Somerset Freemasons

FOMYL Workshop Results and Where Next?

Notes from each of the eight meetings in the series of Future of My Lodge Workshops held throughout the Province in January and February 2015 are shown below, click on the title to expand the section and view the notes. Summaries are provided broken down into what Lodges should consider and what members think Province or UGLE should consider in order to help Lodges recruit and retain good members.
So what now? Lodges are invited to consider all the ideas and observations from the workshops and other sources to produce and submit a suitable plan by the end of May 2015. Plans should, where possible, set some goals and define the action that will be taken. Examples are available to view on the website. If you would be happy to share your plan for the benefit of other lodges please send it to Ray Guthrie. The Provincial Management Team is looking forward to reviewing all of the information over the summer so as to give some support to lodges through a number of Provincial initiatives based on the work that all lodges have done so far to ensure continued success for masonry in Somerset.

If your Lodge is just starting the planning process you can find
help and resources here.
  • Consensus - Summary for Lodges to consider

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    The Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset Future of My Lodge initiative involved representatives from 86 of the 88 lodges across the Province meeting in workshops to share ideas and observations at eight Masonic Halls in Somerset, which in itself immediately saw an enthusiastic collaborative approach toward strategy and activities that lodges might consider for the future.

    Lodges were invited to consider a plan for the next five years with their members. Most lodges had started the process of consultation through a survey and some had started to prepare an action plan. Those lodges conducting a survey reported between 20% and 40% response rates from members.

    Lodges were pre-allocated to workshops at a specified Masonic Hall and on a specified date, however non-availability of delegates was facilitated through their attendance at another more convenient workshop of the eight held. Less than five lodges needed to change venue or workshop date reflecting great commitment toward the project by the entire membership. Every lodge was requested to send up to four delegates to a workshop and an average of 30 attended on each occasion. Following introduction by the PGM or DPGM delegates were split into small groups with no more than one delegate from the same lodge in each. Group work was facilitated by members of the Provincial Team.

    The small workshop groups were asked to reflect upon at least three of nine questions at lodge, Provincial and UGLE level, each electing a spokesperson and scribe for flip-chart style presentation of ideas and observations with feedback after discussions covering all of the questions and open discussion facilitated by the PGM or DPGM. There followed a summary of the workshop at the end.

    Members of the Provincial Team reported upon each workshop summarising ideas and observations in the same format over the series of events to allow the Provincial Executive a progressive understanding of emerging themes or specific actionable ideas.

    In summary lodges across all eight workshops mentioned the following ideas or observations in nine key areas at lodge level.

    Profile
    Lodge plans might review their internal and external marketing, consider civic engagement, a media strategy involving Parish and local news with links to local websites; and, the potential to sponsor community based projects.
    Candidates
    Lodge plans might encourage more openness by members externally, hosting white table events with family; and, review their induction process.
    Events
    The benefits of lodges within a masonic centre or locality combining forces for external events was widely reported. Lodge plans might encourage inter-lodge and combined lodge/Masonic Hall open days, white table, social events either sporting, quiz or seasonal for external coverage and interest as well as taking an active part in Civic events such as Remembrance Day inviting non-masons to refreshments afterward. WM’s might consider engaging with the local Mayor or Council Leader for their year to consider joint charitable giving to also raise external awareness.
    Attendance
    Lodge plans might encourage more proactive involvement and more contact with members that reduces pressure to progress and considers the needs of the individual. Review meeting time, length, content and structure to provide attractive opportunities for all members.
    Succession
    Lodge plans might encourage knowledge of member personal preference as to their wishes, the use of a transparent succession plan, rotation of non-progressive roles and use of Assistant Officers.
    Support
    Lodge plans might encourage active involvement of proposer, seconder, secretary, WM and almoner on a regular and personal basis with members. Clear guidance should be available so all understand who does what when during the recruitment, retention and resignation process. Consideration should be given to phased financial payment but in advanced.
    Mentoring
    Lodge plans might consider proactive explanation of the mentoring process to members to include the use of personal mentors, a buddy system, locating the personal mentor with the mentee to explain or prompt on a quieter and more discreet basis and include support to new office holders.
    Lodge Programme
    On many occasions the desire of newer members to have more knowledge and understanding was expressed. Lodges should consider how to create opportunities for learning. There is a need to explain more about the roles of officers, ritual, symbolism and history. Several commented that there appears to be too much focus on ceremonies to the detriment of learning. Many were concerned that the quality of ritual needs to be preserved.
    Lodge plans might consider obtaining help as to how to create opportunities for short items, talks and discussion (this could include representatives from charities supported).
    Electronic Equipment
    Lodge plans might consider obtaining help to develop use of social media and computing in general for internal and external communication.

