Monday, 30 November 2015

Friendship Lodge No. 691 holds a 50th Anniversary for Lyle Redden

A great evening was held on November 28, 2015 to celebrate Lyle Redden' 50 years as a Mason.....congratulations V. W. Bro Lyle Redden.

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The following images were submitted for use on the blog.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

D.D.G.M.'s Fraternal Visit to Algonquin Lodge No 536, November 17, 2015

On November 17, 2015, our District Deputy Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Clive D. Stephenson visited Algonquin Lodge No 536 on a Fraternal Visit. An Entered Apprentice Degree completed the evening.

Monday, 16 November 2015

District Deputy Grand Master Official Visit - Gore Bay Lodge No. 427, November 12, 2015

On November 12, 2015 our D.D.G.M. - R.W. Bro. Clive Stephenson completed his official visit to Gore Bay Lodge No.427.
The evening started with a wonderful meal and was completed with a Fellowcraft Degree.

Included is a copy of the D.D.G.M.'s address. Please take a few moments to read it.

November 12, 2015


As you all know my theme for the year deals with membership, attendance and participation.  So far my talks have been fairly broad in scope and have even touched on the symbolical lessons and what they can offer in terms of education and increasing participation.

Tonight I want to focus in a little more deeply and delve into the aspects of why each of us attend meetings and what we might be able to do to increase the frequency of that attendance and participation.

Life today is much more complicated in terms of demands on our time.  There are many items which compete for the time to attend lodge.  Simply put, the answer here all comes down to priorities.  Participation in the lodge competes with other priorities and while it need not and perhaps should not, be the #1 priority, it needs to be significant enough so that the Mason will want to attend lodge regularly…..the key here is the WANTING to attend….I would say that for most of us there is also an element of duty …but more of this later.

I love analogies as this puts thoughts into visual explanations….there is a movie at the theatre, my friend wants to go, but the last time I went the place was noisy, food was poor and the movie was the same old stuff… I did not go….it was not a priority in my life.  The lack of priority and desire was based in this case on past experience.  We all know this can be to some extent applied to the lodge meeting….in other words the meeting has to be of a quality that makes me want to attend….that it’s a significant enough priority in my life to make me WANT to attend.

I have touched on this concept already this year….we are… whether we like to describe it this way or not….selling something!  And we need to make sure the product is good enough to buy….I think you all understand what I am getting at here.  And putting it simply, if the product (the Masonic whatever) is not attractive we will not buy.

So the message so far is that to increase the likelihood of attendance and participation we need to have a good product and sell it well.  Sounds simple….?

But there is as you will have guessed other elements I want to touch on.  And I want to move away from the broader Masonic concept, to the individual Mason, being that a new…. or longer serving member.  The commonality between them for the discussion is that both do not attend much and do not really participate.

When I think of many of these situations I start by asking myself how I feel about the situation, how I would react and more particularly in this case, what do I want.    I have over the years discovered that many of my own feelings here are very applicable to my brethren.  As I have stated in previous speeches, I believe that we as humans all want much the same….to belong, to be part of something, to have the opportunity to participate to the level of our comfort and ability.

We all assume that we know what the members want and broadly speaking we do…but how often have we sat the new or older non-participating member down and asked them what they want to do?….what they want to be part of?  Another important consideration is to determine the skill set of the person…we need to match the skills with the job…and often a frank caring face-to-face conversation will lead to an increased commitment to the lodge.

I have a good friend who really does not want to be a lodge officer, does not really want to do long pieces of work, but has taken on an important role within the lodge, does a fantastic job, and is a regular attendee and participant in the business of the lodge.  All that was needed was to find his niche, his skill and of course to offer the opportunity.

What I am trying to convey here is the need to reach out individually to the members and talk to them about their relationship with the lodge….what do they want?  This is best done by a friend, sponsor, the Master or a well respected brother.  The conversation needs to be open, frank and without pressure. …the latter is crucial.  We all want to be wanted…that is another one of those human traits I talk about….the difficulty is finding out in what way. 

Perhaps he is interested in doing ritual work….but was never asked…the first time is often the hardest…there may be a need to establish a support mechanism here….Mentor him!

We find out that we have a bookkeeper or accountant who is a member….this may lead to the next treasurer of the lodge.  Hey that new member just graduated with a degree in communications….the secretary needs help with the summons….here I am touching on an earlier speech about improving the sell via the summons.  What about the people person….surely we can find a role for him?

