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Medic

The role of the DC

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My lodge is a day lodge, most members 95% are past masters, average age 75 plus, have around 70 members. Knowledge of ritual knows no bounds. This year as I sit in my chair and see the work going on before me, I see the members forgetting words etc and yet our DC sits in his chair and allows the ritual go on. Now I have mentioned this and was told that when the lodge was set up, some eight years ago. The membership was to be mainly past masters, or elderly masons therefore knowledge of ritual they do not need a DC following them around. I argument is that they do as they forget as we all do (I do anyway,) Rehearsals are good as they will run over a bit time and time again to get it right, even then the DC will shout across the lodge. Am I alone in this?

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Medic (25/04/2016)
My lodge is a day lodge, most members 95% are past masters, average age 75 plus, have around 70 members. Knowledge of ritual knows no bounds. This year as I sit in my chair and see the work going on before me, I see the members forgetting words etc and yet our DC sits in his chair and allows the ritual go on. Now I have mentioned this and was told that when the lodge was set up, some eight years ago. The membership was to be mainly past masters, or elderly masons therefore knowledge of ritual they do not need a DC following them around. I argument is that they do as they forget as we all do (I do anyway,) Rehearsals are good as they will run over a bit time and time again to get it right, even then the DC will shout across the lodge. Am I alone in this?


From what you say, it would appear that you will get nowhere with this and might consider another Lodge as being more suitable.

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Medic (25/04/2016)
My lodge is a day lodge, most members 95% are past masters, average age 75 plus, have around 70 members. Knowledge of ritual knows no bounds. This year as I sit in my chair and see the work going on before me, I see the members forgetting words etc and yet our DC sits in his chair and allows the ritual go on. Now I have mentioned this and was told that when the lodge was set up, some eight years ago. The membership was to be mainly past masters, or elderly masons therefore knowledge of ritual they do not need a DC following them around. I argument is that they do as they forget as we all do (I do anyway,) Rehearsals are good as they will run over a bit time and time again to get it right, even then the DC will shout across the lodge. Am I alone in this?



Just my personal opinion but as D of C i would never interupt during a ceremony unless it was going substantialy wrong. In my Lodge the IPM has his book open and he prompts but again only if the speaker loses his way completely or if not to do so would alter the meaning of the ceremony for the candidate. The secret of a good ceremony is that it should flow. As long as the basic meaning comes across 100% adherance to the ritual doesnt matter.

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Medic (25/04/2016)
My lodge is a day lodge, most members 95% are past masters, average age 75 plus, have around 70 members. Knowledge of ritual knows no bounds. This year as I sit in my chair and see the work going on before me, I see the members forgetting words etc and yet our DC sits in his chair and allows the ritual go on. Now I have mentioned this and was told that when the lodge was set up, some eight years ago. The membership was to be mainly past masters, or elderly masons therefore knowledge of ritual they do not need a DC following them around. I argument is that they do as they forget as we all do (I do anyway,) Rehearsals are good as they will run over a bit time and time again to get it right, even then the DC will shout across the lodge. Am I alone in this?



In such a Lodge, it could be argued that a DC is not required. However, a prompter probably is.

You have to make allowances for age. I mean, it's hardly the United Nations, is it? Nobody is going to die just because a Mason says Great rather than Grand.

T.

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The first thing to remember is that a DC is an additional office and therefore can be dispensed with. Perhaps your particular Lodge in this case does not need one.

However having been a DC in the past I saw my role primarily at the LoI, with an assistant to hone the ritual and polish the rubric, as well as encouraging those coming along into Office.

At the ceremony he should only be dealing with the running of the meeting where he is required. The IPM should be prompting the WM and if required other prompters should be stationed near the JW and SW to assist. There should be no calling from the E to W of a word!

The main thing is if the ceremony is flowing, even if a sentance is left out, keep going. Stopping and starting often leads to further errors by the Brother concerned. Common Sense prevails.

However if the ritual and rubric are correct and the meeting flows, the Lodge gets praise, if it falls apart and is poor, the DC is blamed. Part of the territory!!

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We all try and make the ceremony as sincere as we can, that goes without saying, and being forgetful is part and parcel of trying to retaining things to memory. At rehearsal the brethren all who are taking part are all in there 70s, they get confused and turn things around etc. Our DC sits and directs from were he sits. The brethren do not mind going over it again and again to get that right. I have to point out that he DOES NOT direct from his chair during lodge night, as if it goes wrong there is enough brethren close by to give a prompt or advise, which I find just as bad. As DC in my Mark lodge I walk behind and give help when required in a low voice so as not to distract from the SD or candidate. The problem lies in the membership is made of pasties all coming from different lodges and doing the workings as was done in their lodges.

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Pasties? As in Cornish? Sounds a trifle dismissive.

I know nothing of the setup in a Mark Lodge, but having the DC following the Deacon and Candidate seems a bit creepy to me. Far better, surely, to prime a couple of "horse whisperers" to sit next to the Wardens (I'm visualising a Craft Lodge) to ptompt the Deacon.

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Whist you may well feel that he should be more vocal in Open Lodge, what do the rest of the Lodge feel? Perhaps they are happy with his method.

