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Saracen1970

Year on Year Reduction in Craft Membership

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In the latest Issue of The Ashlar Magazine (No 58 March 2016) the Editor issued a challenge to try and stir some apathy and to date no one has responded.

Under the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 2013 the total initiates in the Craft was 2000, in 2014 it was 1800 and in 2015, 1500. According to the proceedings the total membership of the Craft is 26,000 for 993 Lodges. This is obviously not a satisfactory state of affairs and needs some attention.

Do you have any ideas how this reduction in number can be halted?

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Two things that seem to be working within 'UGLE land' are Special Interest Lodges (Motor sport, Football etc.) and the 'University Lodge Scheme'.

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Personally don't agree with the University scheme, but I understand why Lodges, (some which may have been on the verge of handing in their warrant), have adopted it. My reasoning is that it can cause problems with progression when non-local students finish their degree and move away. If you've a chain of students who suddenly go and join a Lodge in their home area and leave the mother Lodge with gaps in the Offices, it means jumping some who may not be ready for it, aren't up to it, or asking PMs to fill in. It's also on average recruiting young men, who may then have a career to dedicate their time to, as well as supporting families when they embark on marriage (or permanent relationships) and possibly children. Freemasonry requires commitment and I tend to believe those that are in it for the long haul, are those that are settled in their lifestyles and tend to be of more mature age.

I don't decry those Lodges that embrace the scheme, but it isn't for me and I wouldn't like to see my own Lodge adopt it.

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I actually agree on the mature age matter. I was a graduate student so it was different for me :)

Regarding the time, the University Scheme is made in a way that the candidate will go through the degrees in a short period of time, thus hopefully before his University graduation.

I completely agree with you that Freemasonry requires time and dedication and unfortunately not all candidates are good in that way. I believe there should definitively be more selection.

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do you have any clubs away from the normal lodge ?? I am an EA and a member of a light blues club. we meet several times a year 1/2 masonic and 1/2 with friends partners etc. we gel and introduce others to the social side of being a mason. there are lots of clubs like this I am in touch with one in Australia all grown out of being a brother. as i say i'm and EA and we have senior people who can talk the talk if needed to assist others with possibly joining whilst having fun and a good laugh.

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We have had this conversation before, as to why people do not join, is because of economy, getting value for money. To why people leave, money again, clicks with the lodge, old views versus new thinking, promotions, and so on. I came very close to throwing in the towel once. I attended a provincial meeting for DC's and secretaries/ scribes, the other night, and the question raised was do we except resignations by email. A big discussion took place, I raised the point that nobody has asked the question Why? Why is this person leaving? No body from the lodge popping around, no questionnaire for them to fill out, no leaving interview, nothing. If I wrote a letter Dear Bro Secretary I wish to resign from this lodge etc, and I got a letter back say that ok your up to date with your fees, you don't owe us anything, good luck. I would think whats all this about they just don't care, weather I stay or go.
If we the fraternity don't start asking questions as to why people are leaving, you are going to keep coming back to this question.
I attended a RAM Provincial meeting today and the Pro Scribe stated nine people resigned since last year. From what was said at that DC's & secretaries meeting I bet not one of them was contacted. A bloody shame, an opportunity to prevent the lost of a good member, were is this so called brotherly love, we say it, we quote it here chapter and verse but we don't practise it.

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Medic,I do agree that it is important to find out why men leave the varying degrees that Freemasonry offers, but I would never condone trying to talk them in to coming back. We are all mature men of integrity and level headedness (well, most of us anyway) but if the desire to leave is there, then I believe we should respect their decisions. Of course, they should also be told that even though they are no longer members of the Lodge, they will be welcome at any of the social occasions that many Lodges hold.

I think we should be saying "this is what we are about.. this is what we hold dear... this is what we find unacceptable. This is it. If you like it, great, but if you don't like it, then leave". If Freemasonry dies out, then so be it, but I would not compromise on the principles and tenets of the Craft simply to swell the numbers.

I honestly believe that the cause of men leaving the Craft is because of the inadequate way Candidates are prepared for Freemasonry by their Proposers and Seconders. They should tell their Candidates EVERYTHING about the Craft that may influence their choices. I sometimes hear that some men who have left did not expect it to be anything like the way it was. One guy that left told me it was "too religious".

