lodge unique. For example is your lodge one:
Having established the identity take time to discuss and plan how to build on and express this identity. Progress the actions arising and the lodge will significantly enhance its activities including fellowship
An important aspect of Freemasons fellowship is the various occasions when our wives and partners attend activities associated with the Lodge.
Our Grand Masters wife Mrs Diana Litton during the last two and half years has probably attended more of such functions than any other woman associated with our fraternity. Earlier this year when sitting with Diana at dinner after one of the Divisional conferences we discussed her experiences, those that were enjoyable and those that were not, particularly when the ladies meet together. Subsequently we have collaborated, along with several other Freemasons wives on the ‘tool’ in the Freemasons Toolbox called ‘Enhancing Activities When Lodge Ladies Meet’.
This ‘tool’ is essential reading for every Freemason, particularly those organising social activities. We owe it to our wives and partners, indeed our whole fraternity, to ensure that every wife, partner (and other family members) have nothing but a positive experience in sharing that aspect we all value so highly: fellowship.
The tool is also worthwhile reading for any wife or partner involved in organising such activities.
Take a look at the tool now at http://bit.ly/28QOjJC and share with others in your Lodge, particularly the Master, JW and other brethren and ladies involved in arranging social activities.
It’s time for all Lodges and individuals to show initiative and follow through on their actions to build a stronger future for Freemasonry - this was recently stressed by my counterpart in Victoria Australia, Bro Bruce Stockdale, Membership manager. Taking the initiative is not waiting for someone else to do it. Individuals, Lodges and Districts need to take the lead to recruit, retain, re-engage and reactivate members, whether it be in Victoria or New Zealand.
There are plenty examples of Brethren and Lodges where initiative has been taken and the results on membership are happening.
One of the best and most interesting case studies to highlight in our Division is Lodge Zetland in Wellington. Zetland have a unique Shetland Island background and tradition around the ‘hardy Norsemen’. That is a good start because they have a ‘point of difference’ but it is not enough on its own to enable lodge survival.
Being forced to shift when as a tenant the building was sold they relocated across the city to another old and tired lodge facility. Their membership was dropping and it was a struggle – they made the decision to meet every two months (master elected for two years) and use the mid-month for a social function. It worked for a couple of Master’s terms. A good holding pattern but not going anywhere.
Very importantly the Lodge identified two key initiatives which they acted on:
They now have a number of new members and good number of visitors. More importantly they presently have six candidates in waiting. It is working – Lodge Zetland are showing it is possible to re-invigorate a Lodge.
Enhancing fellowship should be the continual focus of all lodges and brethren. By fellowship we mean not just the social activities, either in refectory or outside occasions, but most importantly that sense of brotherhood, friendship and caring for each other that we all value.
Research initiated by Freemasons in Victoria, Australia in the last 12 months indicates that as Freemasons we proportion the value of fellowship at 70% compared to ceremonial, education and charity activities at 10% each. That is such a significant margin that it definitely indicates where we should be putting our focus. Accordingly it is critical that every lodge for its success recognises the importance of fellowship and provide the opportunities for all members to share and care with and for one another. This research shows that ‘Lodge’ is not just about attending the regular meeting and an associated ceremony – it’s far more than that. It’s about a regular and varied programme of social activities; it’s about fun and stimulating refectory; it’s about fostering internal benevolence; it’s about great mentoring; it’s about involving spouses and partners in an appropriate manner, and so much more.
The Pillars team have now provided many tools in the Freemasons On-Line Toolbox to provide lodges and brethren resources on a vast range of topics. In particular there are numerous tools which have a fellowship theme, so many that shortly we will publish a new booklet on ‘Enhancing Fellowship In Your Lodge – 25 Tools For Success’. Keep an eye out for this publication and ensure the brethren in your lodge get copies. Particularly keep watch for the soon to be released tool, included in the booklet, on ‘Enhancing Activities When Ladies Meet’.
UPDATED: 4th February 2017
I hope all readers of this blog and food for Thought pages have had a happy and enjoyable holiday season.
I have updated the Masonic blog items on the above date. Food for Thought pages will follow in a few days.
This update has new links in the following sections
The items uploaded will have a heading in coloured text
BLACK headings indicate latest items
GREY headings are previous month's items
BLUE headings indicate New Zealand material uploaded
RED headings are Christmas time items
However, all things are in a state of continual evolution, and "Practice makes perfect", though in my case it may just be "better".
