Bro. R. J. Hughes
I want you to think back to the last time you were told something along the lines of “we need to get our brethren back to lodge” or “our membership is dwindling, where are our brethren?” Think long and hard about the last 5 or 10 times you received that message. Picture these instances in your mind’s eye. Who was sitting on your left? Who was sitting on your right? If you were the one delivering the message, who was sitting glassy eyed in front of you?
I imagine the last time you heard this profound statement was in a lodge room, or at least a lodge setting; the guy on your left was Bill who lives down the road from you, he cooked the meal for the meeting; and on your right was Past Master Jim, he swept and dusted the lodge prior to the meeting. All three of you will be downstairs after the meeting catching up until the wee hours of the morning.
We spend countless hours as a fraternity droning on about our attendance (raise your glass if you’ve pulled multiple chair duty on extra meeting night), yet when was the last time you or the leaders in your lodge called our “missing brethren”, or visited them at their home? How few and far between is it that we see a fresh face on the sidelines because a brother went out of their way to invite a member back to lodge?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, or any of the answers, really. But I do know that inaction breeds stagnation, and, in Freemasonry, stagnation breeds death. We all talk the talk, but how many of us walk the walk? Recruitment and Retention Committees are deployed at the end of the year to ensure everyone pays their dues, why is that committee devoid of work the other 10 months of the year? When we talk about member retention, it shouldn’t be just about fiscal survival of the lodge, it should also be about the philosophical survival of the lodge. Our fraternity always needs more dues-paying-members, but our society always needs better men.
So the next time you ask the brother next to you, “where is everyone for this extra meeting?” first ask him, “stop me if you’ve heard this one before…”
Bro. R. J. Hughes is a member of Armstrong Lodge #239 in Freeport, PA where he will assume the roll of Senior Warden on St. John’s Day next. He is also a Royal Arch Mason in Orient R.A.C. #247. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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