Now of course, this is just my opinion. I may be wildly incorrect.

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Sparker, I believe you are so right in what you say there. Preparation? Huh, in most cases, nil! The numbers game currently promoted by many provinces will, if we allow it to continue, be so damaging to Freemasonry as to make it unattractive to those who really should be members. And when I say 'we', I do mean us in our interview committees and in our readiness to take the word of a proposer without question. I know it's difficult, particularly when the prospective new member is related to the proposer. I'm trying to institute that proposers and seconds leave during the interview. I'm not being very successful though!

As a newly approved Universities Scheme Lodge, again, I'm trying to set a procedure for prospective entrants to be met frequently in a social context by as many members as possible, bearing in mind the relatively short time they are at the university. I try to impress on our members that the aim of the Scheme is not numbers but to sow the seed, in the expectation they will leave Freemasonry for a few years when other priorities take over and they settle into their careers and families.

It's an uphill struggle though!

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I agree somewhat Sparker. We should be up front with regards to telling them that meetings are basically a formal opening of an agendum, sometimes there's a proposal or two followed by a vote of the members, a report as to the finances of the Lodge, a formal closing and then we all go and have dinner together with a few toasts and a sing along. If there's a ceremony it will have allegorical subject matter based on religious text, but in no way is a substitute for any chosen religion. Tell them that some Brethren are reserved, some are quite extrovert, some avuncular and some pretty obnoxious particularly when the grape has been over imbibed. I'd also tell them, that if during their Initiation, they feel that it is not for them, that they should speak out at any time during the ceremony and say so. Better that they enter with a clear intention to remain for the long haul, than change their minds after a short time.

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Sparker (04/09/2016)
Medic,I do agree that it is important to find out why men leave the varying degrees that Freemasonry offers, but I would never condone trying to talk them in to coming back. We are all mature men of integrity and level headedness (well, most of us anyway) but if the desire to leave is there, then I believe we should respect their decisions. Of course, they should also be told that even though they are no longer members of the Lodge, they will be welcome at any of the social occasions that many Lodges hold.

I think we should be saying "this is what we are about.. this is what we hold dear... this is what we find unacceptable. This is it. If you like it, great, but if you don't like it, then leave". If Freemasonry dies out, then so be it, but I would not compromise on the principles and tenets of the Craft simply to swell the numbers.

I honestly believe that the cause of men leaving the Craft is because of the inadequate way Candidates are prepared for Freemasonry by their Proposers and Seconders. They should tell their Candidates EVERYTHING about the Craft that may influence their choices. I sometimes hear that some men who have left did not expect it to be anything like the way it was. One guy that left told me it was "too religious".

Now of course, this is just my opinion. I may be wildly incorrect.

"But if the desire to leave is there, then I believe we should respect their decision" Sparker with everything else you said I agree with but not that statement. I would like to know what that decision is. It might not stop that individual, but it can be discussed at committee level and addressed to prevent it occurring again.

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I'd think it would be rare for it to be simply that somebody has rubbed them up the wrong way or some issue in the Lodge is the cause. In most cases, surely it is as simple as they can't afford the financial hit any longer, travelling distances involved, family or work priorities prevent them attending, or it just isn't for them.

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Sentience (06/09/2016)
I'd think it would be rare for it to be simply that somebody has rubbed them up the wrong way or some issue in the Lodge is the cause. In most cases, surely it is as simple as they can't afford the financial hit any longer, travelling distances involved, family or work priorities prevent them attending, or it just isn't for them.


I can't really understand the financial hit you speak of....UNLESS... the Proposer/Seconder have not briefed the Candidate properly. When I was speaking with my Proposer prior to joining, he made the financial responsibility crystal clear. Not to, would be doing the Candidate a great disservice.

Of course, if a Brother is unlucky enough to find himself unemployed, or short on cash through no fault of his own, I would EXPECT him to resign. He should be using what cash he has to look after his family and not doling it out on annual fees, swanky meals and charitable donations.

T.

