Review of Freemasonry

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by Bro. Peter Taylor, WJW
Albert Lodge #448, Grand Lodge of Scotland.

"The following article is the personal observations and opinions of the author and in no way does it reflect the policy of the Grand Lodge of Scotland,"



Fraternal associations were born when man first awakened to his need of a friend. Thus mankind, in all ages, has had some form of secret fraternities adapted to his age and environment.


Masonry stands supreme among all fraternal organisations of men by the magnificence of its works, the holiness of its purpose, and the sublimity of its ideals. Recent decades have brought many changes at an increasing rate. Modern life has extended the world far beyond our expectations. A society where neighbours barely know each other is becoming the routine, and society has made it easier to live life without making roots. Social norms and success are measured by worldly possessions. Love of a car, big screen TV, a cottage, sporting events and shopping have replaced love and respect for each other, even the love of God.


The damage inflicted on our order by the stress of modern life stimulates us to search for ways to improve Masonry’s performance as an organisation. These facts are well acknowledged by the Grand Lodge, and Provincial Grand Lodges, even freemasonry in general. On the other hand, and as a young member who seeks knowledge in the craft, I have some suggestions that arise from my short timed observations:

We embrace the fact that Masonry is a school of morality as a prerequisite for admission to our fraternity. Whereby men, who are immoral, corrupt or who violate the laws of God, their country or their fellowman, cannot claim the protection, aid or assistance from their Masonic Lodge. Nor would they be admitted to the fraternity.


Each district should have a membership committee to look after their members and search for other members. This is far from being in the form of a solicitation. The role of such committee, with certain limits, should also look at their members’ interests, not just at the Lodge level but also in society, be it personal or professional. Why should we do that? Promoting your own members will attract other successful people in their respective domains to the craft of Masonry.


We agree that our Lodge is a happy place, where men support each other strongly. For the younger member, still struggling with the demands of modern life, they should be afforded the opportunity to make Masonry an interesting and vital part of their lives, thus becoming an example for others to emulate.


The old and new members should appreciate that they are members of an association having for its object social, fraternal and charitable intercourse with mystic rituals and ceremonies. By the same token, the craft contributes to the entertainment, friendly recognition among strangers through visitations, and aid in time of distress.


How is this accomplished? With modern life and fast evolution we must learn to reasonably use the resources available and network to build a stronger brotherhood. Do we using our network channels at work, in society and at clubs to act as role models to attract new members? If we do then I believe we, as Masons, will be placed in a position of attracting new members, and at the same time maintaining our own membership.


The Problem

One of the greatest changes is that in the past, one man working 40 hours a week could raise a family. In society's current state, it takes two parents working a combined 80 hours a week to just barely get by, and by the end of the average day you're exhausted. People also used to stay with their jobs longer. Now it's common to keep in mind that you'll probably leave your job after a couple years, or even possibly get laid off. It's often hard to get through the day knowing you're valued. As a result, many men in society have lost a sense of themselves and their role in their community. Masonry offers an alternative, however, with an ethical basis that most men can use and appreciate. Men have been barraged with political correctness, and a lot of our roles as men have been given negative connotations. This has definitely furthered our loss of our sense of identity. I'm not, however, completely sold on the idea that we're that much busier than generations gone past. It seems it has more to do with making a conscious decision to structure your life in such a way as to benefit society. I believe that one of our major challenges is simply keeping the office bearers we have.


Also our generation is beset by feelings of self-entitlement. There's a tendency to expect everything out of life without working for it. We need to learn to take the initiative again; stepping forward to pro-actively go after what we want in terms of social change and a better way of life


Cities today are much more crowded and a lot of people react by locking themselves up at home. People put more effort into business networking then towards networking to create a community of meaningful friendships. They're not out meeting people primarily to make friends, but more with the attitude of "what can you do for me." When they get home at the end of the day, they don't want to put further energy into their pseudo friends, nor do they want to branch out and continue further "networking". Also, in past years, people were forced to be adults at a much earlier age, taking on responsibilities of raising and supporting a family. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for a couple to live together without getting married. Essentially, the focus on the family has shifted.


