APRIL 19, 20, 21, 1991

Grabbing the Future 1

Dr. W. R. Pellow

How would you like to increase your masonic lodge attendance and your lodge membership by 50%? Starting now!

How would you like to have your masonic lodge, your masonic fraternity regain the self respect, the interest, the honour and the elevated community image you once thought it possessed?

We are here to "grab the future" — but when?..... April 19-20th?, may 1991?, sometime in 1992?, or perhaps you are considering the year 2000 — the turn of the century??

I believe we are here today preparing for the future. Today is the first day of the rest of your life and tue only day you can really count on.

Yesterday is history. What happened yesterday is water under the bridge. The events that happened yesterday cannot be reworked or remoulded. If progress was experienced in your life — within your sphere of existence, yesterday that is tremendous! On the other hand, if it was a bad day, full of reverses, pitfalls and negativisms — then forget it. "there is no use sawing sawdust." you are only worrying, fretting and consuming valuable energy and valuable time that you could be utilizing today to make thi s day one of your most productive, one of the best days in your whole life!

Well, what about tomorrow??

We are here to "grab the future" — what about the future?

If you think you can step into the future from where you are sitting — if you think you can forsee the future from where you are looking — if you think you can hear futuristic events from where you are listening — then you really are a mason extraordinaire! And you are really wasting your time attending this seminar. We are all clairvoyants; however:

There is one sure thing we can do — today. Today we can organize our thoughts, formulate plans, activate these plans and set up an organizational and administrative scheme that wtll have a fantastic bearing on "grabbing the future".

Today, my brethren, we can dispell, discourage and irradicate lethargy, complacency and apathy within masonry and within ourselves. We can exchange these infectious sores, these blights on masonry wtth enthusiasm, motivatiom, progressive and positive ideas that will lead to a successful concluston to those ideals we all dream about!

In this masonic seminar, I will address "grabbing the future" in two components. Today we will first take a look at what we possess in masonry within our organizational framework and what we may do to enhance our position internally. Tomorrow I will address the external pressures, the social, economic and psychological environments that weigh heavily on our existence, on our very survival as one of the oldest, largest and most beautiful fraternities in the world.

I, like many of you in this gathering of masons, am experiencing a "phase" in my ltfe. I call it "male menopause", nothing, to do with female menopause. There are no hot flashes or concerns over the cessation of child bearing — many of you have already passed through thts phase, many of you share it now wtth me — all others have tt to look forward to. It is a phase of attitude adjustments. In my 30's, 40's and 50's I never for a moment considered my age as a factor in anything I did. Now — I am being reminded constantly that I am a senior citizen and of course I do reap the limited benefits — the discounts at the theatres, on public transportation, at my photographtc store. They have a promotional gimmick that if you were born before the chain of stores were inaugurated, you qualify for a 15% discount. I qualify. What bearing has this on my masonic endeavours, my masonic involvements?

Step back in time:

Remember when you were a young mason — you looked with admiration to your elder brethren for counsel, guidance and authoritative judgement. The older members seemed to know all the answers. They said they knew the book of constitution from cover to cover and they stood firm on their knowledge and convictions. But they didn't. They said they knew the old traditions, the intracacies of lodge finances, the interpretations of the work, the ritual, the rules of order and the complexities of lodge business. As I reflect now — did they know it all? They didn't. You may recall when you attempted to intercede, the great pronouncements of wisdom were uttered with direction.

You can not change anything

this, my brethren, is our greatest internal hazards in masonry today. We are responsible for the formation of know-it-all masons and the innate fear of change that breeds within them. Any change.


mark this well, and chisel it into your memory bank now change is inevitable if we are to survive, if we are to loom into the 21st century — if we are to steadily progress with success in this technological society of computerization, electronic media, with all the alternative interests and pressures that constantly challenge us daily for a portion of our valuable free time. If we are not amenable to change, we will most assuredly go the way of the pocket watch, the copper boiler or the flat iron.

It is no secret masonry constantly needs new candidates to perpetuate — young, energetic, open minded candidates, interested candidates and those interests must be maintained and sustained. I caution you golden senior citizens, you "old" past masters don't stifle the enthusiasm of youth. If they speak, you listen.

It is possible to permit change in masonry. Not change for changes sake, but rather change for progression and change for advancement. Change for efficiency and for dynamics. Many of our young masons have excellent ideas bubbling in their cauldrons — loosen their reins a little and let them run"!

We are here today to exchange some ideas. If you could, what ideas, what plans, would you integrate into your lodge to improve the organization and the administration to create and stimulate interest, enthusiasm and excitement? Well, let's start somewhere. Let us start with the lodge secretary as he sits at his cluttered, dusty old desk with the little brass lamp with the green shade.