Please don't take offence at this because it maybe just me. But if I had a DC following me in Mark or any other degree I would quite quickly tell him where to go. I would take it that the DC was expecting a slip up hence his hovering and wanting to be seen and show off.

In Open Lodge discreet prompters stationed by the DC if necessary for that purpose is all thats required. Handling the situation discreetly.

Many years ago in my Mother Lodge a young SD in a passing got to the SW chair and blanked, nobody helped. The DC with a loud Tut grabbed his wand and marched to the rear of the SD and prompted. The SD was so embarassed and the whole event was an embarassment that he dropped out a short while later.

Beware of over zealous DC's, and I have been one.

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As a former and current DC, the only time I'll stand behind someone is at installation having conducted the speaker to his place for the addresses and even then I'm some way back to give them room. I'm just close enough to give a quiet prompt if needed - but ONLY after having made those arrangements in advance.

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The role of the DC I feel is that of a good referee of a football match, seen but not heard, let the game go on and only intervene when required, nothing creepy about that. Everybody has their version of event or how it should be done, "They didn't do that in my days". and with the brethren chipping in at hoc that's even worse.

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Trapsing round after the Deacons is being seen too much.

Why anyway do you need to be seen as a DC during the ritual unless required to move someone or take an item?

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I think the difficulty in this situation is that this Lodge without having been registered as one is almost operating as an Installed Masters' Lodge and the idea that a DC should correct and prompt a Lodge of Installed Masters does go against the grain a bit.

To my mind, a DC is really there to help a Lodge of inexperienced Freemasons keep the Ceremonies together, rather than chasing the old duffers around.

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Mike Martin (28/04/2016)
I think the difficulty in this situation is that this Lodge without having been registered as one is almost operating as an Installed Masters' Lodge and the idea that a DC should correct and prompt a Lodge of Installed Masters does go against the grain a bit.

To my mind, a DC is really there to help a Lodge of inexperienced Freemasons keep the Ceremonies together, rather than chasing the old duffers around.


I could not agree more that correcting or prompting an experienced mason goes against the grain, but take this morning I conducted a second degree, rehearsal was fine the other day, but this morning it just fell apart as the SD forgot his words, could not hear the prompts from those near him, in the end the DC had to go to him and help him out. If the DC was there at the time, it would have been nipped in the bud there and then and not turned it into a fiasco.

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... Or maybe you could do away with the Deacons, or at least their speaking parts, and replace them with the DC and ADC ... oh, sorry, you've tried that and say it's OTT.

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In my Lodge out here, each Ceremony, both the Deacons walk around with the Candidate followed by the DofC. It looks a right mess.

Deacons not sure of their words so they speak in a low voice, so you end up with the deacon saying the wrong word the DofC correcting so the D's say it again followed by the Candidate.

What a state!

LOI no have.... Practice night (2 days before meeting) then the Officers is to busy to attend or say I will be alright on the night.

That's why our DofC follows.

I much prefer Emulation way, as long as the Officers learn

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I agree with Chestnut in his earlier post. If the DC is not confident that the brethren are familiar with 'their words' then he can place prompters, using a book if necessary, perhaps 'hidden' behind a summons, at appropriate places in the lodge Prompts can then be given discreetly, without the DC 'barking' or moving around the lodge.

To quote Medic:
Medic (27/04/2016)
The role of the DC I feel is that of a good referee of a football match, seen but not heard, let the game go on and only intervene when required.

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We have a couple of members/PMs who know the ritual and who I know I can call on. We always have 2 rehearsals on the 2 Mondays before the meeting (we meet Saturdays),and I insist that the officers turn up for at least one of them. No show means they don't do the job on the evening and even if they do attend the rehearsal, if I'm not confident that they'll be Ok on the night, they get replaced. As DC, I'm responsible to the WM for the standard of work, so that's what I do. With very few exceptions, no one gets to 'perform' without a rehearsal - and it's worked in the 2 lodges in which I've been DC.

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soltaran (29/04/2016)
We have a couple of members/PMs who know the ritual and who I know I can call on. We always have 2 rehearsals on the 2 Mondays before the meeting (we meet Saturdays),and I insist that the officers turn up for at least one of them. No show means they don't do the job on the evening and even if they do attend the rehearsal, if I'm not confident that they'll be Ok on the night, they get replaced. As DC, I'm responsible to the WM for the standard of work, so that's what I do. With very few exceptions, no one gets to 'perform' without a rehearsal - and it's worked in the 2 lodges in which I've been DC.


That is what we used to do, but we are now a small lodge and I am often chasing around to fill offices at the last minute.

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I know of a lodge in Essex where the membership is such that they've barely enough members to carry on. They get round things by asking visitors if they would help out with the floor officers on the evening. Invariably the visitors do, and generally, if they're bothered enough to visit, they're also clued up enough to be able to fill in (the DC also generally knows which visitor he can ask!). OK, so the ritual can be a bit of a mix, but at least everyone knows their own words and the whole thing seems to work pretty well.

Edit: blasted predictive text on my tablet!

