1997 Biennial Session Report Of The Subcommittee On Strategic Planning

C. B. Hall, 33°, Chairman
Thomas C. Raum, Jr., 33°
Paul T. Million, Jr., 33°
Dwane F. Treat, 33°
Curtis N. Lancaster, 33°

This Report in Brief

Strategic, long-term planning is necessary to bring Scottish Rite Freemasonry into the 21st century as a dynamic, growing fraternity. This can be accomplished through specific steps in several areas. The specifics form the body of this report. The following areas will be addressed. The Order must:

  1. Offer solutions to the real problems of society
  2. Work cooperatively with all other Masonic Bodies and groups
  3. Provide real benefits to our members
  4. Serve members of other Masonic organizations
  5. Enhance understanding of the Rite in and outside our Order
  6. Maintain a sound financial basis for the Rite
  7. Form and implement a clear vision of ourselves and our Masonic mission
  8. Communicate and implement that vision.

The Path to the Present

Planning is the essential difference between success and failure. For decades, planning was less necessary for Masonry in general and for the Scottish Rite in particular than for most organizations. We were enjoying a period of such unprecedented growth that our major problem was how to handle success. Membership grew almost more quickly than it could be counted. Finances flowed in so rapidly that some Valleys did not even use a budget -- it was literally a matter of “spend what you want, and put the rest in savings at the end of the year.”

We did not realize it when that reality changed. When numbers began to decline, most assumed it was just some sort of “cycle.” “Masonry has always had its ups and downs,” we told ourselves. “It will change.” Few Masons indeed in the 1960s realized that the world had profoundly changed around us and that we were rapidly becoming seen as irrelevant.

The problem was realized first by the Grand Lodges. For several years after their membership started to decline, membership in the Scottish Rite was still increasing. While some Grand Lodges tried to implement programs to reverse the trend, such programs were usually only a year long coinciding with the term of the incumbent officers. Because of the time required to explain and implement a program, such programs typically had an effective life of six months or less. And that was as close as the fraternity came to long-range planning.

Only some eight years ago did Masons begin to look seriously at the situation and to realize that we were on a path to extinction.

The Need for Long-term Planning

While the term is overused, it is true that organizations must deal in strategic as well as tactical planning. Tactical planning is useful in “putting out the fires” as they flare, or in taking advantage of short-term opportunities as they arise, but long-term, strategic planning is necessary if real differences are to be made. A single tug on a single oar is sufficient to change the course of a row boat. To change the course of an ocean liner requires more energy, applied over a longer period of time, with the understanding that results will be noticed much more slowly.

As suggested above, Masonry has traditionally suffered from a lack of long-range planning. It may well be that of the major Bodies of Masonry, the Scottish Rite is best positioned to implement long-range planning because our structure of governance provides the continuity of leadership necessary to work for long-term goals. If the past thirty years have taught Masons anything, they have taught us that there are no silver bullets or magic wands when it comes to the question of membership growth and development. While an occasional program may show a quick result, only sustained efforts, planned and continued over periods of five years or more, have a hope of producing results which are more than a temporary upward bump on a line whose general trend is downward. And that long-term planning cannot and must not be limited to the area of membership.

The Basic Assumptions

The Basic Questions

I. What will be the relationship of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to society at large?

II. What will be the relationship of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to other Masonic Bodies?

III. What benefits will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite provide for its members?

IV. What benefits will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite offer to Masons who are not members of the Rite?

V. How will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite teach the lessons and values which are its reason for existence?

VI. How will we fund the programs, facilities, and personnel necessary to implement our Rite’s goals?

VII. What kind of organization should the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite be?

VIII. How will we bring about the necessary changes to become that kind of organization?

I. What will be the relationship of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to society at large?

The Scottish Rite in particular and Masonry in general are in the strange position of offering many of the things which society most needs and desires, and yet being seen as irrelevant by society.

Surveys tell us that American males, especially ages 35 to 45, strongly desire organizations which provide a fraternal experience. They want a feeling of belonging and of brotherhood. Surveys reveal young men want to be part of an organization that is involved in community service projects. In addition, it is clear both from surveys and from casual conversations that many Americans feel traditional values are in a sharp decline. People feel less safe in their homes and on the streets. While there is a general feeling among most people that their lives are slowly improving, for the first time in our history a majority of Americans feel that their children will live lives of less prosperity and security than their parents.

Obviously, an organization which offers fraternalism and brotherhood, which teaches values and morals, which encourages its members and others to lead good and useful lives in and for their communities should be greatly respected. But a cold look at reality tells us that we are not generally accepted and that, while we are still respected in many quarters, it is the same kind of respect offered to aging professors of abstract mathematics or astrophysics -- a respect combined with a feeling that we are venerable but irrelevant.