Our generation hasn't been challenged with a great social struggle, like other generations. We haven't really experienced a war, a depression or a social upheaval. As a result we've got a generation looking for meaning, but don't quite know where to find it, or how to enact it.


We have children in schools, and a culture that has been taught "it's not illegal unless you get caught"… and even then you probably still won't get in trouble. Currently it is the norm that children and young adults are 'taught' that the things the Freemasons stand for aren't cool. We need to rediscover how having an ethical ground is favourable, and something as simple as knowing your neighbour and making true friends is beneficial.


Perhaps two factions of Freemasonry will develop. One will advocate making it easier to draw in and retain members. The second faction will want to retain the tradition and keep our process pure, not catering to the ideology of the MTV generation. It will be easy to accept people into the organization only to then make them work hard; that will ultimately result in driving them away. We mustn't dilute our lessons and tradition to attract office bearers who won't stay with the organization.


What stands us apart is our philosophical and ethical basis? We need to shift our focus, and better understand what we can do as members. In so doing we can invest our energies in our fellow members. That is one of the things that need to be emphasized not by just a few members of each Lodge, but by every member. Essentially, we need to teach members how to mentor and be mentored; to appreciate the effort put into mentoring a fellow officer while wanting to reciprocate that effort.


I once heard it best described as "Freemasonry is my line in the sand." That description fully points to the fact that our fraternal order stands for so much more than just the idea of "making good men better". It offers an ethical and moral foundation on which we can stand and further our growth. Masonry made a promise to me to make me a better man; that through joining I would have a better appreciation of history, of my community and of myself. Becoming a Mason has allowed me to see through different eyes. The things we often take for granted, Masonry exalts. Through joining the Freemasons, I not only develop my leadership abilities, but to also foster a level of collaboration among a wide range of people allowing us all to work well together, whether it be in the Lodge, or in my interactions at work. That collaboration helps to encourage and foster a sense of community.


The Craft is having grave organizational problems. Not problems with its fundamental teachings of morality and ethics, but with its functioning as a voluntary association. The “organizational culture” that 21st century Freemasonry has inherited was formed some 50 to 75 years ago when fraternal and community organizations were the social norm. So many men wanted to join our fraternity that we unintentionally imposed a horrendous superstructure on a very elegant organization. For example, the effort required to become RWM in many jurisdictions serves no rational organizational purpose. We support traditions for no other reason than they are traditions. (See the Ritual)


Fraternal organizations in the UK hit an all time high of 100s of thousands by the year 1900. Why did these organizations do so well? The answer possibly lies in the fact that these organizations gave a benefit to their members. Examples of which are life and medical insurance to members. After the turn of the 20th century, trade unions started to grow. These unions were able to get benefits for workers. Unfortunately, for fraternal organizations, the benefits that were given by companies caused the fraternal benefits to have little or no value to the working man. For example in the USA, the Odd Fellow membership has dropped by 90% over this century. The need to join organization like the Odd Fellows and give money to employers for benefits obtained through work does not make sense to the average man. The Odd Fellows have not changed to meet this change in needs.


Freemasonry increased until the 1950s because it fulfilled the need for fraternity and the feeling of Brotherhood. Freemasonry has no benefits beyond Brotherhood (well no advertised benefit). After that time men have found fraternity elsewhere. With the loss of prestige of the Fraternity, professional men have turned to Golf / Country Clubs to find the fraternal relations they want.


Freemasonry must give a benefit to membership beyond Brotherhood and Fraternity. To those who say no to this statement consider this: Why has membership been dropping since 1950s? Why are 85% of our members happier in front of their TVs then coming to Lodge? Why won't your sons and grandsons join? Why there are more sons and grandsons of Masons than there are Masons?