    Feedback as to Province and UGLE is contained in a separate document.

    So what now? Lodges are invited to consider all the ideas and observations from the workshops and other sources to produce and submit a suitable plan by the end of May 2015. Plans should, where possible, set some goals and define the action that will be taken. Examples are available to view on the website. If you would be happy to share your plan for the benefit of other lodges please send it to Ray Guthrie. The Provincial Management Team is looking forward to reviewing all of the information over the summer so as to give some support to lodges through a number of Provincial initiatives based on the work that all lodges have done so far to ensure continued success for masonry in Somerset.
  • Consensus - What Province and UGLE should consider

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    Feedback from 86 lodges (of 88) attending the series of eight Provincial Workshops held across Somerset between 13th January and 16th February 2015. Lodge representatives made the following observations or suggestions that, in their view, Province and UGLE should consider to help recruitment and retention of members.

    The Future of My Lodge – Workshop Feedback regards Province

    Financial
    • Examine ways in which the cost of masonry can be contained.
    Administration
    • Develop electronic systems to help with lodge administration.
    • Have a central system for recycling regalia and lodge furniture.
    Social Media
    • More help is needed with the use and set up of IT and social media.
    • Hold seminar themed, “Social Media use for lodges and their members” with a view to helping members understand use of the internet.
    • Place a diary on the website that highlights talk subjects and when and where these are being delivered.
    • Website to show what ceremony is being delivered at a lodge on the scrolling diary.
    • Establish an IT/Social Media Forum that qualified participants can take part in to enhance the level to technical ability of members across the Province
    Other
    • Provide visiting teams to carry out demonstrations that are not degree ceremonies
    • Hold seminar themed, “Openness, what does this mean to you? “ with a view to helping members understand how to talk openly about masonry.
    • Develop a pool of interesting presenters across the Province to help vary scope and content of Lodge meetings.
    • Proactive help with local PR through co-ordination of LIO’s, attendance at local lodge events and writing articles for collaborative report about Masonic Centres inviting local dignitaries or charity related guests.
    • Recognise lodges who do recruit candidates.
    • Encourage Masonic Hall Managers to promote collaborative events.
    • Develop Personal Mentor Scheme and encourage mentoring by previous Office/Role holders of their immediate successor to provide a more effective system.
    • Promote general use of the "Steps to Becoming a Freemason" booklet for all intending candidates and develop the guidance on conduct of an "interview" to becoming more meaningful and effective.
    • Assist with varied programmes, discussion meetings and ‘Did you know?’ style short talks.
    • Assist with exit interviews and early intervention strategy when member resigns.

