KEEPING NEW MASONS
From The New Model Lodge Website
Much is made these days of holding business meetings and other meetings on
the first degree. This has been forwarded as a cure for alienation and loss of
interest in our newly initiated brethren. Several grand lodges in the U.S. have
already considered this proposal. However, even if your grand lodge has approved
business meetings on the first degree, there are other ways to maintain interest
and participation without opening all of our meetings to all degrees of our
Have the Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts understand as a part in their
introduction before initiation that they are expected to attend lodge for all
meetings, of whatever degree to work in the kitchen, to serve the meals, and to
assist in setting up and cleaning the lodge. This is not just a way to get
menial chores done. This is a way for the EAs and FCs to become familiar with
the workings of the lodge, to be active in the real activities of the lodge and
to meet and form bonds of friendship with all of the active brothers of the
These active brothers will be a good influence of the new masons and show
them the example of participation that will keep them coming back, and the
experience of serving will let them know what is expected of the officers of the
lodge, starting with the stewards and tiler.
Also, whenever the lodge holds a service project or dinner outside of the
normal schedule the EAs and FCs must know that their attendance is required to
help, not just to bring their families or themselves. This inclusion is the key
to these new masons feeling that they are a vital part of the lodge and that
their active support is directly contributing to all of the lodge activities.
It will be only a short step for an new Master Mason who has this kind of
experience to step into the stewards chairs or to begin in a committee. He is
already helping the lodge to run while learning his new degree work. If the
meals are prepared in advance or catered, as suggested elsewhere on this site,
the meetings where the EAs and FCs cannot attend can be time well spent with a
coach learning their memory work. By the time they are ready to become lodge
officers, the idea of learning the work of the lodge and serving the lodge at
the same time will be ingrained as a part of freemasonry.
Bro J. R. Martin, MPS, Houston, Texas
Here is an excellent further suggestion from Leon Zeldis, FPS, 33° Israel:
|I concur...with an addition: in those meetings where EAs and FCs are
excluded, have them conduct an instruction session with an experienced
brother. Not only going over the lectures, but rather explaining the
structure of the lodge, of the Grand Lodge, how Freemasonry started, how
your own lodge was started and what it has done in the past, the proper
conduct within the lodge, the importance of attending regularly to meetings,
recommended reading (see what books you have available in the nearest
Masonic library), the meaning of the lodge furnishings and symbols, why we
have rituals, etc. In other words, make these sessions interesting,
incentivate the EAs and FCs to ask questions, and if the instructor doesn't
know the answer, let him be honest, and find the answer later from a more
knowledgable brother or from the literature, to convey it at the next
session. That's what I wuld do in such a situation.
Of course, I still think that it is preferable to have all lodge meetings
(except passing and raising) in the First Degree.
And from Jim May, DGM AZ
|I am pleased to see you called "business meetings on the first degree"
"a cure" and not THE cure.
Speaking as one from a GL which has allowed this for several years, I can
tell you it does help the EAs and FCs maintain contact with the Lodge.
That's something the old system could have done, but most often didn't --
with consequences all too depressing and too frequent.
Your other suggestions are right on target. One of my friends reminds me
quite frequently that "it does no good to bring live Masons into dead
Lodges." Finding something meaningful for new members to do (and reminding
them to speak up if they see or hear of something they'd like to help with)
ought to be given priority. The old paradigm of "sit on the sidelines and be
quiet for a year or two" is a disaster.
Here are some great, practical ideas from Milo Daily of Concord Lodge No. 13,
Watertown, SD USA
("And for what it's worth, I'm a new District Master (called "District Deputy
Grand Master" in some jurisdictions), PM of my Lodge and past warden of two
Lodges; Life Member and hopefully soon Past Master of the S.D. Lodge of Masonic
Research (Opinions due to illness of my good friend, Brother and SW; founding SW
of the new uniquely dual GL chartered Frontier Army Lodge of Masonic Research
#1875 (Reenactor) AF&AM; Philalethes Soc.; Scottish Rite (SJ) 32nd, SRSJ
Research Society; Yelduz Shrine and PR area representative; Chairman SD Grand
Lodge Public Awareness Committee and editor/writer of Masonic Model Student
Assistance Training Program state public awareness tabloid distributed statewide
through daily and weekly newspaper inserts.
