Should Grand Lodges mandate that all subordinate lodges have a website?

Discussion in 'The Voting Booth' started by cemab4y, Jan 18, 2012.

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Should Grand Lodges force lodges to have a website?

  1. Yes.

    10.7%
  2. No

    89.3%
  1. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Some time ago, the Grand Lodge of Ohio mandated that all subordinate lodges in the state of Ohio, must have a website. I personally feel that this is terrific! In the internet age, every lodge should have a website (as well as Facebook, Twitter,etc). However, many lodges are "hidebound", and are loath to consider having an internet presence.

    What do you think? Should Grand Lodges drag subordinate lodges into the 21st century, kicking and screaming, every inch of the way? I find it ludicrous, that there should even be a question, that a lodge should have to be forced to get a webpage. But, masonry is too often run by individuals who are not interested in change.

    (This poll is for ACADEMIC DISCUSSION only. I am not interested in changing the policies of any Grand Lodge. )
     
  2. calee

    calee Registered User

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    I think it should be left up to each lodge.
     
  3. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    I've got no issue with Grand Lodges giving advice or making recommendations, but the idea of forcing a subordinate lodge to do things like that seem more tyrannical than nurturing.

    Do I personally feel that lodges should embrace technology? Yes, but I also feel it should be left to the discretion of each lodge.
     
  4. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Masons and Subordinate lodges, are required to "cheerfully conform" to the edicts of the Grand Lodge. If the Grand Lodge, acting within the established procedures, constitutions, and by-laws, decides to mandate that subordinate lodges institute some procedure, even if the lodges do not like it, then the lodges will just have to 'suck it up' and conform.

    If any lodge is not willing to conform to their Grand Lodge procedures, the lodge is free to turn their charter in.
     
  5. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    Mandate? No. Provide the necessary tools and resources to assist Lodges in creating a website, yes.
     
  6. robert leachman

    robert leachman Registered User

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    X 2 to what Bro. Blake said!
     
  7. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    A mandate without providing easy means through the Grand Lodge's website would be foolish. Not that websites are terribly expensive to maintain. But if your demographic is entirely devoid of the technologically savvy (i.e., mostly retirement age), you're just asking something of them that they have no idea how to do. There are members of my lodge that don't own a computer, and never intend to, given their age. They don't see the need, as they know they walk the path of time and will, sooner or later, meet their maker.

    And you can tell them to "get with the times" all you want, but that doesn't suddenly make them as tech savvy as a younger generation. I've grown up with this technology and the learning curve tends to be fairly shallow for me. Not so for many older gentlemen.

    So, all that said, unless the Grand Lodge wants to foot the bill by means of adopting a particular set of software to create a website, and then providing training on said software, I don't believe a 'mandate' would be wise.

    Perhaps a better method would be incentivizing lodges. If you maintain a current and up to date website, we'll give you 'x'. use your imagination as to what 'x' may be.

    EDIT: I'm essentially echoing Blake's post, just giving my (personal) reasons why.
     
  8. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    It should be one of the requirements of the Vangaurd award, if it isn't already.
     
  9. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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  10. Kenneth Lottman

    Kenneth Lottman Registered User

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  11. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    For the record, our lodge has a website, Facebook, and Twitter account, all of which I personally assist with.

    I understand all the sides presented here, but even with all the information this makes available things haven't changed much. This is likely because of the a lot of the masons in my district don't have computers and the rest of them don't keep up with Facebook or Twitter on a regular enough basis for it to have much impact...at least right now.

    It's a good thing to have, make no mistake, but I haven't observed any of these things having much of an impact thus far. Perhaps in the near future when the more tech-savvy generations step up to the plate, but I can't possibly see it justifying any kind of mandate at this point in time.

    So long as we're on the topic, I'd love it if any of you brothers want to add us on Facebook or Twitter:

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GrandviewMasonicLodge

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Grandview266

    And here's our website. Feedback is always appreciated.

