A Sad Sight

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Blake Bowden, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    As many of you know, I'm a huge proponent of having my fellow Brothers visit other lodges, especially rural ones. Tonight I decided to travel to Prairie Lea Masonic Lodge #114 in Fentress, TX.

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    As you can see, the building is very old and the Lodge only has 28 members total. I hopped in the truck and headed that way, but was sad to see that there were only 4 people there. As I sat in the old wooden chair, they began to describe the condition the Lodge is in, not physically, but membership. There was an elderly gentleman that came up to me with a warm grin, and said "My father was raised in this Lodge many years ago". It's such a shame. I've stated numerous times that Freemasonry is going to bottom out soon if action is not taken. These HISTORIC rual Lodges are dying off. When you see a Lodge that has been around for 130+ on the brink of extinction it brings a profound sense of urgency to our Brotherhood. As I sat in that old building, I looked around at the walls, ceiling, chairs, tables and wondered how many nervous EA's, Worshipful Masters, and rituals they have seen. I'm just frustrated at the complacency and business as usual in Texas Freemasonry. The next generation needs to break loose and bring DRASTIC change, not to the rituals or work but on the outside. We are here because we love the craft, but HOW do we make it so others want to join? What are we, as Texas Masons, doing wrong? What would you suggest to the powers that be to change things? Let the discussion begin...
     
  2. js4253

    js4253 Premium Member Premium Member

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    Fentress is such a small community. I'm sure they have very few petitions submitted. I'll bet right down the road in San Marcos they have lots of new petitions. There are just more people in the pool of potential members. I pray they survive.
     
  3. TCShelton

    TCShelton Founding Member Premium Member

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    I think that this problem in rural areas will be hard to fix. Masonry is undergoing a revival of sorts, but the rural areas will be the last to feel it.
     
  4. cmoreno85tx

    cmoreno85tx Registered User

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    As I sat in Lodge last night I saw the small numbers we had at Community #1201. Not that we dont have members but that not alot are active. We were told by our WM that we are allowed to "invite" men who we feel would make great candidates. I agree with this whole heartedly but know that many of the older Brothers may not.
     
  5. TexMass

    TexMass Registered User

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    Here is an excerpt from the GL of MA quarterly communication in September of '08.

    The North American Conference of Grand Masters reported that in 2007, only three jurisdictions had a net gain in membership: Delaware, which grew by 16 members; New Brunswick and Labrador, which grew by 18 new members; and the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which had a net gain of 604 new members. The Grand Master highlighted the fact this was a particularly relevant number because we did not hold a One-Day Class, or have any other type of special membership programs during the year.

    MA has been criticized for their "in your face" approach with advertising and establishing Masonic Ambassadors to speak for the lodge to the public. Our screening process has not changed and they must make their request of their own free will and accord. All they do up here is take every opportunity to educate the public about Freemasonry. It appears to be working.
     
  6. TCShelton

    TCShelton Founding Member Premium Member

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    I like what Mass is doing.
     
  7. cmoreno85tx

    cmoreno85tx Registered User

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    I love that. I had told some of my friends that I was a Mason and they were like.. "So.. your not Catholic anymore?" , " Is that like Scientology?", "So your in a club with a bunch of guys? Sounds kinda ....?" And that one coming from a frat boy. The point Im trying to make is that, people dont even know what Freemasonry is, so how could they even petition? I think ads are an extremley great idea.
     
  8. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    I think we're at a point where drastic changes need to take place. I know that 2b1ask1 has been a nifty catch phrase, but come on it's not working. We should seek out good men for membership. They still have to Petition, voted on, and learn the work.

    1. Better Grand Lodge Website. I mean balls to the wall cutting edge featuring informational videos featuring YOUNG people. Throw some flash animation, debunk myths, i dunno...starting to ramble now...

    2. Commercials, yeah it's out there, but if Mass can do it why can't Texas for crying out!

    3. Throw out the whole 2b1ask1 thought process

    4. Give Masons the tools so they can go out and inform people what we're all about. And please no 1950's era stuff.

    5. Every Master Mason should have a petition available. I have 5 in my truck! You never know when the opportunity may arise!

    6. Print off some Greeting Cards and send them to Brothers who haven't been to lodge, or are unable to. Make a Brother feel like he's still one.

    7. Advertise the Raising of Master Masons. Heck, the Lions and Rotary have their member's in the paper.

    8. Lift the time restrictions on the EA and FC. If a Brother wants to be an EA, FC or MM indefinitely, let him. It will only help encourage him to learn the work when it's convineint for him.

    9. Visit neighboring Lodges. You'd be surprised at the warm welcome you'll receive! Go out to the rual Lodges, support them!

    10. For the rual Lodges, you're gonna have to get off your but and make your precsense known. You have to be PROACTIVE in the community. Your only goal shouldn't be 1 day a month to open and close lodge.

    11. MAKE FREEMASONRY FREAKIN FUN! Have a family day at the Lodge! Hey, Super Bowl is coming up, why not throw a Super Bowl party at the Lodge? What a great opportunity to invite Non Masons! Why not have a Masonic Camping weekend? Why not? It's so simple!

    12. Have an open house, especially the rual lodges. I bet more of the citizens do not even know there IS a masonic lodge in their town, much less know what the heck we're about.

    13. Have fundraisers that people actually want to participate in. Raffles go so far, but I like Wharton Lodge's BBQ Cookoff. Great idea and yes, the food was to die for.

    14. Have some nice polo or dress shirts printed up! A nice looking shirt with the S&C along with the Lodge information looks slick! Be sure to wear it for fundraisers or public events.

