Here is a young Texas Mason soon to be shipped out to Afghanistan. He writes a very interesting personalized Blog, From Darkness To Light. This is our future. Long after I am sitting in The Celestial Lodge Above, this thoughtful Mason will still be here and my bet is as a big leader.
To begin this I would say that I have been from one side of this country to the other and have visited Masonic Lodges in between, and what works in Santa Fe, New Mexico might not work in Alexandria, Virginia and for that I give your rule number one, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it. Bottom line if a lodge is bringing in new members, having a positive impact in the community, teaching esoteric work, or whatever than there isn’t a justification or a reason to mess with the way that lodge is doing business. That being written, there would be some changes that I think could help jump start Freemasonry in the 21st century.
Offer up a choice of blue lodge types: I think that anyone that has been a Master Mason for six months knows that there are vast difference between lodges, even within a Masonic District, I would like each Masonic District to have at least three types of lodges available, Traditional Observance “like” Lodges, 20th Century Traditional Lodges, and Community Outreach Lodges. Traditional Observance “like” Lodges would have a heavy emphasis on ritual and esoteric work, would meet in dark suits or tux have table lodge once a month, and require papers written by it’s members. 20th Century Traditional Lodges, are the lodges that most people think of today, with an emphasis on fellowship (fish fry’s, pancake breakfasts, etc) is proficient at the ritual, and does small charity events. Community Outreach Lodges while meet all of the tenants of a Masonic lodge do extensive work in the local community and other Masonic charitable organizations.
I believe a key in to attracting quality candidates is giving them an option to choose which lodge meets their needs, all potential candidates who are serious about joining Freemasonry would be briefed on each lodge and encouraged to visit each type to find which Masonic journey route they would like to go. Some candidates want to join the same lodge that Father or Grandfather joined, and that’s fine, but we want to give everyone a choice in the type of lodge they would join. Far be it for me to say that only one kind of lodge is the only way to save Freemasonry.
Now living in a state like Texas and realizing that there are large rural areas that can hardly support one lodge let alone three, I refer you to rule number one, and would allow the members of that lodge to decide their best route given their membership (again, it’s about choice and the choices the brothers want to make).
Celebration of your Lodge’s Heritage: In the race to cure “Masonic World Hunger” (MWH) most have forgotten the little things that build pride and attract membership, that’s the foundation and the beginnings of your lodge. I don’t care if a lodge was founded in 1797 or 1997 it has a unique story of brotherhood and leadership that needs to be celebrated both within the walls of our temples and in the local community. That is why I would dedicate October as a month that all lodges celebrate their founding and telling the story of how they came to be, both within a tyled meeting and the community at large.
Encouragement of Younger Brothers Involvement @ Grand Lodge: A common theme that we get in our fraternity is why we aren’t attracting good men anymore, one of the factors in my mind is that Freemasonry in America has become an aging institution that isn’t putting it’s best and brightest and younger members forward, instead we rely on retired lawyers, judges, and doctors to be our face. While that brings a sense of stability, it isn’t doing much to attract men in their 20’s and 30’s. We need to celebrate our younger members, their professional achievements and have them be actively involved @ the Grand Lodge level. I am not saying that after a guy is raised slap a DDGM badge on him, but there are plenty of ways to encourage involvement at all levels, without being a Past Master, this can encourage something other than the old grey hairs we see in our local newspaper.
Community Work with Other Masonic Organizations: To help build relationships and ease tension I would work with The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas in a joint Community Outreach program to positively impact a community hit by disaster (hurricane, draught, etc). This would be a partnership between two non-profit organizations with one common goal, the relief of our common man. This would hopefully lead to both sides of the aging organizations to realize that they are not in competition with each other for membership and start to heal scars that were brought by the past. We have already recognized each other; why not work together in the areas that we have commonality.
These are the initiatives that I would feel would help our Fraternity, would it solve “Masonic World Hunger”? No, but giving brothers and candidates a choice in their Masonic experience is a key component, along with showcasing younger brothers and having a positive impact on the community beyond raising small amounts of money, but giving time and labor can have a lasting impression.