ITS ABOUT TIME!
Moving Masonry into the 21st Century


A Publication of: Masonic Information Center 8120 Fenton Street
Silver Spring MD 20910-4785 Tel: 301-588-4010, Fax: 301-608-3457
email: msana@ix.netcxim.com

The Masonic Information Center is a division of the Masonic Service
Association. The Center was formed in 1993 by a grant from John R.
Robinson, well-known author, speaker and Mason. Its purpose is to
provide information on Freemasonry to Masons and non-Masons alike and
torespond to critics of Freemasonry. The Center is directed by a Steering
Committee of distinguished Masons geographically representative of the
Craft throughout the United States and Canada.

It's About Time! is the report completing a study undertaken by a
special task force of the Masonic Information Center Steering Committee.

This report marks the beginning of a Masonic Public Awareness Program
started at the request of the 2004 Conference of Grand Masters in North
America.
The Task Force members who prepared this report are:
*John Boettjer         Editor The Scottish Rite Journal
  Carolyn Bain         Consultant Bain Puch & Associates Inc
  Richard Curtis       Editor The Northern Light
William Feingold   Consultant   Public relations Specialist
  Richard Fletcher    Exec Sec Masonic Service Association
  James Tresner  Editor The Oklahoma Mason

*John Boettjer worked with the Task Force until his retirement in
April, 2005

MASONIC INFORMATION CENTER STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS
John Boettjer           George B. Braatz     Robert E. Conley    
Joseph R. Conway
Richard H. Curtis    Robert E. Davies      Robert G. Davis      
Richard E. Fletcher
David C. Goodnow Thomas W. Jackson Jack H. Jones           Gary Leazer
Stewart W. Miner    S. Brent Morris        George D. Seghers   Terry Tilton
James Tresner

SPECIAL MEMBER  Bernice Robinson
CONSULTANTS       Carolyn Bain     William Feingold   William Borman


WHY A STUDY? - WHY A REPORT?
The 2004 report from the Masonic Information Center (MIC) to the
Conference of Grand Masters focused on the need for Masonic Public
Awareness. The collective body of Grand Masters gave overwhelming
approval to the MIC to move forward. No resources beyond those of the
MIC were committed nor were any asked for at the time.
We accepted the challenge and established a highly qualified task force
from the Steering Committee of the Masonic Information Center. Our
group continues to meet on a regular basis.

The Task Force realized that past attempts at public awareness and
promotional campaigns had produced disappointing results. If past
campaigns with supporting budgets did little to solve the problem, how
would our approach be different? Our group resisted the temptation to
jump into the "fun" of a creative project, brainstorm-ing activities
and designing catchy slogans. We accepted the fact that a traditional PR
campaign works only if you know what you want to communicate. The task
for our group was to tackle the question of Masonic public identity.


IT'S ABOUT TIME!

Moving Masonry into the 21st Century

Foreword
"When Memories exceed dreams, the end is near."
— Michael Hammer

Examining the need for Masonic public awareness

It is no secret that participation in the Masonic fraternity has been
dropping for at least 50 years. Evidence of our decline is the fact
that our membership totals are at their lowest levels in more than 80 years.
Hoping to stop the attrition, Masonic leaders have tried numerous
initiatives: one-day classes, shortened proficiencies, and a lowered
minimum age at which one can petition for membership. Grand Lodges have
hired public relations firms and have paid for promotions in numerous
media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, and
television. Each initiative, while hinting at success, has failed to
arrest our declining numbers and has fallen short of rejuvenating our
fraternal spirit.

For instance, one-day classes attracted many new members, but they did
little to halt the ever-increasing numbers of demits and NPD's. We
realized that getting new members was only a part of the challenge.
Clearly, Masons were not satisfactorily addressing ways of keeping our
members involved and enthusiastic about Masonry. The time had come for
us to take full responsibility for our sad state of affairs and begin
to move forward, embracing the fact that we have a lot of work to do.

The work began in 2004 when the Conference of Grand Masters asked the
Masonic Information Center (MIC) to look into the possibility of
creating a National Masonic Public Awareness Program. We accepted the
challenge.

By accepting that challenge, we assumed a greater responsibility: to
test the integrity of what we wanted to communicate to the public about
Freemasonry. We had to ask the tough question of ourselves: Who are we
as a fraternal organization within the context of the 21st century?

