LEADING LIGHTS… Take ownership of your Lodge’s Future!
New Leading Lights provides the fuel, energy and Masonpower to drive the “wheel of development” as illustrated in The Members’ Pathway.
PLAN, ATTRACT, ENGAGE, RETRIEVE
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In close association with The Metropolitan Grand Orator’s Team, Leading Lights have now held two live events and have more planned for Autumn 2022 and into 2023.
The first event hosted by The Earl of Chester Lodge No 5018 was attended by over 60 Brethren on Saturday 23rd April in Temple 10 at Freemasons’ Hall. This demonstrates that there is strong demand for face-to-face presentations of The Members’ Pathway and a social event afterwards. The most informative presentation was followed by a lively Q & A session, after which everyone retired to The Crusted Pipe wine bar in Covent Garden for a splendid buffet lunch where discussions and ideas freely flowed until late afternoon.
Our second event was held on Saturday 2nd July at Mark Masons’ Hall. We welcomed around 80 Masons, most of whom retired to the bar after the event. A superb buffet followed, and more ideas were shared.
Over the two events, W Bros Matthew Christmas, Charlie Griffin, Mark Schito, Chris Hirst and Mark Sandiforth led us through the four key segments of The Members’ Pathway “Hub” and their vital relationship with The Lodge Membership Team. It must be stressed that the Lodge Membership Teams should consist of The Lodge Membership Officer, Almoner, Mentor, WM, DC and Secretary. All Brethren are encouraged to participate in the roll-out of The Members’ Pathway in their Lodges. This participation should be open to all regardless of age, seniority, or time served in the Craft. Those Brethren who take ownership of the future of their Lodges in this constructive way are The True Leading Lights, or in other words, the “Mason Power” required to secure the future of their Lodges.
Consecrated on 15th January 1908, Paddington Lodge No 3267 has survived two world wars and many trials and tribulations. However, in the last 15 years, Lodge membership has diminished significantly. Elderly members, the stalwarts of the Lodge, have passed away, taking experience and Masonic knowledge with them. With such low membership, something needed to be done to increase membership and, perhaps more importantly, retention. It was decided to put in place a Lodge Plan.
The Lodge Plan
Before embarking on our plan, we had to ascertain why the numbers were becoming dangerously low and what could be the principal reason? To answer these questions, and to make sure the plan would work, our membership had to be aware of and familiar with the Lodge’s procedures and protocols.
The main aims of the plan are:
– To breathe new life into Paddington Lodge by involving all members in the Lodge Plan.
- – To attract initiates and joining members.
- – To consider creating a Lodge website or WhatsApp group.
- – To speak openly to more people about Freemasonry.
– To use a ‘Centre of Influence’ who has contacts outside Masonry.
Before embarking on our plan, we had to ascertain why the numbers were becoming dangerously low and what could be the principal reason? To answer these questions, and to make sure the plan would work, our membership had to be aware of and be familiar with the Lodge’s procedures and protocols.
Breathe new life into the Lodge
Let’s do something different! At each installation meeting, a booklet is produced containing pictures of the current master and the master elect together with snippets of information and guidance for all, especially younger Brethren. In the booklet, we have the Festive Board Menu and the words for the sung grace. This is a different approach, and it has created much interest. Many Lodges have used ‘the little booklet’, and this has proved conclusively that it helps to attract new members.
Consideration can also be given to running a quiz at the festive board, holding social events and arranging visits to elderly or sick Brethren by a dedicated team of Lodge members.
Attract initiates and joining members
Each member tries to speak to two friends or work colleagues each month about Freemasonry and what it means to them. They can also invite friends to ladies’ festivals or white tables. This method must be followed up after the event, perhaps by meeting for a drink or other social event.
Always promote Freemasonry in a positive light as a unique, friendly and charitable organisation.
Engage with our members by creating a Lodge website or a WhatsApp group
This is a relatively recent idea that has proved extremely successful and attracted much interest. It is imperative that any contact through social media is followed up with individuals reporting back to the Lodge Membership Team with outcomes. Here again, we have witnessed a high volume of enquiries about Freemasonry leading to new candidates taking the step.
Speak to more people and be open about Freemasonry
Some will remember the days when Freemasonry was never discussed outside the Lodge room. How things have changed! The more people we speak to about Freemasonry, the more we will attract. It’s ok to show how proud we are to be Freemasons.
Use a Centre of Influence
This may be the most important aspect of the programme. Many Lodges have found that this element of the plan brings the most success.
A Centre of Influence could be a masonic friend referring his contacts to you. Perhaps it could be an affiliation with your ‘mother Lodge’ or ‘daughter Lodge’.
Remember, everything works better when there is a collective responsibility and everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Conclusions and results
Solomon, Rosetta, the Members’ Pathway and other initiatives are all really helpful and useful tools. However, nothing happens until the ideas are acted on! Mentors and Membership Officers have an important role to play. Once admitted, an initiate needs to be taken care of and given guidance and assurance that he is among friends. Make Lodge of Instruction fun to attend for all. Remember how we felt after our initiation, confused perhaps, lost and even frightened. Pastoral care of new members is essential.
Lodge meetings will attract strong attendance because of the different ways the Lodge runs them. Fewer wine takings and short sharp to the point toasts at the Festive Board, for instance. Always plan the meetings: who takes the various offices, when does it start and finish. If the Lodge has an initiate, display kindness and friendliness after the meeting.
We must, and in some cases, have broken away from the procedures of the past. Retaining the dignity of the ritual is all-important. There will always be members of the Lodge reluctant to change but change we must. Make our meetings fun to attend, and this not only attracts new members but improves attrition rates. Retention can increase through regular communication and Masonic education.
The working of a Centre of Influence
Chris Albrow, Charity Steward and Organist – Paddington Lodge No 3267
A fantastic result has been achieved using a ‘Centre of Influence’. As a Visiting Officer, I attended a meeting of Queensway Lodge of Paddington No 6833, a Lodge under my care. The membership at that meeting was nine, including me. The feeling among the members was that the warrant must be surrendered. I felt sad but identified with the various problems and the principal reasons for this potential demise. My own Lodge, Paddington No 3267, was going through the same trauma with similar problems.
But I sensed a determination among the Lodge members ‘Fold? We Will NOT. We arranged a meeting with the secretary, treasurer and the one Lodge reference committee member in attendance. It was suggested that a ‘Centre of Influence’ be used. Accordingly, one was found with a restaurant manager in London who was asked to attend a meeting. At this stage, a rejuvenation plan was put in place.
The Lodge now boasts a membership of 34 and continues to grow.
The message is clear:
- – Talk to people outside Freemasonry.
- – Help people perhaps respond to possible initiates questions.
- – Educate Lodge members, especially new ones.
- – Attract New Members but above all, hold onto them.
- – Enjoy Freemasonry!
Paddington Lodge has started to achieve positive membership growth both in Craft and the Royal Arch. We have achieved success in applying these ideas thanks to a remarkable team retaining and duplicating the aspirations of our founders for the benefit of future generations. Special thanks go to the late W Bro Paul Banning and W Bros John Ashby and David Williams. Without their help and support, ‘The Plan’ would not work.
As part of their Lodge Plan to attract more members, the Lodge of Endeavour No 5506 is pleased to be hosting a Welcome Project Initiation Meeting on Thursday 1st September 2022, at Harrow Masonic Centre. All are welcome, especially newly initiated Masons. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 49 August 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 49 here.