by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Bro. T.J. Williams
COVID-19 is the pandemic that stopped the world in 2020. Operations and organizations worldwide were faced with the realization there was no working preparedness plan to keep us at work and business flowing. We've been forced to make plans in reaction to events as they come, but are plans being made for the long-term address of challenges?
A quote came across my Facebook feed that made me think very differently in this time of unknowns.
"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." -Albert EinsteinAs a fraternity, I believe the Grand Architect of the Universe has given us the opportunity to reflect, to plan, to make changes, and to forge a path forward.
I believe we need to redefine our purpose and how we reveal ourselves to the public. Many recent articles have alluded that we have an identity crisis in describing Masonry, and I sincerely agree. The way I describe our fraternity is going to be different than the next person. Each Lodge has its own identity, and while the teachings are the same, the approach to the work of the Lodge may vary from another. Does your Lodge have a unified approach and mission statement to share with the public? What is your Lodge known for? If your Lodge does have such a statement, does the work of your Lodge match it?
Next, I think we should take an inventory of our Lodge. I don't mean the assets of the Lodge; I mean assess what your Lodge is proficient in and what it's lacking. Is there a member mentoring program, officer training program, established means of sharing Masonic education regularly, meaningful community outreach? Is your Lodge known in the community, or is it just a building where men meet regularly? When you look at these different aspects of the Lodge, you can identify what needs work and plan your next steps.
Often, we only see a small percentage of our members coming to the Lodge's regular meetings and events. Why? Is there something missing? I believe we should be looking at and analyzing our membership regularly to learn and adapt operations to better the Craft. This information will help with making future plans for your Lodge and add value to the experience.
I've heard it many times, "we've always done it that way." Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a period where what we've always done isn't exactly working, and some of the smallest changes can create large differences. It's essential we evaluate and adjust. We must always be mindful of who we let pass through the West Gate, but we need to look at what we do after a person passes through. We don't have a membership problem; we have an active membership and retention problem. Without a solid plan, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten.
If these conversations don't start to happen, if we don't start planning for our future, where will we be in the next decade? The decade after? We can't just idly sit and talk about the challenges; we must find answers and take appropriate actions. With the future of Freemasonry at stake, from the local Lodge to Grand Lodges worldwide, opportunity is calling. Will you answer the call?
Bro. Thomas “TJ” Williams, is a member of Triangle Lodge #1 in Portland, Maine, and King Hiram Lodge #57 in Mexico, Maine. Currently, he is serving as Wor. Grand Pursuivant to the Grand Lodge of Maine. Among his Blue Lodge membership, he is actively involved with the Valley of the Androscoggin, Scottish Rite NMJ, and started his journey through the York Rite bodies. Though he only joined the Craft in 2018, he is actively working to enrich the experience through his service on the Member Education and Lodge Services Committee. He is well known amongst Maine’s Grand Jurisdiction as a “The Traveling T”, a nickname given by the current Grand Master, as he finds himself in lodges several nights a week.
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