    The Future of My Lodge – Workshop Feedback regards UGLE

    Financial
    • Consider reduction in fees to include making joining fees proportional in the first year of membership so that if a member joins half way through the year then they are able to pay 50% of annual dues and charity donation.
    • Consider sliding scale of Grand Lodge fees where Brother has multiple membership of Lodges.
    • Consider the ability to suspend fee payment by a member in difficulty.
    Administration
    • Consider introducing ability to combine warrants rather than amalgamate lodges, i.e. ‘Unity Lodge of X formed by Lodges Y and Z’.
    • Review the Rule 158 process for out of Province enquiry to make this more timely and relevant to reduce delay.
    Social Media
    • UGLE website to help direct candidates to local lodges.
    Other
    • Better branding and information on how to market and demonstrate UGLE relevance at lodge level.
    • Why not ‘ring-fence’ certain pieces of ritual for EA, FC’s or MM’s as is the case for PM’s?
    • More local non-financial support for local causes such as through an UGLE roadshow or Visiting Officers.
  • Notes from Meeting at Weston super Mare on 13th Jan 2015

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    11 lodges represented by 30 delegates, some sending one and others up to five.

    Most lodges had sent out a survey to members with a poor response, circa 20%.

    Few lodges have a draft plan.

    Quote of the evening from a delegate, “This is all about the future not the past”.

    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan.

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Consider linking lodge website to community website, i.e. in North Somerset – ‘Clear as Mud’, or provision of information at local library or ensuring the Masonic Hall is well signposted
    • Advertise in own website, Twitter, Facebook to change community perception through events
    • Engage with local press to publicise community engagement as well as donations
    • Sponsor an individual or community project or local cause rather than just donate funding and place this as an agenda item on lodge committee for regular review and consideration.

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Encourage proposer responsibility.
    • Make interviews more structured and fit for purpose with greater honesty as to commitment to ensure effective candidate selection
    • Open Days / Nights /Event that attract the right type, i.e. following a Remembrance Day Parade invite local group leaders (Scouts/Cadets/Military/Emergency Services) to a curry lunch at the Hall
    • Combined lodge events.

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Personal Mentoring to include Office holders
    • More information on joining and encourage proposer’s continuous involvement
    • Encourage shorter ritual work and involve new members
    • Consider mentoring new Officer or post holder by immediate past Officer or post holder
    • WM’s personal verbal engagement with all members to include absentees
    • Letters to non-attenders or those resigning
    • More involvement of PM’s in ritual
    • Monitor absentees and follow up.

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Consider frequency and date of meetings
    • Speed up ceremonies and festive board
    • Give more members jobs to do such as Assistant Office holders

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Secretary recording attendance, WM, Almoner and Mentor’s regular personal engagement
    • Encourage proposer responsibility
    • Consider monthly payment of fees, albeit in advance
    • Varied programme to include social activity after rehearsals and member development rather than just ceremonies
    • Exit interviews, however one lodge had written to all resigning and non-attending members during past 10 years with a further resignation as a result

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?
    • Rotate non-progressive officers

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Meaningful LoI, i.e. LoI is not a rehearsal and consider more frequent LoI and combined social activity such as an annual LoI Dinner.

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • Agreed

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Individual lodge websites

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration.

    • Reduction in fees
      • Proactive support for local causes
      • Develop Personal Mentor Scheme and encourage mentoring by previous Office/Role holders of their immediate successor
      • Candidate Interview guidance to include Supreme Being / God advice as to what to ask
      • Increase honesty with candidate pre-joining regard commitment of time
      • Assist with varied programmes, discussion meetings and ‘Did you know?’ style short talks
      • Assist with exit interviews and early intervention strategy when member resigns
      • Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration
      • Reduction in fees
      • System where application can be made to suspend fee payment by a member in difficulty
      • Why not ‘ring-fence’ certain pieces of ritual for EA’s or MM’s as is the case for PM’s?
      • More local non-financial support for local causes
  • Notes from Meeting at Keynsham on 20th Jan 2015

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    9 lodges attended represented by 27 delegates, some sending one and others up to four.

    Most lodges had sent out a survey to members with a poor response, circa 20%.

    Few lodges have a draft plan.

    Quotes of the evening from a delegate, “Should we meet together or amalgamate as lodges with less than 20 attending?” and, “Encourage ‘care’ for all”.

    In addition to ideas and observations from previous workshop:
    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan.