This is the result of Masonry in general refusing to realize that profound and permanent changes in society have occurred, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. Because we do not like many of those changes, we choose to ignore them. The result is that Masonry strives to help Masons 60 or more years old hold onto the world they knew, but does little or nothing to help Masons 50 or less years old deal with the world in which they live each day.

It is not that the basic values have changed, but their definitions and context have changed. “Family values” is an example. For the older Mason, a family consists of a mother and father and one or more children. The family was formed when both parents were in their early twenties. The last child was born to parents still in their thirties. Ideally, the mother does not work, the children go to a good school, and time in the evenings is spent as a family, with everyone eating the evening meal together. In the world in which the younger Mason must live, at least half the children in a family are the result of a former marriage, the wife must work full time, the young children are raised by a day-care center, and the family is fortunate if once a week they can sit down as a family and enjoy a meal together. A survey in one state, Oklahoma which probably is not unrepresentative of the nation, suggests that among Masons joining the fraternity at ages 35 to 40, two-thirds are in a second marriage and a substantial number are in a third marriage. We may not like those realities, but they are realities, and we cannot change them. It is not surprising if many of our younger members feel that in this and other areas of contemporary life, the Scottish Rite offers them platitudes when they need help finding solutions.

Programs of the Scottish Rite should be evaluated on the basis of reality. It is good and right that some programs should be for the benefit and comfort of our present members, but that must not be the only criterion. In dealing with programs designed for the world outside, we must ask “Will this make a real difference in the real world?”

At the same time, as a practical reality, we must make every effort to achieve positive publicity in the nation as a whole. The same people who are willing to believe any slander, no matter how fanciful, committed against either Blue Lodge Masonry or the Scottish Rite, are unwilling to believe anything evil of the Shriners, because the good done by the Shrine is well known. The Scottish Rite has as good a story to tell, and we must tell it. But how? ®

A. The Supreme Council should hire a full-time publicist or retain a firm of public relation experts. The charge of that person or firm is to get as much positive publicity as possible, in as many markets as possible, for Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite.

B. The Supreme Council should publicly announce the goal that by a certain date, no child with a learning or language disorder in the Southern Jurisdiction will leave the third grade without being able to read well and easily. In order to implement that goal, we should:

1. Increase the number of Scottish Rite clinics, centers, and programs to minimally 200 over the next 10 years.

2. Convene regional conferences of reading teachers in our Jurisdiction where the Alphabetic Phonics Program of the Dallas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children could be presented, along with other systems for teaching children needing less help than this program provides.

3. Explore the model of the Payne Education Center in Oklahoma City and similar organizations to discover how partnerships between Orients and local education organizations can function.

C. The Supreme Council should sponsor the development and production of a series of television messages, along the model of the “feel good” television spots of the Mormon Church. This should be a multi-year program, intended to create a positive image of the fraternity. The project need not be unduly expensive, as many of the images needed in the first years of the program could be available from stock footage. The Supreme Council could offer guidance to Valleys for airing the programs and assist in media contacts. Careful selection of local station and broadcast times would greatly reduce the cost of air time.

D. The Supreme Council should develop a powerful program in support of the family. The program should focus on the real problems which real families encounter in the world. In much the same way that the Shrine gained national publicity and a favorable image by tackling, head-on, one of the most serious problems of the early part of this century, the Scottish Rite could achieve the same results by attacking one of the most serious problems of the end of the century.

E. The Supreme Council should encourage the opening of Scottish Rite Masonic facilities. In many Valleys, our buildings are located in areas which once represented choice real estate in the city, but have now degraded nearly to the point of being slums. Many Valleys have abandoned buildings of great artistic worth and historic significance to move to less satisfying facilities because of conditions in the original facility’s neighborhood.

In one recent instance, a number of Blue Lodges which owned and met in a large building in a metropolitan area sold the building for the reasons given above and built Lodges in the suburbs. A mainline church, with less financial resources than the Lodges possessed, purchased the building, restored it, and brought it up to code. That church then rented extra space in the building, at low cost, to various public and private social service agencies which were in need of a home. Within less than two years, the area around the building had become completely safe. The people of the neighborhood recognize the building and its services as being of value to them. Vandalism is virtually unknown.

The Lodges could have done what the church did, but they lacked the vision and determination. Such a program might well benefit many of our Bodies. The Supreme Council should encourage multiple use of our buildings, when practical, for organizations which benefit the local citizens.

F. One of Shakespeare’s most-quoted lines is, “What’s in a name?” Certainly, the answer in these days of carefully devised company titles and ad campaigns is “A great deal!” Consider Freemasonry’s traditional usage of the words Temple and Cathedral, words with strongly ecclesiastic connotations. No wonder most people, upon first note of Freemasonry, often say, “Isn’t that a religion?” Such Masonic terminology has been a long-standing problem for the fraternity in defining itself as a fraternity in the mind of the general public.

