Tom Eggleston, 33
Past Grand Master of Iowa
Grand Secretary Emeritus
Grand Lodge of Iowa
Many of the corrections Masonry needs today do not
require a single change in Masonic law.
WARNING! When tornado sirens wail, a train approaches a crossing or the economy gets dangerously out of sync, we take warning and corrective action. To ignore these signals could be a fatal mistake!
The normal reaction to warning signals of any kind is an immediate attempt to take some corrective measures. For 40 years, the sirens have been wailing, red lights flashing, alarms sounding, and membership statistics dropping in our beloved Fraternity, but all too often, attitudes of apathy, complacency, and indifference are still in effect. Statements like “It won’t work,” “We’ve tried that before,” “It’s against the rules,” and, the worst one of them all, “I like things just the way they are” are heard too frequently. We have failed to heed these warning signals and to make the necessary corrections.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss, to criticize or to praise those changes, but rather to suggest some corrections that, in most instances, do not require a single change in Masonic law. Depending on the laws in your Grand Jurisdiction, several suggestions may signal little more than a change in the way you do business. The following “corrective measures” should start all of us thinking and strike that valuable spark of enthusiasm!
-Catch the spirit of Masonic excitement! If nothing exciting is happening in your Lodge, look around and create something that will stir interest and spur involvement. For example, find those in your Lodge, Temple, or community who really need help and extend some Masonic compassion to them. Make sure everyone in your organization is advised and involved in this rewarding project. How can we ever expect to attract new members, if those we already have aren’t excited about Freemasonry?
-Utilize the skills and talents of your members! Most Lodges and Temples have men from all walks of life who are just waiting to be asked to share their abilities and interests with Masonry. Brothers with computer skills would be pleased to help with your newsletter. Those who love to cook are just waiting to be asked to prepare their specialty. Other Brethren would be perfectly willing to paint, fix a door, caulk a window, repair the steps or track down an electrical problem-if you would only ask them.
Clean up, paint up, fix up your Masonic building. Make your Temple or Lodge as attractive as possible, inside and out. We are still the largest and most respected fraternal organization in the world. Let’s make sure our “fraternal home” reflects that reputation.
-Communicate with every member of your organization! If you presently do not have a newsletter, give it a high priority. Keep the local members advised of activities and let those who have moved out of town know that Freemasonry is still an active part of the community. Don’t ever let a Brother tell you “Our Lodge or Temple can’t afford a newsletter.”
-Reinforce your personal commitment to Freemasonry! Call it dedication, call it passion, call it by whatever name you choose. But not until we have captured the total commitment of the members we already have, will we be able to attract the new members that our Fraternity so desperately needs to enter the next millennium as the largest, most dynamic Fraternal order in the world.
-Arrange activities to involve and motivate Brethren! It matters not how large or how wealthy your Lodge is-you cannot hope to survive if all you do is hold your regular meetings, open Lodge, say a prayer, read the minutes, pay the bills, close Lodge, and retire to the dining room for coffee and Oreo cookies. Every business meeting should include a brief, well-planned, well-presented program on Masonic education or leadership (available through the Grand Secretary in most Jurisdictions) or a local community project or interesting event.
Aside from Friendship (or Prospect) Nights, why not consider holding a Public School or Law Enforcement Appreciation Night? How about a night to honor your local volunteer fire fighters and EMT’s or a joint social meeting with the local Lions, Rotary, or Kiwanis? How about a Sojourners Night? A special evening of fun, food, and fellowship planned especially for those Masons from other Lodges who have moved into your community and never stepped foot into your building is a great idea. Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to hold a ladies night, but don’t let that stop you from holding a similar evening of appreciation for the ladies in any other month.
-Get involved with your community! We have learned from recent surveys that one of the leading requirements of any organization that hopes to attract the young men of today is community involvement. And that involvement must be more than just having the Secretary write out a $50 check for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Program or the Habitat for Humanity Program.
We need to stand on the street corner and ring the kettle bells and drive the nails and shingle the roofs. Check with your local blood bank and see if a Masonic Blood Donors Day could be arranged. There are dozens of other special community projects and groups crying for the enthusiastic help your Temple or Lodge could provide.
-Involve the family! Family is the focus of every recent Masonic survey. Masonic groups must, in significant part, have activities that include the entire family. Make the program as relevant and exciting as possible to every family member.
-Hone the “Racer’s Edge”! Most of us know the name and slogan for STP motor oil additive. Let’s give those three letters a Masonic meaning: STP, Seek The People!
We have been told that there are 16,000,000 American men who might be interested in Masonry if they knew more about us. And it’s up to us-you and me-to provide that information with accuracy, clarity, and class. This communication can be through a membership enhancement brochure, a Masonic videotape cassette, a friendship night, or through your one-on-one relationships with them.
Potential members are out there, and they’re watching the way you live your life. Some of them are also just waiting for you to tell them about Masonry. Why don’t you say the 14 most important words you can ever say to them: “I’m surprised you’re not a Mason. You’re the kind of man we’re looking for!” The most valuable gift a Mason can ever give to a friend is an introduction to Freemasonry!
If the warning lights are flashing and the sirens and alarms are blaring in your Lodge or Temple (as they are in most) and if you share an interest in the renewal of Freemasonry, perhaps you should surround yourself with other like-minded Brothers and implement several of the corrective measures suggested in this article.
It won’t be easy. You’ll meet those three “ruffians” mentioned
earlier-apathy, complacency and indifference. Nor will you see an immediate
change. We haven’t slipped into our present condition overnight, and we
shouldn’t expect a quick fix for it either. But there’s not a better time
to start than TODAY!
Calling All Golfers! Did you notice Arnold Palmer on the cover of the March Scottish Rite Journal devoted to the theme of Masonic heroes? Arnie is truly an American millions respect not only for his great golf performance but also for his contributions to many humanitarian and community projects. Though Brother Palmer is a Thirty-third Degree Elect in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite Masons in the Southern Jurisdiction have an opportunity to honor him and, at the same time, benefit the House of the Temple Foundation. Many Brethren have already added their tax-deductible contributions toward installing Brother Palmer’s portrait in the Scottish Rite Hall of Honor in the House of the Temple. But we still have a way to go.
As a fellow golfer and Brother Mason won’t you help?
Please send checks payable to House of the Temple Foundation
to 1733 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009-3103. Thank you so much!
May your drives be long and your putts be true!