There was little argument among our group that Masons were not the
first organization wanting to improve their public image, and we knew that we
could no longer gloss over our situation's complexity. In his book The
World is Flat, Thomas Friedman quotes business organization consultant
Michael Hammer:

One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me
how good they were in the past. Same with countries. You don't want to
forget your identity. I am glad you were great in the 14th century, but
that was then and this is now. When memories exceed dreams, the end is
near.

Our Masonic memories are to be treasured, but our Masonic dreams have
faltered. Simply put, we have forgotten our Masonic identity so that
our memories truly do exceed our dreams. It is about time we brought our
actions in line with our aspirations.

Thus began our study. Over a year later, we offer this report as a
fraternal call to action. It is neither a step-by-step plan nor a
scholarly document. It is our way of communicating to our fraternity
the need to focus on making Masonry relevant to our changing communities
and our 21st century lives. The style of the report is conversational and
easy-to-read, representing the deliberations, fact-finding, and talking
points of the Task Force. We ask you, as fellow Masons, to heed the
call and to take the initiative to participate in building our own destiny,
brother by brother, lodge by lodge.

Part I - Introduction
"Change is the one constant and Freemasons have done little to keep
pace with change."  — MIC Task Force

"It's about time!" When spoken forcefully, the phrase means an action
is about to be taken addressing a situation needing immediate attention.
Sometimes the words are said softly, "It's about time; I don't have
any," thereby making "time" the excuse for doing nothing. How best to
illustrate this conclusion?

Since the end of World War II, population figures in North America have
soared. Masonic membership increased also until 1959. Since that time,
while the general population has had dramatic increases, Masonic
membership has dropped.

To further illustrate this trend, the Masonic Service Association (MSA)
has tracked membership figures for Masons in the United States since
1925. The numbers tell a very sad tale of the decline of one of the
world's most important fraternal organizations, slowly fading away, as
T.S. Elliot says, "not with a bang, but a whimper."

This chart illustrates the rise and fall of Masonic membership from the
1920s to the year 2003.  (LORE Editor unable to scan chart)

Even at our membership's lowest point in 1941, which included the
Depression years (the worst depression in US history), Freemasonry
still had 800,000 more members than we do today. In short, Freemasonry is at
its lowest membership level in at least 80 years.
 

Interpreting the numbers

Four familiar excuses have frequently been touted as the cause of the
decline.

• We are in a downward cycle.
History demonstrates that fraternal membership is always cyclical.
Although national membership statistics prior to 1925 are very
difficult to compile, the figures that are available clearly show cyclical ups
and downs. However, our current membership total is at its lowest point in
80 years. This clearly indicates that the trend is not of a cyclical
nature and must be viewed with the clear understanding that other
factors are at work.

• We lost the Vietnam generation.
The Vietnam generation resisted joining traditional mainstream
organizations. This was a generation turned off by anyone over 35; to
this group, any organization that embraced traditional values was
distrusted. However, many years have passed producing diminished
membership figures. We have no choice but to conclude the problem runs
far deeper than one generation.

• We are all so busy.
Busy lifestyles complicate time commitments. No question about it.
Where one spouse used to be the major source of the family's income, now both
spouses work. When they come home in the evening, they want time
together rather than separate functions to attend, if indeed there is a
desire to participate at all.

This clearly means that any organization wishing to attract members
must offer something of great interest to even be considered worthwhile.

• People no longer join the way they used to.
Joining is no longer fashionable. Clearly true. In his book Bowling
Alone, Robert Putnam conclusively shows that people simply do not join
organizations as they did in the past.

Since the World War II generation, volunteering (which is what we do
when we join an organization) has become almost nonexistent. Every
fraternal organization, many religious denominations, service clubs,
and community organizations such as the PTA/PTO have all suffered
membership declines.

While these are valid reasons (yes, they did contribute to a decline in
membership), we have failed to accept the fact that the world is a
different place than it was in the 1940s and 1950s.

If you live in a metropolitan area, your 15-minute commute time to work
is now 50 minutes—if you are lucky. We spend more time going to and
from work than ever before.

Current lifestyles often require two spouse incomes. Family time is
squeezed into the evenings and very often the children have their own
activities.

