Why is it so hard to get Masons to join the Commandery?

Discussion in 'The York Rite' started by David Melear, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Bro.BruceBenjamin

    Bro.BruceBenjamin Premium Member

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    How do you get anyone to do anything? Short answer you recruit them and better yet you feed them (with knowledge). "One plants the seed, one waters the seed...
     
  2. chadwalker67

    chadwalker67 Registered User

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    Why is it hard to get Masons to join the Commandery? Well, it shouldn't especially since so many of the newer Masons come in very intrigued at the possible connection between our Fraternity and the Knights Templar of the Crusades. The Order of the Temple is a very beautiful "degree" but once a new Sir Knight is created in order to be active they are required to shell out alot of money. The first expense is a black suit, then the chapeau, then the ornate sword and when it's all said and done you're wearing an outfit that bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the Knights Templar of old. Another possible turn-off is all of the drill, personally I had enough drill and marching during my 20 year military career. If what I've written sounds harsh I do apologize because that isn't my intention I am very proud to be a Sir Knight.
     
  3. MikeMay

    MikeMay Premium Member

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    Amen to that!
     
  4. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    Regarding expenses, some of those can be mitigated. There's a sword you can buy on ebay that they sell for something like $40.00 that most sir knights use around here. Cheap. And I know many commanderies have their own chapeaus. I borrow from the commandery, as I can't afford my own just yet. Perhaps your commadery could look into investing in the same?

    Regarding the drill, that's probably just a taste thing. Many of the guys in our commandery really enjoy the drilling, and the drill time is a huge past time for them. I'm kind of ambivalent myself, but I know for many, if that went away, the organization would lose something for them.
     
  5. JBD

    JBD Premium Member

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    From reading these responses I think we can identify some common denominator across the reasons. We do, as a group, a poor job of communicating what the Commandery is all about. It is not divisive, it is not just drilling, it is not just dressing up, it is not about any of that, yet it is about all of that. Just as there are people who don't care for the Shrine or Grotto or Scottish Rite there are those who do not, will not, cannot enjoy Commandery. Those who are Christian AND enjoy the kinds of things Commandery work is, will love it. No one I know of who has taken the Orders regrets taking them or do not think they are the best things in Masonry. Why we can't get them there is because, for the most part, we don't ask. (THE "WE" in all of this is not universal, I just don't want to retype a disclaimer all the time) We don't show ourselves, the jackets are in bags on the way in, the Chapeaus are cased. We do not go to Blue Lodges in Uniform, we do not recruit. For the past 3 yrs at every raising in our Lodge I have been given time to address each new brother. I have done so on behalf of all the YR bodies I belong to. You have to follow up, just as no one knows what Masonry is when they join, no one really knows all the bodies until they are in for a while and many times the aggressive bird gets the worm so to speak, whichever body that may be. As to the cost? There are MANY MANY low cost options. There are jackets for $100 or less, there are swords available all over, Chapeaus have changed a great deal in the past few years. I paid a lot for mine but newer ones are available.

    Bottom line? It is sales 101, you will never get the order unless you ask for the order
     
  6. MikeMay

    MikeMay Premium Member

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    That's a great point...some men have no idea what lies beyond until someone shows them. I would have loved it if someone had actually said something more than "this is what you can do now that you're raised". It would have been nice if someone had said this is what each body is, this is what they do, this is the charity work they support, etc...I might have gotten interested in some of the other bodies sooner.
     
  7. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    You can see a historical shift in the work of the commanderies from esoteric orders to marching groups. I think it deteriorated from there. When the end of the era of Fraternalism drew to a close, many groups were forced to ask "What are we and what are we doing." In many ways the entire York Rite lacked an answer. Many commanderies are nothing more than parade groups, with no more parades to march in.

    There is true beauty in the ritual and the RA can claim some wonderful antiquity. The degrees are worthy. But as the York has clamored to save itself...what has it done...more, and more and more degrees, orders, etc. as evidenced by AMD week.

