RWB Michael A. Himes Grand Marshall
Will YOU Say?
Brethren, we are about to enter upon a time unparalleled in the history of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring new members into the fraternity, men who would otherwise not have been able to join our ranks and receive the benefits of Freemasonry.
On April 27, 2002, a One-Day Class will be held, and candidates will be able to become members of your lodge in only one day. Such an event brings with it many chances to grow, and opens the door to doing old things in new ways.
I know that each of you have friends who are not members of the fraternity, and who you believe would make a good Mason. I feel assured, also, that each of you will be asked for information by a friend or acquaintance. My question to each of you, then, is this What will YOU say?'
For hundreds of years Masonry has attracted new members because they saw that men they respected and looked up to belonged to the lodge, and this connection prompted them to ask the necessary question to join. The fraternity felt no need to promote or advertise, since the system then in place was working, and working well. But with the passage of time, and with the changing attitudes in society, the old way is no longer giving the desired results. No matter how we look at our situation now, we cannot survive indefinitely at the current rate of rate of losses versus growth. We must take advantage of the opportunity now before us, and then take the ideas that work and continue to promote and utilize them.
When discussing becoming a member of the lodge with your friends, at some point they will ask you questions about Masonry. These could range from " Why are you a member?" to "Why should I join?" or "What's in it for me?" My question to you again is "What will you say?"
The response that was used for too many years, that 'When you join you'll find out everything you need to know', won't work anymore. We live in an era when people want justification for their participation, when time for some is so critical that they want to make sure any time spent on an endeavor will be of benefit to them, their families, and to their community. They want answers, and we have to be ready to respond.
You can start you explanation of Masonry by telling of the type of men who are now members, of their qualities of respect for their fellow man, of service to their country, of love for their families, and of their commitment to their God. You can speak about the great tenets of Freemasonry, Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Tell your friends that the Lodge is a place where they will not be badgered by political or religious discussions, since our fraternity believes that politics should remain outside the lodge and that a mans' religious choice is his own, as long as he holds a belief in a Supreme Being. Be sure to emphasize that toleration is one of the lessons that we learn in the lodge, and that each lodge brings together men of different religions, educational experience, backgrounds, and occupations in a common cause, that of making good men better and by so doing improving ourselves and our world.
You can then give examples of our family activities, of how Masonry is not just a 'guy' thing, but can be an active and important part in the life of every family member. Examples such as Ohio Masonic Home day, trips to the baseball games, and such are good examples, but be sure to give examples of family activities in your lodge and your community. Be particularly sure to include activities where the lodge makes a difference in your town. These are the kinds of things that attract and keep new members.
You can talk about our charity and benevolence, about our hospitals and philanthropies, and about the countless acts of kindness that the lodges all around the world do every day, with no thought of recognition or reward other than the satisfaction of knowing that a good deed will not be forgotten. The examples are there for you to use, in our publications and in your own hearts.
What you don't want to do when asked a question about Masonry is say "I'll get some information for you, and you'll get it later." Sometimes an opportunity only happens once, and you have to be ready to take advantage. That's why each of you must formulate, in your mind, a brief "essay", if you will, about YOUR experience and relation to the craft. We know that there are brochures and pamphlets available which describe our fraternity in great detail, but the printed page pales when compared with heart-felt words spoken by someone who is proud of their membership in the lodge. Use our printed materials to reinforce your statements, but don't rely on them exclusively. Be ready at all times to speak about Masonry, and you will not only contribute to the upcoming effort but be a force for the craft in the years to come.
Together we can all make this a success, not just for the 1 day class, but for Freemasonry in Ohio for years to come.
Michael A. Himes
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