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Report of membership decline - why?
Posted: 01 November 2013 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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At least in my town there are 6 lodges, so we could withstand a few mergers before we lost Freemasonry here altogether.  Still, those lodges probably have different “personalities” (I was told that one lodge is more “progressive”) so I wonder if a merger disenfranchises some members if they have to merge with a lodge with a completely different outlook?

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Petitioned Trillium Lodge 724 - November 25 2013
Initiated - February 20, 2014
Passed - March 20, 2014
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Posted: 01 November 2013 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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This is an interesting topic, and one with which I have some familiarity. Two lodges that I have belonged to in the past, have consolidated. When a lodge disappears, the “personality” of the lodge can either merge with the new lodge, or be lost. There is no real answer for all situations.

This could be an entirely new topic, I would like to see what happens when lodges consolidate.

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Posted: 01 November 2013 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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It’s common practice ~ around here anyway ~ at a lot of significant gatherings to go around the room and see who’s been a member the longest and who is the newest member. This past spring, at a Grand Lecturer’s convention on Long Island, after going around the room like that, they asked everyone who had been a member for less than five years to stand. More than half of the room stood up.
It may be purely anecdotal, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say the lodges are drastically improving on the new members front, just not quite to the point to offset the passing of the enormous number of members who joined after WWII (I’ve read a story on Facebook about a lodge that conferred something like 200 degrees in a year). As that slows, the numbers should stabilize.

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Craig Riha
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Posted: 01 November 2013 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Please take a look at this chart. It is the latest information available.

U.S. Grand Lodges Membership
STATE MEMBERSHIP 2010 MEMBERSHIP 2009 GAIN/LOSS
ALABAMA       * 28,684 28,386 298
ALASKA   1,935 1,935 0
ARIZONA   8,651 9,023 -372
ARKANSAS 14,429 15,027 -598
CALIFORNIA   57,267 58,889 -1,622
COLORADO 10,356 10,742 -386
CONNECTICUT 12,895 13,432 -537
DELAWARE   5,110 5,150 -40
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA   * 4,341 4,312 29
FLORIDA   45,940 47,471 -1,531
GEORGIA 43,578 44,523 -945
HAWAII     * 1,742 1,643 99
IDAHO   3,962 4,191 -229
ILLINOIS 65,564 68,308 -2,744
INDIANA 65,443 66,006 -563
IOWA 21,695 22,466 -771
KANSAS 23,074 24,091 -1,017
KENTUCKY   ^ 46,362 47,747 -1,385
LOUISIANA   ^ 21,004 20,070 934
MAINE       ^ 20,294 19,968 326
MARYLAND 16,235 16,477 -242
MASSACHUSETTS   35,944 36,518 -574
MICHIGAN 37,709 39,189 -1,480
MINNESOTA 14,721 15,182 -461
MISSISSIPPI 19,341 19,774 -433
MISSOURI 50,500 51,000 -500
MONTANA       ^ 5,990 6,342 -352
NEBRASKA 12,716 13,038 -322
NEVADA   4,225 4,316 -91
NEW HAMPSHIRE 6,898 6,928 -30
NEW JERSEY   24,775 26,073 -1,298
NEW MEXICO   * 5,553 5,227 326
NEW YORK     45,801 48,051 -2,250
NORTH CAROLINA 45,096 45,685 -589
NORTH DAKOTA   3,055 3,151 -96
OHIO   106,870 108,332 -1,462
OKLAHOMA   25,739 26,572 -833
OREGON 9,541 9,970 -429
PENNSYLVANIA     ^ 113,279 114,447 -1,168
RHODE ISLAND   4,213 4,326 -113
SOUTH CAROLINA 39,927 40,798 -871
SOUTH DAKOTA 6,094 6,262 -168
TENNESSEE 44,691 46,156 -1,465
TEXAS   91,632 92,656 -1,024
UTAH   * 2,035 1,920 115
VERMONT   6,444 6,466 -22
VIRGINIA 38,498 39,238 -740
WASHINGTON   15,369 17,109 -1,740
WEST VIRGINIA 21,643 22,078 -435
WISCONSIN 12,694 13,328 -634
WYOMING   3,899 4,070 -171
  1,373,453 1,404,059 -30,606

=========================

Now, please tell me why you believe that Masonry in New York, and Masonry in the United States is growing?

I worked for the US Census Bureau, in statistical data collection and analysis. I do not see a growth trend in this chart.

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Charles E. Martin
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Bowling Green Lodge #73, Bowling Green, KY (Grand Lodge of KY, F.&A.M.;)
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Posted: 01 November 2013 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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cemab4y - 01 November 2013 02:51 PM

Please take a look at this chart. It is the latest information available.