    I think a return to the Blue Lodge is in order. When Masons are practicing Masonry in blue lodge....the other orders are nice, but quite frankly, unnecessary.
     
  8. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    Cliff,

    I have had this answer written for several days and have been debating on whether or not to post it, knowing that the second it is out there I will be opening myself up to members who will reticule me for having stated it in this manner. However I believe that ever opinion is important when seeking more knowledge and light about our fraternity, therefore I will post my opinion of how these organizations work together. This opinion has been formed through several years of experience working with my Grand Lodge. Your Grand Lodge may work differently, even though I have attended several of your Grand Sessions and because of my position in Texas have been invited to meetings where I have hear very similar discussions.

    Here is my answer to your post

    I would disagree with you by agreeing, but I think I will add the Blue Lodge to your list. To me the York Rite and Blue Lodge are connected very closely, if all you think the Commandery does is march in parades, then maybe all the Blue Lodge does is just memorize a few words and say you’re a member. I would add that maybe the Blue Lodge is frankly unnecessary to agree with you.

    I however, believe that the motto “we take good men and make them betterâ€, should be we take good men and make them leaders. The Lodge cannot do this by itself. That is why the York Rite, Scottish Rite and Shrine work with the lodge to help this process. As I see it, and this is an example, you, being some random brother, get appointed by a friend to be the Junior Deacon and then move through the line becoming Worshipful Master, by itself does nothing to make you a leader. Some of you may laugh, but back before “the era of Fraternalism drew to a close†the founders of our Fraternity created the structures of these organizations to help develop young men into leaders, which we still need today. Through the years, because most of the kind of men we need are being pulled into other organizations, or just do not have time because of work to dedicate themselves to our fraternity, we have started infighting between each of these organization, including the blue lodge, to discredit the others and attract what little good membership we have, and coupled with the fact that members like yourself take negative views of an organization and decide to abandon it rather than work to make it better and follow the process to become a great leader.
    Therefore, if all Masons do is memorize a few words and sit around in the lodge and talk about how intelligent they are for being letter perfect in conferring a degree on a new member while the organization and the world is falling apart around them, then none of our organizations are necessary.

    However, if you believe as I do that we are still needed to train the future leaders for all of us, then it is time to quit discrediting one organization because you like the other better and jump in with both feet and correct the problems you see, and be the leader I think you should be! Maybe it is up to you to make these organizations what they should be, instead of what they are. Did you ever think that maybe you are being tested by people much higher in the Fraternity to see what you can do to make it better?
     
  9. KFerguson84

    KFerguson84 Premium Member

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    Bro. David,
    I understand your defense of the Commanderies but to say that the Blue Lodges are unnecessary is quite extreme. If it wasn't for the blue lodge, there would be no candidates for the appendant bodies.

    And to Bro. Cliff's point, I believe a return to traditional practice in the Blue Lodge is necessary. In this era of One Day Classes, there is nothing more important to the Fraternity as a whole than the Blue Lodge. It is the essence of our Fraternity. The problem is that Brothers look for more light in appendant bodies without completely absorbing the teachings of Blue Lodge. There is much more than memorizing words. It is about understanding these words from an esoteric standpoint, applying them to ourselves internally, then using our trowels to spread these teachings to our Brothers traveling their path so we can build a temple together. If Brothers get their Master Mason degree and move right on to appendant bodies, they are not providing themselves the opportunity to do so. An by us encouraging Brothers to join appendant bodies without mastery of the Craft, we are taking away the importance of the Blue Lodge degrees, of which there is nothing higher or of any more importance than the Master Mason degree.

    A renewed interest in Craft Masonry is essential to this Fraternity. An interest in appendant bodies over Blue Lodge will not cause Freemasonry to prosper into the future. The tail cannot wag the dog. For some reason, Brothers feel they will get "what they are really looking for" in the appendant bodies when they simply failed to grasp it in the Blue Lodge.

    I would suggest reading Worshipful Brother Andrew Hammer's "Observing The Craft". It is a call to arms for the Brothers of our ancient and honorable Fraternity to focus on what makes us "Ancient" and "Honorable", and there is nothing more fitting of those two adjectives than Craft Freemasonry, with the Holy Royal Arch, as was intended.