He has been faithfully sitting at his station every lodge meeting for the past forty years ... And I mean faithfully. Somehow he has control of the lodge summons production and delivery. The summons has the same format now as it did in 1950 when he entered office and he copied this format from his predecessor.

Now, he doesn't read all the correspondence — some of it is too long so he only reads those paragraphs he feels are important. Secondly, he hordes all the district and local masonic summons, newsletters, periodicals, journals, and communications addressed to the lodge in his little suitcase, the case he opens to take out a piece of paper then shuts it again, the case he transports from home to lodge and then from lodge to home. The members never get a chance to peek inside this case. My, what a storehou se of secrets and information he carries in his ltttle suitcase!

No, he wouldn't change from the smaller no. 6 envelope to a commercial no. 10 envelope. He likes to fold the summons three times to squeeze it in. Why should any lodge use pastel coloured envelopes and letterhead? That's ridiculous! No sir, whtte is classic and it will remain so! The printing must be done with blue ink. Blue is the colour of craft masonry (it matches the plywood on the boarded up windows).

He has never missed a meeting in 40 years and does not expect to miss one as long as he holds office.

Who needs an assistant secretary? Not me — these young bucks want to put our membership on computers to be compatlble with grand lodge. Why does my lodge have to be compatible wtth grand lodge?? Everything is going along just fine. This lodge cannot afford these fandangled contraptions anyway!

Smile — i"m sure you have heard these words oft reapeted!! So, we move from change to participation in lodge work.

Let's get off the secretaries back and scrutintze the past masters of the lodge. What is the scenario in your lodge when you have degrees to put on or an installatton to conduct? They are huddled together in small groups of three or four talking and laughing. I know the visitor sitting alone would like to join in on the entertainment but he attends to his good manners and he sits alone. And, who will do the work for the evening? — oh, the same old group. R.W. Bro. John doe has been doing the final charg e for the past 26 years, he is good, projects well, knows the words. It would be embarassing to ask anyone else to do the final charge. If bro. Doe wasn't asked, he probably would never attend lodge again!! V.W. Bro. Sam smith always does the working tools in the second degree and w. Bro. Patrick henry always does the apron charge. The worshipful master never has to organize anything, the work is all covered again for this lodge meeting. That does n't leave anything for the younger masons to worry about. They can just come to lodge, sit and listen to these artists of the ritual!

If you fail to have a brother participate in lodge activities or lodge functions, your lodge will not grow — but fall apart.

Get as many involved in the ritual and the business meeting as possible. Break up the long sections into two or three parts. Delegate.

Form new meaningful, job oriented committees in your lodge. Get all masons involved. Make them feel they belong!!

What about a reception committee — front door greeters. One new mason, one senior member — there are a dozen excellent reasons how they could assist the W.M. on lodge night, and encourage strong fraternal bonding.

I recently saw a lodge room packed because a W.M. Started a P.F.I. Committee (i.e.) "phone for information". Selected members were given names, addresses and telephone numbers of 5 or 6 members. They were to contact these members, invite them to attend lodge and each reported to the lodge the results of the contacts made.

Does your lodge have a building committee? Building committees should be divided into two parts: (a) internal, (b) external -- each with a committee chairman. The internal building chairman would oversee the interior of the building. How often have you been appalled at the library of a lodge? A disarray of books not organized or catalogued in a cupboard with dirty glass doors — and what impression did you make of your masonic home when you were escorted into the candidate preparatory room?? Wow! I wonder why they didn't add a little carpet to the floor, have a comfortable chair to sit on, a lamp and a few current magazines — maybe a mirror, a comb, or some spray deodorant, even a coat hanger to hang up my good suit? Why were the old floor mops and scrub pails, stacks of apron cases and vacuum cleaner, shoved off in the corner??

I was lucky I circumvented my first impressions. Let's talk about the exterior of the lodge tomorrow!

When committees serve, the chairman will post the duty roster on the lodge bulletin board on a 12 month schedule.

What!! You don't have a bulletin board?!

No wonder the secretary keeps all his information in his briefcase. No wonder I can't recall who is sick or where they are located or if they can receive visitors — I didn't catch the room number and i could not get my pen out fast enough to write the information down in lodge.

Where should the bulletin board be located? Most important, who has the responsibility to keep it current and pleasantly arranged? Another job for another member. Amazing!! How did we do without one??!

What did I hear you say about flags — in the east — one canadian and a provincial flag? Are you suggesting we buy an american flag in respect for the two or three american masons that visit our lodge each month? Who needs all this clutter, and flags are expensive. I can think of better places to spend the lodge's money. History repeats itself. The old arguments are wearing out. It can't be done — it won't work.

Let's move on to communications and let's take a look at our most important lodge summons. This monthly information source comes in various forms and in diverse quality. Some are excellent. Some are good. Several lack interest, space and inauguration. Many lack excitement.