The issue came to the fore most recently in regard to the 1993 Southern Baptist Convention’s critique of Freemasonry and the Convention’s 1996 booklet “A Closer Look” attacking A Bridge to Light. Changing Masonic terminology to less quasi-religious wording will not, of course, dissuade entrenched critics of Masonry, but it will be a step toward shedding one element of our Craft which is persistently misunderstood by J. Q. Public. In addition, it will remove a possible stumbling block in the effort of attracting new members, the future of our Order.

Consequently, The Supreme Council should seriously consider changing words such as Temple and Cathedral to clearly sectarian words such as Center or Hall or Building throughout the Southern Jurisdiction. Ill. Robert L. Goldsmith, S.G.I.G. in Florida, has already taken this step and directed Masonic facilities in that state to rename their buildings. The Pensacola Scottish Rite Temple, for instance, is now the Pensacola Scottish Rite Masonic Center. (See Scottish Rite Journal, Aug. 1996, p. 39.) Such a name change indicates to the public that our facilities are open not only to our members, but also to members of other Masonic and Masonic-related organizations (as is the case with all our buildings) and to other appropriate civic, fraternal, educational, and charitable organizations. In recent years, our doors have always been open. This name change just alerts all to that fact. ®

II. What will be the relationship of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to other Masonic Bodies?

The time that the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, or any other Masonic Body could live in splendid isolation, unconcerned with or even hostile to each other, has long, long gone. In spite of that fact, relationships between the Bodies are not always cordial in fact, no matter how smooth the surface may appear. These troubled waters more often exist between members than between the heads of organizations. There are Blue Lodge members who insist that the Scottish Rite isn’t real Masonry and there are members of the Scottish Rite who insist that Blue Lodge Masonry is for the mindless. This attitude has been compared by one Brother to “squabbling about what tune the band should play as the Titanic sinks beneath the waves.”

A. The Supreme Council should encourage full cooperation between the Orients and Valleys and the Grand Lodges, local Lodges, and other Masonic Bodies in their jurisdictions. This could include such things as making facilities in our buildings available; sponsoring local organizations of the Masonic Youth Orders and benefitting them by using the knowledge and expertise of Scottish Rite Masons; providing joint planning and production of Masonic fairs and other events.

B. The Supreme Council should continue its support of Masonic Renewal programs and find ways to expand the efforts already underway.

C. Dialogue should continue with the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite regarding areas of mutual cooperation and benefit.

D. The Supreme Council should work closely with existing regular Supreme Councils and support emerging Supreme Councils around the world whenever possible, so long as their Grand Lodges have been formed and are recognized as regular by the conference of Grand Masters of North America.

III. What benefits will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite provide for its members?

In some ways, this question may be regarded as the most “revolutionary” of this report. Masonic leaders have not traditionally thought of Masonry as providing tangible benefits for its members. It is held that Masonry provides intangible benefits to the members in the form of insight, understanding, moral growth and brotherhood, while the members provide tangible benefits to the organization in the form of dues, per capita, donations, and volunteer services.

It is undoubtedly true that the primary benefits of being a Scottish Rite Mason will continue to be internal to the Brother and visible only insofar as his personal growth and character development are noticed by others. Nevertheless, especially as we attract new members who are not the sons of Masons, it is not unreasonable to have an answer to the question, “Why should I join?”

One possible benefit has already been discussed above -- the possibility of a family values program which would give practical help to the young Mason struggling to build the best, happiest, and strongest family he can.

Another benefit, and one the Scottish Rite is uniquely equipped to offer, is education. It has long been believed among Masonic leadership that Masons are not interested in learning anything about Masonry. Insofar as these same leaders define “learning about Masonry” as “memorizing the Blue Lodge Ritual,” they are correct. Recent Masonic Renewal surveys show that fewer than 5% of our membership has any interest in doing so. But “learning about Masonry” has little to do with “learning the Ritual.” States which have experimented with Masonic education as a part of Masonic renewal have discovered that there is an almost insatiable interest among Masons, especially younger Masons, in learning about Masonry. States, Valleys, and even individual Lodges which make a continuing commitment to Masonic education find they are reaching large numbers of Brethren. It is true that such programs tend to start slowly -- attendance is often low at first, but if the programs are continued, attendance starts to build. An equally compelling reason for Masonic education is that several Grand Jurisdictions have noticed an increase in their suspension for non-payment of dues rate. It is entirely possible that this is due to the increased anti-Masonic activity in the last few years. While informed and active Masons are unlikely to go suspended for that reason, less-informed Masons may not be able to answer the charges of the anti-Masons, even in their own thinking. Rather than take the formal action of withdrawing, they simply stop paying dues. Masonic education is the only reasonable answer to that challenge. The Scottish Rite is uniquely in a position to offer this benefit to its members by making available materials of Masonic education.