    Welcome to the Grandview Masonic Lodge - Home

    If anyone feels we're missing out on potential with any of these things I'd be all ears. :)
     
  12. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    It is, with the option of doing a quarterly newsletter instead.
     
  13. RedTemplar

    RedTemplar Johnny Joe Combs Premium Member

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    Always remember, home rule is much easier to change than Grand Lodge mandate.
     
  14. KSigMason

    KSigMason Traveling Templar Site Benefactor

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    I'm against this style of micro-management and as some have put it "cookie cut" design of Lodges. If a Lodge chooses to have a site then awesome, if not then that is just as good. I know a Lodge who is highly active, small, but efficient and I bet that maybe only a few have regular access to the Internet. Every Lodge should do their own thing and if the GL wants a website they should shell out the $$ and create it themselves.
     
  15. Steve Cumbie

    Steve Cumbie Registered User

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    So Mote It Be
     
  16. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Advisable, yes. Mandate, no. Helpful hand and advise, most certainly!
     
  17. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    We are missing the point of Grand Lodges "making" or "forcing" anything. The Grand Lodges operate by majority vote, and democratic process. Individual Masons elect their Worshipful Masters, (and other officers). Lodges send their WM's to the Grand Lodge communication (convention). Proposed legislation is discussed, debated, and if there is majority vote, the decision of the Grand Lodge delegates is imposed on Masonry in that state (province). Changes and amendments to the state's constitution and by-laws often require a "supermajority". When the Grand Lodge of North Carolina voted to recognize Prince Hall Masonry, it took a 2/3 majority.

    Masonry does not require unanimity (except in the case of accepting new candidates). Much of the legislation and policy changes which are passed by democratic process in lodges and Grand Lodges, do not obtain a unanimous vote of acclaim and a "Hallelujah". The decision by the GL of North Carolina (to recognize Prince Hall Masonry), was not accepted happily by 100% of the masons and lodges in NC. But, because the masons/lodges have agreed to "cheerfully conform" to the rules and edicts of the Grand Lodge. They had to "suck it up", or else leave Masonry.

    The same situation arises, when it comes to compelling lodges to accept some kind of new technology. In Kentucky, the Grand Lodge has mandated that lodge records will be kept on computer software, that has been purchased and approved by the Grand Lodge. This is done to ensure uniformity of record-keeping by all lodges in the state. This was done by the democratic process. Lodge must accept this, or else they can turn in their charter.

    The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, through democractic process, has mandated that all Masons in the state, have the option of paying their lodge dues (which includes the Grand Lodge assessment), by Payliance. Some lodges grumbled, and the legislation did not pass the Grand Lodge by unanimous vote, and a chorus of "Hosanna".

    No one disputes that Masonry is a volunteer organization. No one is compelled to be a Mason. But Masonry is a democratic organization, run by the membership, through their duly elected representatives. When a man turns in his petition, he must agree in advance to "cheerfully conform" to the rules and edicts of the Grand Lodge. If he cannot conform, he is shown the exit door.

    When it comes to Masonry entering the 21st century ,and the internet age, there will be some grumbling, Not all masons will be thrilled to see the democratic process in action, and the changes which will be coming down. If you don't believe this , take a look at what the Grand Lodges in the 13 remaining states which do not recognize Prince Hall are going to be going through. You ain't seen nothing yet.

    When it comes to a Grand Lodge, through the democratic process, forcing lodges to adopt internet technology, lodges and Masons are going to have to learn to "cheerfully conform". An edict from the Grand Lodge is all the "persuasion" that is necessary. If a subordinate lodge refuses to accept the mandate to obtain a webpage, the lodge is free to turn in its charter, because it is not "cheerfully conforming". If a lodge is unwilling or unable to accept the rules and mandates from the Grand Lodge which issued the charter that permits them to operate, then that lodge should turn their charter in, and cease to operate under the Grand Lodge!!

