OFFICIAL VISIT – NICKEL LODGE
MARCH 2, 2016
My theme for the year deals with membership, attendance and participation.
I have talked at length on this subject at 6 official visits and at the DDGM reception last September.
Tonight and over my other two remaining Official Visits I want to try to tie some of my themes together and to reiterate and reinforce the messages I have been trying to convey.
Tonight I would like to refocus on the subject of the new member and how we get them involved….in other words how do we get them to become an active participant in the activities of the lodge?
In my visits to the various lodges in the district I have seen many positive signs that give me confidence that in most cases our new members are being supported and included in the activities of the lodge. I have seen entered apprentices and fellow-craft Masons delivering a number of pieces of work….and I’d like to stress that the delivery was done extremely well.
I believe that the new mason has to be immersed in the lodge as soon as is possible. If this is done early, the chances of him becoming a regular contributor are far greater.
Think about it brethren….why did the person join…..so he can walk around and tell his friends that he is a Mason…to show of his shiny new Master Mason ring….to feel that he is now somehow part of the intrigue that was started with the Da Vinci Code….I think not….and if any of this is true, there are other issues at work here….some of which I talked about at my Official Visit to Algonquin Lodge when I talked about the suitability of the applicant at the West gate.
There are a number of good reasons a person becomes a Mason, but I believe that the basic human trait….the desire to be part of something good…. is the single biggest draw to joining and keeping a new mason involved. Using Nickel Lodge as an illustration, there are new Master masons here tonight that have shown a commitment to the lodge and I am certain will be assets to the lodge today and in the future So why is this so? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is that the lodge got them involved. I commend the lodge for their efforts in this regard. As I said earlier, I have seen the same in other lodges and it makes me excited for the future in that these Masons will be contributors to the well being of their lodges. In these brethren I see a willingness to commit, to give of their time and abilities, but the lodge needs to “open the door” and “invite them in”.
I have said I see examples the lodges getting their new members involved….then why am I talking as if there is a problem? The issue is simple….WE ARE NOT DOING IT ENOUGH! We are still losing too many Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts and new Master Masons. They were initiated, learned their work and were passed, were raised, but that’s when we lost them; Why? And what can we do to reduce this?
I do not want to belabor this point, so to put it simply…we need to determine far more what the new member is looking for and provide them with opportunities to find their niche in the lodge, to do what provides them with the satisfaction they desire.
The need for creating opportunities to be involved cannot be understated. Fat too often these opportunities 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. We need to plan for today in giving the new member a role and thus we are also planning for the future.
Simply put, I believe we are all guilty of not putting enough effort into keeping or getting our new members active. I would hazard a guess that if a lodge were to look at the last dozen or so initiates, less than half would be what could be termed, regularly involved. This is not a good percentage. The lodge needs to expend more efforts on getting them out
Yes it is a two-way street, the new Mason has to want to be involved, but this begs the question, if he does not want to be involved then why did he join? I believe that in most cases the new member wants to be involved to some extent. It is incumbent on the lodge to determine what this entails and to provide opportunities for the new member to become involved under the auspices as necessary of an experienced brother.
Mentoring, the relationship with the sponsors, the Master of the Lodge, the Past Masters, the members all have roles to play in getting and keeping a new member involved.
We spend a great deal of time and effort in getting the new member through the degrees, but we sometimes forget that effort is needed outwith the degree in getting the new member involved, increasing his Masonic knowledge and finding a role for him within the lodge.
The analogy here is that if a professional athlete only participated in the regular game, with no thought to training, tactics, or health, he would not be a very good athlete.
Masonry should not be a part time sport….to fully benefit for all Masonry has to offer, we need to be committed to partaking of its teachings. That does not mean that the new mason needs to immerse himself 100% in masonry, but it does mean he needs a certain level of commitment to the craft and with respect to the new mason this starts by getting him involved, part of the team, from the day he walks through the West gate.
I believe that if we get the new Mason involved early, we will have gone a long way to ensuring the long term commitment that is needed to succeed in his Masonic journey and to provide the lodge with the Mason that will enhance its endevours in the future.
Worshipful Master....this is a special night for me in that it is my Official Visit to my Mother Lodge. 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 FCF
District Deputy Grand Master