John M. Pratt, MIPGM
Grand High Priest
Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Wisconsin
General Grand Council Ambassador to Wisconsin
When our Most Puissant General Grand Master, David Grindle asked me to write something for this publication, I told him to be careful what he asks for. Here goes.
Freemasonry is 300 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress. There, I said it.
When we were children, we all had our parents walk into our room and it looked like a nuke had gone off. After staring in shock they would always ask, “What have you done?” Our answer was always the same, “Nothing.” As Masons we’ve taken the same approach to Membership. We’ve kept Masonry in the lodge room, done nothing and the place is a mess!
People no longer know Freemasonry exists, except for what they watched on the History Channel. Nor do they know what we do. It’s like we’ve stopped trying to grow. The, “wait for them to come to us” approach doesn’t work! Those days are looooooooooong gone. Well, for myself at least, no longer.
For those of you that don't know, the Northern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite has put together excellent materials which all Masonic Bodies may use to recruit new Masons. It's called Not Just a Man. A Mason. www.notjustaman.org It was introduced to us at our Grand Lodge Annual Communication in June. I'm not in the Scottish Rite, but I'll steal a good idea from anyone. We need to utilize this resource. Absolutely not for the purpose to recruit ultimately for our Order. But to grow the ranks of Freemasonry, without favor to any of its Bodies. In this way we all grow.
The Brothers of my Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt #322 in Green Bay, decided to grab the idea and run. So far, we have twice had a booth at Green Bay’s Wednesday Farmer's Market. We’re going to be at the Saturday Market in October. We’re also working our way into other public venues and events. The Lodge purchased a double banner display from the program and I purchased another. We set up a stall, handed out materials about Masonry in general and the charities of all our bodies in particular. We had members from the other three lodges in town come and help. My Lady came with her spinning wheel and spun yarn. Yes, people still do that. Her spinning draws the kids, the kids bring their moms and dads. Yes, she’s a lot smarter than I am.
Did we get 400 new members? No. But, we did greet every single person that walked by. We actively engaged the public. There’s now hundreds of people that associate the Square and Compasses with people that smile and tell total strangers; "Hello.", "Good afternoon.", "Beautiful day, isn't it?", "How are you today?", “Have a great day!” We spoke about Masonry to everyone that stopped. We put a lodge business card in their hand. We answered questions - even stupid ones. We told people who we are and what we do. And, we’ve had several people contact us asking about our next meeting. Gooooaaaalllllll!
Get out of that messy Lodge room and into your communities. Once there, seek out and bring good men to Freemasonry. How do we do that? Explain to them what we’ve all promised - to help, aid and assist our fellow man. That's it in a nutshell. We help, aid and assist. And, we're good at it. In fact, we’re far and away the best.
I firmly believe our charities are the way to not only help, aid and assist others; but they’re the vehicle to grow the fraternity. Every day, good men walk for cures, buy raffle tickets and ring bells because they want to help, aid and assist others. They don’t realize it, but they’re already Freemasons in their hearts. So let’s show them vascular diseases treated and cured. Let’s show them diabetics keeping their limbs and sight. Let’s show them burn victims healed and crippled children walking. Let’s show them elderly people receiving eye care. Let’s show them cardiac arrhythmia corrected. Let’s show them dyslexic children reading. Let’s show them children with auditory and comprehension difficulties learning and functioning as they should. Let’s show them a fraternity that does all that and so much more. Let’s tell them, “This is who we are and this is what we do.” Or, we can continue to say, "We make good men better." Any bets which attracts more good men who want to be better?
Freemasonry is the greatest philanthropic organization in the history of the world. That's the message we must get out and spread. We must show the world who we are and what we do. Every Mason should be able, at any time or place, to stand up and give a 5 to 10 minute talk on our charities. Even those charities of organizations he's not a member. Every single person on earth has some kind of connection with something we do. We need to find that button and push.
We must seek out and bring good men to Freemasonry. We must do it today, or there is no tomorrow. Let’s clean up the mess.
If anyone wants any information or has questions about what we're doing, just let me know. But, be careful what you ask for.
With Brotherly Love, Affection and Zeal.