The technology explosion has provided a source for
entertainment/activity that competes with any organization requiring a time commitment.
In short, change is the one constant.

What have Freemasons done to keep pace with change? Very little!

Isn't it about time to be realistic about our membership statistics?
Population figures in North America for the last 50 years have soared.

At the same time membership figures for the Masonic population have
dropped. This can only mean that Masons have simply not kept pace with
our changing lifestyles. For example, communications technology has
exploded—cell phone vs. landline; PC vs. typewriter; e-mail vs. regular
mail. While these kinds of changes surround everyone living in a modern
world, Freemasons still grouse about any increase in dues or per
capita. It is time to readjust our thinking and come to realize that both time
and money are necessary factors in creating a quality organization.

Resisting and denying change

With few exceptions over the last several decades, we have been content
to listen to excuses, avoiding examination of the complicated set of
changes that has weakened Masonry's relevance to our contemporary
lives.
Even today, we want to think of "loss of membership" as our major
problem. This report argues that membership loss is not the major
problem. In fact, our study asks that we shift our thinking to consider
our loss of membership as merely a symptom of the problem.
Based upon its study, the Task Force proposes that our core problem is
twofold:
1. Loss of Masonic identity
2. Lack of energy invested in Masonry

This means our fraternity has suffered a loss of Masonic identity as an
observable way of life, and our lack of energy invested in Masonry no
longer makes the fraternity relevant to our busy contemporary
lifestyles.

Seeking a lost identity
As Masons we have taken our fraternity's identity for granted, and we
have allowed the general public to forget how important we are to the
fabric of society. We forgot that what we DO for each other, our
lodges, and ourselves enriches the quality of life for our families and
communities. Only recently has Masonry found a new place in popular
culture with the introduction of Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code,
and the movie, National Treasure. Now we see our public identity positioned
in the context of historical fiction. We owe the public more than
fiction; we owe them facts, and we owe them our best performance every
day.

Members ask the familiar questions such as:
• Can't we just purchase the solution to our image and membership  decline?
• Can't we just fix lethargy with a new PR campaign, developed and

implemented by outside PR agencies?

It would be convenient if traditional approaches alone would change the
status of Freemasonry in the minds of the general public. However, it
would be like trying to convince the public that Pepsi without "fizzy"
is just as satisfying. We know that it might be a fine drink, but the
truth is—it just wouldn't be Pepsi.

Claiming our Masonic identity
The Masonic Information Center proposes that Masons must first take
ownership of an identity that distinguishes Masonry from other men's
organizations. That is a complex but exciting challenge. It is time to
face it; Freemasonry is not an off-the-shelf product whose value can be
assessed only in quantifiable terms. One Task Force member reminded the
group that Masons are not marketing soap or ketchup. Masonry is a
process of lifelong learning and discovery that delivers a way of
living a principled life, observable in the simplest behaviors, whether at
lodge, at home, or in the workplace.

The task facing Masonry is to define our Masonic identity in a rapidly
changing world. The public wants to know:
• Who are the Masons?
• How do we know them in our lives today?

When we can answer these questions, then we can move forward with
traditional programs for public relations, marketing communications,
membership, and more.
It is about time that we did something as a fraternity for our
fraternity—brother by brother, lodge by lodge.

Part II - Facing the Facts and Accepting the Challenge

"Freemasonry evolved from 18th century European enlightened thinking.
Today, Masonry is shaped by the 19th century concept of social
benevolence and the 20th century emphasis on ritual as the completion
of a Mason's education about the fraternity."
— MIC Task Force

In order to evaluate present-day Freemasonry, we had to assess the
Fraternity's strengths and weaknesses. The Task Force proceeded
methodically to question Masonry's past, present and future. We asked a
series of penetrating questions, listed our findings, and then
completed each section with a summary formed by observations and conclusions. In
order to properly determine a course of action for a Masonic Public
Awareness Program, we believe it imperative that we understand, as a
fraternity, where we have been, where we are today, and what happened
in the intervening years.

Forthright answers to the questions we posed did not come easily and
required an enormous amount of soul searching and critical evaluation.

Much of the data used in this report came from United States sources
because those were the ones most readily available and accessible to
our Task Force. We have pointed out where data was specifically from a
United States source, but we have reason to believe that data from
Canada would be almost identical.