Yet another possible benefit is the ability to make a difference in the world corporately. A high-profile, Jurisdiction-wide campaign of assistance to children with learning/language disorders would give us a positive corporate identity in the mind of the general public, particularly if this campaign is complemented with the “feel good” television spots mentioned earlier. Then, our members would not only have something Masonic of general public knowledge to talk about, but also a source of special pride in their fraternity and an improved feeling of status in their community and among their friends.

Finally, the Scottish Rite must continue to provide, in the meetings of its Valleys, a place which is warm, open, friendly, and Masonically appropriate.

A. We should move with speed and determination into the age of electronic Masonry and use it as a major tool of Masonic education. More than 1/3 of the homes in America now have a computer, and the number is growing rapidly. It has been estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 Masons are on and making use of the Internet to visit Masonic forums, discuss Masonry, etc. To the extent that these Brethren are talking about Masonry and involved with it, they could and should be considered as active Masons. If the estimation of most Grand Lodges that only 5% to 8% of the Masons in that state could be considered active, then electronic Masonry would be the rough equivalent of a Grand Jurisdiction with a million members! Surely that is too significant to overlook.

1. In recent years, the Masonic Information Center has developed into a first-contact point for questions about Freemasonry. In particular, the Center is set up to supply quick, authoritative answers to the media. The Supreme Council should continue to grow as a complement to the Center, specifically as a contact point for answering questions on Scottish Rite Masonry. Quick responses are possible through the Internet site of The Supreme Council, now via the office of the Journal. As it does now, the Journal office personnel will channel the inquiry to the best source for response inside or outside the headquarter’s building, e.g., the Library, Museum, Archives, Grand Commander’s office, Grand Executive Director’s office, a Grand Lodge office, specific Valley, etc. Journal hardware and software should be kept at the leading edge of technology to allow quick response and access to other Masonic Internet sites. The Scottish Rite should publicize the availability of this service.

2. Evaluate a plan to unite those Orients and Valleys interested in electronic communication into a cohesive Internet site, under The Supreme Council’s guidance, with standardized domain-level addresses and e-mail identification. This will allow a standardized electronic identity for the entire Scottish Rite and ease of communication between all Scottish Rite Bodies or organizations.

3. Study and determine the feasibility of moving membership data storage from our present provider, Delmarva, to an internal system. Advances in personal commuter should make processing the membership database possible. Now Valley Secretaries routinely pay generous processing fees for lists of their active members as well as monthly fees to cover the cost of maintaining the database. A cost/benefit analysis would determine if moving this function in house is worthwhile.

4. The Supreme Council should also consider the production of materials on CD ROM for sale to Masons. A good place to start would be with Masonic books long out of print.

5. Also, we should consider the development of educational games, based on Masonry, which can be played on computer.

B. We should recognize the Scottish Rite Journal as a benefit for our members, especially as an educational tool. The Masonic Service Association has noticed that when mention of some M.S.A. publication is made in the Journal, orders go up substantially. Authors of articles in the Journal often receive considerable mail from readers, either expressing agreement or challenging some point. The Supreme Council should continue its support of the Journal and strive to find ways continually to improve the physical quality of the publication, e.g., paper stock, size, and color illustration. As it stands, we can pride ourselves on the best publication in the world of Masonry. Yet we can -- and should -- make it even better.

C. We should recognize the Museum and Library of The Supreme Council as major educational assets of the Scottish Rite and should continue to exploit them as major sources of Masonic education and a benefit to our members.

1. We should continue to raise funds for the expansion of the Museum.

2. Even before that expansion is possible, the museum could become a resource for major Masonic education. For example, a series of videotapes could be made centering around the materials in the museum. Some examples of possible topics include:

a) A videotaped tour of the House of the Temple, using the architecture and the materials in the museum to make points about the history and development of Masonry. There would probably be enough material for a series.

b) A videotape or tapes about the various museum collections.

c) A videotape featuring some of the rare books and manuscripts in the museum and archives.

d) Those same materials, and others developed, could be made available on CD ROM as well as videotape.

3. We must constantly be on the lookout for additional opportunities. For example, we should arrange to videotape organ concerts of Masonic music performed in our headquarters and then combine that tape with video cutaways of scenes from display areas throughout the building. Such a tape would have not only educational value for our members but might have commercial value as well.

D. The production of educational materials, however well done, is of little value is no one knows they exist. We should undertake an aggressive marketing program to make the books and other educational materials we have now, as well as those in the future, available to our members. A colorful flyer/order form should be developed describing the material available for purchase, and mailed to each member of the Scottish Rite. The flyers should be updated as new materials become available. The Journal should publish, from time to time, a list -- with brief description -- of the materials available. It is important to remember that each month sees the creation of new Scottish Rite Masons, with no awareness of what has been previously printed. Our members cannot take advantage of the materials if they don’t know they can order them.