    "If all men were angels, there would be no need for government" - James Madison
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  18. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Here is a summary of what a webpage should do:

    1- Serve the lodge membership, as an electronic "trestle board". Lists of meetings, degree work, special meetings, picnics, outings, etc.

    2- Serve the appendant/concordant bodies in the local area. Lists of meetings, events, etc.

    3- Serve the youth groups in the local area. DeMolay/Job's Daughters/Rainbow meetings, etc. Contact information for the youth groups, how to join, etc. Craft Lodges provide administrative support to youth groups, this is just an extension of our traditional role.

    4- Provide instructions on how to become a mason. A downloadable petition form, and the requirements for petitioning.

    5- History and events for the lodge. This is a service both to the lodge membership, AND to the general public. Many people who are not Masons, are interested in Masonry, and wish to learn more.

    The purposes of a lodge internet site are many and varied. No one sets up a Masonic webpage to "sell" Masonry to the public. Masonry is not a product to be sold. Nevertheless, Masonry will benefit, if the profane world has a more complete information base about our Craft, and the appendant bodies. There are many good men out there, who would make excellent Masons, but they do not know the splendid history of Masonry, and they are clueless about how to petition.

    Lodges are part of their community. (Or at least they should be). The public needs to know about "macro-Masonry"; the history and purposes of our Craft, the men who have been Masons, the presidents and celebrities,etc. The public should know about Masonic (and appendant) charity work. The public should know how Masonry has affected our national history, and our political institutions.
    Some sites with excellent information about "macro-Masonry" are :

    Anti-Masonry: Points of View
    Masonic Service Association of North America


    The public should also know about "micro-Masonry"; how to become a Mason, and what masons do in their communities. They should know about who in their communites are Masons. They should know that many Masonic buildings are available for rent, for non-Masonic functions. If the lodge sponsors a college scholarship program, they should know how to contribute to the program, and how to apply for a scholarship. They should know the history of Masonry in their communities.
    And on and on.

    The internet is the ideal tool, for disseminating information BOTH to masons and the profane world. I continue to be appalled, that every lodge in the USA has not enthusiastically embraced this technology already. Websites can be had for FREE, or for very low cost. Websites can be designed for FREE, or for minimal cost.

    "Knowledge alone, is power" Sun-Tzu

    See also: Its About Time!  Moving Freemasonry into the 21st Century
     
  19. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    We do not live in a world, in which every lodge "does their own thing". The Grand Lodge of each state, issues the charter for the subordinate lodges to operate. With that charter goes the constitutions and by-laws of the Grand Lodge. If a lodge is not willing to "cheerfully conform" to the rules and edicts of the Grand Lodge, then that lodge should immediately surrender their charter back to the Grand Lodge, and cease to operate under the rules of the Grand Lodge! Basically, we live in a world of "suck it up" or get out.

    My home lodge is "geriatric", and not all members have internet access. Just because all members are not tech-savvy, is no reason for a lodge not to have a website.

    I would like to see all Grand Lodges have a "Grand Webmaster", to advise and coordinate internet activities and websites for the Grand Lodge and all subordinate lodges. Every Grand Lodge should have an internet advisory committee, to aid and assist subordinate lodges in web design. The Grand Lodge of New York, has a roster of internet standards ("Do's and Don'ts"). The standards insure that every lodge website in New York, will present Masonry properly to both Masons and the profane world. Lodge internet advisory committees could be assembled from tech-savvy people, who can assist the lodges in all phases of website set up and administration, and assist them in finding low-cost or free website hosting.


    This is the kind of response that I hear frequently. "We don't need a webpage. Many of our members do not have internet access". Well, that response misses the point, entirely. That is like saying, "Our lodge does not need a telephone, some of our members do not have telephones".