For instance, there were no Canadian membership statistics available to
us unless we laboriously went through, year by year, the figures from
each Grand Lodge to determine if the same trends occurred as in the
United States. Because we have had many discussions with Canadian
Masons, there is no doubt in the minds of the Task Force that the data
trends are the same.

So this report needs to be considered in the context of North America,
including the United States and Canada, even though, on occasion, we
list a United States source.

Exploring the patterns of Masonry

The deliberations of the Task Force were lengthy and lively. Below are
the questions that guided the discussions and the summaries of our
findings.

1. What has Freemasonry done in the past?
For a fraternity that is centuries old, this question is extremely
significant. It asks how Freemasonry developed and what Masonic
affiliation meant to Masons of an earlier time. The Freemasons of the
1700s set a very high standard. In the late 1700s, Freemasons helped
build two new nations founded on Masonic principles. Patriots chose to
help create the United States; Loyalists chose to help strengthen
Canada. Both groups had many Masons in their midst. For detailed
information, we turned to the historians on our Task Force who led a
review of our Masonic past. The key points and summaries are listed
below.

In the past, Freemasonry accomplished the following:
•   Provided camaraderie
•   Created elite status
•   Served as a stepping stone to military, arts, business and social
     contacts
•   Attracted leaders to its membership

Guilds of Masons (early labor unions) probably originated in Scotland
in the 1600s. Early Masons concentrated on the following tasks:
•   Protecting workers' interests
•   Helping Masonic families
•   Operating lodges
•   Opening lodges to non-stonemasons
•   Formally ritualizing the method of creating new members

In colonial America, Freemasonry provided leadership during the
American Revolution and throughout the nation's history. It also provided a
moral philosophy relevant to the individual and to communities. In early
America, Freemasonry:
•   Promoted a philanthropic focus supporting fraternal kinship.
•   Inspired authors to create a body of popular literature, offering
satiric views, i.e. Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.
•   Stimulated thought consistent with Masonic values. Lodges became
sites of Revolutionary debating, responding to contemporary thought.

We looked for historical trends that reshaped our Masonic identity. We
found several pivotal events:
•   Freemasonry evolved from 18th century European enlightened thinking.
•   In the late 1800s, Victorian values influenced Masonic priorities
both in Europe and North America by placing emphasis on heightening
social awareness and stressing social idealism.
•   Twentieth-century Freemasonry sustained Victorian idealism and
reinforced philanthropic emphasis of fraternity.
•   During World War II, President Truman said that men should join the
Masonic fraternity before going to war, which reinforced a rise in
Masonic membership.
•   Masonic tradition became locked in ritual as an end, not as a
process.
•   Today Masonry is shaped by the 19th century concept of social
benevolence and the 20th century emphasis on ritual as the completion
ofa Mason's education about the fraternity.

Summary: Throughout history both European and North American Masonic
values consistently influenced people's daily lives by encouraging the
right to question existing dogma and by upholding our right to express
one's own thoughts and ideas. These values promote toleration of all
religious and philosophical views. The fraternity has been a
constructive, stabilizing, and enlightening force throughout history.

2. What is currently happening within Freemasonry?

Obviously, this question has no right or wrong answers because—like
public opinion—it asks for personal perceptions and observations. The
Task Force members agreed that there were and are tensions inherent in
our organization today, including but not limited to the following
perceptions:
•   There is a slight movement toward wanting to educate the public
     about the fraternity.
•   There is recognition that traditional communications tools have
     failed to heighten public awareness.
•   The inclusion of family members at Masonic events has produced
mixed results.
•   Masonry is no longer identified as an elite organization.
•   There are disagreements regarding priorities of financial
     commitments to Masonic buildings and charitable obligations versus
      starting new programs.
•   Current Masons do not understand the true meaning of our
fraternity.
•   A reliance on historic heroes inhibits Masons from achieving
     contemporary significance.

3. How does the public perceive Freemasonry today?
In today's world of high-speed communications, the public's perception
is often based on insufficient information. Research suggests that
today more people are impressed by what they see and hear than by what they
read. We believe that the public's perception and opinion of
Freemasonry can be summarized briefly in the following ways:
1. Confused. Are the Masons a fraternity, a religious organization or
an alternative religion?
2. Mistaken.  Only grandfathers could be in such an old-fashioned
    organization as Freemasonry.
3. Oblivious.  People are not even aware Masonry still exists.

