Is the end really near for freemasonry ?

Discussion in 'Frequently Asked Questions' started by jermy Bell, May 21, 2021.

  1. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    Within the last 2 years I have seen 20 lodges either consolidate or permanently close her in central / southern Illinois. With a few more looking to close by the end of this year What new members we do get, after reaching master mason they never return. I know the pandemic has caused a bit of a problem, and members at different lodges still refuse to wear a mask. I will reach the east in 3 years, and already asking who will fill my officers chairs. Our business meetings there is usually 2 chairs empty now . I have discussed with not only my pass masters , but other pass masters what they think, and what they know. But nothing helpful. Except they see freemasonry coming to past in the next 20 years at this rate.
    Any comments, suggestions, opinions are highly appreciated.
     
  2. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    Take what your Past Masters say with a grain of salt. Most of us are pretty jaded. LoL.

    As for Freemasonry coming to an end in 20 years, or even 100? No. That is not happening. The Craft will survive. We may need to do some more creative adapting to a changing world to remain relevant, though. At least, if all these Lodges want to maintain their buildings and lavish Grand Lodge budgets. None of which is Freemasonry by the way. Lodges can, and frequently did once upon a time, meet in basements with the trestleboard written in chalk on a stone floor. I say this is a perfect time to significantly narrow the West Gate. Rip the bandaid off and get back to a smaller and more personal Freemasonry. Where the focus is on the intimate spiritual development among the Brothers instead of existing solely to have business meetings to pay the bills before an unappetizing meal (however much I love the Brothers who constantly volunteer to make those meals). See the current contraction of Freemasonry as a positive and look for the opportunity to make what remains stronger. Growth in membership numbers is not necessarily a positive and a decline in membership does not have to mean a negative.

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  3. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    What Bro. Winter posted.
     
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  4. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Not all GLs have lavish budgets. Otherwise, I’m in agreement.

    This US fixation that a lodge must have its own building is unique. I attended Eltham Palace Lodge in London for a friend’s installation.
    It met in the Eltham Palace Hotel.

    And,

    when you don’t have to fuss with a building, it cuts the business WAY down.
     
  5. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    What Bro. Cook posted.
     
  6. TheThumbPuppy

    TheThumbPuppy Registered User

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    It's difficult to think of something that hasn't already very eloquently said in this thread.

    I'll offer an old Italian proverb:

    Nella botte piccola c'è il vino buono

    which is

    The small barrel contains the best wine
     
  7. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    You are absolutely correct, Brother Glen. I was making generalizations and I know better. As Mark Twain said, "All generalizations are false, including this one."

    But I agree, the US does have this perverse fixation that a Lodge must own a building. No matter how many resources that building drains from a Lodge. As a member of two Lodges, one that owns a beautiful historic building over 100 years old and another that meets in a more historic fashion, using rooms in a local supper club, I can tell you easily which I prefer.

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  8. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Victorian's (Australia) also seem to have a general (but not absolute) fixation that lodges should meeting in lodge buildings owned by Freemasons.
     
  9. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    My GL seems to be happiest selling lodge buildings. It seems the GL requires lodges to borrow from it rather than banks. This means that lodge buildings fall into its hands when lodges close.

    My lodge shares its building with another lodge. Both lodges now have low membership and are wary that the closure of either lodge will result in the GL capturing the building and selling it.

    Our current temple is quite atmospheric - from generations of Masonic ritual. I would not like to lose it.
     
  10. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    Seems like that is a good practice. Why wouldn't you want the GL to take possession of a building instead of a bank when the Lodge is no longer able to continue functioning?

    As for your losing your building, I am sure it is quite nice. But it is obviously not as important as the Brothers that meet there. Nor is it necessary. If membership in both Lodges is so low that maintaining the premises is precarious then maybe it is time to start looking at options. Your post highlights my point perfectly. You obviously want to keep the building you meet in even when it does not seem that is a tenable position.

