Lodge Renewal - Part Two
By Wor. Brother Frederic L.
In Lodge Renewal - Part One
we saw how Craft
Lodge performance and membership deteriorated after 1960.
We also took a brief look at the Grand Lodge response (when they woke up) of
increased mandates, centralized control, relaxed standards, Institutional
charity and One Day Classes which differed drastically from the response of
individual Masons, that being the formation of TO Lodges.
One of the
reasons that Masons themselves resorted to starting new TO Lodges is that they
could get none of their reforms approved by a majority vote of the Lodges they
belonged to. Senior citizens on fixed incomes comprised the bulk of Lodge
membership and they refused to vote for anything that cost money or change
anything from the way it was always done.
They possessed this power as we have seen because Mainstream Masonry skipped a
generation resulting in a disproportionate number of elderly Masons.
new TO Lodge is not as easy as it sounds. First of all many jurisdictions
prohibit them as being an illegal altering of Freemasonry –
“You agree to make no
changes in the body of Freemasonry.” Even when approved some provisions
a TO Lodge might want to adopt would violate Grand Lodge By-Laws, such as
meeting less than once per month. Then there is the sheer volume of work
involved, petitioning Grand Lodge, drawing up By-Laws, finding a place to meet
So if much of what the reformers and the young
enthusiasts hope to accomplish could be implemented within current Lodge
structure and if it was not only sanctioned by the Grand Lodge but was
enthusiastically encouraged by the Grand Master, would that not be a viable
alternative? Such a program exists now.
It is called the “Lodge of the Year”
program and exists in many jurisdictions under many different names. Let’s
take a look at the Grand Lodge of Iowa’s program.
Edgar of Mosaic #125 AF&AM @ Dubuque, IA, Grand Lodge of Iowa has supplied The
Beehive with the following information.
The Iowa Grand Lodge “Lodge of the Year” program can be a truly rewarding
program for those Lodges that compete. As one can see from the application
form, a successful lodge must not only engage its Master & Wardens but many
other members as well if it hopes to achieve the variety of goals set out.
Not only do the Officers need to fulfill their duties, but they truly must
put the Craft to work, engage the public, be charitable and in general use
as many “tools” as possible to be a successful lodge. A hallmark of the
competition is the planning beginning with the WM’s vision for his term
followed by the planning of individuals and committees to identify goals,
the means to achieve them and implementation.
of the success of the competition is that those Lodges that compete have
fewer SNPD’s & demits and more Raisings. One might conjecture that ‘good’
lodges would be successful regardless but the competition provides a
measuring tool and a roadmap. Ideally as soon as a Brother is elected to
his lodge’s ‘line’ he can begin planning what events he will promote, what
he needs to prioritize, whom he can influence to chair an event, etc.
We are all
competitive to some degree – such lodge competitions, if done fairly, can
satisfy our competitive nature while making our lodges true “working”
lodges. Members enjoy being part of a vital, lively organization and the
lodge prospers. Creativity results as well. One competition requirement
is holding a recognition of some persons or groups within the community
apart from Masonry. At Bethel Lodge a PM came up with the idea of
recognizing community volunteers such as Scout & 4H leaders with a dinner.
Yes, these folks may be recognized within their own group but to be
applauded in public makes them especially proud. (and the Lodge got nice
coverage in the local newspaper – just remember to prepare press releases
and always have a camera ready!)
Even if your Grand Lodge does not have such competition, the checklist
will prove to a valuable tool in revitalizing your Lodge both within the
Lodge Room as well as within your community.
I would tweak
the Iowa Program with these additions.
should be added to the list of actions required the formation of a Lodge
esoteric study group.
- Then there
should be some sort of financial reward for the top three vote getters.
Granted hundreds of Lodges can win the award but the top 3 should get
something special. Most Grand Lodges today are financially well off enough
to give the First place winner $50,000, Second place $25,000 and Third place
The author is
indebted to Brother Gerald Edgar of Iowa for supplying the information that
made this article possible.