I do not want to belabor this point, so to put it simply…we need to determine far more what the new or non-participating member is looking for and once this is determined we can open doors that will lead hopefully to increased attendance and participation.    It should also be stated that this concept can be applied to members who actually participate…… in that we often do not ask “what do you want to do next”.  This leads to the theme of Succession Planning which will be covered in a subsequent Official Visit talk.

Another important point that I mentioned earlier are opportunities…..too often these are somewhat limited, as the role, the ritual or the responsibility often continually lies with the same people….they do not or are not allowed to give it up.  I do not want to suggest there are nefarious dealing going on here, the cause is not the result of some negative intent…..for example, often the Master asks the same person to do the work as he wants the degree to be at its best…the intent is certainly good, but it is short sighted, does not plan for the future and does not allow an opportunity for the less involved member.

Returning to the participation theme, I want to touch on the mistake of assuming the applicability of the “one-size fits all approach”.  We do not all join Masonry for the same reasons…some commonalities exist, but there are enough different reasons both in type and extent that makes us each different.  As we become more experienced we still have differences in what we are looking for, we do not all want the same… or life pressures are such that we want different things at different times in our journey.  So again I come back to the need on an INDIVIDUAL LEVEL to determine what the member wants.

Some lodges have workshops where they talk about the expectations, rules, duties and processes involved in the journey and these have significant value in educating the Mason, BUT these do not touch on the INDIVIDUAL needs and wants.  Therefore it is imperative that we talk on THAT level to find out the wants and desires and to determine how this may fit into the lodge.  

Another important point is that the concepts of the past, while they still have significance and great value; they sometimes do not fully include, some of what I would call….. modern day concepts of commitment, of duty, of participation.  We need to recognize that the world is a different place than it was only 20 years ago….values are changing and while the Masonic value system may be one of the things a candidate is looking for, we need to in our discussions with the member remember that our perhaps older values do not necessarily fit with today’s lifestyle.

Exploring this further, I want to ask you why you are here this evening?  Is it out of a sense of duty?....or to hear an inspiring speech from the DDGM?....these are rhetorical questions that do not need an answer….we all know the real reason was the excellent meal before the meeting!!  Seriously though….there was a time when “duty” held far more sway than today….you joined an organization and attended because, as a member it was your duty to do so.  For many this is NOT as much the case today….there has to be some other glue that makes them attend and participate and it is incumbent on all of us to find out, on the individual level, what this is!  

So talk to the individual.  Find out his TRUE comfort level….he should answer this based on his own true needs…not what he thinks the lodge needs or what the lodge is pushing him towards…it is ok for the lodge to open doors and encourage, but he needs to walk through them himself….he needs to WANT to do it.  The challenge is to align what is offered with the needs or wants of the individual.

I believe we lose members without ever really determining why.   Was it the young family?  Was it the work commitment?  Or are these just excuses as the reality is that  what we were offering did not make attending a priority?

I believe that if the product we are selling is attractive enough it will be bought!  This is not a black-and-white statement as there are viable reasons why a new Mason cannot participate to any great extent, but we have to try harder to make our organization attractive to our brethren so that we increase the chances of a brother attending and participating.

We are on occasion the guilty party in that the product was not what he wanted to buy….we did not sell it well.  It is too easy to dismiss a lack of attendance / participation as being an outside influence.

And if it is an outside influence, we need to keep selling… to show him we care and that the door is always open should his life circumstances change.  We all make choices in life, but surely even if the Mason has a busy life he can attend on occasion….if he does not attend we will surely loose him!   

The discussion presented here is by no way complete and to make it so would require a greater amount of time and the participation of all of you in the discussion, so being that the evening is getting late and some of us have a longish drive home I will bring this to a close……but my brethren, on closing I must stress the importance of the broader aspect of my message, it is not just candidates coming through the door that is important, but getting each and every one of them involved to the greatest extent we can….an organization does not live on membership numbers alone, but needs PARTICIPATION to make it a strong, vibrant and viable entity. 

Worshipful Master....I thank you for your indulgencies this evening and my Brethren I thank each and every one of you for your kind attention. 

R.W. Bro. Clive D. Stephenson

Thursday November 12, 2015