The summons reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the lodge. In this jurisdiction, by constitution, is your W.M. Responsible for its content and the secretary for its distribution? Does economics influence its print, format, design, colour and size?

If it's cost, why not approach 10 affluent, interested members to defray the cost for I month each and experiment wtth some changes in your lodge summons now!

Change the summons?? — never!!

The summons is tantamount to motherhood. What size does your lodge use now? Why not use standard paper sizes — cheapest way to go. Why not 14 inch paper (cut from 8½ to 6 inch to fit in your coat pocket)? That gives a three-fold notice.

What about the outside of the summons? Some lodges print the outside for the enttre year commencing january one. Isn't that exciting??? The same repetitive cover to look at all year. In some lodges, the front page of the summons hasn't changed in style for 50 years!

When was the last time you really scrutinized your lodge summons? How about grabbing a little of the future! What about a new crest - new graphics — new design. What about a harvest scene. Here we are in alberta — why not the beautiful mountains, lake louise -- what about an oil scene, downtown calgary. The possibilities are endless! Show your lodge brethren you haven't a stagnant mind. Honour your most respected member with his picture on the front cover. The cost is prohibitive you say?? I pity your thinking if this is your immediate consideration. I pity your lodge. A printer using modern screening processes can change the front cover for approximately $25-00. Why not spruce up your summons?! Seek professional and financial assistance. Explore innovative ideas. Caution: Don't clutter up the front cover — keep it simple: The lodge name, number, address, the worshipful masters name, address and possibly the new graphics or your selected monthly area scene.

I recommend 7 permanent names and addresses:

The G.M. The D.G.M. The G. Sect'y, the D.D.G.M. The Dist. Sect'y the W.M. of the lodge, the Sect'y of the lodge.

Why add the D.G.M. And the Dist. Sect'y? The membership should be cognizant of who the next G.M. will be and some members don't know. And the dDist. Sect'y is the liason person to the D.D.G.M.

If the lodge has a committee system, then why not list the committee members? — the chairman and, above all, the telephone number of the chairman. How else can you communicate with the man in charge?

I have seen 2½ pages of deceased P.M.'s listed on lodge notices. What a waste of valuable space. Is there a correct way to abbreviate masonic titles? Bro. is always brother:

Here is a classic:

Bro. Patrick Henry died — aug. 10, 1990. We cherish his memory in our hearts.

How touching — how ridiculous — how inconsiderate of you to provide such an inadequate eulogy.

Who was this mason?

Where was he born?

Where did he live (place or places)?

Where did he work?

What were his interests, his hobbies?

How did you perceive him?

Did he just live... And die?

Was he married? Have children?

What contributions did he make in society, the community, your lodge, the district, grand lodge, concordant or appendant orders?

When you have this tabulated for the notice, please send a copy of your eulogy to the widow and family.

Perhaps you do not have space in your existing summons. Use 8 1/2 x 11" paper for the eulogy, properly done, with a touch of class, respect and admiratton. Now enclose it with your summons in -- your #10 envelope.

Write a eulogy that really pays tribute to this man's years of devotion, loyalty and one that recognizes his zealous efforts. Believe that his wife and family will be telling everyone what a great fraternity we have. What a super simple method of bolstering our public relations and public image.

Did you ever see a lodge summons containing half or whole pages of blank spaces — "white outs"? No print — nothing but blank paper. When I see this I boil!! What a waste of prime space that could have been used to tell our story.

When the Secretary or the W.M. Get really desperate to fill the spaces, they insert a poem. You have seen the same poems a hundred times! Where is the local news, the district news, the international masonic news? There is tons of it to be printed. Where do you get masonic news??

What constitutes interesting articles?

What's new in the masonic library?

What was your impression of grand lodge?

Who received honours and why?

Do you ever place photographs in your summons?

Do you advertise the socials and write about the successful events after the fact? The good times?

Do you ever publish the complete dues structure of your lodge? Why would that be important? Because every new applicant wants to know and many of your seasoned members forget or just don't know what they are.

Some matrix dot printers, poor photocopiers, old typewriters with letters missing or with 10 year old ribbon, do not produce legible print — especially for my tired senior eyes.

Don't run off the page!!

Use bold headings and paragraph for easy reading.

Don't use small print to squeeze your message into your alloted space. Use an additional insert if necessary with your summons.

You should never see white spaces in the lodge summons again. If you do, then look for a new Secretary and/or promote a team management staff for your W.M.

We are a class organization. How we communicate and what we communicate by you to others is a direct reflection on our craft.

Leave your smut, your ethnic jokes and your four letter words at the office. There is no place for such in masonic circles.

Why do we have so many resignations, demits, and suspensions??