    I mean no disrespect to the Brothers that are members of any appendant bodies as I am also a member of some as well, but none hold a place in my heart like the Craft degrees.

    Kyle Ferguson, FGCR
     
  10. David Melear

    David Melear Right Eminent Grand Commander Premium Member

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    Kyle,
    As I had feared you missed my point, I am a very active blue lodge mason, I teach new masons, council new lodge officers, our officers must pass a leadership course before they can be elected and installed, and mentor our new members, which they must pass within a set period of time or they are suspended, my defense of the appendent bodies was not because I like them better, but to say that they help the blue lodge create better leaders. Not as Cliff put it, to just march around in parades. If you read the entire post I think you would see that I feel that the blue lodge is very important. I cannot comment on your point “In this era of One Day Classes†Texas does not allow one day classes in the blue lodge, and most likely never will during my life time.

    My point was that if that is all the York Rite bodies does, “historical shift in the work of the commanderies from esoteric orders to marching groupsâ€, with is not the case, then the blue lodge doesn’t do much either. Brother Cliff’s point as I read it was that the appendent bodies were not needed “the other orders are nice, but quite frankly, unnecessaryâ€.

    I agree with you about the blue lodge, when I first joined 20 years ago, I to took a more spiritual approach which is a good way to start, but when I started going through our blue lodge line I was encouraged by my father and several other Past Grand Masters to join the York and Scottish Rites. They told me that it would help develop me as a leader in the blue lodge which it did. Their lines work like the blue lodge line does and would give me more opportunities to learn and develop leadership skills. One quick note: Texas is a big state and our lodges are spread out over long distances where I live. It is very possible to be raised in a lodge and serve as Worshipful Master and never visit another lodge. It was explained to me that if nothing else York rite and Scottish rite encouraged brothers from other lodges to visit and exchange ideas. I understand in smaller states with very large populations that people may not understand that it might take 2 or 3 hours to drive to the next town with a lodge.

    One other thing to consider is that Brother Hammer also says in his book “As the freedom of thought is undeniably at the core of our institution, it is only natural that free-thinking souls will find different paths within what is the same landscape of Masonry.†Just because you dislike the York Rite, doesn’t mean that another person with a Christian belief should be allowed to decide for himself if he would like the organization. This is what Brother Hammer was indicating with this statement in his book.

    I hope you guys will keep to the great discussion, I am glade to see new interest in this thread. I am still waiting to see if someone will be able to answer my question, each answer has been good, but you have to understand Texas to beable to answer the question correctly.
     
  11. BroBill

    BroBill Site Benefactor Site Benefactor

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    I belong to two Commanderies here in the San Antonio area- Boerne (Brownwood Commandery) and downtown San Antonio (San Antonio Commandery). Both are long drives after a long work day- Boerne is a 30-mile trip each way, and San Antonio is a drive downtown during rush hour. There is also quite a bit of work and many hours of practice needed to prepare for the annual inspections and for Field Days. Finally, the cost of the uniform can be huge if you're in the line. Full committment to Commandery requires a huge committment of time, travel, and $$. This can be quite imposing for many brothers who are already committing time to Lodge and Chapter/Council. Just my humble opinion....
     
  12. Mac

    Mac Moderator Premium Member

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    But it's also a valid opinion. Thanks for the insight!
     
  13. Michaelstedman81

    Michaelstedman81 Premium Member

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    What this I hear about an attrition rate? Is this referring to Brothers who try to go through the motions of joining the Commandery but get kicked out? Or is it referring to the same problem that is visible in a lot of other areas of Masonry? Meaning, Brothers join but then for some reason drop out for lack of interest or other reasons.
     
  14. chancerobinson

    chancerobinson Registered User

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    Brother Stedman,

    In my very limited experience, very few Sir Knights "get kicked out." Many who join, do not remain active for various reasons. Although this thread started by Right Eminent Melear asks why do brothers not join the Commandery?, I think in the case of my Commandery we must ask ourselves why are we not retaining active members? In many cases the answers are the same as that of a Blue Lodge which is struggling. As I have heard said before we promise the candidates more light, but we often do not deliver on that promise and in a way we are cheating them.

