What core physical, educational and personal fulfillment needs of your brethren does your lodge satisfy? What is the image of your lodge, as viewed by your brethren and the community? What do you want your lodge to emphasize in terms of: being a close, warm fraternal body; having fun; involving families; helping members, widows and the community; and, instilling in our daily lives the values and teachings of our ritual? Does your lodge have the resources it needs to fulfill the expectations of your brethren?
These are but a few of the questions to be raised in the Dirigo Leadership Seminars for officers of our Masonic lodges and appendant bodies, or any brother interested in pursuing new perspectives on how to renew our lodges and other Masonic organizations.
During the 2012 Grand Lodge Annual Communication, brethren overwhelming supported funding programs that help our lodges attract new members and engage our current brethren; teach Freemasonry to new members; and build strong lodge leaders. These initiatives are at the core of the Grand Lodge commitment to strengthen Maine Freemasonry and further invigorate our lodges. And a new Masonic Mentoring program is being introduced in the April issue of the Maine Mason.
The Dirigo Masonic Leadership Seminar modules cover a variety of topics, including:
Envisioning Our Future
Setting the Craft at Work
Grand Lodge Support of Lodges
Sharing the Gift of Freemasonry
The seminars will be held at multiple locations statewide each year. If your lodge would like to be considered to host one of the sessions, please contact Jeff Sukeforth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Membership Seminars
We have all heard the mantra over the years about membership in regards to always trying to recruit more for the fraternity. I have found that membership can be very cyclical. Every lodge has had its growth spurts and its dry spells. Often times these cannot be helped. However, the successful lodge is the one where there are more of the growth spurts than there are dry spells. The key is to continually try new things, be flexible to change, and to learn from our mistakes.
The biggest mistake we can make is to do nothing and hope that our membership woes will go away all by themselves. If you believe that than I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale I'd like to sell you.
A good Membership Development Plan cannot only consist of recruitment efforts. It must also address retention and restoration plans as well. Often times we think we are doing a good job because we raised many Master Masons only to listen to the Secretary's Annual Report as he tells the lodge that we suspended more brethren for non-payment of dues (NPD) than we raised.
As a jurisdiction, we have been raising about 400 masons a year but we are losing about 800 a year between deaths and NPD's. We obviously can't do anything about deaths however; we need to curtail those suspensions if we are to turn things around.
The past couple of years, the rate of decline has begun to slow but we cannot be happy with any decline whatsoever. In 2013, there were 43 lodges that showed a positive gain in membership. There is a line in the Charge to the Wardens during a lodge Installation that I think fits very well here: "what you have seen praiseworthy in others, you should carefully imitate and what in them may have appeared defective, you should in yourselves amend". We should apply this to membership as well. There is no one answer that will work for all lodges but there are many lodges that have great ideas. Let's share these ideas.
The Membership Committee will be traveling the State again and putting on a few additional Membership Seminars. These seminars will not be a repeat of the ones from 2012/13. We will bring new and fresh ideas to the table specifically where it concerns how we can do a better job retaining the brethren we currently have.
Information on the first of these seminars is attached. If your lodge or district would like to host one of these seminars in 2014/2015, please contact Richard Bergeron.