The Approach

Voltaire said "I know of no great man, save he who renders service to his fellows" and Mohamed said "The world had come to an end, when man will not help man". If greatness is measured by service then is Masonry great? No greater thrill is possible to man’s spirit than to stand before God and man and say, "I am a Mason!" Although Masonry in this country is a privilege, by being socially active with no restrictions, and being able to declare himself a Mason, I am wondering if this freedom of speech, that makes this privilege so possible, is what is not allowing people to appreciate what Masonry is, as they should? Is our openness acting as a sword with two edges, whereby good candidates find it very easy to join and then do not join? (Because Wonder is the mother of Wisdom, by default of our openness we are not offering anything to ask about!) The other edge could be that Masonry is recognised solely as a charitable organisation rather than a fraternity. Men might not be interested to join because we, as Masons, do not advertise for our privileges. Many men already contribute much to charitable organisations and may not see a need for Freemasonry.


The current members in our Lodges are the backbone of the Craft and subsequently all aspects of Freemasonry. These are the Brethren who are the Masters, Wardens, Secretaries, Deacons, organizers, etc., and they are the ones we should look after. We must, figuratively use the Mason’s trowel and spread the “cement of Brotherly Love” which binds us into one strong bond of Brothers. It is here that the great spin-off of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which is TOLERANCE, should come into play. Surely, we as members of the greatest fraternal organization in the world can work out our differences, equipped as we are with the tenets of Freemasonry. If a Brother should leave Freemasonry for any reason, it is more difficult to get him to return to the Lodge than it is to introduce a new brother into Freemasonry. So let us look after each other and ‘practice what we preach’.






The Temple

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 a 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, a window, repair the steps or track down an electrical problem-if you would only ask them.


Clean up, paint up, and 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.  Make certain that visitors and guests are impressed by our surroundings.




Many "new" ideas are being tried in Lodges and Grand Lodges to increase membership, but there is one main thing that individual Lodges must do to attract members, either new masons or affiliations: The Lodge must be interesting. A Lodge with dead meetings is just dead. The Lodge will attract new members through initiation and affiliation because of the enjoyment experienced by its members.


Nevertheless, there is a great way to get new men into the Lodge if the Lodge is already interesting and fun. These prospective members somehow must be placed physically in the Lodge building, either through an open activity where friends of masons are invited to attend or, even better, through participation of their relatives in Masonic activities.


When a friend sees the fun at a Lodge activity, he will get an impression that will be great for attracting him to membership. But when a man sees his relatives, particularly younger members of his family, (daughter or son perhaps), living a great life and having good friends in a wholesome environment, he is sold on Masonry. And often more important, his wife is sold on Masonry.


Sponsoring more than one youth organization may be too much for one Lodge to handle. The Lodge could pick a youth activity and truly work with it and for it. The more participation of Lodge members in the organization the more likely it is to attract new young members. Youth groups never suffer from too many adults participating, only from too few.


And get these teenagers involved in other Lodge activities. They can be servers at dinners or have a special place at Lodge fundraisers to sell tickets etc. They could even see spin-offs by using the Lodge for their own fundraising.  Have their awards evenings on the same night as Lodge night and make it an official, but open, Lodge meeting. Get those non-Masonic moms, dads, aunts and uncles etc. into the Lodge.


Once you have the man in the Lodge, you can show him how much fun and enjoyment it is, but once you have his young family members in the Lodge, he already knows how great it is.