9 PDF FILES OF BLOG ARCHIVE LINKS WILL BE ON LINE AT NEXT UPDATE
The blog archive pages established on the Food for Thought pages now links to nine PDF files. These are condensed lists of the Blogs with direct links to the page items. They go from 2014 to the current day, and they will continue to be added after one or two Blog Updates.
The link to the Blog Archive page is at the bottom of the first page of Food for Thought which features the index, and to the right of the date above.
GL Arkansas Lawsuit Dismissed
Alabama Lodge Breaks State's Masonic Color Barrier
Grand Lodge of Alabama Drops Progressive Line
Alabama Governor, Grand Lodge under Scrutiny
GL of Florida Restores Relations With GL of Cuba: GM Visits
Historic Occasion Between Two Texas Grand Lodges
RECOGNITION OF GRAND LODGE OF ARKANSAS – A PROBLEM FOR OUR GRAND LODGE?
A quick look through many of the entries of news on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas provides thought to whether they can continue to be recognised by other Grand Lodges including our own Grand Lodge. These reports point to behaviour contrary to that dictated by our own Book of Constitution. I list some of the links I have found that may prove of assistance in Wellington's deliberations on the matter. The latest news includes the formation of a new Grand Lodge to follow the principles of international Freemasonry. (Click on title to follow link)
Grand Lodge of Arkansas Bans the Shrine (Again)
In a flurry of executive leadership activity over the past week, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has suspended or expelled every member of the Grand Lodge with the exception of Stella Campbell, the Grand Lodge receptionist.
(2016 October 31)
(2017 January 24)
GL Arkansas Lawsuit Dismissed
(2017 February 7)
Ask Geoffrey: The History of Freemasonry in Chicago
Postmodern vs. Masonic Ethics- If It’s Not Illegal, Unethical or Immoral Just Do It!
I wasn't expecting the Spanish inquisition
Older freemasons told to smile and stop criticising in bid to attract millennials
Freemasons initiate new member
Obituary in Sunday Star times - The man and his community Community
A Tale of a Temple
Piece of Freemason history returned to South Tyneside masonic lodge
Masonic march celebrates 300th anniversary
Masonic Hall restored
100 Years of Freemasonry
Third Degree On The Blue Ghost
Freemasons establish Spinnaker Lodge – the UK’s first boating lodge
Clever Kiwi conversion: Masonic Lodge becomes an arty retreat
Black Member Tests Message of Masons in Georgia Lodges
MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia Settles With Shriners
Grand Lodge Of Massachusetts
Recognizes Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Of Texas
UGLE Masonic Festival Jewels
Around the mid 1800s, the United Grand Lodge of England decided to instigate Festival Stewards Jewels for the three main Masonic Charities.
Thai Freemason News & Events
Widows - Hamish Fletcher of the NZ Herald provides an interesting story.
Brother to Speak on Freemasonry in the Modern Middle East
another in a series of Catechism Primer formats that Nagy has published for increasing Light in Freemasons.
The question is, are we doing enough to promote morality in this country?
Plan for Make a Difference Month
This October, lodges and Masonic youth orders will work side by side on service projects for their communities. With just two months to go, here’s how to prepare for an impactful Make a Difference Month event.
Freemasons: Your questions answered
An Excellent 2012 news item of Nigel Brown answering readers' questions about being a Freemason
For anyone who has driven by Salt Lake City's Masonic Temple and wondered what's behind the majestic stone staircase, towering columns and mysterious sphinx statues, the annual public tour Saturday should satisfy your curiosity.
Lifelites raffling the ultimate library of 100 signed books to raise money for children in hospices
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons visit Lifelites headquarters
The philanthropy and tea empire of Freemason Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton
Giving a voice
Otago and Lakes District Freemasons help keep rescue helicopter in air
Teddies for Loving Care
Devon Air Ambulance presented with £4,000 by local Freemasons
£500,000 to be donated to Cheshire charities to mark Freemasons tercentenary
Devonshire Freemasons donation of £5,000 to MACMILLAN Cancer Support
Shropshire Freemasons gave Midlands Air Ambulance £1,100,000 in 25 years.
