"Utah Masonic Leadership Training Oration" Gavin K. K. Wardrope, W. Grand Orator
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Right Worshipful Brothers, Worshipful Brothers and Brethren all, Good Evening.
I am sure that the last thing you wish to hear after spending a whole Saturday in this building is some foreigner speak for the next 30 minutes on something completely boring. I can assure you that I will be no longer than 5 minutes.
I hope you have enjoyed what has been presented to you today and have learned something that can be taken back to your Lodge and put into practice for their benefit.
I can assure you that this Training course is not for the Grand Lodge Officers benefit Brethren, although we can all learn something from it, it is for your benefit. Why? You, Brethren, are the future, not just the future leaders of your Lodges but the future leaders of this Grand Lodge. Make use of these days to meet your counterparts in other Lodges, share your ideas, your fears. In the years to come there will be many difficult decisions to be made. Be it the Dues Structure, the consolidation of Lodges or the closure of Lodge Buildings the more you discuss it here with your counterparts, the better prepared you will be to answer the questions of your Brethren in you Lodges.
Not long ago I was at a Meeting in another Order when the following question was asked in place of an Educational for the evening, 'What makes a Meeting successful?'
This was asked to everyone in attendance, a one word response was required and there was a wide combination of answers from what I expected to some really interesting ones. The most interesting and enlightening answers came from the youngest Masons in attendance.
I found the expression that the key to a successful Meeting was Education. Now this got me thinking of how times in my own Masonic career have changed, but then again education comes in all forms.
Someone's interesting educational is another person's boredom. I only have to look up from this folder to see the tell-tale signs of eyes glazing over, shuffling in the seats and the all telling sigh emanating from the peanut gallery.
So what education could be classed as successful?
Obviously, it has to be relevant, not only to Masonry but the Lodge in particular. It has to be short, hopefully encourage discussion and make a person wish to investigate further. It must engage the newest Mason or at least involve them. The worst thing is to give the appearance of elitism. There is nothing more likely to discourage Members than eliminating them from the discussion. Remember there are other forums where the wonders of Greek Philosophy or the Roman Empire can be discussed.
I find it strange that we do not educate our newest Masons in the etiquette and customs of the Lodge. I don't know how many times I have been asked by a newly raised Master Mason how to use the Ballot.
There is an identifiable need for the creation of current and relevant masonic education materials that tackles the issues of Masons now. It is easy to trivialize the size of the task at hand as it is immense with the opportunity for success being equally immense.
Brethren, If the Masonic Education is not at the center of Freemasonry then we end up with a ceremony that is simply entertainment for those watching. Our ceremonies cannot compete with lavish theatrical productions or rock concerts. For over two hundred years it has been an appealing way of life. We may not be able to change the attitudes of members who are fearful of change and new ideas but we will provide every opportunity for those who seek assistance to progress their masonic formation.
In order to tackle the issue of Masonic Education we need to start reinforcing with the idea that the journey of a Freemason is not an individual path but a shared journey. In doing so we will be attempting to train our members into the future builders and leaders of Freemasonry in our organization and the community.
If we are honest we have all sat in a Lodge where we have cringed in horror at what we have witnessed. Should we have said something, yes we should. I have vivid memories of a Past Master whenever something was not in order he had no hesitation in correcting the Lodge and proceeding to educate them in the error of their ways and this was not in his own Lodge but while visiting Sister Lodges! On occasions his spirit lives on as I see his face when I see the same cringe worthy moment although I keep quiet.
I recently became aware of a Lodge, whose Membership has been dwindling for many years, start to talk of handing back their Charter. Due to the age of their Members the only people they know are Masons, the majority of whom are retired and the prospect of new Members is zero. At their last Regular meeting there were only 8 people in attendance, all of whom were Past Masters. A lost cause, it my opinion yes, but where did it all go wrong. Where did the rut set in? To find that answer we have to look back 30 years or so. The seeds were sown when Members lost interest and nothing was done to renew that interest. There was a surge in the 1990's with an influx of affiliations but the damage was too great. I predict that within 4 years my Lodge in Scotland will cease to exist.
Remember we can all make a difference go back to your Lodges and educate, engage and most of all enjoy.
Finally, Brethren, please remember our Bethels this afternoon are having their Annual Chili Cook Off followed by their Skit Competition, go support if you can.
Most Worshipful Grand Master yet again I thank you for allowing me to say these few words.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator April 13, 2013