Getting new members

One of the first elements that must be addressed is the problem of bringing new men into the fraternity. With the restrictions as interpreted in the Masonic ritual shows, we cannot ask a man to join with us, it can only be hinted. A new interpretation of this restriction should be developed that will permit our asking one whom we feel is qualified to be a member of the order to be asked to become a Mason. If we can see in our hearts that this is the problem that restricts us from growing and remaining a force for good, then it must be changed. Because we say that a man must first be made a Mason in his heart, we have interpreted this to mean that we cannot ask but must wait to have a man made a Mason in his heart and he must do the asking. If we, as individuals, feel that a man is of the character and type that we want as a member of our Lodge, why can’t we suggest to him that he could become a Mason and believe that he would find kindred souls among the fellowship of your Lodge. Require him to think about it, to ponder and ask questions, to discuss with others including his wife and family, of the rightness of his becoming a member of the Masonic fraternity. Let him become a Mason in his heart - after he has been asked to consider membership in your Lodge.


This kind of approach to the problem of bringing in new members could become a great help in the furtherance of the health and well being of the Lodge. It is recognised that each Lodge needs a driving force for it to be successful, and that there are a large number of potential masons who are not aware how to become masons.  Each of us must know of least one good man out there?



Retaining members

One of the most important problems we face is the retention of our present membership. Why are we not retaining our members, keeping them interested and attending their Lodges and participating in the Lodge’s programs? This is the most important area of renewal that we could consider. How often do any of the office bearers who are responsible for the health of the Lodge, visit or at least call absent brothers? Being in touch with all members of the Lodge should be essential. Personal visits, letters and/or phone calls can be of infinite value to the Lodge. It would seem that this should be a responsibility of the Master and Wardens, particularly the Wardens, so that they can get to know the members of the Lodge. Older Masons, who cannot drive at night, should be able to be picked up and brought to Lodge so that they can retain their interest.


Younger Masons need other 'recreational' activities at Harmonies, and to relax after the meeting. It is no longer acceptable to these young men to sit in a smoke filled room and the only entertainment is alcoholic beverages and idle gossip in select corners of the bar!


A clear and comprehensive program that is geared to the interest of all men is imperative and should be the reason why the personal touch with the members is important to be sure that all are well acquainted with the program and given a chance to be active. Gleanings from successful programs that are going on in different Lodges around the country are an easy way to find a program or programs that a Lodge could use. There are no copy rights on any program that is being used by any particular Lodge. We are free to copy any that we feel would be good for our own Lodge and which would be of interest to our membership.



The Ritual

Ritual is a necessary part of the Masonic life. It cannot be ignored, but we can make some differences in rendering the ritual A Lodge should have teams of members that are interested in ritual and be prepared and ready to perform their part of ritual. Not just the office bearers holding a particular position, but a ritualist can be called on to take part whenever a degree is to be performed. The Lodge office bearers would have to be able to open and close their Lodge and the Master and Wardens should be prepared to conduct meetings and to activate the programs that the Lodge is currently working toward. It would always be the Master of the Lodge that would conduct the meetings and he could do whatever part of the ritual he wished to perform in the degrees. It is still his Lodge.


There should be no ‘underlying’ requirement that before installation a RWM must memorize all of the ritual for the three degrees. This is a wonderful skill and a useful tool for any Master to possess, but it is not the be-all and end-all of Masonic management. Our new office bearers, as they progress through the “line,” learn some subtle lessons. As valuable as leadership or charity or fellowship or family activities or communications are, you’re ‘tested’ on only one thing: parroting of the ritual. And if you fail the test, the punishment is the death penalty -you will not become a successful Master of your Lodge!


Maybe Brethren have not returned to the Lodge because he has been hurt by the fact that they have not been able to master a portion of the Ritual. Brethren not all of us are ritualists, but we may be useful in another part of this multi-faceted organization of ours. Learning the ritual and performing great workings is beautiful and must be encouraged. Let the brethren who have the ability to learn, do so. We must not force a brother to learn the ritual, as we will only make him disillusioned and he will leave. Remember, a passage well read is just as good as one recited, because it is for the benefit of the candidate and NOT critical Past Masters in the East.




