"Ashley Lodge No. 20 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 afternoon.
I wish, first of all, to say that it is always a pleasure to come here to Vernal knowing it is the closest I get to being home, not Gusher, as some of you may think, but Scotland. I may be wrong but I think this is the furthest East we get on a Visitation in the State.
I have heard it said several times that Grand Lodge should be doing more to help all the Lodges increase their Membership by having programs specifically available for that purpose.
In this same vein the opposite is true that Grand Lodge interferes too much in the Lodges.
I am not going to put the cat amongst the pigeons by discussing how much interference Grand Lodge does or should do with Lodges; I am not that brave or stupid.
Therefore, I wish to spend a few minutes discussing the first point of why is Grand Lodge not actively promoting programs to benefit and increase and retain the Membership of the Lodges.
Remember, the first great care of Masons convened is not to see that the Lodge is Tyled, it is to ensure that the door remains open to our minds. We lose a great deal of Members by closing our minds with the attitude that if we continue along the same road we are on now everything will be fine. Just think of how very different our lives would be if our ancient brethren, who built the Cathedrals of Europe, with bare hands and the basic working tools, had remained close minded.
How many of us actually take the time and also the effort to see if this problem is only confined to this State. I can assure those that are unaware that this problem is worldwide and we should utilize all available resources at our fingertips a few of which I will address later.
We have to adapt we cannot stay as we are and I can guarantee you that the goal of every Grand Master is to encourage participation not discourage. But we cannot be selfish; every single Mason in this State has the responsibility and the duty to promote the Craft by their own actions not by selfishly stating that this is the duty of the Grand Lodge.
This Lodge is a perfect position to encourage growth. It is the only Masonic Lodge in this City or in the local vicinity. But remember growth comes in different varieties not just numbers. Our own personal growth is equally important.
You have a captured market. If you have the drive you can use your locality to your advantage. But, you have to put some effort into this. People will not come unless you and the Members get out into the Community and advertise yourselves. Grand Lodge cannot and will not do this for you. You have to do it yourselves; you have to make some effort to gain the attention of your Community. Go and do a flag presentation for a school or youth group, for instance.
I am sure that a great many of the Lodge's Members are known and respected by the Community, foster this relationship and show the public that the first great tenet of Freemasonry, Brotherly Love, is alive and well here in Vernal. Assist in local Charities, get out and be seen at local events. It may take time but the effort is worth it.
You know the reasons why the first 4 Lodges in England came together? It was for a feast, for fellowship, for brotherhood. They would not turn down the opportunity to meet with their Brothers it was always an adventure.
Of course, here in the United States, puritanical thoughts quickly put an end to the frolicking and fun, so we now have to compromise. I, for one, can still enjoy myself without imbibing alcohol, as I am sure we all can.
Back in Salt Lake a group of like-minded Masons have banded together to form a Motorcycle Club, the Craftsmen, not to sit in a Lodge room, but to ride their bikes as a group enjoying the great outdoors , their company and to raise money for Charitable causes at the same time. I am sure the Grand Master will fill you in with the details. But just think how wonderful it would be for the Craftsmen to leave Salt Lake to travel here to Vernal, enjoy some fellowship, maybe even stay the night and travel back to Salt Lake via Price all in the company of Brothers who just love to ride.
There are numerous things we can do together, from golfing, horse riding, camping to running marathons.
When the public hear of these things either through the very successful open houses or through their own observations through our endeavors they become curious and we have to be prepared to trap that curiosity for our advantage.
Do you realize that so far Grand Lodge has not been involved it has been the individual Member and Lodges and at little or no cost.
Now what could Grand Lodge do?
Grand Lodge can give directions but it is up to the individual Lodges to carry out the ideas themselves. You are in a better position to know what suits you much more than the Grand Lodge is.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started;
Have a roll call night where once a year have a night where all Members are invited and explain the purpose of the evening is to renew acquaintances and even ask Members who cannot attend to send a letter or word of greeting that can be read in Lodge when his name is mentioned.
A night like this would return the Lodge to one of its principal purposes, that of maintaining permanent contacts and a feeling of togetherness amongst the Brethren.
I remember several years ago receiving a phone call from a Charter Member of Twin Peaks saying that the only time the Lodge gets in touch is when the dues notice is issued. Since that day I promised myself that every Member would be contacted once every month and kept up to date with the Lodge business and I am pleased to say that this has continued and we have had positive reaction to it.
Have an evening devoted to Grand Lodge. Please, no laughter. When a Mason studies Grand Lodge, it is his own Masonry he is seeking to understand. The Grand Lodge system is an element in every experience. Whenever a Lodge is opened, or the gavel falls, or a candidate is Initiated, or a visitor passes the door, or one Brother hails another Grand Lodge is there. It is present in every facet of the life of a Mason. If a program is prepared on this premise it will be successful. Every Brother will go away with a clearer understanding and a heightened appreciation of his own Masonry.
Remember, a Mason who understands Masonry, will understand himself.
My favorite program I have come across though is a rededication night. Rededicating ourselves to Masonry should be an annual observance and held in our own Lodge room without anything special arranged just as a reminder of all the teachings inculcated in our 3 Degrees.
Its purpose is to return each of us to that spirit of dedication which was ignited in us when we first knelt at the Altar and maybe will once again renew that experience we felt as Candidates, maybe some of value of which has been lost through the passage of time.
It could be done after some Members, who have not attended the Lodge for some time, have been invited. I think it would be wonderful to have everyone at the Altar rededicating themselves by repeating the Master Masons Obligation and would, I feel, light the passions once more and renew the belief that being a Mason is something worth belonging to.
Brethren, please remember that we have to change the mentality of it is not 'all about me,' but 'all about us.'
I hope that maybe I have gave you all some ideas or at least food for thought.
Most Worshipful Grand Master, once again, I thank you for allowing me to say these few words and enjoy the rest of your Visitation.
Fraternally, Gavin KK Wardrope PM Grand Orator June 8, 2013