E. The ability to attend a Reunion is a benefit, if the Reunions are made events of education and fellowship. Valleys should consider the creation of transportation committees whose members will provide transportation to and from Reunions to Brethren in their area who are unwilling or unable to drive themselves.

F. The meeting of Scottish Rite Masons should be intellectually and emotionally rewarding, as well as Masonically appropriate. We must continue and enforce the rule that advocacy or attack of sectarian religion (as opposed to the study of religions, which has always been a part of the Rite), as well as discussions of partisan politics or business and commercial interests are to be avoided. Visitation requests by any individual, regardless of color, creed, or ethnicity, who has the proper credentials in hand -- a current dues card issued by a constituent Lodge, whose Grand Lodge is recognized by the Grand Lodge of the jurisdiction where visitation is requested, plus a current dues card and patent from a Consistory or Supreme Council recognized by the Mother Supreme Council of the World -- should be admitted.

G. Valleys should consider the creation of Special Interest Groups (SIGs). A Special Interest Group is a group of Scottish Rite Masons in the Valley who enjoy some special interest (the possible list is virtually endless, but some examples are: bowling, bass fishing, camping, nature walks, photography, cooking, music, softball, chili competitions, etc.). The Valley could facilitate communication between the members of the SIG by sending letters and putting notices in Valley publications. The SIG would give members with common interests an opportunity to meet and pursue their interests while reinforcing their Scottish Rite membership.

IV. What benefits will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite provide to Masons who are not members of the Rite?

It may not seem necessary to provide benefits for those who are not members. Yet that group is the pool from which our membership comes, and the benefits can be a reason for the decision to join the Rite.

A. Most obviously, we could offer the educational books, videotapes, CD ROMS, and other material discussed above to non-Scottish Rite Masons as well.

B. A marketing strategy should be developed to sell the material through Lodges of Research as well as directly by mail and, possibly, during Reunions, Grand Lodge Communications, etc.

C. Benefits are also conferred upon non-Scottish Rite Masons by our support of Masonic Renewal programs.

D. Valleys and Orients can develop programs in support of the Blue Lodge. As an example, the “I’m Hooked on Blue Lodge” program of Oklahoma gives merit bars without regard to Scottish Rite membership, to Masons who are active in the Blue Lodges. Bars are available for attendance, holding office, Degree work, Masonic education, and various other areas. The program is inexpensive but pays considerable dividends in good will. Maryland, as well as other Orients, have “Scottish Rite Diplomat” programs where Scottish Rite Brethren represent our Order through Blue Lodge presentations and their personal presence in Blue Lodges. Similarly, the number of Blue Lodge Degree Teams made up of Scottish Rite Brethren should be expanded along with other programs that bring knowledge of Scottish Rite and a positive impression of our Order to Blue Lodge Brothers.

V. How will the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite teach the lessons and values which are its reason for existence?

It is part of the essential nature of Masonry that it teaches through symbols and allegory, presented in the form of ritual dramas. It is vital that the greatest possible flexibility remain in that system. In some Valleys, one-day Reunions have proven popular. In other Valleys, such Reunions attract few candidates, and three-day Reunions are more popular. Obviously, to mandate either the one form or the other would be a disservice. Virtually every possible combination of numbers of days, from single weekends to conferrals stretching over weeks can be found, each working in the particular circumstances of that Valley.

Progress is being made in the rewriting of the Pike Degrees. Even when the Degrees are completed, however, implementation is likely to be slow. Great flexibility will be required if the changes are to be implemented without doing damage to the Rite. Nonetheless, the revised Degrees should be an advantage in teaching of the values of the Rite, no matter how slow the implementation of these new Degrees may be.

The Supreme Council has made a significant contribution to the teaching of the Rite by making available the books A Bridge to Light; A Glossary to Morals and Dogma; The Bible in Morals and Dogma; Pillars of Wisdom, The Writings of Albert Pike; Albert Pike, The Man Beyond the Monument; Cornerstones of Freedom, A Masonic Tradition; Masonic Philanthropies, A Tradition of Caring; Lodge of the Double-Headed Eagle; and A Life of Albert Pike. Distribution of these books and other Supreme Council publications as they develop should be strongly encouraged.

Also, the Scottish Rite Research Society’s publications -- its annual transactions, Heredom, and its newsletter, The Plumbline -- deserve full support as the leading edge of Masonic scholarship and, in particular, Scottish Rite study today. In a few short years, the society has grown to over 6,000 members and now has enough momentum, with support at every level of our Jurisdiction, to continue to grow. Similarly, the Masonic Television Forum of Capstone Productions, Inc., provides a timely, diverse, and dynamic view of Freemasonry today. The Scottish Rite must continue to advance these good endeavors by every means possible.

