From the Deputy …
After spending the last three months reviewing some of the proposed Constitutional amendments that have been submitted for us to vote on as part of the next Annual Communication and having spent several nights explaining some of the finer details of these proposals and with the able assistance of our Grand Treasurer, R.W. Bro. Ed Standish, answering questions that have arisen from Districts and Lodges throughout our Grand Jurisdiction, I would like to spend this month talking about the importance of keeping our Brethren engaged and informed.
It has been about a year now since your Grand Lodge created a GoToMeeting account for each District to assist the Lodges in keeping in contact with their membership. The access information was sent to each District Deputy Grand Master who was charged with providing this to each of the Lodges in their respective Districts. It was suggested that a District schedule be created such that every Lodge could host a monthly meeting on their regular meeting night to communicate with their membership, cover any business that is permissible, provide some Masonic Education and generally to take an account of the health of their membership and Lodge.
Another great advantage of this tool being used by several Lodges and Districts is to keep in touch with the many interested men who have inquired about Freemasonry either via our Grand Lodge web site, the BeAFreemason.org or the old-fashioned appeal to a current member. Many of our Masonic education videoconferences have been of such a nature that these interested men have been invited to get a feeling of the events and fellowship that is being shared during these events and get to know some of the Brethren they may potentially share membership with.
Some of those Lodges who have been making use of these monthly videoconferences on a regular basis have been reporting better attendance than when they were meeting in Lodge. Some members who may not be able to physically get to their Lodge building due to their health condition or where they are now living, have been once again enjoying the benefits of membership. And equally important, they have been able to stay in touch with potential members by keeping their interest stoked until such time as they can be formally introduced to the Lodge room.
A few months ago, the Grand Master was checking in with some of the District Deputy Grand Masters and when the question of Lodges participating in monthly videoconference Masonic education/fellowship meetings was asked, there was a variety of answers ranging from ‘none’ to ‘not much’ to ‘a few’ to ‘half’ to ‘nearly all Lodges on a regular basis.’ I don’t want to embarrass any District or Lodge with this but I will offer the generalization that those Districts that answered ‘nearly all Lodges on a regular basis,’ are the Districts that are flattening the curve over the last few years with respect to decreasing membership. A coincidence perhaps? Not likely. It stands to reason that those Lodges that keep their members (and prospective members) engaged in the process – whether that is to pre-Lodge banquets and socials, or currently to videoconference meetings – have a better chance of keeping these men as dues paying members, active Officers and future Grand Lodge leaders.
When this COVID-19 crisis forced the closing of all Masonic activity on Friday, March 13, 2020, we all thought it was a temporary thing and that we would all be back at Lodge within weeks. As I write this today, further restrictions are being added to our current stringent Provincial guidelines with no clear end in sight. To those Lodges that thought a year ago that it was just temporary and there was no need to change things, I would urge them to start now to change things – it is never too late to reach out to the members of your Lodges and interested men of your community and keep them engaged in Freemasonry. So many of the lessons we learn from the Ritual of our Craft are even more important in times of crisis. To those Lodges who are currently keeping their members and prospects engaged – your payoff will come when the restrictions are lifted and your Lodge is re-opened for business as it used to be!
Thomas W. Hogeboom,
Deputy Grand Master