U.S. Grand Lodges Membership
STATE MEMBERSHIP 2010 MEMBERSHIP 2009 GAIN/LOSS

MASSACHUSETTS   35,944 36,518 -574

NEW YORK     45,801 48,051 -2,250

  1,373,453 1,404,059 -30,606

=========================

Now, please tell me why you believe that Masonry in New York, and Masonry in the United States is growing?

I worked for the US Census Bureau, in statistical data collection and analysis. I do not see a growth trend in this chart.

I’ve seen these numbers several times before and there certainly is no arguing with them. In the last four years however, my lodge has grown while many others have fallen in membership. A lodge in Massachusetts just turned in its charter and closed in the past few weeks because they could no longer support their building.

The key to the growth of my lodge has been younger members enthusiastically showing their friends what they get out of their membership and helping them become Masons. We have a lot of fun and are always there for our brothers. The lodge that closed was a “daylight lodge” that was mainly for older, retired members.

I’ve been at meetings where the Secretary tried to read his own writing for forty five minutes and failed. I will not be visiting that lodge again. I’ve also visited a lodge where they started their meeting by inviting men who were interested in joining to hear some brief masonic education (the “Masonic Minute” they called it) and the meal was prepared by a contestant from “Iron Chef”. I don’t think their membership is in decline.

Those lodges that can, within the due bounds of our Gentle Craft, change with the times and attract the kind of men who will become a credit to the Fraternity will grow. Those who only recycle the past masters to be able to open their meetings will fail.

The Fraternity isn’t going away. It is adjusting to the times as it has for three hundred years.

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John Ruggiero, 32°
Master, Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, MA.

God never sends us anything we can’t handle. Sometimes I wish He didn’t trust me so much. - Mother Teresa

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Posted: 01 November 2013 08:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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I wasn’t arguing that the overall numbers aren’t in decline. They obviously are. And perhaps all we’re seeing in anecdotal (and I’ve only been a member for a few years), but lots of lodges around here seem to be having marked increases in the number of petitioners. My lodge, for example, just had a first degree for six, and next meeting will be a second degree for seven. We’ve raised a couple of dozen in the time I’ve been a member, and I know lots of lodges (but certainly not all) are having similar experiences.
I just think (and it’s not based on any kind of statistical analysis), that as the post WWII generation continues to pass away, the membership losses will decrease and the increases in new members will stabilize the losses. That’s the difference between a decrease of 2,000 members caused by 6,000 deaths and 4,000 initiates against 3,000 deaths and 1,000 initiates, for example.

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Craig Riha
Smithtown #1127
New York

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Posted: 01 November 2013 08:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Is the fraternity really in touch with the times? Is a drastic change required?

I see many comments pointing to Freemasonry remaking itself after the Morgan affair. I also see challenges to myself personally to join and effect change from within. If I am to consider accepting that challenge, then I in turn have a few challenges for you. How far are you willing to go?

- are you prepared to loosen the suit rule?
- are you prepared to follow the lead of the French Grand Orient and finally admit women?
- are you prepared to revisit the regalia and ritual to see if it’s really important?
- are you prepared to open the door to a person who may have a criminal record (because in my humble opinion, that guy is probably more in need of what you offer than someone who has been on the straight and narrow all his life)

Just a few challenges - there are plenty more…

I know these questions will raise the ire of some readers, but face it - the world is ever-changing, and these are the questions that many men like myself will be asking when they consider joining. And before you peremptorily dismiss me by saying “then maybe it’s not for you” consider that the mathematics suggest that maybe it won’t be for anybody in a few short decades.

How far down the rabbit hole are you prepared to go?

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Petitioned Trillium Lodge 724 - November 25 2013
Initiated - February 20, 2014
Passed - March 20, 2014
Raised - December 18, 2014

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Posted: 01 November 2013 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Not all states require suits (at least according to photos I’ve seen). My lodge has several members with minor criminal records, it’s not a concern as long as the candidate has demonstrated that he’s since changed.

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Craig Riha
Smithtown #1127
New York

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Posted: 01 November 2013 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

Is the fraternity really in touch with the times? Is a drastic change required?

I see many comments pointing to Freemasonry remaking itself after the Morgan affair. I also see challenges to myself personally to join and effect change from within. If I am to consider accepting that challenge, then I in turn have a few challenges for you. How far are you willing to go?

- are you prepared to loosen the suit rule?
- are you prepared to follow the lead of the French Grand Orient and finally admit women?
- are you prepared to revisit the regalia and ritual to see if it’s really important?
- are you prepared to open the door to a person who may have a criminal record (because in my humble opinion, that guy is probably more in need of what you offer than someone who has been on the straight and narrow all his life)

Just a few challenges - there are plenty more…

I know these questions will raise the ire of some readers, but face it - the world is ever-changing, and these are the questions that many men like myself will be asking when they consider joining. And before you peremptorily dismiss me by saying “then maybe it’s not for you” consider that the mathematics suggest that maybe it won’t be for anybody in a few short decades.