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  11. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    I appreciate the the reply's, but it not about losing a building. It looks like those with life membership is moving them to different lodges, while other members just aren't coming back to lodge. This past year we all have suspended alot of members for non payment of dues. When reached out to, there is no reply. Or I will think about it. This year my lodge will try a open house to see if there maybe some interest in joining.
     
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  12. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    The officers need to sit down and have a frank discussion. Look realistically at what you are offering and why it is not working to keep members returning. Maybe start with an anonymous survey. Ask current and former members why they stopped coming to Lodge and what they would come back for. You can't fix a problem you haven't identified. Members not returning is a symptom not the cause. Google some videos on Root Cause Analysis.

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  13. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    Don't take this the wrong way, but I see open houses put on by Lodges who are struggling with membership as the worst possible decision. Unless you fix the problem that is causing your Lodge members to leave you will just be initiating a new crop of members who will become dissatisfied and leave. The end result is even more disaffected ex-Masons in your community that will be telling their friends not to join because they tried it and it was not what it was supposed to be.

    Don't feel bad. You are going to the exact same place the majority of jurisdictions in the US go. Let's recruit more members! That'll solve our problems! No. Fix the problems and the new initiates will come.

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  14. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    When I was a new sitting SW, I asked the secretary to print me a list of lodge members. I decided to have a meal, open to the brothers and their wives. I went back and personally visited and invited all Past Masters and 20 year and up members, a majority I had never met. Some of these Brothers had no communication from the lodge in years, other than their dues notice.

    I followed up with phone calls and post cards. I invited Grand Lodge Officers. I made special certificates for each PM, and members 25 years and up. I had my Junior Warder personally contact everyone else. I also purchased Masonic Blue Slipper pins for the ladies. My big mistake was not having folks RSVP, we had over 100 folks and ran out of food.

    The Brothers had a great time, attendance at the lodge increased. We put together some Masonic trivia games and presentations new and borrowed, to keep it fresh. I was WM for 3 years in a row, by the third year I was burned out and tried to get the new incoming WM to keep it going with my help and others. It lasted for a while, than slowed down again. It's a lot of work.

    I attended a EA degree last Tuesday. The lodge is a combination of two small rural lodges, that consolidated. They renovated a small store on the main street in town. They didn't have a meal, because their kitchen was not setup yet. The Brother that conferred the degree was 85 and did a great job. The 90 year old SW asked me to sit in his place, while he took the JD seat. There was only 15 Brothers in attendance. I have to say, I had a awesome time, a lot of fun and I'm going back there. These Brothers keep active, because they see the value in the Lodge, it's Brethren and it's teachings.

    You need to meet these Brothers on the level, and find out personally why they don't come back. It worked for me. YMMV, good luck!
     
  15. TheThumbPuppy

    TheThumbPuppy Registered User

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    Running out of food is always a good sign : )
     
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  16. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    But not a good result.
     
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  17. Mike Mendelson

    Mike Mendelson Registered User

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    New Brothers,

    I can only talk about my brief experience so far as a recently Entered Apprentice, and looking forward to my first catechism lesson this evening. My Lodge, Ionic #145 in Reisterstown, Maryland boasts a multi-generational membership of good men from their late 20s to their 80s. It seems to be a fairly active lodge as well. I don't know if this is the exception or the rule.

    Regardless, I think that the gradual sunset of the pandemic under which we have all lived is a golden opportunity for Freemasonry. As people get out of their homes and bubbles, they will want to reach out and reconnect with society writ large. While a potential Freemason must take the first step himself to petition the lodge, it is still a great opportunity to do some outreach and look for those good men who want good fellowship and a greater purpose in their lives. Just my two cents.

    Respectfully,

    Michael
     
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  18. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    We did run out, a quick trip to the barbecue place, got us through. I did fail to mention that.
     
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  19. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    Brother Michael, congratulations on your 1st degree. Keep us up to date on your progress.
     
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  20. Mike Mendelson

    Mike Mendelson Registered User

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    Thank you, Brother Matt! I will do so!
     
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