    The internet is a means for the lodge to present itself to the local community, both to the Masons, AND to the profane world. Men who may have seen a documentary on the History channel, will wish to learn more about Freemasonry in their local community, where is the first place they will look? The internet. If the local lodge does not have a webpage, the individual could assume that there is no lodge in their community! Men who have been around the internet all their lives, use the internet to learn about new topics.

    More and more, the first knock on the West Gate, is an electronic knock. Many lodges in my area of residence (Metro WashDC) get a majority of their new petitioners from their internet page! A lodge internet page, ideally, will do several things:

    1) Present the lodge to the local community in the finest possible way.

    2) Serve as a means for an interested person to learn the basics of Masonry, how to petition, whom to submit a petition, the history of the local lodge, the schedule of events, etc.

    3) Serve the membership of the lodge, with a schedule of the tyled meetings, stated meetings, upcoming degree work, special meetings, dinners, family outings, etc. Basically to serve as an electronic "trestle board" to convey the entire lodge "program" to the membership.

    4) Convey to the masonic community, all of the appendant/concordant bodies' schedule and events. There should be a full listing of the meetings and events sponsored by the local Scottish Rite/York Rite/Shrine club,etc.

    5) Convey the available youth programs, to all interested young people. The schedule and contact information for Rainbow/Job's Daughters/DeMolay should be presented. Over 80% of DeMolay youth go on to Craft Lodge. Supporting the DeMolay, and encouraging more participation by youth as well as adult support to youth groups, is a no-brainer.

    6) Contain some interesting information about Freemasonry, which will change and be updated periodically. Examples: Members could submit old photos of lodge meetings for publication. Stories about the early history of your lodge could be presented. The minutes of the lodge meetings from 25 and 50 years ago could be published. The website could present stories about Masonry in foreign countries,etc.

    7) A roster of the sick and distressed could be presented. The address, telephone number, e-mail of these individuals could be listed, and which hospital they are in, etc.

    The internet is made for Masonry. It fits like a hand in glove! I continue be amazed that so many masons and individual lodges are loath to embrace the 'net, and use this technology, to enhance the Masonic experience for all Masons, and to present our Craft to the profane world, and to make it easier for good men to learn about our Craft, and how to petition.

    So Mote It Be
     
  20. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    I don't think anyone here is arguing that a lodge shouldn't "cheerfully conform" if a lodge mandate passed. Rather, I think the majority don't feel a mandate is necessary or wise.

    In my lodge that would essentially mean that one of two or three people (myself being one) would *have* to be the person to manage the website, and all content therein. And really, it would basically exist as a place for information on the craft an downloadable petitions. Isn't this purpose already served by the Grand Lodge web page?

    In twenty years, everyone in the lodge will be using the internet, and the lodge will most certainly have a website because, given the membership, it would be illogical not to. Now, the only people checking the website regularly would be the people manage it.

    I'm not saying a website is a bad idea, but to mandate it? Unwise.

    I do raise concerns about the educational information that you propose each lodge website should have. How do we ensure accuracy and correct information across all websites? Does the Grand Lodge provide approved educational information to be dissemenated? And if so, whats the point? Why not just have a link saying, "To learn more about the history of Freemasonry, click here to be taken to the Grand Lodge of X webpage."

    And you know, of the Masonic organizations that do have web pages, do you know how often I check them? Pretty much never, and I'm about as addicted to the internet as you can get. From the point of informing the brotherhood and members, email newsletters have been far more productive, locally.

    Another point, a bad website is worse than no website. When I see websites like this:

    Grand Encampment, Knights Templar

    That looks like it hasn't been updated since I was in elementary school, it turns my generation off, fast. That website above? It's a bad website. It's functional (barely), dated, and smells of early 1990's. I hope the designer isn't on these forums, and my apologies if he is. But the website simply doesn't appeal to a younger generation at all. It's the equivalent of walking into a building with all 1970's decor... but it's original and worn.

    And a lot of rural lodges? That's the kind of website they would create.

    So no, a mandate wouldn't benefit every single lodge, I think.
     

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