Brethren! Let's make it happen again!
Brethren, there has never been a better time to be a Pennsylvania Freemason because YOU are Sharing the Light!
Pennsylvania Freemasonry has never been stronger. The Man-to-Mason One Day Adventure last year sparked excitement and a new commitment to reaching out to good men and Sharing the Light. Through YOUR efforts, we gained thousands of new members and leaders who have brought new ideas and enthusiasm into our lodges. Even though only 5% of the membership actually was a first line signer on a petition last year, it was still the most successful membership initiative program that the Grand Lodge implemented in 42 years, and it showed that there are many men out there who still want to be Masons. Unfortunately, as successful as the membership initiative has been, between deaths and suspensions we're back at 125,772, which shows just how important this year's initiative is.
Last year, I asked you to make a list of men whom you thought were worthy of becoming a Mason.
This year, I am asking you to just think, especially the 95%, to zero in and focus on one man whom you feel is worthy of being a Mason, whether he be your insurance man, cleaner, mechanic, your accountant, attorney, postman, doctor -- or even a funeral director. Think about one man. Open up to that one man, Share the Light of Freemasonry with him and give him an ASK brochure. And I'll bet the majority of you will come back with a signed petition.
Each District has chosen which weekend in October or November is most convenient to host a membership class, so you have 1-2 months to Share the Light with deserving men who exemplify the values of Freemasonry. Let's work together to strengthen our great fraternity! One man can't do it alone. But if each member brings in one candidate, so that 95% of our membership are first-line signers on a petition this time around, our membership initiative will be an overwhelming success. Plan ahead -- there will be no members at large this year.
We must continue to mentor our newly raised members so their pride in our Masonic heritage grows along with their commitment and involvement, perpetuating our values and traditions. Remember, these men have joined our ranks because they see someone in YOU whom they respect, admire and appreciate someone who, by example, inspires them to want to be better. Continue to be an inspiration and petition men who are worthy of being called, "Brother."
If we truly want to strengthen our fraternity for tomorrow, we must start with the youth of today. We must teach our youth the Masonic principles that will guide their lives and make young men want to become Masons as soon as they are eligible. But our Masonic youth groups are also challenged by membership declines, mainly due to a lack of Masonic sponsorship. If you want to make a profound impact on your community, gather an adult leadership team and bring a Masonic youth group to your Masonic Temple. If you cannot become personally involved, extend your financial support to assist those adults who CAN and do give their time and talents to work directly with youth. We must plant the seeds for future growth today!
Your Grand Lodge leadership takes the stewardship of the money that has been entrusted with us for the ongoing mission of the various Grand Lodge charities very seriously. Over the last two years, extensive time has been spent reviewing the performance of six investment firms that invest a portion of the accumulated dollars for the Grand Lodge and its charities into what we refer to as the consolidated fund. Every quarter their performance is benchmarked against indicators of other firms using similar investment strategies. During the last two years we have been in the top quartile of performance on the investment of our funds. As Freemasonry strives to be a center of excellence in all we do, we expect the same from our partners who invest our funds to maximize our potential outreach to those whom we serve.
Our Masonic Villages across the state are growing to serve our membership. In Elizabethtown, the 102 retirement living cottages under construction will be completed eight months ahead of schedule, with an anticipated completion date in October. Based on an extensive waiting list for additional retirement living accommodations at that location the Committee on Masonic Homes approved the pre-marketing of an additional apartment building to be constructed on the campus. The marketplace planned at the entrance to the Elizabethtown campus has met with great community support, and has been named Sycamore Square, reflecting the stately Sycamore trees that line the boulevard.
The Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill is in the process of renovating its nursing and assisted living areas to improve resident service areas and provide more single units. This project will reduce the number of nursing beds from 75 to 60, and assisted living beds from 78 to 40. Some of the units will be renovated into retirement living apartments. An additional 84-unit apartment building is a possibility for that campus, should we achieve a 70% commitment through pre-marketing efforts.
The Masonic Village at Warminster is going strong with 100% occupancy, and many Masonic groups taking advantage of the use of the community's new assembly room.
We are currently pre-marketing the first phase of retirement living at the Masonic Village-Dallas. We have 33 applications, but we need 68 commitments before we will approve construction of the 97 apartments planned on the grounds of the Irem Country Club.
The Committee on Masonic Homes also approved the pre-marketing of an additional 8 retirement living villas to be constructed at Masonic Village at Sewickley. This is all being done based on interest expressed by Pennsylvania Freemasons, their family and friends.
Get involved and plan to attend the upcoming events planned to strengthen our bonds and benefit others.
CHIP Goal for 2005:
Commitments to ID another 200,000 children
52,000 so far this year
148,000 by year's end
Sharing the Light Holiday Gala raised over $100,000 to help fund this program, but we need YOUR support to make it happen.
Autumn Day at Elizabethtown - Sept. 24th
Western Pennsylvania Golf Tournament - Sept. 19th at the Allegheny Country Club
Eastern Pennsylvania Golf Tournament - Sept. 26th at the LuLu Country Club
Enthusiasm is contagious. If we work as a team to share our passion for Freemasonry, the possibilities are endless. Brethren, look in the mirror. How brightly does YOUR light shine? I love the Fraternity, and I believe in the membership. Believe in yourself. Be proud of our Masonic heritage and begin lighting the path for others so that they too, can experience our Brotherhood of dedicated charitable men.
Let's make this year the greatest year in our lifetime for membership. What direction you take in life is up to you. Where Grand Lodge goes in the future is up to each and every one of us. The future of Freemasonry is in your hands. Extend your hands to others and welcome them to enjoy the many benefits and opportunities that membership affords.