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Advertise in Press lodge meeting times and places
    • Advertise in multi-use MH’s especially during polling day an similar events with contact leaflets
    • Give external talks to those receiving donations and encourage recipients to publicise their source
    • Involvement in Remembrance Day Parades with WM’s wearing collars and members parading

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Raise local lodge profile
    • Get to know candidates before interview

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Less pressure to progress
    • More individual consultation rather than an assumption to progress or as to junior member aspiration
    • Reading parts of the ritual (from one group of four only)
    • Signpost non-ritualists to administration roles
    • Reduce cost and required involvement time
    • Shorter meetings
    • Not being precious about non-ritual lodge ‘traditions’

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?
    • Consider timing of meetings and days of the week
    • Consider reduced meal service or buffet
    • Promote visiting
    • DC training to speed up meetings and festive boards
    • Almoners encouraged to consult more

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Procedure as to who does what when attendance is low
    • More proactive personal engagement by WM’s, Almoner and Mentor
    • Develop a Mentor/Personal Mentor briefing pack so they know what’s expected of them
    • Challenge off-putting behavior including comments about ritual delivery
    • Encourage all members to ensure candidates, visitors and new members are properly greeted and supported

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • Slower pace to the Chair
    • Shadowing prior to taking office
    • Early consultation with members
    • IG/Stwd invitation to attend progression to the Chair seminars
    • Re-interview members after they complete their 3rd Degree

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Consider 2 year appointments
    • Consider 2 year appointment as WM, first year open/close/obligation; second year all ritual from the Chair

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • Not agreed if candidates are required
    • Explain openly to partners what some Officers do (Almoner/Charity Steward) during open evening
    • Non-masonic talks by charities or upon other interesting themes

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Facebook development

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Support through attendance at local lodge events
      • Support through writing press articles for collaborative report about Masonic Centres with invitation to an event with distinguished dignitaries or charity guests
      • Encourage MH Board of Management to promote collaborative events

    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    None
  • Notes from Meeting at Bath on 22nd Jan 2015

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    10 lodges attended represented by 32 delegates, some sending one and others up to four.

    Most lodges had sent out a survey to members some with a reasonable response, circa 40%.

    Some lodges have a draft plan.

    Quotes of the evening from a delegate, “Some are still struggling to understand what Freemasonry is” and, “There is concern at an increase in Masonic administration”.

    In addition to ideas and observations from previous workshops:

    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Word of mouth recruitment and talking openly
    • Stalls at fetes and village days
    • Sponsor sports kit for local schools and teams
    • Organise guided tours of Masonic Halls
    • WM’s consider working with local civic leader and their charity for the year to raise awareness in Press
    • Community website links, i.e. ‘What’s on in Bath’ and ‘Spotted’

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Hold initiates local diners rather than Provincial evenings

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Visiting lodges and a Visiting Lodge network of say 5 locally, annually
    • Members having something to do rather than pressure to progress such as reading a small piece of ritual
    • Reading pre-1717 ritual
    • Change places after courses at festive board
    • Good record keeping
    • Provide written educational material for candidates outside the lodge if mentor not available
    • Present a small gift to an office holder on first appointment such as cuff links
    • Explain the roles in the lodge in short talks
    • Graduate standing order payments for fees to ensure payment is in advance but user friendly
    • Understudies ‘ghosting’ lodge officers and undertaking Tyler’s toast or calling fire, welcoming visitors and giving toasts
    • Let junior members sit behind Master’s chair if possible or move them around within the lodge next to active officers to see the work from a different perspective

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Mix up members at festive board and move the WM around

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Remember members leave for personal justifiable reason so don’t chase after them

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • (No additional points)
    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren
    prematurely and too fast?