Summary: Masons are not visible in the daily life of their communities.
Their identity is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented in the
press and by religious critics. There is little reserve of positive
memories of Masonic activity remaining in our communities. Within eye
and ear range of the public, Masons have failed to perform what they
profess; consequently, they have lost their significance within the
context of community.

4. What is the desired image of Freemasonry?
 From our difficult discussions of the current environment in which
Freemasonry finds itself, we turned to consider Masonry's identity under
ideal circumstances. The model Masonic fraternity would be one that
defines itself in terms of thought, energy, and action. Under perfect
circumstances, the public would know Masons according to the following
observable accomplishments:
• Building community based on shared Masonic values
• Constructing a positive environment for personal growth
• Encouraging education, idea sharing, and open discussion
• Welcoming diversity across religious denominations, ethnicity
         and age
• Growing leadership ability
• Establishing the relevance of Masonic values to contemporary
         life
• Advocating concern for the well being of other Masons and their
         families

Ideally, Masons would be defined as members of a fraternity, that fits
the following descriptions:

•   Masonry is a serious men's organization, dedicated to
     self-improvement coupled with community involvement.
•   Masonry is a provider of camaraderie, trust in each other, instant
     fellowship, and brotherhood.
•   Masonry brings together a group of people who emphasize individual
     excellence.
•   Masonry is a provider of an atmosphere of inclusiveness.
•   Masonry is an organization that makes good men better.
Summary: The model Masonic fraternity member would be easy to identify
in the community by his actions and words. Public awareness of Masonry
begins at a grassroots level. Masons must be visible in the community
to
demonstrate Masonic values in many aspects of their lives.
5. What are the benefits of Freemasonry within the context of our 21st
century world?
Masonry offers an opportunity for a principled way of life rooted in
the
following Masonic values:
•   Integrity •   Diversity
•   Inquiry •   Community
• Vitality

Summary: Masons are men who build community through brotherhood that is
based on a principled lifestyle. A Mason's life is deeply rooted in a
system of values. Masonry cannot be kept inside the individual; it is a
philosophy of fraternity that must be shared in action through numerous
experiences, which are lodge-based, personal, and professional.

6. Who needs to be made aware of the message of Freemasonry?
Freemasonry's significance to our culture is timeless and offers a
major
stabilizing influence within our communities. The Masonic identity
needs
to be understood and observed by the following:
•   The general public, specifically the individuals who seek knowledge
         about themselves and their humanity
• Our existing members
• Potential members who need information about the fraternity's
         benefits
• Members of the media community
• Religious leaders who need to understand the distinction between
         Masonry and religion
• Civic leaders

7. Whom do we want to attract as potential members?
Masonry is a fraternity not limited by age, ethnicity, race or religious
denomination. Masons are individuals who respect a quality of life,
which is uniquely fulfilling. Among their many and diverse qualities,
Masons are men who:
•   Seek fulfillment through multiple levels of experience, including
     body, mind, and spirit
• Enjoy brotherhood
• Desire a community enriched by participation, dialogue, and
          inquiry
• Are principled, disciplined, and compassionate

Summary: Freemasonry wants to attract fellow journeymen who are seeking
enrichment in body, mind, and spirit through participation in a
brotherhood committed to good works and personal growth.

8. What is at the core of our fraternity's identity?
Masonry offers opportunity for expressing individuality, but at this
critical time in our history, the Task Force strongly recommends that
Masonic programs focus their efforts on constructing a fraternal
identity that is true to the following themes:
• Freemasonry must be lodge-centered, giving members opportunities to
express themselves through activities that improve the experience of
the
lodge and benefit the life of the community.
•   Freemasonry sustains its viability as a fraternal organization
through its performance of Masonic rituals and values. Masonic values
guide Masons both in the lodge and through everyday life. As trustees
of
Masonry's rich and valuable heritage, members must continually
invigorate their approach to Masonic participation, making it an
experience that is rewarding, enriching, and relevant to its members,
their families and the greater community.

