A group of Master Masons talk about topics of Masonic interest--each from their own unique perspective. You'll find a wide range of subjects including history, trivia, travel, book reviews, great quotes, and hopefully a little humor as well on topics of interest for Freemasons and those interested in the subject of Freemasonry.
Working with Others in the Community: The Third in a Series
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott
In the first
installment of this series, I reviewed setting goals to improve your lodge,
installment focused on lodge visibility regarding the physical presence of
your lodge in the community.For the
third installment I want to discuss relationships with others in the community
as a means of raising visibility and growing your membership.
Perhaps we should look at the definition of community.According to the online Merriam-Webster
is “a group of people who live in the same areas (such as a city, town, or
neighborhood), a group of people with the same interests, etc.”
How a lodge defines their community will differ from lodge
to lodge.If you are in a rural town it
could be the village where the lodge is located, surrounding rural areas and
perhaps other nearby small towns.If you
live in a more urban environment your community may be defined by
neighborhoods, groups of people with similar interests etc.
I am a member of three different lodges in my area.They are very close to one another only about
5 miles apart.This harkens back to a
day when agriculture had a major influence on the developments of villages and
One of these lodges St.
Joseph No. 970 is the focus of this series.One of our goals was to increase our membership, after all we were about
to turn the lights out forever.The
lodge is located in St. Joseph,
Illinois which is a small but growing community located about 10 miles from
the University of Illinois.Over the
last twenty years, the town has experienced a lot of growth, meaning many new
families have moved to town.
St. Joseph Lodge hadn’t been able to capture the benefit of
this growth, primarily because the lodge had lost its identity and place within
the community.People simply didn’t know
we were around, despite that fact that our lodge hall was one of the largest
So we began to work on the membership growth from a number
of angles.First we put ourselves in a
situation to be seen in the community.The lodge conducted an I-Chip program with the local pre-school, the son
of one member decided to petition, and soon a local school superintendent did
as well. For the first time in several
years we began having degree work on a regular basis.
I was serving as Cub Master for the local Cub Scout Pack and
this seemed like a natural group to work with as well.In planning the annual lodge pancake
breakfast, we decided to team up with the Pack and do it together.The Pack has a built in audience with parents
and Cub Scouts eager to help.This opportunity
also soon introduced the parents to the lodge and what we were about.
Community 9-11 Memorial Service
The relationship with the Cub Scout and Boy Scouts grew and
we have jointly sponsored the annual Community Memorial Day observance.In 2011 we worked together to sponsor a 10th
anniversary of September 11 and had over 400 members of the community
present.Since then we have also began
working with the Girl Scouts as well.
Our lodge is now the chartered organization for a new
Venturing Crew, which is a co-ed group for youth ages 14-21 as part of the
We have worked with the local American Legion to help with
their fish fry again helping our visibility and also helping the Legion keep
their long standing fish fry continue in the community.The Legion has allowed the lodge to use the
Legion Hall when we have held dinners.
Community Builder Award
In 2010 we began the St. Joseph Lodge Community Builders
Award and we have honored several members of the local community for their
efforts in making St. Joseph a stronger place to live.The lodge also established an award “Stand By
Your Mason - SBYM” given to the significant other of a lodge member for their
support of our Lodge activities.
We are the sponsors of our local high school Scholastic Bowl
team and have a pizza party for them each year to celebrate their
accomplishments.Our lodge has
sponsored a breakfast for the teams that participate in the regional tournament
when it is held at our school.Additionally we sponsor a scholarship each year for a graduating senior.
These are just some of the activities that we have
participated in that have put the lodge back on the community radar.The community knows we are here again and the
growth in our membership has shown very positive results.From the scouting connections alone we now
have ten new members who have a Scouting affiliation.
My advice is to get out into the community and see where the
lodge can help make a difference.Exposure to what our great fraternity is about can only be done when
others learn about who we are.St. Joseph
Lodge No. 970 is now preparing to celebrate our 100th
anniversary.This celebration is not
just for the lodge, but the entire community of whom the lodge is an integral
The next installment of this series will focus on publicity
and ways for getting the word out about the lodge in the media and beyond.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.