    • (No additional points)

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • Explain openly to all what some Officers do (Almoner/Charity Steward) during meetings

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Use Twitter and Facebook to interact with other lodges

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Develop a pool of interesting presenters across the Province
      • Place a diary on the website that highlights talk subjects and when and where these are being delivered
      • Website to show what ceremony is being delivered at a lodge on the scrolling diary
      • Recognise lodges who do recruit candidates
    r
    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    • Introduce ability to combine warrants rather than amalgamate, i.e. ‘Unity Lodge of X formed by Lodges Y and Z’
      • Younger Grand Master such as HRH Prince Harry or Bear Grylls (Chief Scout)
      • One lodge, one main membership fee, additional lodges lower membership fees
  • Notes from Meeting at Taunton on 26th Jan 2015

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    All nine Taunton lodges, Two Wellington lodges and the Somerset Fairway lodge were represented. Members of Exmoor Lodge also attended. The lodge would not be able to attend the planned date at Bridgwater. A total of 41 members were present.

    Six of the nine Taunton lodges had a joint meeting on the 15th November 2014. Queens College, Old Aluredian and Vivary had not been represented. Most lodges had sent out a survey to members.
    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Use Masonic centers for community use to raise profile
    • Have more open days.
    • Use social media, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat to advertise and to make own members proud to be a member. Caution on the use of social media was expressed by some members. Consider a centre based account.
    • Use an area LIO to engage with local press and media. Use the SMFA defined areas as a template. Area LIO must have the necessary skills/training.
    • Encourage co-ordinated attendance at local events. Taunton flower show was an example.
    • School lodges to have closer links with old boy associations and to reinstate schools evenings.

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Encourage more and joint social events with family members present.
    • Be more female friendly.
    • Have more open days.
    • Hold structured white table events.
    • Set up a local pool to recycle regalia and to help reduce first year joining cost.

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Make meetings more interesting. Hold meetings about other interesting non Masonic topics.
    • Time management. Consider/review start and finishing times. No need for early start times.
    • Do not exert undue pressure about ritual and involve new members. Split up and use more to present the longer ritual.
    • Involve new members and those who do not want to progress in other lodge responsibilities/tasks.
    • Vary the style of festive board. Have themed evenings.
    • Ensure progression for those who want it and consider two year succession plans especially for those lodges who meet less frequently.
    • Identify patterns of attendance and have a follow up plan of action for non attendance.
    • Use past officer to mentor new officer.

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Consider frequency and date of meetings
    • Speed up ceremonies and festive board.
    • Give more members jobs to do such as Assistant Office holders.
    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?
    • Review mentoring programme.
    • Record attendance and use Proposer, Almoner and Mentors to follow up non attendance.
    • Consider regular monthly/quarterly payment of fees.

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • Any plan has to have the memberships input and have inbuilt flexibility and options.
    • Give assistant officers more responsibility and an opportunity to experience the post.

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Encourage a centre based LOI and ensure that they are informative about other aspects i.e. Public speaking. Provincial and UGLE organization. Have a plan to improve general skills needed to manage a lodge. People skills.
    • Be prepared for officers to stand still. Use PM’s to fill in.

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • General agreement.
    • Have more Masonic related talks from recipients of local/national charitable donations.

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Lodges need advice and how to implement, use and improve skills.
    • Use electronic payments for fees and dining.

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Need more help with the use of all the differing social media types. How to set them up and the pitfalls and strengths of each.
      • Need to be more proactive with local PR. Consider group officer to co-ordinate and help LIO’s.
      • Mentoring needs to be more effective.

    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    • Better branding and information on how to market and demonstrate its relevance.
  • Notes from Meeting at Nailsea on 4th Feb 2015

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    9 lodges attended represented by 31 delegates, some sending one and others up to four.