Let us tell the world what we are doing and what part we play in the daily life of our community. A member of the Lodge could be designated as the liaison with the local newspapers, radio stations or TV stations or any other method of getting out the word. There is no reason why we cannot tell the world that Mr. Toby A. Mason has made application to our Lodge and that he is looking forward to becoming a part of this great and world’s oldest fraternity. He will be receiving his degrees in our Lodge on a specific date and invite all Masons to come and participate in this important occasion. An announcement of upcoming programs or charitable events or dates for the community blood donor etc., or whatever the Lodge is sponsoring, should be included in the duties of the communications officer of the Lodge. How else do we tell our community that we are here and are an organization operating for the good of all?


Brethren, who are active in the community al large, whilst not always acting with Masonry in the forefront, should be seen as being Masons. They are simply good men, doing good things, who happen to be Masons as well. Perhaps eventually the penny will drop?


Being seen to be happy in and out of the Lodge, the outside world see this and want to be part of it and by being happy, our candidates will want to stay and be part of this wonderful way of life.  






You can't raise the dues!

The dues structure of Freemasonry at the turn of the 20th century created a prestige for the organization. The common man could not afford to become a Mason. Freemasonry had an image of limited membership. With this image men, sought out to join. But Masonic Lodges adopted the policy of a static dues structure. By employing this method of never raising dues, obtaining membership became easy and many "common" men started joining.

The Lodges have built their financial strength on a steady flow of new members. Grand Lodges over the years have refused to raise initiation rates on the fear that new applicants might be discouraged. Lodges are also afraid to raise their dues. They fear that they will lose members. Freemasonry now costs approximately a quarter of the cost of buying a local newspaper for a year! What would you rather give up or pay more for?


Currently Freemasonry is not bringing in the new applicants as was enjoyed in the past. Lodges have used the money brought in from new applicants to finance their operating budgets. Today Lodges are discovering that they must break into their permanent funds to supplement their yearly operating expenses. Lodges are starting to do less for their membership. Members were accustomed to having cheap or free dinners and social activities. Now that Lodges have to charge more for the dinners and social activities, the membership does not attend as they used to. The members are not interested and certainly not committed anymore in the activities of the Lodge when they have to pay for them.


Why not raise the dues and start providing activities that the members want? Let's take a Lodge of 100 members paying £25 per year in dues. This equates to a £2,500 operating budget for the Lodge. Of this money a certain amount required for dues and cost of doing business (notices, postage etc). Let's raise the dues to £100 per year. What a radical idea! We will probably lose half our membership. Ok. 50 members at £100 per year equates to £5,000 per year, a gain of £2,500. The expenses of the Lodge should drop 50% per year. With 100 members at £25 per year we had £2,500, and of course more expense per year to spend on our membership. With dues at £100 per year and 50 members we have a greater proportion of that £5,000 per year to spend on our membership. Obviously if we raise our dues in this hypothetical Lodge we will have more resources to meet our members’ needs and expectations. So why not raise the dues!


Make it easier for prospective candidates to pay their initiation costs. Why can’t systems be set up for payment by credit card or debit card?  Most young men these days use this method for nearly all of their purchases. Credit cards give the opportunity to spread the cost, which may even make it less of a burden to increase initiation fees. Use direct debit or standing orders for the collection of test fees. It is easy to set up and keep track of and reduces the Treasurer and Secretary’s work. Once a member is paying this way it will become a fixture that might be ‘inconvenient’ to cancel if he were to drift away from the Lodge for whatever reason! At least that keeps the money coming in and, not least, the member in good standing.



Are there too many Lodges?

Are amalgamations the answer? If the Charter is retained, Lodges could then split again if numbers grow. Direction from Grand Lodge would be necessary if this is to work, and uniting several small Lodges under the banner of a completely new Lodge should be investigated. Small Lodges, say with 20 or fewer members, should be approached by the Province, to enquire as to what is best for the Lodge. However, small Lodges are not necessarily weak or unhappy Lodges.