Part III - Taking the Next Steps

"Our Masonic resources are great! Our resource management skills are
rusty." — MIC Task Force


1. Generating energy and transforming thought into action
We acknowledged that our identity as Masons must include work on
ourselves both as individuals and as a brotherhood. We recognized that
our decline in membership over the past 50 years is merely a symptom of
the loss of Masonry's relevance to our lives and our communities. We
have individually and collectively allowed our lethargy to encrust the
jewel of Masonry, which has been bequeathed to us to pass on to the
future. Our focus on the past has blinded us to the challenges of the
present. And it is the present that we must address both as individuals
and as a fraternal organization. Our reliance on former brothers'
successes has weakened our commitment to achieving our own Masonic
identities.

Without excusing our recent apathy, suffice it to say that we have been
wooed by the world of clever advertising into believing that symbolizing
something makes it so. We have succumbed to the agenda of corporate
advertising. But we can no longer delude ourselves into thinking about
Masonry from the outside in. We must look squarely into the challenge
ofperforming Masonry to the betterment of our fraternity and ourselves.

The Square and Compasses, the best known symbol of a Mason, cannot
replace the identity of living the life of a Mason, which is itself
perpetually in a state of improving ourselves in body, mind, and spirit.
Masonic imagery is a valuable resource when it inspires us to take new
action consistent with our personal growth and enlightened thought. We
must discover our own Masonic calling, our own place in the history of
Masonry, by making authentic Masonic performance our top priority.

2. Breaking out of a pattern of lethargy

Borrowing from our Masonic symbolism, we ask that Masons consider the
Rough Ashlar that hides the natural beauty of the stone within. What
values and actions have we allowed to slip out of sight? How can we
findthe resources to emerge from the layers of lethargy that block the
natural beauty of Masonry from the general public? We must uncover the
Mason within us so that we can present Masonry in fact and not in
fiction.

Neither a public relations agency nor an advertising campaign will
substitute for the personal journey that will establish the presence of
Masonry in the public's view. Each of us has a responsibility to
stewardour respected fraternity into the future, calling on our own spirit
rather than deferring to those of our predecessors. We must exercise
thesame determination that we admire and celebrate in our heritage.

3. Assessing our tangible and intangible assets

Relying on the Rough Ashlar as a metaphor for the Mason's journey
toward enlightenment, the Task Force considered the now dormant natural
resources of Masonry. From the value of the individual brothers who sit
among us to the lodge-centered assets and systems that link us on a
national and international level, we have a wealth of untapped Masonic
resources. It is our work to uncover these resources for the immediate
and long-term good health of our fraternity.

The Task Force recommends taking an inventory of individual lodge
strengths in terms of tangible and intangible resources. Consider the
assets that are within immediate reach of the lodge and can easily be
adapted to meet new needs. These are just a few suggestions to help
lodges take an inventory. They are not listed by priority.

Tangible resources may include the following:
• Existing physical structures
• Network of over one and one-half million Masonic members
• Extensive North American geographic coverage
• Lodge facilities with their community centrality—kitchens,
         libraries,collections, artifacts, exhibits, archives
• Existing programs
• Masonic clinics and hospitals
• Current Masonic publications
• Phone and e-mail networks
• Lodge-based websites
• Financial assets (even if limited)
• Contemporary books and films

Also consider the following examples of intangible resources:
• Our good name for doing good works
• Centuries of history in multiple countries
• Individual talents of each brother
• Historical and contemporary cultural associations
• Community relationships
• Family links
• Educational and arts partnerships
• A legacy of leadership
• Respected values system
• Tradition of diversity
• Rituals
• Mystery
• Symbols
• Opportunities for self-improvement
• Fellowship
• Recent positive media exposure through books and films
• Community history

4. Maximizing our resources

Once we inventory our resources, we need to find ways to manage them.
Weneed systems to monitor our progress. We need ways of recognizing
success, encouraging creativity, and rewarding accomplishments. Small
actions, kind words, and expressions of concern for others are just a
few examples. Our work on Masonry's public image begins with work on
ourselves, using our wealth of resources to dislodge the sediment that
has encrusted our riches and has diminished the value of our Masonic
identity.

Our work begins by applying our resources and improving ourselves in
the Masonic tradition of body, mind, and spirit. We need only look in the
mirror or offer a handshake to crack the encasement of the Rough Ashlar
that screens the natural beauty of the stone.