Unveiling of Yorkshire Air Ambulance's new helicopter
Grand Charity awards £100,000 to Cancer Genetics team
I'M THE GUY
I'm the guy who asked to join your organization. I'm the guy who paid his dues to join.
I'm the guy who stood up in front of all of you and promised to be faithful and loyal.
I'm the guy who came to your meetings and no one paid any attention to. I tried several times to be friendly to some of the fellows, but they all had their own buddies they talk to and sat next to.
I sat down several times but no one paid any attention to me. I hoped very much that somebody would have asked me to take part in a fund raising project or something, but no one saw my efforts when I volunteered.
I missed a few meetings after joining because I was sick and couldn't be there. No one asked me at the next meeting where I had been. I guess it didn't matter very much to the others whether I was there or not. The next meeting I decided to stay home and watch TV. The following meeting I attended, no one asked me where I was when the last meeting was held.
You might say I'm a good guy, a good family man who holds a responsible job, loves his community, and his country.
You know who else I am? I'm the guy who never came back!
It amuses me when I think back on how the heads of the organization and the members were discussing why the organization was losing members.
It amuses me now to think that they spent so much time looking for new members when I was there all the time.
All they needed to do was make me feel needed, wanted and welcome!
THE CLOCK OF LIFE
The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To know just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour
Now is the only time you have
Live, love and toil with a will
Put no faith in tomorrow
For the clock may then be still
Living Stones Magazine available to all
Lore of the Ring - 33rd degree ring
The title deeds of the Craft
Albert Pike's Immortal Lessons
The Lost History of the Freemasons
The Symbolic Lodge
A collective term for the first three degrees of Craft (or blue Lodge)
The prince and the fugitive
How did an escaped prisoner become a close associate of the Grand Master
Did the Templars Hide the Ark of the Covenant?
The Great Wall of India: 80km (diwaal) is an ancient mystery no one knew about
ASU scientist finds advanced geometry no secret to prehistoric architects in US Southwest
Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich
Archaeologists discover man whose tongue was replaced by a stone
Treasures from 2,600-year-old grave of Celtic princess in Germany reveal their secrets
James Cameron links find of bronze-age anchors to lost city of Atlantis
Ancient Mayan Superhighways Found in the Guatemala Jungle
Humans May Have Arrived in North America 10,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought
How King Arthur became one of the most pervasive legends of all time
Egypt unearths 7,000-year-old lost city
Steep commute gave ancient Egyptian workers osteoarthritis
Does This Ancient Egyptian Dish Demolish Everything We Know about the Origins of Greek Astronomy?
New discoveries that rewrite Stonehenge landscape
How to climb the social ladder in ancient Rome
Australia’s oldest ornament found in kimberley region
Glassmaking may have begun in Egypt, not Mesopotamia
Clay figurine is Bronze Age ancestor of Rodin’s ‘Thinker’
Archeologists Have a Huge New Stonehenge to Figure Out
The Great Salt Lake Enigma: Science Shows Anomalies – Evidence of a Global Flood?
Ancient Royal Boat Tomb Uncovered in Egypt
Researchers confirm the existence of a 'lost continent' under Mauritius
Save The Monkeys, Save The Trees, Sell The Chocolate
Some Scientists Say the Only Way to Save Species May be to Privatize Them
Priceless Ancient Seed Bank Saved from Destruction in Syria
Groundbreaking system allows locked-in syndrome patients to communicate
Scientists Are Reversing the Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Pictures Reveal One of the Last Unexplored Places on Earth
Cost of electricity from offshore windfarms drops by a third in just four years
Gene editing has saved the lives of two children with leukaemia
Plants smell different when attacked by exotic herbivores
Too much sitting, too little exercise may accelerate biological aging
Why the Earth's magnetic poles could be about to swap places and how it would affect us
Scientists discover even wasps make trade deals
Animals are way smarter than we give them credit for
Horses Aren't Shy When Asking Humans For Help
The Mind of an Octopus (and they are smart, Ed.)
Firms push hydrogen as top green energy source
Ancient Andes glaciers have lost half their ice in just 40 years
Climate change could push risk of ‘megadrought’ to 99% in American southwest
First farm to grow veg in a desert using only sun and seawater
Grow veggies, not grass, to cut greenhouse gas
Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say
Acidity in atmosphere minimised to preindustrial levels
Colonizing the moon? Frequent meteor impacts may get in the way
Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say it's more likely than not