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Medic In the London area we do have the sort of system I think you are referring to. When the Secretary receives a resignation from a Brother he fills in an online "exit" form which he sends to MetGl who have a team who deal with resignations. If nothing else, they can provide the outgoing Brother with an extra contact point should he ever consider re joining and perhaps feels to embarrassed to approach his former lodge.
I am puzzled when you say that you don't know why a member has resigned,surely your Secretary gives you chapter and verse?

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Sparker (06/09/2016)
Sentience (06/09/2016)
I'd think it would be rare for it to be simply that somebody has rubbed them up the wrong way or some issue in the Lodge is the cause. In most cases, surely it is as simple as they can't afford the financial hit any longer, travelling distances involved, family or work priorities prevent them attending, or it just isn't for them.


I can't really understand the financial hit you speak of....UNLESS... the Proposer/Seconder have not briefed the Candidate properly. When I was speaking with my Proposer prior to joining, he made the financial responsibility crystal clear. Not to, would be doing the Candidate a great disservice.

Of course, if a Brother is unlucky enough to find himself unemployed, or short on cash through no fault of his own, I would EXPECT him to resign. He should be using what cash he has to look after his family and not doling it out on annual fees, swanky meals and charitable donations.

T.


It is this that I refer to and the event of subs being increased unexpectedly.

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yorksmason (06/09/2016)
Medic In the London area we do have the sort of system I think you are referring to. When the Secretary receives a resignation from a Brother he fills in an online "exit" form which he sends to MetGl who have a team who deal with resignations. If nothing else, they can provide the outgoing Brother with an extra contact point should he ever consider re joining and perhaps feels to embarrassed to approach his former lodge.
I am puzzled when you say that you don't know why a member has resigned,surely your Secretary gives you chapter and verse?


You are quite right, in some cases at committee level, the secretary will read out the resignation letter, and in some cases where it is a matter of finance, we the lodge have paid their subs until such time they are back on their feet. In another case giving no reason at all he just wanted to go. Twice in my mother lodge, two brethren wanted to leave and gave their reasons, but requested that their reason for leaving remain between them and the secretary and not to be disclosed to the committee.

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yorksmason (08/09/2016)
Medic Do you have a "retention" officer in your lodge?


In one word NO. We have a lodge Mentor, and each new member is assigned a personal mentor, who they can go to at anytime in their masonic career. The role of the Lodge mentor is very vague.

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DavidGoode(13/06/2016)
nymaso3 (13/06/2016)
TheUniversity Scheme works great!


It certainlydoes!


I have found out that it works here as well. Here we don't have a true University Scheme under Grand Lodge of Michigan, but....... Here let me explain.


While looking for a new dentist amember of my lodge suggested that I look into University of Michigan's School of Dentistry. I setup an appointment and went to it. I found a member of the staff to be a past officer of Detroit Valley Order of Scottish Rite. I thought he was a retired dentist helping students in the lab. Come to find out that he is a Professorof Dentistry for the University for thirty plus years.


He told me that there are two Masonic Lodges in Ann Arbor, his lodge is Fraternity Lodge No. 262, the most active of the two lodges. He stated that his lodge doesn't go dark for the summer. He told me that his lodge is made up of faculty,university employees, and students. They have such a backlog of candidates that there is a eight month wait to join the lodge. Other lodges in the area are helping them with the backlog.

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Medic (08/09/2016)
In one word NO. We have a lodge Mentor, and each new member is assigned a personal mentor, who they can go to at anytime in their masonic career. The role of the Lodge mentor is very vague.
In the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, the PGM has placed a Big Deal on retention - and each Lodge has been instructed to appoint a Lodge Membership Officer, whose focus is on retention etc, and works with the Lodge Mentor.

As our MO is also heavily involved in Freemasonry in the Community he also covers recruitment :)

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Not quite so Uninitiated (11/09/2016)
In the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, the PGM has placed a Big Deal on retention - and each Lodge has been instructed to appoint a Lodge Membership Officer, whose focus is on retention etc, and works with the Lodge Mentor.

As our MO is also heavily involved in Freemasonry in the Community he also covers recruitment :)

May be you can enlighten me as to whence he derives that authority. Rule 104 lists the Regular Officers, Additional Officers that the Master shall appont and others that he may appoint - 'but (the rule says) no others'. I believe he would be acting ultra vires to require the appointment you mention.

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