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State of the Craft ...

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Bostonian View Drop Down
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    Posted: September/29/2014 at 9:57am
Good Morning Brothers!

So forgive me for this lengthy post, but I figured posting here under the anonymity of the boards would be a good place to start.  Chances are this may be a little bit of a controversial post, none the less, I do think it may have some merit.   So here we go...

I am currently a line officer and sit in the West of my lodge all the while looking towards the East.  Next year, I do anticipate (without anything earth shattering to take place) to be elected the Master of my lodge - something I am excited about.  However, while sitting in the West and traveling to other lodges on Official Visits, I do notice a troubling trend - one that should have every Mason concerned.  That is trend is declining numbers and average age increasing.

In proceeding through the chairs the last few years, I have gone from a neophyte in terms of this organization to someone who is passionate about the mission.  However, still none the less, a new member of only 6 years and a lifetime to go before truly being a "Master Mason".  Yet, the more exposure to the organization, the more dysfunction I see and what appears to be the cheapening of the "product", which we are trying to sell - a prestigious society, with its array secrets open to any man who believes in a higher power (ie. Supreme Architect) and so on.  However, while do do continue to attract new members, I do see that our lodge has turned from a premier organization steeped in values and traditions to a mediocre place where mystique, secrecy and mysteries have been replaced with open houses, blood drives, "ask a mason" campaigns and more.  Gone are the mysteries and gallantry and in it's place are wrote rituals (and I do not mean "ritual") of business meetings, public facing meetings and everything but what Masonry seems to be.

I believe it is now it time that we as Masons begin to focus internally on our brothers and work on our lodges to restore that gallantry.  This includes perhaps ditching ideas like "Ask a Mason", Open houses,  and trying to be "out there" with advertising and turning inward and looking at our own personal networks and bringing those men who we would like to see sit in the sidelines rather than just any random Joe.   My goal for next year is working with the current brethren of the lodge, to facilitate our own networks to grow the lodge organically.  Through that process, I hope to really grow our sidelines to build a vibrant community and really bring back that luster that has been lost.

What are your thoughts?  Is it something that needs to be done or am I concerned over nothing?

Fraternally,

Brother B.

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CAMB.MASON View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CAMB.MASON Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2014 at 10:52am
My dear brother Massachusetts Mason.  Your ideas have been placed on the table by some of the members of the Masonic Education committee.  Should we look at internal and not the external, should be get rid of Ben, Open Houses and other advertising that the GL does.
  I was involved with the very first open house in 1988, and active since then with them, I remember a time when the only advertisment was seeing a brother MM auto emblem on his car.   
   We started in the late 1980's with Masonic Awareness, and served on my lodge committee as chairman and also in two districts as the chairman.  I can not answer for other lodges in Mass. or in the US, but here in Cambridge we are still going strong.  All five lodges and the RA Chapter have candidates, though most still not come back or attend.  This has always been a problem.  GL years ago did a survey and found that all the lodges in Massachusetts, that we keep active 10-12% of out candidates we raise, some numbers more or less pending on your lodge.
    We should look internally, and I know of a few lodges that are tring that now, and know of one lodge that the numbers of attending have increased over the years.  Though each lodge is still very busy here in Cambridge with candidates, I have also seen a huge increase with one lodge in the numbers of candidates and those that stay.  It had been decades since they had 10 men join in one year, and most are staying. 
      One thing that I have seen working is education, and that is done by the lodges, not the district LOI.  Four of the lodges here in Cambridge are getting back to hard line education, and it seems to work.  The candidates are more interested, eductated and involved. 
       But I believe in both worlds, both internal and external.  Everything works as I informed the Education chairman at GL, even with a decrease in attendies at the last open house.  We had about 25-30 come and visit Cambridge.  But each person that comes through, man, women or child, interested in becoming a member, or just wondering what this building is, is one more person that knows who we are.  That is the point, education not just our members, but the public.  The mystic is still there, it is all in your heart, even when we had the mystic years ago, members still not come back and we were dying.  Now with all this advertisment, and on the internet, people read about us and join.  One lodge has three new members this way, and they just joined the line, and one became Master.  So everything works in my eyes, but then I have been around since 83 and seen good and bad, I think that we should leave GL alone with the advertisments, and then as a lodge do our own thing, internal. 
 