    Feedback indicated that most Lodges had consulted with their membership as a whole regarding the FOMYL initiative with some Lodges having developed a draft plan (with advice been given on how to upload this onto the Provincial Website)

    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan:

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Use of local media to publicise Masonic meetings/events
    • Publication of ‘diary cards’ summarised Lodge events
    • Identify and exploit ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USP) for individual Lodges

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Promote / hold social meetings including non Masonic friends and family
    • (Note of caution expressed by a number of Brethren that the quality of Candidate must take priority rather than concentrating on simply numbers )

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Try and fully understand reasons for leaving (exit meeting, why did they join – what’s changed)
    • Maintain some initial contract with ‘leavers’ – circumstances may change/possible rejoins
    • Keep costs to minimum – consensus that Grand Lodge fees / increases should reflect current economic climate. Costs for Initiates / younger brethren could be particularly onerous

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Consider use of more ‘Day Time’ Lodges which may better suit elderly Brethren

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Develop Mentoring Plan on a ‘buddy’ system to ensure close link with new members
    • Monitor attendance and enlist Almoner to increase awareness of brothers circumstances

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • (No additional points)

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Consider WM appointments for periods > 2 years

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on Masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • General agreement with this statement

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Use Twitter and Facebook to interact with other lodges

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Develop a pool of interesting presenters across the Province to help vary scope and content of Lodge meetings

    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    • Consider sliding scale of Grand lodge fees where Brother has multiple membership of Lodges
  • Notes from Meeting at Yeovil on 9th Feb 2015

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    11 Lodges all were represented by 29 Attendees.

    Most Lodges had consulted with their membership as a whole regarding the FOMYL initiative with some Lodges having developed a draft plan.

    Quote from a delegate, “What is meant by ‘community’ for the travelling mason?” “Where do I belong?”
    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan:

    Feedback in addition to that already received at previously held workshops in similar and numerous ways included:

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Use of Parish Newsletters to publicise Masonic meetings/events
    • Hold inter-lodge social events and publicise them
    • Use external display boards
    • Get involved with civic events

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Promote / hold social meetings including non-Masonic friends and family, specifically mentioning ‘White Table’ events

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Encourage fellowship
    • Review LoI format and content. Should be friendly, inclusive, enjoyable, informal and not an extra rehearsal.
    • No pressure – confidence building
    • Be aware of personal circumstances

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Proposers and seconders proactive contact with members
    • Encourage officers in particular and members in general to demonstrate to the lodge what they have contributed
    • Involve Past Masters
    • Personal Mentors who are not senior brethren but act as a “buddy”

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Raise awareness of what’s available through the various lodge officers, i.e. Almoner

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • Be aware of personal preferences and difficulties to support all members and plan ahead to include what fallback situation the lodge might adopt if a member is not able to contribute
    • Avoid office blocking

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Promote learning of small parts
    • Encourage personal mentor to sit with the mentee to prompt on a quieter and more discreet basis

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on Masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • Consider a masonic quiz night, external and internal speakers, speakers who can talk to membership of a lodge overseas or visiting overseas; and, out of season events during the summer recess

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • To communicate externally
    • Training please

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Provide visiting teams to carry out demonstrations that are not degree ceremonies
      • Review the Rule 158 process for out of Province enquiry to make this more timely and relevant to reduce delay
      • Hold seminars themed, “Social Media use for lodges and their members”; and, “Openness, what does this mean to you? “ Both with a view to helping members understand use of the internet and how to talk openly about masonry

    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    • Please explore the benefit of Freemasonry signing the military covenant. In doing so we would be included on military websites etc.
  • Notes from Meeting at Wedmore on 11th Feb 2015

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    A total of 31 attended representing eleven lodges and six Masonic centers.

    Most Lodges had started the process of consultation with members and some have started to prepare action plans.

    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • More social events to include non masons.
    • Focus charitable donations to local charities.
    • Raise local profile of masonry by getting involved with local events (example was made re Marlins event in Clevedon)
    • Encourage lodge communication officer to have more contact with local media, particularly the press.
    • Use Masonic centres for local events.
    • Organise more open nights/events.
    • Have lodge teams entering local sports/outdoor events (suggestion of cricket/shooting teams).

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Organise regular gentlemen’s evenings.
    • Take more care in selecting prospective members.
    • Have more information available to advise “How do I join”.
    • Be more open and use charitable donations to enhance reputation of Freemasonry.
    • UGLE and Province web sites to help direct candidates to local lodges.