A contrary view to the above is that there are not too many Lodges, although this might be the view of Lodges who have few members. Market forces should be allowed to take their course. Amalgamations are not the answer; the amalgamation of two Lodges with elderly Brethren only produces one Lodge with elderly Brethren.


Brethren continuing to hold office for too long

All office bearers should be made aware that their appointment is for one year only in the first instance. There is a belief that five years, or even perhaps three or four years, should, if possible, be the maximum for holding office. Younger Masons seeing a Brother holding office for a number of years may consider that holding office will be of no benefit to him at all!


However, is should be worth considering that there are too few volunteers for the "time consuming" offices, such as Secretary, and it is better to have a willing member, even if that person stays in office for a long time. This is particularly true of small Lodges, which have fewer members to call upon. Also, the complexities of Secretary and Treasurer take more than five years to master.


As PMs get older, they either move away or prefer not to get involved. This leaves a smaller number of PMs who can hold office; hence, they have to remain in office for longer than five years. It could be that there are too many offices?


Increasing average age of members

As it is a fact of life that men are living longer, and as maturity is an important feature within Masonry, the rising age of the membership is a positive step. The calibre of a Candidate is more important than age; attitude and enthusiasm are important.


In certain areas it may be worth examining the possibility that starting the meetings later could be beneficial if Masonry is to attract younger men. It is increasingly difficult for younger members to get time from work. Younger Masons have many demands on their time, including family and leisure pursuits. Senior Brethren, who might be out of touch with modern working life, should adopt a more relaxed attitude to younger Brethren.


Lodges that hold only a small number of meetings a year, and that running costs are generally low, the subscriptions and the costs of joining are high. The cost per meeting is much higher that that of Lodges meeting every week! Perhaps Grand Lodge (GL) and PGL should consider this when imposing dues that increase the costs.


Involving younger members at an early stage could be one way of maintaining interest. Younger Masons are likely to recruit others of their age. Those Lodges who have a link with scouts, school associations, etc, where younger men meet, may find they can attract membership.


Length of meetings and after proceedings

The Brethren that have left because of one or more reasons, perhaps were bored with Lodge and Lodge proceedings, etc., long business meetings, long and over-heated discussions over a subject which should and could be handled by Standing Committees.


It is true that if a man must endure ritual if he wants it done right and well. Badly done ritual discourages everyone. The problem with Lodges today is that ritual has encompassed 90+% of the Lodge. By ritual include the business of the Lodge. The reason for this is that we repeat the business over and over. It is always the same (with some very minor aberrations). If you look at your Lodge minutes from 50 years ago, they will read similarly to your minutes of today. We have been doing the same thing over and over for over 250 years! They must be kept to a minimum. Business minutes are exactly that! No more then a brief account should be read out aloud, further detail, of course, can be recorded if a member needs more information.


If men like ritual so much then why do we get such poor attendance at meetings? The conclusion is that after you have seen the degree done once, most men don't want or need to see it again. The degree work must be kept to a minimum and long or complex charges kept for minutes and business nights where groups of young masons can receive them. (See the Ritual and LOI)


Lack of "after care" for new members

Having a mentor appears from a quarter of responses to be a good idea. In certain Provinces mentors are in place and are given guidance from the Province. Proposers and Seconders must be made more aware of their responsibilities, but all members need to play their part. A difficulty arises when the Proposer does not attend regularly or is new to Masonry himself. ‘A more expert Brother' in some Lodges could be encouraged to take on the role of mentor. An Initiates’ evening with partners held at various centres to meet the Provincial Grand Master (PGM), his deputy or his representative was one suggestion for involving younger Masons early on.


We must educate the new brethren and make them feel welcome at our Harmonies, not let him stand by himself while we "yack" away in small groups. That is why we must have activities out side and we can learn to know each other better informally.


Pomp and circumstance is really important to people today?