Edited by CAMB.MASON - September/29/2014 at 10:53am
I remain Fraternally Yours:

Curator & Historian
Cambridge Masonic Temple Cambridge, Massachusetts



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bostonian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2014 at 8:53am
Originally posted by CAMB.MASON CAMB.MASON wrote:

My dear brother Massachusetts Mason.  Your ideas have been placed on the table by some of the members of the Masonic Education committee.  Should we look at internal and not the external, should be get rid of Ben, Open Houses and other advertising that the GL does.
  I was involved with the very first open house in 1988, and active since then with them, I remember a time when the only advertisment was seeing a brother MM auto emblem on his car.   
Brother Cambridge Mason, I am glad to see that this topic has been raised at least within the Masonic Education committee.    While, I have only been in the craft since 2008, what I have seen as a Master Mason in terms of advertising I believe cheapens the entire product and I am not talking about having a Square and Compass on one's car.  Rather, seeing the commercials with Ben Franklin on TV, plastering sandwich boards all over the place saying "Come see us!  Please we're here!" and making it so the public seeks us out, I believe sends a message of counter intuitive to what we as an organization are seeking - Great Men.

Originally posted by CAMB.MASON CAMB.MASON wrote:

   We started in the late 1980's with Masonic Awareness, and served on my lodge committee as chairman and also in two districts as the chairman.  I can not answer for other lodges in Mass. or in the US, but here in Cambridge we are still going strong.  All five lodges and the RA Chapter have candidates, though most still not come back or attend.  This has always been a problem.  GL years ago did a survey and found that all the lodges in Massachusetts, that we keep active 10-12% of out candidates we raise, some numbers more or less pending on your lodge.

I am somewhat familiar with the lodges in Cambridge (have yet to visit though), and I do know that those lodges are very active.    In terms of what what you speaking about bringing in candidates and keeping them are two separate things.  While we do a decent job in attracting new members (some of which I disagree with them being the caliber of men we need - a story for another day), we are terrible in offering them the fellowship and addressing their needs within our lodges.  Part of this comes from I believe not really searching out the candidate to see if he would be truly ideal for our lodges.

Originally posted by CAMB.MASON CAMB.MASON wrote:

    We should look internally, and I know of a few lodges that are tring that now, and know of one lodge that the numbers of attending have increased over the years.  Though each lodge is still very busy here in Cambridge with candidates, I have also seen a huge increase with one lodge in the numbers of candidates and those that stay.  It had been decades since they had 10 men join in one year, and most are staying. 
One of the hallmarks I intend have during my tenure as Master, is to really begin that internal look and do a top-down assessment of what our lodge is and how we can better serve our brethren.  My lodge alone has several hundred paid, but non-active members.  Many of which, are shut ins.  However, there is still a good contingent of those brothers, who are younger and looking for more than just the wrote meetings.  Starting internally, and looking at our strengths and weakness, is something I want to build upon and hopefully allow it to spread in the district that i am in.   Someone once said, all ships rise on the same tide, and I want to make sure not only my lodge, but everyone else in the district benefits from this.      

Originally posted by CAMB.MASON CAMB.MASON wrote:

One thing that I have seen working is education, and that is done by the lodges, not the district LOI.  Four of the lodges here in Cambridge are getting back to hard line education, and it seems to work.  The candidates are more interested, eductated and involved.
Brother Cambridge, I think you hit upon a very important subject, that of education.  Meaning understanding who we are as Masons and what our mission is to our brethren first and our communities in general.  This is something that isn't taught at LOI and I am not talking about duties of officers.

 
Originally posted by CAMB.MASON CAMB.MASON wrote:

       But I believe in both worlds, both internal and external.  Everything works as I informed the Education chairman at GL, even with a decrease in attendies at the last open house.  We had about 25-30 come and visit Cambridge.  But each person that comes through, man, women or child, interested in becoming a member, or just wondering what this building is, is one more person that knows who we are.  That is the point, education not just our members, but the public.  The mystic is still there, it is all in your heart, even when we had the mystic years ago, members still not come back and we were dying.  Now with all this advertisment, and on the internet, people read about us and join.  One lodge has three new members this way, and they just joined the line, and one became Master.  So everything works in my eyes, but then I have been around since 83 and seen good and bad, I think that we should leave GL alone with the advertisments, and then as a lodge do our own thing, internal. 
See, this is where I perhaps disagree, while having 25-30 individuals walk through the door at an open house, I would rather see each brother focus on one or two good friends, who they know would be good for the craft.  People know who we are, whether it is the countless open houses to the advertising  and more.  Rather than putting the time and energy onto a saturday morning to show around 20 people who may or may not have interest or fit with the Masonry's ideals, having our brothers work on their friends who could become new brothers - seems more prudent at this juncture.

Brother B.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ozzie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2014 at 7:21pm
The secretary of my lodge belongs to a sports and recreation club and from there has provided a constant stream of candidates for quite some years.   So the lodge has been rather busy with emergency meetings required every year.  (We meet monthly)

Most of those new brethren dropped out after a while, so our worthy secretary has decided that quality of candidate is more important than quantity. 

The busyness of the lodge also had the effect of leaving no time for considering the nature of Masonry.
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