An overflow crowd of more than 220 lodge leaders met in the Adams Mark Hotel in Philadelphia on Feb. 13 for the second Spring OVERTURE Series. Additional chairs had to be added to a huge ballroom to accommodate the leaders of the 72 lodges, together with nine district deputy grand masters and the district membership chairmen who joined the session.
The purpose of this Spring's session was to respond with a program that met the expectations of lodge leaders who had attended both last Spring's OVERTURE Series and the Conductor Series in the Fall.
From their responses and recommendations, a program was designed to offer practical solutions to issues of the lodge. In constructing the program, G. Kent Hackney, Deputy Chief of Staff, said, "We are committed to building on the OVERTURE Program to date while adding the input from participants. They were clear in their message: 'Keep it simple; keep it practical; give us help in areas we identify; and get us out by 4 p.m.' From the reactions of participants after the session, we accomplished all four goals."
Lodge-Related Success Stories
The sessions began with a series of success stories. Lodge spokesmen told of the success of their lodges over the last year, particularly in the areas presented during the prior two seminars. While some of their success stories were familiar to participants, there were a number of new ideas. Participants were anxious to learn from those lodge leaders offering success stories whom they could contact in the respective lodges for additional information.
About one-half of those were first-time participants. As a result, the facilitator, Bro. Dudley Davis, spent the initial 40 minutes presenting the hard facts that lodge leaders needed to hear about the imperative for change. According to Bro. Davis, "This is always an interesting period of discussion because the participants are able to see that they have been part of the problem and that they need to be a part of the solution. After 40 years of continuous losses, some while their fathers were the masters of Pennsylvania lodges, it's clear to most that a multi-year effort is essential. They immediately see as well that, with only a single year in the East, it will require a team of leaders to effect real change."
The agenda for the conference then proceeded with the development of three workshops. The first addressed involving the family with the lodge. The second was on developing a plan and a budget for the lodge. The third was about developing a lodge community action program. Participants used workbooks provided by Grand Lodge to give them tools they could not only work with during the seminar, but also use later in their lodges.
New Video Featured
One of the highlights of the seminar was the premier showing of the video, "Partners for Progress," featuring the important accomplishment of Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660, Reading, and its partnership with the Jacksonwald Elementary School. The video, which has been sent to all lodges, was a very big hit with the participants. They saw the potential for that type of involvement increasing the interest and activities among existing members and creating appeal among those who might want to join.
R.W. Grand Master James L. Ernette attended the seminar and spoke briefly. Speaking to the leaders of the lodges as "the guys in the trenches," he stressed the fact that "... change would only happen if they take the lead and make it happen."
As promised, participants were on their way home exactly at 4 p.m.
The remaining sessions of the Spring OVERTURE Seminars will be:
May 8 at the Harrisburg Marriott
May 22 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, Bethlehem
June 5 at the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Wilkes-Barre