    The degrees and orders of the Chapter, Council, and Commandery are some of the most beautiful degrees you will experience, but I think we as a whole (Chapter, Council, Commandery) do a poor job of encouraging and facilitating the education of our members. I think our success depends on providing more to our new members. More than a copy of our ritual and a "dull meeting" to attend. I believe that education is the key to future growth or decline in the York Rite. I would love to see something similar to the Scottish Rite Master Craftsmen program offered to Companions and Sir Knights in the future.

    Fraternally,

    Chance Robinson
     
  15. KSigMason

    KSigMason Traveling Templar Site Benefactor

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    I am in the midst of starting a more reformed education committee for my York Rite bodies. At every meeting I plan on talking about a particular body, and its history or the symbolism of the degrees.
     
  16. KSigMason

    KSigMason Traveling Templar Site Benefactor

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    I'm not sure why it is so hard to get people to join. I truly believe that the Commandery is the prestigious order in Masonry and that all Christian Masons should join the Templars. I think that the Sir Knights need to be more public and invite more to the open functions such as Christmas/Easter Observances. I know that the Sir Knights in NY held a Christmas Ball for all to attend. I'm also trying to improve the education programs and mentoring within my YR as it is a lot of information for some.

    I'd also say that a strong Social Order of the Beauceant (or general wife involvement) will help with the Commandery boost.
     
  17. Ashlar

    Ashlar Registered User

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    We have no problems getting Masons to join the Commandery . We do not ask them to shell out money for "uniforms" because we wear mantles which my commandery furnishes . We voted down the uniforms and silly chapeaus for two reasons , we did not want to wear them and we do not want our new members to have to shell out all that money . We came to the conclusion , that we do not want to create Sir Knights and then tell them they have to go out and spend all this money to be active , it is not fair . We also supply the swords for those who do not want to buy them . Some buy their own , I for one do not when we have so many in our storage room .

    In fine , if you become a Sir Knight in my Commandery , we will supply you with everything you need to be active . Just pay your dues , we will take care of everything else .
     
  18. Ol Kev

    Ol Kev Registered User

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    Where are you located?
     
  19. Ashlar

    Ashlar Registered User

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    I am in Kentucky .
     
  20. Ol Kev

    Ol Kev Registered User

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    Well, for me personally, I find that approach interesting and very attractive. Especially in the economic times we face now. When you look back at this whole thread, many have referred to the expenses involved in joining a Commandery. Others have referred to the drills. Several comments regarding the beauty of the degrees. So, it would seem that some of the issues keeping people away don't have anything to do with the work. I don't know what the constitution of the York Rite bodies is in Texas and whether or not they would allow other regalia such as the mantles in place of the uniform and chapeaus on an individual vote of the Commanderies.

    But for the sake of discussion, let's look at the points raised. If, for the survival of all of Freemasonry, it requires new members and youth within our ranks, I would think that looking at some of this from a marketing or image perspective may be helpful.

    Purported image of Jacques DeMolay
    demolay.jpg

    American Knights Templar
    american.gif GrandCommanderyOfficers.jpg

    Canadian Knights Templar
    View attachment 2110 View attachment 2114

    Which one of these modern groups offers a more attractive image to other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
    Which one of these modern groups offers a more attractive image to younger, other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry?
    Would other non York Rite brothers within Freemasonry see a connection of drill and ceremonies to the tenants of Freemasonry?

    I have always heard positive comments regarding the York Rite degrees, especially the Knight Templar degree.
    To my knowledge you do not have to be Christian to be a Knight, only agree to defend the Christian faith.
    With this in mind, is a review and possible change of the image of the York Rite in order to make it more attractive?

    Just thinking out loud here looking for comment.
    (I couldn't get the Canadian images to stick but you can click on it to see the images.)
     

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