How far down the rabbit hole are you prepared to go?

We are a fraternity made up of gentlemen of good moral character. As gentlemen attending a formal event, we dress the part.

We are a Fraternity. By definition, women may not join a fraternity. The same lessons we teach are available in any house of worship. You don’t need to be a Mason to be a good person, but you do need to be a good person to be a Mason.

Through experiencing the Ritual from both sides, I can assure you they are wonderful teaching tools. There is no need to change them and yes, they are critically important to Masons.

As I said before, you don’t need to be a Mason to be a good person. We are selective in our decisions of who we admit to the Fraternity for the simple reason of trust. I trust every one of my brothers. I do not trust many criminals. Would you have a thief involved with your fundraisers? Every man in my lodge can participate in any of our activities. Any man in my lodge can make his way through the chairs and become Master. These things would not be true if we admitted criminals who had not had a long track record of walking the right path. People with criminal records are not automatically excluded from becoming Masons. They will simply need to prove they have changed their ways and show some evidence that the change is permanent.

Masonry is not for everyone. We like it that way.

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John Ruggiero, 32°
Master, Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, MA.

God never sends us anything we can’t handle. Sometimes I wish He didn’t trust me so much. - Mother Teresa

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Posted: 01 November 2013 10:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

Is the fraternity really in touch with the times?

Some lodges are, some lodges aren’t, and some lodges are getting there.

MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

Is a drastic change required?

No, not drastic, but yes, the fraternity does need to continue to change, and we do.

MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

- are you prepared to loosen the suit rule? 

In my lodge, no, because we don’t need to.  We wear suits to show our intent, that we attempt to put our best foot forward.  However, not all lodges have a dress code.  This is a lodge by lodge thing.  That question is too general to speak for all of Masonry.  I still wear suits to job interviews, lodge meetings, funerals, important meetings, weddings…anywhere where I want my appearance to say about me the following: “My presence here is important to me and to you, and I’m willing to show that”.  I’m also willing to accept that not everyone subscribes to this idea.

MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

- are you prepared to follow the lead of the French Grand Orient and finally admit women?

No, and we don’t follow their lead because we don’t recognize the Grand Orient of France as members of the same fraternity, so they can do whatever they want.  There’s nothing wrong with a group only for men in my opinion. 

MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

- are you prepared to revisit the regalia and ritual to see if it’s really important?

Trust me, it’s REALLY important.  There’s no need to revisit it.  If you were a Mason, you’d learn to appreciate that the regalia and ritual, and what they represent, are as true and important as ever.

MasonMaybe - 01 November 2013 08:33 PM

- are you prepared to open the door to a person who may have a criminal record (because in my humble opinion, that guy is probably more in need of what you offer than someone who has been on the straight and narrow all his life)

I continue to state that I personally, acting as a Master of a lodge, would always take this on a case by case basis, and if I ever felt that a man applying was deserving of the degrees, would make that known.  There is no blanket rule against anyone with any criminal record across all Freemasonry.  We state that you must be of good character, and of course there are many ways of determining that (and we don’t always get it right).  It comes down to trust, and past behavior is the biggest hindrance to building trust.

Good questions, and I appreciate that you’re here asking them.  I wish you could come and visit a vibrant and thriving lodge and see the spirit of our members and the good that we do and the fun that we have.  Understand this…we’re all here…both in lodge and on this site, because we love Freemasonry.  Not because we’re trying to save it…because even with a reduction in numbers, the core of the Fraternity is still relevant…but because we want to share our love for our fraternity with others.

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Dan

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Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
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Posted: 01 November 2013 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Let me add one thing to my post above.

The Ritual and ceremonies we use as teaching tools make a big impression on the men who are being brought into our ranks but I feel they are even more important to the men delivering them and witnessing them from the sidelines. I, at least, have learned as much about being a better man and Mason from delivering the degrees as I did when I received them.

If I’ve learned one thing about Masonry, it is that the Craft, after three hundred years, has very good reasons for everything we are asked to do.

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John Ruggiero, 32°
Master, Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, MA.

God never sends us anything we can’t handle. Sometimes I wish He didn’t trust me so much. - Mother Teresa

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Posted: 01 November 2013 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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That’s a great point, John, and a beautiful thing about our ritual.  You keep getting more out of it.  There are things that I’m still finding myself having “aha!” moments about, more than a decade of having heard them several times a year.

