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Report of membership decline - why?
Posted: 30 October 2013 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp

Hi.

Are the stats on the above link accurate?  If so, why the continued decline?

I heard a speech given by Chris Hodapp saying that the Dan Brown novel “The Lost Symbol” was “a love letter to the fraternity”, resulting in a dramatic upswing in inquiries to lodges. The book came out in 2009 and had a 5-6 year run up in which a lot of books came out about Masonry in anticipation of the “big release”. 

Yet the stats show a continuing decline through 2011.

I know this is a harsh question, but if the stats are accurate, why are people not coming into the lodge to fill the vacant seats of aging Masons?

This is not intended as an indictment - submitted respectfully.

Jim

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Posted: 30 October 2013 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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What the “dramatic” among our number describe as a decline is actually the number of Masons adjusting back to its pre-WWII levels.

Following WWII there was a huge increase in membership as service personnel joined up in their droves. Most recognise that it wouldn’t be possible to keep up those levels and now the mortality rate of those guys who are all in their 70s 80s and 90s means that things are getting back to normal.

It is also an indictment of modern day society that people don’t always have enough time available to become an active member of a Lodge and so don’t bother.

To be honest it is not an actual problem as we actually need more Masonry in our men rather than more men in our Masonry.

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Posted: 30 October 2013 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I’m not sure I see that in the numbers.  Pre WWII numbers are still a good 1.2 million above 2011 numbers. It looks like something more is in play than a return to those levels.

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Posted: 30 October 2013 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Not worried.  Some lodges are thriving and growing at a modest rate, while others are dying off at a rapid rate.  Lodges that refuse to change with the times and make their meetings interesting will turn in their charters.

Freemasonry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Posted: 30 October 2013 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I hope you are right, because the current trend is a loss of about 30,000 members per year. If that rate were to continue the fraternity would have around 42 years of life remaining.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 30 October 2013 09:33 PM

I hope you are right, because the current trend is a loss of about 30,000 members per year. If that rate were to continue the fraternity would have around 42 years of life remaining.

Freemasonry has existed in its current form for almost 300 years.  The question regarding this “drastic” decline in membership comes up often and the answer is always the same, we are not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I’m sorry, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

The cold hard numerical facts do not support the apparent complacency in the preceding posts. Freemasonry has made itself more visible than ever in the past decade or so, and if Chris Hodapp is right, it got a boost in “cool factor” via Dan Brown in 2009. Yet you lost around 36,000 between 2010 and 2011. If I was a CEO looking at numbers like that for my company, I couldn’t go to the board and say “don’t worry, we’ve been around for 300 years so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon”.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 31 October 2013 06:59 AM

I’m sorry, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

The cold hard numerical facts do not support the apparent complacency in the preceding posts. Freemasonry has made itself more visible than ever in the past decade or so, and if Chris Hodapp is right, it got a boost in “cool factor” via Dan Brown in 2009. Yet you lost around 36,000 between 2010 and 2011. If I was a CEO looking at numbers like that for my company, I couldn’t go to the board and say “don’t worry, we’ve been around for 300 years so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon”.

I’m sorry, and I say this with the utmost respect, but if you are going to be THAT concerned over quantity opposed to quality, you might better look into another group.  I know for a fact that my lodge in particular just initiated 5 new members earlier this month.  We have at least 6 more waiting in the wings.  We brought in 8 new members last year, so we have a 20% increase in the number of new members.  Maybe the new guys are not coming in as fast as the old guys are dying off, or leaving for other reasons, but we do have a steady influx of “new” members.  We also had around 50 members on the verge of being dropped for non payment of dues, this number is now down to 3.  We have seen an increase in presence of members who have not had time to attend lodge in a while.  We have also made changes in how we run our meetings to incorporate more education and programs, instead of just business.  This is what we younger guys want, and we are leading the charge.  Sure there is some resistance from some of the older guys, but most of the older guys are excited to return to the way it was and are impressed that the young guys are taking charge and making things happen.  So no, the “cold hard numerical facts” do not bother me in the least.  As I said, in its current form, we have been around for 300 years, we are not going anywhere any time soon.

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St. Georges Lodge #6
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32°AASR Valley of Schenectady
St Georges Chapter #157 Royal Arch Masons
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Posted: 31 October 2013 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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You don’t mention any members leaving or passing, so it’s good that your lodge is in fact growing, however, I find it somewhat discouraging that any time I ask a respectful question that ruffles feathers I get told “maybe this is not for you”.

Perhaps someone who is not yet emotionally invested in the fraternity is able to assess it with an unbiased eye?

And that difference between us may be a contributing factor to the facts that you cannot dispute.  You are losing in excess of 30,000 annually. That’s the fact, no amount of posturing will erase it, and many in the fraternity are honestly sounding the alarm. Unfortunately, that warning from within your own ranks seems to be falling on a lot of deaf ears. Saying you have been around for 300 years, I’m sorry, means nothing in this instance.

How do you think that scenario, very obvious to anyone who takes time to look, impacts those of us contemplating membership?

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Posted: 31 October 2013 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Here is my take on this.
There is a leveling off from the huge spike after ww2. Membership will stabilize at a much lower level, closer to what it has been prior to that spike.
Our Fraternity will be here but with a tighter group than before.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Hi.