As the UK became an urbanized country the need for pomp and circumstance decreased. In the 19th and early 20th century when the UK was rural with some large cities, formality was very popular. After the 1950's with the invention of the suburbs and urbanization, formality decreased. In the Masonic Lodges we still like to wear formal dress and suits. The black tie event is not popular today.


Men would like to take off the tie and coat when they go to Lodge. Even in churches men are removing the ties and coats. The need for formal clothing has become somewhat limited to very formal occasions. Why does Freemasonry insist on ‘forcing’ its members to wear clothing that they do no normally wear? Think about it. Would your membership come to more meetings if they could dress informally?


Men who wear coats and ties at work all day want to remove these clothes and be relaxed. Wearing the tie and coat makes the professional feel that he is still at work. The factory worker has to put on the tie and coat to come to Lodge. This man does not see the need to look like his manager. Therefore, he resists this situation.

Let's change the need for formal clothing in our Masonic Lodges! Some areas have begun to make this change. The "stuffy" look of the Lodge must go. Let's change to the needs of the 21st century man!


Lack of information / communication

This is mostly likely not an issue in the Lodges themselves. However, the circulation of the minutes may be a good idea and can keep the Brethren who cannot attend informed of events and proceedings and in touch with the Lodge. This may result in some members who have moved away, remaining as members.


A good Secretary will keep the members informed, sending PGL circulars with the minutes, or handing them out on the evening.


Some Brethren may not get the chance to meet Grand or Provincial office bearers; perhaps visiting Brethren should be encouraged to visit as Grand or Provincial office bearers in order to become more evident to all Lodges and Brethren? Members of Lodges who are also Grand or Provincial office bearers should be encouraged to wear the regalia of their Grand or Provincial office from time to time to impress upon young Masons!


Increased use of social functions

The social side of Masonry is very important. These range from Ladies Nights, Burns’ Nights, etc. and are for Masons and non-Masons. The "maisonettes", the wives and partners of members could go out for a meal on the night of meetings and join Brethren in the bar afterwards. Consider that the Ladies regularly dine at Installation or at Christmas/quarterly. The wives can perhaps take a more active part in our Harmonies. A joint event with other Lodges or Concordant organisation could be considered. Remember that wives partners and family have all had good ideas throughout history and should be listened to. Try implementing some of them and perhaps other wives and partners etc. may become more interested


In some Lodges there has been difficulty getting support for the functions that have been organised, especially when trying to hold a Ladies Evening. Also, other social events have been tried and are found not to be successful and money was lost. The age of the members, the size of the Lodge and the distance they would have to travel makes these events difficult.


Good organisational skills are required and not all Social event organisers possess these skills. Most organisers of this type are either volunteers or more likely the only person left available to take the job on! Importantly, the objective must be to show good value for money and not just ‘how cheap can we do it!’


We must make Freemasonry enjoyable. It is at these social events that a prospective candidate can be introduced to the brethren. This way we can make Freemasonry more enjoyable and attract the PAST back into the fold.


Encouragement of inter-Lodge visiting

Consider a reward or ‘trophy’ for Lodges visiting other Lodges in the Province or in the cities that carry the most number of Brethren with them. The trophy could be passed to the current champion are and awarded, say, at one of the Provincial meetings.


Historically it was of great interest and benefit to young Masons to visit other Lodges, particularly with experienced Brethren, as a way of helping with their Masonic education and to introduce them to the wider world of Freemasonry. Nowadays it has become common place for those who are attending their Lodge to do jus that and only that! We must recognise that visiting other Lodges will send the message to younger Masons that the fraternity of Brother hood is still a live and kicking if we would only get out there and discover it!


Lodges of Instruction and Masonic education

Not all Lodges operate a Lodge of Instruction. Combining LOIs have been tried successfully in the United States and in England, but the disadvantages in Scotland are obvious due to the variability of our ritual. Perhaps the PGL kept a register of LOIs, others might consider visiting. Members moving into an area might find it useful to start visiting through the LOI. Centres could consider creating LOIs for smaller Lodges.