At the same time, a book on techniques of acting and stage direction would be of use in helping Valleys improve their Degree work. While the presentation of the Degrees by living actors in front of the candidates will always be the most important means of teaching the lessons of the Rite, we should not fail to explore and exploit the new technologies available to us. Videotape and CD ROM would give us an additional means of instruction, while helping to capture the attention of our younger members by use of the means of communication with which they are most familiar.

Certainly, if The Supreme Council begins the production of books on CD ROM as suggested under Question III above, Morals and Dogma should be one of the first books so released.

Ways the Scottish Rite Can Teach Its Lessons and Values

A. The revision of the Ritual should continue, with plans made for its implementation when it is ready.

B. Materials should be made available to help Valleys present the Degrees effectively. Such help might include:

1. Publication of a book on acting in the Degrees and Directing the Degrees.

2. Holding seminars on an Orient or regional basis to which Degree team members could come for instruction in basic techniques of acting, while others from the Valleys could learn make-up techniques, lighting, low-cost costuming, and the like.

3. Appointment of knowledgeable Brethren to visit Valleys before or during a Reunion to help them stage their Degrees more effectively.

4. Production of a videotape to be given to candidates at a Reunion to take home with them. The tape would review the lessons of the Rite, with short sections of the Degrees (nothing containing secret work), and so help to provide and continue interest. Such a tape would have several values. It would review the teachings -- useful when a person has seen 29 Degrees in three days -- and help him understand the significance of what he had seen. The tape, which could be watched at home with his family, would also help the candidate answer the questions he will be asked when he returns home about what he did and what the weekend contained.

C. Teaching of our values is not and should not be confined to members of the Rite. We should aggressively pursue means of teaching society at large.

1. Valleys should be encouraged to donate books to public libraries which cast Masonry in an accurate light and may help to offset the many anti-Masonic books to be found in some libraries. The Maryland Book Program is a good example of such community involvement. The Supreme Council should prepare an explanation leaflet, telling Valleys how to contact their local libraries and giving a list of suggested books.

2. The Supreme Council should make available a series of booklets in the format of the Journal, possibly done in the same manner as a traditional “flag” issue so that the same publication, with minor alterations, can be used both as an issue of the Journal and as a special school publication. Valleys should be encouraged to distribute these special issues. A possible title for the series might be “Great Americans.” The booklets would contain biographical sketches and pictures, when possible. Where such exists, the Masonic membership of the individual would be mentioned, but not unduly stressed. Possible topics might include: Presidents of the United States, Military Leaders, Men and Women of the Frontier, Men and Women of Science, Captains of Industry, Champions of Justice.

VI. How will we fund the programs, facilities, and personnel which will be necessary to implement our goals?

Virtually all branches of Masonry are facing serious financial declines. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that for many years money was so readily available that neither dues nor fees increased as they should. Joining fees today are a small fraction of what they would be if fees had kept pace with inflation. The tradition is now so ingrained, and the popularity of Masonry has so declined, that it would be virtually impossible to charge in 1997 an amount equivalent to what was charged in 1920.

In addition, our members are not accustomed to being solicited for additional contributions and tend to strongly resent such solicitations.

Nevertheless, income from dues and fees alone simply will not be sufficient to fund the operations of our Valleys, especially as membership declines. Similarly, fees and per capita alone will not fund the operations of The Supreme Council. Additional resources are needed at every stage of Masonry.

It is important, however, to realize that the most effective fundraising efforts are long-term rather than short-term. A letter to the membership of a Valley, requesting funds, may raise $50,000. A single bequest by will or a single remainder trust may yield several times that amount. Both are important, but neither a Valley, an Orient, nor The Supreme Council can afford to neglect the long-term, just because the results are not immediately apparent.

Assessing and Meeting the Financial Needs of the Rite

A. Every effort should be made to encourage our members to buy Perpetual Memberships. Many Valleys are now at half the membership they had in the 1950s. If even half of the deceased Brethren had purchased Perpetual Memberships, most Valleys would be in comfortable financial condition.

B. The Supreme Council and Valleys, where feasible, should employ a full-time fundraiser on staff. Income generated by such a fundraiser can easily be well in excess of the fundraiser’s salary and costs, and this does not take into account future income from wills, trusts, and other bequests.

1. Within five years, the Scottish Rite Foundation should attain a goal of $25,000,000.

2. Within five years the House of the Temple Historical Preservation Foundation should attain a goal of $20,000,000.

3. Within 10 years, we should accumulate a capital building fund of $25,000,000 for an extension of our Library and Museum. We should also develop a program to attract collections and donations of artifacts.

C. Increasing membership must be a goal, both as a question of financial strength and of strengthening our mission in the world. We should set a goal that 50% of all Master Masons will become Scottish Rite Masons.

