"Uintah Lodge No. 7 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.
The future of our fraternity here in Utah is looking good, attendance is up; membership is up and of course so is the per capita. However, is it enough? Should we not be looking at the bigger picture, the future the condition of our Lodge Buildings, the list goes on.
I was talking not long ago with a Member of a Lodge in Idaho. He was a young man recently divorced and demitted from his Lodge because of his annual Dues, which he found to be exorbitant.
So what are the annual dues supposed to be for?
Firstly, they are used to cover the annual budget of the Lodge, or they should be.
Secondly, there should be sufficient money for the repair and upkeep of the building.
I am sure that in many of the Lodges this is not happening. So what occurs is that favorite of sayings, 'We are living on dead man's money.' How true this is and quite frankly what is wrong with that. The Members who are no longer with us would be pleased to see us keeping the Lodge above ground, even though it is thanks to their foresight that we are in a position to do it. We have to look after the present and not worry about the future; we will not be here to worry about that. It is good that we keep our Dues low so we can build up the Membership to levels last seen 40 or 50 years ago. We will all be thanked in the long run.
What a narrow, selfish attitude to take.
We are doing a dis-service to the Craft by not addressing these points now. There will be nothing left for the future Mason if we don't.
Now before you all begin to start becoming edgy, let's be sensible and talk this through;
Is quantity better than quality? I would rather Initiate 1 person who would take an active part in the Lodge than 5 people that we would not see again. Is it a Competition to see who can Initiate the most? What happens if all that happens is Business Meeting, Degree Meeting Degree Meeting Degree Meeting Business Meeting?
When do we have the time to Educate and listen to a Candidate's concern, explain the Ritual and the workings of the Lodge, eventually grooming them to be our future leaders. In my opinion we don't, we raise them as Master Masons put them into a Wardens chair and 3 years later expect them to run a Lodge. Surely, a new Initiate who is nurtured will enjoy the experience more and the lessons he can learn will make the Lodge a stronger place when he eventually reaches the East, it is not a race.
I remember when I was Initiated no one would discuss the cost, that was a serious offence to answer anyone who asked. All I was told was to make sure I talked to the Secretary before the Meeting. Thank goodness for Fathers, that is all I can say.
In this day and age what is a fair amount, or do I ask the question 'How much is it worth to you?'
Just think how much you spend on a meal, newspaper or a cup of coffee.
Surely, being a Member of the Fraternity is worth more than what you think.
However, perhaps the Lodges themselves could look at their predicaments and be bold in their actions. How many times do you expect a Member to pay? Look how many Lodge functions there are in a year and how much you actually spend. Multiply this by Membership in other Orders and it soon mounts up. Would it be radical to suggest that if you worked out the amounts you roughly pay in total for a year and divide it by 12, would you be willing to pay that and not be made to feel guilty for not paying? I know I would rather do it. Of course then the person who attends no functions would pay his bit as well. I would also be open to paying Monthly instead of everything coming at once in November. It would not be difficult to accommodate this. Perception is the key $15 a month does not seem much but $180 a year does.
You may find it hard to believe that some prospective Members are discouraged by the low Dues structure. Seriously, they feel that if Masonry is so special why are dues so low.
We also have to be prepared to embrace technology and use it as a tool, we may not use it but the current young Mason has and wants that technology so let's accommodate and obtain these tools and learn, the majority of them are free and easy to use.
There has been talk of consolidation amongst the Lodges but we have to be careful. Who would be willing to be consolidated and if it is purely on the basis of Lodges being either inactive or elderly we will still consolidate and have a Lodge that is still inactive or still elderly. Perhaps, if we would address a Lodges Meeting date may help. There are not enough Lodges for us not to alter our times that we are not conflicting with a Lodge that meets in the same building on a Regular Meeting night.
Don't misunderstand, I enjoy spending time with all you Brethren but there comes a time when you have to say no. There are 7 days in a week and my wife has me on at least 2 of them. Anyway, how many lasagna dinners or hot dogs can you take?
So, how will the future look. If we do nothing now all we are doing is passing it to the future, if there is one or we can have a serious discussion now to solve the future.
If we look out some 10 years into the future what will Masonry in this State look like?
If we do nothing our buildings will fall further into disrepair, our Capital Funds, for those that have them will be further depleted and the Lodges that have no Capital Funds will be gone. The Members of these Lodges that have gone they will probably not attend another Lodge.
However, if we do grasp the bull by the horns and plan accordingly then my humble opinion is that Masonry once again will be something special, something to cherish and be proud of.
But you know what, it will not be the Grand Lodge that will decide, they will only advise, it will be as in all cases, the Membership will decide. We should all be looking at and deciding our Lodge Budgets at least 3 years and preferably 5 years into the future with the Brethren who will be the future leaders. This would ensure that everyone is on the same page and all will have a stake in the future of the Lodge.
Please take time to study all the facts and educate yourself as to the predicaments of your Lodge and plan accordingly. Remember, once again, if nothing is done it will be all of us to blame so let us have the discussion and act accordingly.
Most Worshipful Grand Master once again I wish to thank you for allowing me to say these few words and enjoy the rest of your Visitation.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator May 1, 2013