The meeting was small in numbers, but big in content. It was a regularly stated meeting of Admiration Chapter No. 282 (IL) Royal Arch. We focus our meetings less on business and more on education, and during this meeting, I lead a discussion, the topic of which was suggested by fellow Midnight Freemasons contributor Brian Pettice, 33°. The topic of the meeting was what Freemasonry means to us.
I started the discussion by having everyone follow me out of the Lodge and through the Tyler's room and we crowded into the Preparation Room. Nobody knew why. I had the last two members out of the Lodge grab the Steward's rods and once we were all crowded into that small room and had closed the door, I picked one of the members to step forward, the Stewards closed in on either side--flanking him. I repeated those questions we all answer before we enter a Lodge for the first time. We reenacted that very first bit of Masonic ritual we experience at the foot of the path we take in Freemasonry--it most likely varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but here in Illinois we call that the "Secretary Interrogatories". That familiar bit of ritual took everyone back to those moments before we entered the Lodge for the first time.
What did we expect this experience to be like? What brought us there? What did we expect to gain? What was our opinion of the Fraternity then? What was our impression of the Masons that brought us to this place? How did we think we were going to be changed? All those questions we asked ourselves in that moment.
When the Masons in that little room realized what I was doing, it got very quiet as those words came back to them, and those memories they associated with that part of our ritual returned.
Some of the Mason in that little room had been a Mason for decades, and others a very short time. By going back in time like that, and putting ourselves back to that moment when we were looking at that door for the first time from the outside prompted a lively discussion after that exercise in which every member in attendance participated.
We talked about the purpose of Masonry. We talked about mentoring. We wondered if those coming into our Fraternity were having the same quality of experience that we had when we entered. We talked about what we were doing right, and we talked about where we were falling short. We talked about whether Freemasonry was still relevant, and determining unanimously that it was, we talked about how it's more important than ever in today's world. And yes, we talked a little about recruitment and marketing who we are and what we are to a world that sometimes doesn't exactly understand who we are and what we are.
There are so many topics you can discuss. There are so many creative ways you can get these discussions started. So many formats from speakers, to presentations, to discussions, to book clubs. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Lodge education and member development. Or do as we're doing--try a little bit of everything and let your members decide what they enjoy the most.
The members in attendance last week are already looking forward to our next meeting, and our next presentation. They aren't looking forward to hearing minutes, or the treasurer's report--they're looking forward to talking about, and learning about Freemasonry and how to apply it to their lives. How the application of the principles of Freemasonry is what Masonry is all about.
If your Lodge focuses on these basics you'll be amazed at what happens. If you rebuild your Lodge on the foundations of Freemasonry, you'll find these Masonic principles are still relevant, still applicable, and still something men today are interested in talking about, applying, and living.
Tear into that ritual and teach your new members not just how to do it, but what it actually means. Open those dusty books in your Lodge library and teach others the wisdom they contain. Have conversations about what it is to be a Mason. Mentor each other. Advise each other. Learn from each other. Improve each other. Then take that out into the world and serve as examples.
My Brothers, that's Freemasonry!
Next week I'm going to tell you about another terrific meeting I attended last night . . . this meeting was lead by Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor Greg Knott at Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL) A.F. & A.M. where he currently serves as Worshipful Master.