These masons will always be masons in their heart. If they lost interest or became bored, then the fault is ours. If we let their dues lapse without a concerted effort on our part to use sound business principles to collect their overdue account again, the fault is ours.

Does your lodge send out invoices?

Does your lodge age the account 30-60-90-120 days?

Does your lodge train the financial committee to collect outstanding dues or investigate the reasons why??? Is this left up to the Secretary? How much energy does he have left?

The old citche "dues, dues, dues" often seen in lodge summons — is a waste of printers ink! Or how about this phrase — "please check your dues card to see if you are current in your dues"?? This is a complete reversal of any ethical business practice. No wonder we lose members!!!

The onus should be on the lodge not the debtor once the account is overdue.

Communicate, communicate my brethren!

Finally let's highlight leadership.

I know men who attained executive status in the business world who have left masonic lodges because of the lack of leadership and the ineptness of the W.M.

Men are not born leaders.

Some men have to really work at becoming W.M. And the "leader" of the lodge. But with fortitude, determination, desire and study -- every mason can be a leader.

The W.M. Who thinks a masonic lodge is only a degree will soon find empty seats on lodge night.

The master who calls on his committee chairman for a report only to hear a familiar reply, "I have nothing to report W. Sir" is blatantly telling me he didn't prepare his evening agenda beforehand.

All to my detriment a waste of my personal precious time. If the W.M. Is not prepared for his meeting, why should I attend? The W.M. Who runs his business meeting over thirty minutes probably operates on overdrafts in his private life. We are not a corporation like general motors or the ford motor company. We are a small business. There is no need to drag out the evening over a few small accounts.

Why do the Senior and Junior Wardens move and second all the motions? Is there no one else capable?

Why permit anyone to speak for the good of masonry in general or this lodge in particular unless you really want to invite filibusters to bore your members and visitors to death.

Why not coach your lodge officers in simple parliamentary procedures — rules of order. That would prevent many hassles.

Sloppy floor work is difficult to watch. What happened to the rehearsals? It is pathetic but sometimes humourous to see the deacons and stewards bumping into each other taking up a simple ballot. It's not pathetic — it is embarassing.

I marvel at a Deacon that makes a candidate "feel" comfortable during the evening; one who cuts the corners square and who holds his wand at a good angle, and steps out with assurance. I like to see members together — no isolated mason in the back row hidden behind the Chaplain's chair.

I hate readers of masonic education who can't read or who are reading something they don't understand, or who can't pronounce the words properly. I admire short, concise, factual, well prepared committee reporting.

A real touch of class in some lodges is evident when the W.M., with his Senior and Junior Warden (after lodge closes), position themselves at the door and say goodnight and thank you to all who attended lodge — remember, not everyone goes for coffee.

Coffee — the social hour. Actually, the social hour is one third of the entire evening. Two hours in lodge conducting business — performing degrees, then one hour fraternizing.

Without leadership — invariably, the social hour consists of donuts and coffee and home — who needs a lead donut washed down with coffee at 10 P.M.? That menu tells me there was little or no imagination expended by the Junior Warden, or was there any overall leadership by the W.M. To permit such a flat climax to his masonic evening.

For those of us who have witnessed dragged out bustness meetings, witnessed thousands of degrees in all categories from excellence to indifference — we always look forward to a happy social hour! Here is where masonry comes alive!

If you want your lodge well attended and your members to increase, then concentrate proportionality on a well organized meeting which must include a well planned social hour.

Now, my brethren, let me summarize briefly on the internal factors of a lodge as we "grab the future":

To strengthen our craft — we must:

  1. be open to progressive change and diplomatically control the know-it-all masons.
  2. expand all avenues to increase membership — participation in lodge administration.
  3. improve our communication both printed and verbal.
  4. take a good look at leadership and concentrate on the organization of the entire evening, the business and degree portion, and especially the social hour.

Oft times how you view the lodge makes all the difference in its success. Your views are not necessarily the same as your fellow members. Keep this always in mind to foster harmony.

(E.G.) a young man took his young son to the grocery store. His little boy saw this huge lady and said to his dad: "dad, look at that fat lady!" immediately the father quieted his boy and cautioned courtesy. The dad and his little boy later met the lady in an aisle during their shopping. The boy said, "but dad, she really is fat!" the father spun the boy around to avoid further embarassment. At check out the father and son were directly beside the lady at counter. The lady wore a pager and just then it started to beep.

"Look out dad!!", yelled the little boy, "I think she is going to back up!"

It depends where you are and what the total picture really looks like.

This seminar has no place for the phrases: "It won't work in my lodge" "It can't be done"

Instead, let this be your motto: (10 words) if it is to be — it is up to me.

In closing — remember, we may mot have it all together, but together we have it all!