In many areas of the Southern Jurisdiction, it may not be possible to reach 50% of the existing Masons. Since the typical Mason in many Orients is 65+ years old and has not attended a Blue Lodge in many years, we are less likely to motivate many of them, compared to younger Masons, to join an additional Masonic Body. While we should not forget our efforts to reach these older Brethren, we should assume that the majority of our members will come from “new” Master Masons. There are some steps which can be taken.

1. Where permission can be obtained, the Scottish Rite should request a list of Blue Lodge members from the Grand Lodge, purge that list of Scottish Rite members, and mail an attractive Scottish Rite brochure to those Master Masons, along with a cover letter inviting them to join the Rite and explaining how to do so.

2. Since in many Valleys the most effective membership workers are the Brothers who teach the lectures in the local Lodges, we should encourage our members to become teachers in their local Lodges.

3. Where permission from the Grand Lodge can be obtained, Valleys should form special Degree teams to confer the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason Degrees and, when requested by a Lodge, travel to that Lodge to confer the Degrees.

VII. What kind of organization should the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite be in the year 2010?

This is perhaps the most critical question of the report. It has been said that insanity is to continue doing what you have always done but expecting a different result. It has also been said that if we keep going the way we are, we’ll end up where we’re headed. All too often, leadership in Masonry has been a matter of hoping things won’t get worse. It is time to decide what we want to be -- and to become it.

In the year 2010, the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite should be:

A. An organization dedicated to excellence in all things, especially in Freemasonry We will not settle for second best in anything; not in our buildings, not in our programs, not in our public image, not in our Degree work, not in our resources, and not in our service to our members

B. An organization nationally recognized outside the fraternity for the benefits we have brought to society

C. The preeminent source of Masonic education in the world

D. The creative center of American Freemasonry, the source developing new ideas and proven programs from which the rest of the Masonic community is welcome to draw

E. An organization with an expanding membership, attracting young Masons with programs which meet the needs of their daily lives We will have something for every Masonic interest -- from Degree work and Ritual study, to independent Masonic study, to leadership training, and personal development.

F. An organization with sound finances at every level.

VIII. How will we bring about the necessary changes to become that kind of organization?

This is the most difficult area of planning to address. Implementation of the programs and activities suggested above, or similar programs, will help greatly. However, a fundamental change in our perceptions of ourselves and our activities will be necessary. If we are to attract and retain members, communication must be an absolute priority. The generation of men with whom we are now dealing, and those with whom we will deal in the future, are accustomed to communication and openness. They are the generation which created “sunshine” legislation, requiring that governments at all levels meet and deliberate in public, and allowing closed meetings only under unusual circumstances. While it is not necessary for us to go that far, it would be very wise for us to remember that a lack of communication is now often equated with malicious intent.

For example, Valleys should consider making at least some financial information available to its members in its publications. A simple pie chart of a dollar would suffice, with notes such as: “Of every dues dollar you pay, X¢ goes to pay utilities, insurance, and other costs of operating the building, X¢ is used for charity, X¢ is used for administration, including such things as record keeping, answering your correspondence, and processing new candidates, X¢ is spent on Reunions, both for you and for new Brothers. The categories would vary from Valley to Valley.

As a part of communication, Valleys should have some system whereby a Brother can complain if there is something he does not like. It is true that this will cause an increase in complaints, but it also gives an opportunity to answer those complaints and the possibility of turning a negative into a positive. Any member of any organization has a right to understand the working of that organization.

Every effort must be made to think in terms of our members and their needs. Satisfying those needs must become one of our highest priorities. It is not true that the young men of today have no respect for authority, they do; but that respect will not take the form of unquestioning obedience. Their culture teaches them to question everything and to insist on reasonable answers and explanations. Providing those answers and explanations may well be one of the great leadership challenges of our time.

The future of the Scottish Rite is as bright as we choose to make it. It will mean change, as it has always meant change. But change need not be a threat; it can be a great and exciting opportunity. If we rise to the challenge, the future will regard us as the men who brought the Scottish Rite into the 21st century as a vital and dynamic fraternity. Our dedication will determine the future.

Addendum: Crafting the Future, A Proposal For Implementation

As you can tell from the articles in this special issue of the Scottish Rite Journal, the recent 1998 Leadership Conferences were impressive in their participation. The next three pages, developed after the Leadership Conferences, are presented here as an addendum to the Strategic Planning Report. Literally hundreds of good ideas were suggested by the conferees and Scottish Rite Fellows. It will take considerable time to fully assess all the suggestions, decide which are most useful, which can be implemented now, and which will take greater preparation. But there is much we can report now, and there is much which can be started at once.

Some of the suggestions can only be implemented by The Supreme Council. Some can be implemented at the Orient or Valley level. Some can be undertaken by dedicated individual Scottish Rite Masons. Some cut across all four areas. This addendum will suggest things which can be done now to craft the future of the Scottish Rite.