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soltaran (29/04/2016)
We have a couple of members/PMs who know the ritual and who I know I can call on. We always have 2 rehearsals on the 2 Mondays before the meeting (we meet Saturdays),and I insist that the officers turn up for at least one of them. No show means they don't do the job on the evening and even if they do attend the rehearsal, if I'm not confident that they'll be Ok on the night, they get replaced. As DC, I'm responsible to the WM for the standard of work, so that's what I do. With very few exceptions, no one gets to 'perform' without a rehearsal - and it's worked in the 2 lodges in which I've been DC.


I remember reading on here that being good at ritual is not masonry is about, it is about being sincere it what we are doing, and making it something special for the candidate. Being strict about ritual as above is not what I am talking about, I would leave most definitely. It is about having help (The D.C.) when required,and a lot of lodges here have the D.C. going around, except mine.

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I'm not being strict exactly, I'm talking about making it special for the candidate .. if someone doesn't turn up for a rehearsal, I can't be sure that the meeting is not going to turn into a complete fiasco - exactly what you were complaining about(!). If I as DC can't be reasonably sure that the floor officers know what they are doing, how can I possibly be sure that the ceremony is going to be something that the candidate remembers for the RIGHT reason rather than the WRONG reason? If there's any doubt, surely it's better to replace an officer for the evening with someone who knows what they're doing than risk the candidate being completely turned off by a feeling of 'do I want to be a member of this?' If YOU have any doubts about a floor officers ability and think that everything's a complete b***s up, how do you think the candidate is going to feel? That's a completely different thing to supporting each other. And lets not fool ourselves - allowing an officer to 'perform' when woefully unprepared is NOT supporting him!

I'd argue that if the officer is struggling, it's better to relieve him of the stress and let him just do the opening/closing work. If he wants to have a go without a rehearsal and he's confident (and as DC you need to be confident too) then fine, but if he's at all unsure, how is allowing him to continue on that evening supporting him? Better to give him the evening off and the chance to do it later IMO. Let him continue unprepared is just opening the possibility/likelyhood that he'll drop out altogether .. are you telling me you've never seen that happen? - I know I have. The DC's 'help' needs to be in the rehearsals so that the floor officers feel confident during the meeting-proper .. even if it means (gently) replacing him with someone else .. I've invariably found that when I've needed to do it, the officer is actually relieved - and yes, we had exactly this happen at our last meeting .. and he thanked me.

I used this approach in my previous 6 year stint as DC and saw a guy join who wouldn't say boo, work through the offices (and yes, replaced on a couple of occasions), go through the chair - blossoming in the process, and has since gone through the chair again. From being so nervous that he could barely string two words together, to a confident ritualist - not perfect by any means, but no longer worried about making mistakes. And he thanked me for making him comfortable in his own skin. That for my money says the approach works.

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Medic (29/04/2016)
soltaran (29/04/2016)
We have a couple of members/PMs who know the ritual and who I know I can call on. We always have 2 rehearsals on the 2 Mondays before the meeting (we meet Saturdays),and I insist that the officers turn up for at least one of them. No show means they don't do the job on the evening and even if they do attend the rehearsal, if I'm not confident that they'll be Ok on the night, they get replaced. As DC, I'm responsible to the WM for the standard of work, so that's what I do. With very few exceptions, no one gets to 'perform' without a rehearsal - and it's worked in the 2 lodges in which I've been DC.


I remember reading on here that being good at ritual is not masonry is about, it is about being sincere it what we are doing, and making it something special for the candidate. Being strict about ritual as above is not what I am talking about, I would leave most definitely. It is about having help (The D.C.) when required,and a lot of lodges here have the D.C. going around, except mine.


i dont see what your problem is. If you want the DC to follow the deacons then that's what he must do. You are the Master, give him the instructions. Ask him nicely but at the end of the day his job is to carry out the Masters wishes. It's why you were elected and what you appointed him to do.

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If the work on the floor is of such a standard, and that members of the lodge who want to progress, then they are well aware of the standard they have to reach to perform if they want to progress on in your lodge. I in my mark lodge as D.C. want to obtain the same but I know I will never reach it, We are all different, but I try and get as close to it as possible. By this I mean I give every officer his words, which I have written out, for him. they are the words he has to learn, nobodies else's. I phone each officer before the new season and enquirer how they are getting on and do they need help. At rehearsal we go through it, and iron out the faults so every body is aware of their role and words. If I am concerned about anybody I am there to give that support and he knows I am there. However I feel about about a person I would never replace him, I am sorry we are going to have to disagree about this.

Next October I will be installing my successor into the chair of my lodge, he has struggled as S.W. and I am sure he will struggle as master, as his IPM I will support him up to the hilt. He has been let down by his mother lodge as he is not a good ritulist so has not been allowed to progress. Now he has his dream in sight who are we to stop him, or keep putting him back. He has been a mason for twenty years and is still a firm believer in the fraternity. I know I am going to have my work cut out next season but I would not have it any other way.

Going back to the argument of whether D.Cs should be on the floor or not I still say yes as long as the ceremony is conducted in the best possible manner

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