Be careful not to push Masonic Education the candidates' throat. It is like being forced to go to Sunday school (when you were a child). If you force a man to learn Freemasonry this way he will resist it, learn to hate it, and avoid it at all costs. It’s not necessary to become fully conversant in the ritual or the precepts of Freemasonry in a short time. It takes years to learn and appreciate all kinds of information about Freemasonry If you push Masonic Education incorrectly into the Lodges you will destroy your already poor attendance. No one wants to be lectured to.


Why can't we make Masonic Education a lifetime experience? Do not expect to cram all of the teachings of Freemasonry into the 2 or so months it takes to get the three degrees. Make learning fun to do. Create opportunities to teach Masonic Education is a fun setting. Let's work to make our members want to learn more. It worked when you were going to school, it will work here.




The following is an extract from the business plan created by the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick, whose membership has declined by 67% in the last 10 years. It would seem logical to have this sort of guidance and vision from Grand Lodge or even Provincial Grand Lodge, thus given Daughter Lodges, (and of course other concordant bodies), targets and goals to aim at.


Create a business plan with clear and unambiguous statements concerned with the following:



EG: To improve life by improving the men who live it while never losing sight of the need to preserve the past, serve the present and prepare for the future.


Vision Statement of the Grand / Provincial Grand Lodge

EG: To create a strong and viable Fraternity made up of men who practice the principles of Freemasonry, who have a strong desire for self-improvement, thus making a positive difference in the quality of life in the area.


Mission Statement of the Grand / Provincial Grand Lodge

To provide a strong and visible leadership to the Masons of the area, by developing and initiating programs which will enhance leadership, knowledge, member satisfaction, communication and cohesion among the constituent Lodges and Provinces of Grand Lodge. We will strive to maintain our status as the Fraternity of choice for men in our area. We will continue to actively promote and preserve Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, morality and friendship among our membership.


Goals of the Grand / Provincial Grand Lodge

  • ·         To reverse the decline in membership.

  • ·         To increase the desire among Masons to be active, productive and innovative.

  • ·         To operate the Grand / Provincial Grand Lodge in a financially responsible manner, delivering quality programs at a reasonable cost.

  • ·         To develop and deliver the training and development programs required by our future leaders.

  • ·         To encourage and preserve active communications among all components of the Grand Lodge.

  • ·         To be active in the Public’s education about Freemasonry to overcome the ill effects of malicious rumours and hurtful innuendo aimed at our reputation in the world at large and Scotland in particular.

  • ·         To actively promote youth groups, (Scouts, Boys Brigade, Girl Guides, football….)

  • ·         To build and maintain solid relations with the several Concordant Bodies and to lend such assistance as is possible to encourage their health and welfare.

  • ·      To continue to support the efforts of the Masonic Charities.  




Finally, from a historical perspective, after natural or man-induced devastations such as tornadoes or wars, people do not stay down. They get up, they clean up, and they rebuild and with the membership issue I believe we should and will do the same. As a brotherhood we must continually examine our organisation. Look at what is good and what can we improve on. We are still and given the ideals that Freemasonry is based upon, we must always be the largest and strongest fraternity in existence. We must lean on each other and work together!  


1.To Bro. Peter S. Moir, P.M of Lodge Albert 448, and Lodge Discovery 1789, for his continuous support and guidance. The long hours of discussions in the Lodges, Chapters etc. have proved invaluable

2. To the Brethren of Lodge Discovery 1789 and the Lodges throughout the Provinces of Scotland, for sharing their experience with an inquisitive sometimes nosey Mason!

3. To my partner (and social secretary), Tracy, for her guidance, prompting and most of her patience and tolerance!

4. To Dr. Br. Walid Farhat M.D. for his contribution at the introduction.

5. Finally, "The Internet" ­ a fountain of knowledge!

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