The Supreme Council: All of the groups dealing with membership made the point that the Scottish Rite cannot grow unless Blue Lodge grows. They suggested that, at the national level, the Scottish Rite could help Blue Lodges by developing informational materials.

I’m happy to tell you that we are already doing some things which fit into the suggestions, and others will come on-line shortly. For example, it was suggested that the Scottish Rite needs to help spread knowledge of Masonry to the non-Masonic world. Script development has been finished for an exciting new video- tape about Masonry, and the production company plans to start shooting soon. The video, though produced by the Scottish Rite, is about generic Masonry. It can be used for Blue Lodge Friend’s Nights, for showing to civic clubs and other organizations, and for general public relations purposes. It will be a quality production.

In addition, the Scottish Rite is a major contributor to the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America which has developed many of the best Blue Lodge informational materials for non-Masons to be found. We also give support in time and personnel to the Masonic Information Center which is publishing materials that are proving very popular in explaining Masonry to non-Masons.

The Orient, The Valley and You: Some of the best suggestions involve things which can be done at the Valley level. Depending on the requirements of your Grand Lodge, Valleys can put together crack teams to confer the Blue Lodge Degrees. Many Lodges are now too small to do their own Degree work. In several states, special Black Cap, Red Cap or White Cap teams perform the Degrees in Lodges when invited. It’s good for both the Lodge and the Temple.

Even more basic, the best way of bringing your non-Mason friend into Masonry is for you, personally, to sit down with him and say, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Masonry for some time now. I get a lot out of it. I think you would, too.”

Masonic Education

The Supreme Council: Every Conference brought many requests for more Masonic education. Many were surprised by the intensity of the interest in this topic. The Scottish Rite is active in Masonic education already, and we plan to be more active. Masonic education and information can be divided into basic and advanced. The Scottish Rite Research Society provides some of the best advanced information and education about Masonry in the world. Heredom, the annual publication of the Society, is now ranked as one of the top publications in the world. The Plumbline, the Society’s newsletter, brings current information several times a year. The second division of Masonic education might be called “popularization.” It is of interest to the general Masonic reader who is not specializing in some area, but wants broad information so that when something piques his interest, he can go to more specialized sources. The Scottish Rite Journal is one of the finest in the world for popularizing Masonry, but we are trying to make it even better. As part of that effort, the Journal will make a special effort to inform you of Masonic education on the Internet and make you aware of new sources of Masonic education in every format. Please write and inform us when you learn of a new Masonic education opportunity. And, of course, the book review column lists materials for furthering your knowledge of Masonry. In addition, we are considering other possibilities.

The Orient, the Valley, and You: Many Orients and Valleys are experimenting with ways of providing Masonic education. One program, popular in some Valleys, is to do a single Degree on some weekend or evening, followed by intensive discussion by those watching of the meanings, symbols, etc., of the Degree. Some Valleys are developing mentors or teachers who can do programs of Masonic education in Blue Lodges or even in open District Meetings. Valleys and Orients can encourage such teachers, perhaps even help a little with expenses.

You can make a major difference here. Prepare yourself to teach by learning. And you can do something else as well. Ill. Dr. John Boettjer, 33° G.C. is soliciting thought-provoking essays and scholarly articles for the Journal. He cannot print them if they are not written. Space constraints are very real in the Journal, so please try not to exceed 2,000 words.

Leadership Training

The Supreme Council: Conference attendees identified leadership training as one of the primary needs of the Scottish Rite. There was a strong feeling that the Rite should offer leadership training as a benefit of membership--leadership not just as it can be applied to Masonry but to personal and professional life as well. The Supreme Council has already taken a step in that direction by changing the focus and structure of the biennial Leadership Conferences. Other possibilities will be explored as they are suggested.

The Orient, the Valley and You: This is an issue which Orients and Valleys can address more directly than can be done at a national level. Perhaps the Valley level is the best, because it is closest to individual Scottish Rite Masons. Valleys can offer leadership training in many areas, including strategic planning for success, the visioning process, group dynamics and discussion leadership. These can be offered in on-going programs. Valleys can pick times and locations, locate qualified instructors, etc. Many Valleys will not have the resources to offer these programs free of charge, but they can help reduce costs to participants by facilitating the process, offering their facilities, and in many other ways. And you may be able to make a difference here as well. If you have special training in leadership development, consider contacting your Valley leadership and offering to teach such a course.

A full discussion of the ideas which came from the 1998 Leadership Conferences would require a document several times the length of the Journal. We will continue to read, study, and evaluate the suggestions. In the meantime, here, in list form, are some of the suggestions from Brethren attending the conferences. Look them over. You will find some your Valley or Orient can facilitate and some you can help to implement yourself. Remember, nothing will happen if you don’t help it happen.

Benefits for Members and Their Families

The Scottish Rite in Public

There is more. We will provide more information as it can be evaluated and plans made. But remember this: The Future of the Craft is What You Choose to Make It.