As someone who enjoys learning and performing Masonic ritual, I make it my duty to learn that ritual as if it were my own words that I am speaking, and since I must understand everything I say, I must work extra hard to make sure that I understand the ritual so that I can effectively communicate it.  In doing this, I continue to surprise myself as I find new things that I haven’t previously considered.

No…we don’t need to revisit our regalia and ritual.  In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone ask that.  We as Masons have often spoken of revisiting our policies on many things, but the ritual….the symbolism and the lessons behind our fraternity, are so universally agreed, that we almost never find any cause to doubt or revisit them.

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Past Master, Columbian Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Boston, MA
Friendship Lodge A.F.&A.M. - Wilmington, MA
32° Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Boston
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Posted: 02 November 2013 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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Is the fraternity really in touch with the times?

==In some respects it is, in some respects it is not. This is not a cop-out, but it is the reality. The masons who have been in the Craft since the Dead Sea was only the Sick Sea, are not in touch. My lodge does not have a web page, the membership does not see the need for one. I lived in Pennsylvania some years ago. At that time, there was not one single daylight lodge in the entire state of Pennsylvania. With the large cohort of older masons who cannot get out at night, this is one example of the Craft being out of touch.

Is a drastic change required?

== Without sounding like Bill Clinton, it depends on what you mean by “drastic change”. I believe that we can keep true to the ancient landmarks of the Craft, and still adapt to the realities of the 21st century, and the new demographics. A more robust acceptance of the internet and social media, is one way.

I see many comments pointing to Freemasonry remaking itself after the Morgan affair. I also see challenges to myself personally to join and effect change from within. If I am to consider accepting that challenge, then I in turn have a few challenges for you. How far are you willing to go?

- are you prepared to loosen the suit rule?

===What is a suit rule? My Kentucky lodge has no dress code. Casual clothing is acceptable. I have attended lodge in rural Kentucky where men wear muddy boots and overalls. I have attended lodge in Paris, France, where the men wear tuxedos. I have attended lodge in Afghanistan, where men wear Army camo uniforms.

- are you prepared to follow the lead of the French Grand Orient and finally admit women?

===See my comments about keeping true to the ancient landmarks

- are you prepared to revisit the regalia and ritual to see if it’s really important?

===We can update the ritual, and modernize some of the archaic terminology, and make some of the presentations more understandable, and still keep true to the concepts.

- are you prepared to open the door to a person who may have a criminal record (because in my humble opinion, that guy is probably more in need of what you offer than someone who has been on the straight and narrow all his life)

===Masonry can examine each individual petitioner, and examine each one as individuals. A minor drug offense in a man’s youth, should not be a bar to his acceptance.

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Bowling Green Lodge #73, Bowling Green, KY (Grand Lodge of KY, F.&A.M.;)
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Posted: 02 November 2013 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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I will comment on the terminology used just this once.
Changing it will change the entire meaning of the ritual.
You are forced to think outside your current language usages to understand the intended meaning.
The language used is Old English and some of the syntax may seem strange but once you get used to it, it makes perfect sense and even has a more lyrical tone to the presentation.

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Posted: 02 November 2013 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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Well - first off I applaud Kentucky for loosening the rules about attire - encouraging, considering they only recognized Prince Hall two years ago (do they have visitation yet?)

In general, Charles, I appreciate that you are mostly willing to look at all options I put on the table, with the exception of permitting women, which frankly, after all the reading I’ve done on Freemasonry, continues to baffle me.

The ancient landmarks - that seems to be the fallback position to justify this rule. Essentially this equates to “we have a rule that we can’t change the rules”. Stated in those terms, I hope you can see how weak a defence it is.  I’m sorry but there is no reason to bar women.

I have a simple measure for these things - take the statement “we do not admit women” and for “women” substitute “blacks” or “Jews”.  Does it still seem defensible by invoking something called the ancient landmarks? 

And I know, I’m an outsider, so what can I possibly understand about Masonry? But consider, gentlemen, that by definition every new recruit you want to attract is an outsider. In the 21st century they will look at the suits and say “elitist” - they will look at the men-only rule and say “misogynist” - they will look at the agenda for your average monthly meeting and say “boring” and they will look at the ritual and regalia and the kindest thing they will say is “archaic”.

And unfortunately, quoting the “ancient landmarks” will not alter the progression of the statistics posted by myself and especially those posted by Charles. Yet if the results here can be in any way considered indicative of the general mood of current Freemasons, I would say that change has an uphill battle ahead of it.

So the suggestion above that I become “the little mason who could” seems like a bit of a longshot, doesn’t it?

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Petitioned Trillium Lodge 724 - November 25 2013
Initiated - February 20, 2014
Passed - March 20, 2014
Raised - December 18, 2014

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