I probably forgot something above, but it still takes a buck most places to buy
coffee...)(Maybe in South Dakota! Ed.)
|As one Mason serving an area where several rural Lodges in changing
demographic circumstances are considering turning in their charters even
with 35-75 paying Brethren, I'd like to add some observations to Bro
Martin's analysis of the condition of Masonry in year 2000 C.E.:
1. I've discovered many Brethren, including some of those most able at
ritual -- far beyond my own honestly feeble ability -- aren't aware of the
basic concept that if there's no Grand Lodge constitutional restriction,
they have actually incredible latitude in what they choose to do for the
required monthly communications. This single fact may be a major block to
small community Lodges everywhere finding appropriate programs beyond the
ritual opening, closing and business reports. In my own jurisdiction they
could do darned near anything they might choose -- and opening Lodge monthly
or more frequently "in due form" is not even required.... Okay, so we're
largely "cowboys" out here...
2. Younger Brethren, seeing little or nothing of relevance to themselves
unless they're from a Masonic family (and often not then), even if they join
a Lodge, are immediately presented with little of the reality of Masonry.
They see a only their senior brothers's scenario of forced memorization of
such volumes of ritual that it's inconceivable they might ever succeed.
It's small wonder so many disappear so rapidly regardless of longstanding
relationships outside Lodge with many senior Brethren. Nobody ever tells
them the ritual is nothing but an outward and visible sign of an inward
grace and external true Brotherhood of tolerant and usually supportive men
of all ages who meet honestly on a level plane.
3. Teaching today is a significantly different craft perceived far
differently than by previous generations. For one thing, many "under 30" men
have no experience whatsoever of memory work. Further, their entire
education and most their life expereince has been under a "positive
reenforcement" style of learning to the point many have never engaged in
competitive (winner and loser) types of endeavor. As a result, they simply
can't relate to traditional styles of memory work regardless of intellectual
4. Number 3 means Brethren over age 45 who aren't professional
instructors must learn new ways of teaching the ritual and other lessons of
Masonry in a more interactive manner marked by positive reenforcement.
Changing style is far easier said than done. Don't ever forget Masonry has
lost more than an entire generation in North America starting with those who
entered culture as a pubescent "adult" in the 1960s.
5. Current "Yes" responses for adults in year 2000 information age
culture come from videos, restaurant meeting room dinners for couples,
Internet accessibility of schedules, programs and paperwork, "readers
theater" ritual, buildings that don't look and smell like Grandpa,
free-wheeling discussion of issues of the day (within the usual Masonic
restrictions), the opportunity to express personal feelings as well as
opinions ... and as ever in living Masonry, friendship in a "current
Look at number 5, consider it's roughly the pattern of successful Masonry
during each of its major growth periods in any national ethos. Then consider
what can correct things in Grand Lodges today rather than attempting to
resurrect 1870s North American Masonry which died in 1965 when "Tradition"
stopped being a motivating factor for any active participation in society
for young adults.
Remember also Shrine in the US would not have been successful as a
cultural artifact had it not answered a great need of couples' and family
enjoyment of a fraternal setting after US Masonry generally sealed the wine
bottles in the Craft Lodge building.
Michael J. Kastle, MPS, Concord #307, Vienna, VA, USA "and others" cites a
|The American Canadian Grand Lodge (ACGL) part of the German Grand Lodge
Association (VGL) always opens, conducts all business and closes in the 1st
degree. Many lodges appoint the two newest EAs as the Lodge Jr & Sr
Stewards. When FC or MM work is to be done, those not having yet attained
that rank are asked to leave and the lodge moves up to the necessary degree
and then will return to the 1st for closing if there are lower ranked
members outside. They will go to another part of the building and practice
their work with a volunteer MM as teacher. This is an excellent way to get
the new EA involved in the work of the Lodge. The ACGL is made up of mainly
American & Canadian military and expats living in Germany, as well as any
other nationality who wants to speak English. My current lodge's (Solomon
#822, Stuttgart) secretary is German, and has been secretary for many years.
Opening in the 3rd degree appears to be an aberration only found in the USA.
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