Capitalize on Opportunity
It has been a tough Winter because of the weather; and it has been a tough Winter for membership retention and development. There's no doubt that all of the Lodges have been shoveling snow; but while some Lodges plowed into Operation Rescue/Recovery, there are too many who seemed to be waiting for the snow to melt.
Over the years there have been committees on membership that have attacked the trend for declining membership in the Lodges, all with a mixed bag of results. We're fighting the same battle today with optimism when it comes to new members and, happily, a decline in the number of member deaths; but there is still some pessimism when we see the suspensions and resignations something we should be able to do something about. Preliminary figures for 2002 (final figures were not confirmed as of this writing) indicate that suspensions rose somewhat over 2001 and so did resignations.
When we implemented Operation Rescue/Recovery on Dec. 27, 2001, the goal was to bring about a change in the way we approach men who are worthy of becoming Masons. The new way offers Lodges and you as a Mason -- the opportunity to invite selected men to learn about this Fraternity that we care for so very much. Every Lodge in Pennsylvania was directed to schedule two Friend to Friend meetings in 2002 and another two in 2003. It is disappointing to note that there were some Worshipful Masters who did not capitalize on that unique, very basic approach. Believe me, Brethren, it works.
There is an article on page 11 about one unique event, a Winter indoor Family of Freemasonry picnic in the Lodge social hall to which friends and neighbors were invited. Included in the events of the picnic was a brief Friend to Friend meeting in the Lodge room.
O.K., Winter's gone and Summer's on its way. Your Lodge will "go dark" for two months, so the leadership of your Lodge needs to "step up to the plate," organize and act NOW!
After that charge, let me answer your questions about how we are doing with membership. There are many success stories among the 458 Pennsylvania Lodges and I send my congratulations to those leaders who have followed the program and used it to the best advantage for Freemasonry. As of last Dec. 27, one Lodge Watsontown Lodge No. 401 in the 18th Masonic District initiated 37 candidates in 2002. The previous year, it was 24. In 2002, 24 Lodges had 10 or more initiates:
As was noted earlier, suspensions increased: One Lodge had 47 suspensions, two had 42, and 34 others lost 10 or more, all for non-payment of dues. The recommendation has been -- and continues to be -- that every Lodge activate the Committee on Grievances to make a personal contact with every Brother who has been suspended in the past five years to make an effort to restore as many as possible to good Masonic standing. Furthermore, each one of us should let's make that will -- adopt the "zero tolerance policy" with respect to future suspensions. Don't wait until the last minute, but track the situation and begin the process in September each year to reduce the number of Members who are delinquent in dues. Then, when it's St. John's Day, there shouldn't be a concern.
My Brother, you can make a difference!