Our Masonic resources are great! Our resource management skills are
rusty. The tools for honing the Perfect Ashlar are at our disposal, but
they lie scattered across lodges, hidden in fading relationships, and
atrophied by lack of use. We must put them to good use.

We urge each lodge to inventory its tangible and intangible assets, such
as people, places, artifacts, relationships, and systems. Although each
lodge has an individual and valuable identity within the context of
Freemasonry, there is much to learn and share from one another's
lodge-based activities. With more than one and a half million members in
North America, Masons are poised to discharge our crews with the newly
sharpened tools of our craft to improve ourselves and to fulfill the
promise of the stewardship of Freemasonry.

The words from William Preston's Masonic lecture succinctly inform us
ofour Masonic identity in terms of action:
By the Rough Ashlar, we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by
nature; by the Perfect Ashlar, of the state of perfection at which we
hope to arrive by a virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the
blessings of God.

Masons are unique in their commitment to "virtuous education." By this
we mean appreciating Masonry's commitment to life-long learning,
self-improvement and personal growth. We are reminded that Masonic
identity is distinctive because Masons are men of thought and action.

Part IV - Time to Energize Masonry

"What is a man without energy? Nothing. Nothing at all."
—Mark Twain

• Take action now

Beginning at the lodge level, plan meaningful activities that put
Masonic values into action. Consider how you and your lodge can make
each and every activity uniquely Masonic. Listed below are just a few
suggestions that place a focus on using your time to its greatest
Masonic advantage:
1. Apply concepts of education and self-improvement to current print
and
non-print communications tools of individual lodges, Grand Lodges, and
national Masonic organizations and societies.
2. Improve the environment of lodge-based fellowship; refresh the look
of the lodge; welcome new members; improve presentation skills; provide
mentoring to study degrees; and strengthen communications skills.
3. Organize group activities based on education and self-improvement
that can enrich lodge-centered fellowship such as: welcoming
committees,
lodge renovation and clean-up campaigns, leadership development
conferences, mentor meetings, workshops on such things as Masonic
ritual, history, symbolism, architectural works, arts and cultural
works.
4. Initiate workshops on personal growth topics. Learn more about
Masonry.
5. Call on local educational faculty: expert lecturers on topics of
unique interest to the lodge members that enrich the body, mind, and
spirit of the brothers.
6. Tap the talents of individual members and build a community of
experts to help Masons to help themselves and their communities.
7. Improve community accessibility to Masonry through public outreach
and program hosting.
8. Offer Masonic recognition and incentive programs for educational
initiatives, visitor programs and Chambers of Commerce presentations.
9. Honor the Mason within yourself.
10. Share success stories with other lodges.

• Move Masonry into the 21st century

Our initial focus for our public awareness campaign requires
imagination, open-mindedness, and discipline—the discipline to say
"Yes." Put aside old habits of saying simply, "Ah, that's been tried."
Or "Yes, but...." Cast off negativism. Turn the objection around to a
challenge. Encourage and reward open and positive communication
throughout each stage of change. Share ideas and ask yourself to take
ownership of transforming the identity of Masonry through each and
every
action, regardless of how small. Make it the fraternity that you
want—brother by brother, lodge by lodge.

• Make the commitment now for the future

Our Task Force enthusiastically offers this report and our support to
help move Masonry into the 21st century, upholding the honor of
membership and the joy of a Masonic way of life. It's about time for us
to take the concept of Masonry off the shelf and put the values of
Masonry into action.
As we go forward moving Masonry into the 21st century by improving our
lodges, personal Masonic skills, and community visibility, there will
come a time when financial investments will be needed to support
continued growth and public awareness.
Through this progress report, the MIC has shared with you our vision
about Freemasonry. We felt it was absolutely critical that we examine
our fraternity's past in order to properly understand our current
needs.
This was only the first step.
• Call to action
Now, we must move forward both individually and fraternally. We
encourage you to think carefully about how you invest your time, which
is everyone's most valuable asset, and we ask that you use your time on
programs and actions that are uniquely Masonic. As we work together, we
must ask each other how a program, a meeting, or an event improves and
demonstrates our experience of being a Mason. We have not a moment to
lose.
 

 

 

 

         

Museum Home Page     Phoenixmasonry Home Page

Copyrighted © 1999 - 2013   Phoenixmasonry, Inc.      The Fine Print