Well, as mentioned earlier, a levelling off after a spike would be a return to those pre WWII levels, and in fact you are 1.2 million below those levels. Factor in the fact that those pre-war years were the depression, where you had already seen understandable declines in membership, and you are roughly 2/3 the size you were pre-depression. For those years you were seeing growth that levelled at nearly 3.3 million in the 3 years prior to the crash. Now factor in the population increase since the depression, or even since the end of the war, which should have steadily boosted your growth…

I would not assume that those 2 million men were somehow lesser members, less tight with their brothers, than those who sit in a lodge today.

With respect, gentlemen, I’m not sure you can afford to assume the fraternity will continue to be here just because it has been since 1717.  From an outsider’s view I think that, as your own brother Chris Hodapp suggests, acceptance of the facts, some deep introspection and meaningful action is required.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 31 October 2013 07:50 AM

You don’t mention any members leaving or passing, so it’s good that your lodge is in fact growing, however, I find it somewhat discouraging that any time I ask a respectful question that ruffles feathers I get told “maybe this is not for you”.

Perhaps someone who is not yet emotionally invested in the fraternity is able to assess it with an unbiased eye?

And that difference between us may be a contributing factor to the facts that you cannot dispute.  You are losing in excess of 30,000 annually. That’s the fact, no amount of posturing will erase it, and many in the fraternity are honestly sounding the alarm. Unfortunately, that warning from within your own ranks seems to be falling on a lot of deaf ears. Saying you have been around for 300 years, I’m sorry, means nothing in this instance.

How do you think that scenario, very obvious to anyone who takes time to look, impacts those of us contemplating membership?

I am truly sorry that you feel that way, however masonry is about quality, not necessarily quantity so the fact that we have been around for centuries means everything in this case.  If “you”, meant in the colloquial are looking for a group with large numbers in the present, this may not be it.  If “you” are looking for quality members and potential for more members, this IS it.  As lodges start to improve the quality of their Masonic education, those members that are merely members for the sake of saying they are a Mason, will find that there is actually work involved and may choose to leave.  But on the other side of the coin, those that have been away because of a lack of stimulating and quality work, may start to come back.  So in theory then, you will see a decline.  In 1826 when the Morgan Affair took place, NY lost about 90% of its lodges, we went from 800 to 80 lodges in about 3 years.  By 1847-50 we were back above pre Morgan numbers.  Taken from http://themasonicleader.com/a-brief-history-of-freemasonry-the-morgan-affair-part-5/  So, if we can come back from what many thought was the end of Masonry in the States, I really do not think there is anything to worry about.  Yes, the quantity of Masons may be on the decline, but the quality of those that remain is higher which will in time bring in more quality members.

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St. Georges Lodge #6
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Posted: 31 October 2013 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Freemasonry requires one to believe in a supreme being.

As time marches on, the younger generations are not as involved with religion as our parents and grandparents once were.

Now, I’m not suggesting a change in a requirement for membership but the pool to pull from is culled already by the attitude of younger people towards religion.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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I certainly hope you are right, Paul.

Unfortunately, you need a certain level of numbers to justify paying the bills, or indeed, to be able to pay the bills at all. You of course know this.

And you also know the world and society is a very different place than it was at the time of the Morgan affair, or even at the end or WW2.

Look at the breakdown by state, and the numbers from Canada, and with a few exceptions, the membership losses are pretty widespread. I know as an outsider my opinion doesn’t really count, but I suggest that as a whole, the fraternity really needs to accept the hard data and consider what the future really holds. And then you need to look at the States where growth did occur and figure out what caused it, and what they are doing differently.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Those kinds of conversations are taking place.

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Dan

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Posted: 31 October 2013 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 31 October 2013 09:23 AM

I certainly hope you are right, Paul.

Unfortunately, you need a certain level of numbers to justify paying the bills, or indeed, to be able to pay the bills at all. You of course know this.

And you also know the world and society is a very different place than it was at the time of the Morgan affair, or even at the end or WW2.

Look at the breakdown by state, and the numbers from Canada, and with a few exceptions, the membership losses are pretty widespread. I know as an outsider my opinion doesn’t really count, but I suggest that as a whole, the fraternity really needs to accept the hard data and consider what the future really holds. And then you need to look at the States where growth did occur and figure out what caused it, and what they are doing differently.

The thing is, the Fraternity as a whole cannot look at it because there is no central governing body for all of Freemasonry.  Each state can do that, and I know NY is through a Ritual Renaissance project designed to attract more quality members through a revitalization of the membership by bringing more focus to education in lodge and less on mundane things.  Brother Hodapp’s paper http://www.masonicdictionary.com/boredom.html points usin the right direction of where we need to go and based on the lodges I have been to, I thing we are headed the right way.

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W:. Bro. Paul Hulseapple
St. Georges Lodge #6
Worshipful Master for the 2016-17 A.D 6016-17 A.L. year

32°AASR Valley of Schenectady
St Georges Chapter #157 Royal Arch Masons
Scribe

St. George’s Council # 74 Cryptic Masons
Giles Fonda Yates Council #22 AMD
Jr. Warden

St. George’s Commandery #37
Oriental Shrine A.A.O.N.M.S.
Schenectady NY

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