    15. Make sure those EA's and FC's that haven't been active in awhile know they can now attend Lodge!

    I dunno, I could go on..lol
     
  9. TCShelton

    TCShelton Founding Member Premium Member

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    Well said Blake. All valid.
     
  10. Joey

    Joey Co-Founder Staff Member

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    amen!
     
  11. ravickery03

    ravickery03 Guest

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    Rural Lodges are suffering the worse because when they were at their strongest their members where men that where pillars of the community, the Mayor, Sheriff, etc. Now small town lodges aren't attracting those men, and hence are suffering more because those pillars aren't so quick to join for various reasons.

    Still, Blake’s rant has inspired another thread.
     
  12. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Many of the rural Lodges that I have knowledge of became complacent. They quit working to attract new members and quit being visible in the community. Basically, they got old & lazy. A Lodge MUST constantly do the things that attract new members and then MUST keep those new members busy & involved with the Lodge in order to grow & prosper.
     
  13. Joey

    Joey Co-Founder Staff Member

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    I agree 110% because if they don't know you are there then how do expect to gain new membership?
     
  14. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Well I agree with all of the points you make Bro. Blake. There are a lot of the GL rules that I personally believe are out dated. I think Texas MUST get into the internet world. (Our new site will be unveiled Sun.) We absolutely have to start teaching the public about Masonry. Every person that I know that has taken 10 minutes to research the Fraternity has really been intrigued and that is all it takes. That being said I think that for a while we were pushing people through so people that became Masons really couldn't spread the word. If we start teaching true Masonry again then members will start to talk about it again. When they do others will hear. Then they will become interested and that’s how we do it. I think that for some time it was just a place to go hang out but as (I hope) most of you know, it is a life style. It shouldn't be something that is hidden. You should be proud to be a Mason. I know it is very rare that I can go one day without discussing Masonry with someone. I just think we need to start at our Lodges first. Let’s make sure we are teaching Masonry and spreading light at each meeting. These things are far too important to just be reading minutes and paying bills. We take 10-15 minutes at the end and do an educational piece on Masonry. But let’s start locally then GL will have to take notice and follow.
    As for the rural Lodges I am with Bro. Tom, it is going to be hard to help these guys with membership. I hope to see a Lodge Outreach Program in place where some of the larger Lodges take care of these places. Bro. Grand Secretary Tom Guest said it best “We need the light the small Lodges put off.†Some of these Lodges are teaching some of the best lessons Masonry can teach but struggle because their town struggles. But I think we as Masons need to do what we can to help keep these Lodges open regardless if there is a larger Lodge in that county. (wow two rants in a day, I think you all can notice I am excited again about the craft)
     
  15. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    The 3D Poker Champ has a point we need to talk about it with everybody that will listen. Most Worshipful Elmer Murphy said Masons should wear the S&C everyday to show the world he is a Mason and alot of times this can be a conversation starter. I think some really snappy advertising with a gen x and gen y kick to it is in desperate need to jolt Masonry back to the light but I often wonder who is going to do it if we do not. We need to start with GL law and scower that sucker to find out what we can and cannot advertise then pool our money and buy a bill board or send out 100,000 mailers buy some radio time the options are endless we just gotta get off our duffs and do it. I know many of us will donate money for a good cause.
     
  16. TexMass

    TexMass Registered User

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    Uh..excuse me..have you seen my Grand Lodge?

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  17. TexMass

    TexMass Registered User

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    I love the talk from the Brothers regarding this issue. The question to me is, will the Grand Lodge listen to the "newer" Masons and start an awareness program to educate the public or will they just ignore it because they never did it that way before. Grand Lodge always reminds us that they are here for us yet we don't seem to get them out in front on new ideas. If enough Masons say they should do something to educate the public then maybe they'll listen. Otherwise you might be recognized as a radical. The GM of MA says that the world is waching MA regarding their ad programs. If we continue to do well and have positive gains then maybe some of the "old timers" will give in and start something to get the face of Masonry out there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  18. ravickery03

    ravickery03 Guest

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    The 3D Poker Champ has a point

    LOL! An out reach program can work, I just don't want to have these small town lodges close, or be taken over by a bunch of city slickers, much like myself. ;)
     
  19. TCShelton

    TCShelton Founding Member Premium Member

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    I understand where you are coming from here, but I am hearing two different things going on. One hand is saying that Grand Lodge needs to back off and let lodges handle their own business, while the other hand is saying that Grand Lodge needs to help lodges with new programs.

    Fact is, Grand Lodge doesn't have the money it used to. Grand Lodge has developed too many programs that rarely get used when they should. They already have the Lodge Assistance Mentor Program, which can help cover this, if asked. My question is: When are Masons going to become proactive and handle their own problems? Rural lodges know that they can't keep going the way they are, but there is no cry for help, or no stirring within them to fix problems. We are not babies in a crib waiting for a diaper change. We have all the tools we need to fix this problem, just nobody wants to take the initiative to fix it.
     
  20. TexMass

    TexMass Registered User

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    I think one of the earlier post mentioned it by saying we should find out what we can and can't do according to GL. Open houses do work if they are promoted in the media. There is nothing wrong with advertising. Remember, in MA they still have to ask and the ads pretty much say that. The whole object is to get the public curious enough that they come down to find out what it's all about. It's a start.

    Someone mentioned a newer GL web site. I agree. It was just a few years ago that the web site changed every year with the new GM. Some were great some were ok but it always made you go back to see what was new. Now the only thing that changes is the GM's picture and address. It's time to update. The GL of MA is in the process of changing their web site again. they plan to make significant changes every two years..
     

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