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Nurture EA’s and particularly Fellowcraft.
    • Role of lodge mentor is not well known. Encourage more involvement of Proposer and Seconder in the mentoring process.
    • Share out work and duties for lodge meetings and include PM’s.
    • Energise LOI’s to be more educational.
    • Ensure lodge contact details are up to date and circulated to all members.
    • Consider the various methods of lodge communication.
    • High cost was seen as a negative factor in membership.
    • Recruitment into other degrees and orders has an adverse impact on membership.

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Ensue harmony exists in lodges.
    • Involve partners and family.
    • The more junior officers to be involved and assist lodge officers.
    • Ensure all of the membership is involved with the lodge organisation.
    • It was considered that non attendance could be categorised a) Distance b) Members health c) Apathy. Have plans to address these issues.

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Need to identify a lodge member or officers responsible for following up and focus on non attendance.
    • Consider phased payments of lodge subscriptions.
    • Review the lodge selection process.

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • Resist the temptation to promote officers to more senior offices too quickly. Have flexible succession plans.
    • Give assistant officers more responsibility.

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • Encourage centre based LOI’s that educate rather than be used as extra rehearsals. Consider “one to one” help.
    • More use of PM’s to fill in gaps in succession.

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?

    • More assistance was needed to help lodges explain what freemasonry is all about to the local community particularly at an individual level.
    • Plan an annual programme of events that includes planned lectures or discussions on interesting topics.

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Help lodges to have a more dynamic link to the Provincial web page thereby allowing them to advertise lodge activities.
    • Give advice and support to help embrace the use of social media.

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial assistance and consideration

    • Need more help with the use of IT and social media.
      • To develop electronic systems to help with lodge administration.
      • Have a central system for recycling regalia and lodge furniture.

    Lodge suggestion for Grand Lodge assistance and consideration


    • Make joining fees proportional in the first year of membership. Joins half way through the year - pay 50% of annual cost.
  • Notes from Meeting at Bridgwater on 9th Feb 2015

    Open or Close
    A total of 31 attended representing ten lodges and six Masonic centres.

    Most Lodges had started the process of consultation with members and some have started to prepare action plans.

    Lodge ideas and observations regarding a draft plan

    1. How, with other local lodges, we will raise our profile to become a more active part of the community?

    • Open days combined with specific purpose eg table top sales. Publicity for these events is paramount to ensure success.
    • Closer involvement with local charities. General agreement to support by “doing”. General agreement for co-ordinated support.
    • Choose a high profile local project to support with time, labor or finance.
    • Rent out and use Masonic centre buildings for non Masonic activities.
    • Have presence/stands at local events. eg Village fairs. Be prepared to get involved by participating.
    • More effective use of local publicity in press, radio and TV.
    • Involved in local projects that leave a legacy. eg Somerset levels floods.
    • Better National and Provincial marketing.

    2. How could we recruit an average of 2 good candidates a year?

    • Have well planed and organised open days.
    • More publicity on “How to Join”. Make better use of the web site and social media.
    • Make sure the Compass magazine is available in public areas. eg Health centres, Dentists etc.
    • Involve younger/newer members on interview panels.
    • Ensure Proposer and Seconder and partners meet with prospective member and partner.
    • Set realistic expectations.
    • Lodges/Centres to share candidates and ceremonial work with available candidates.
    • Organise and promote white table events jointly in Masonic centres.
    • Encourage non mason’s attendance at social events.

    3. How can we reduce the number of leavers by at least half?

    • Lower fees for younger members.
    • Use Masonic centres as a social hub to improve family and child involvement.
    • Keep ceremony/ritual as it is but keep it concise.
    • Quicker progression through the three degrees.
    • Do not exert undue pressure to progress.
    • Use newer members less experienced members to shadow an office.
    • Have a structured induction process in include mentoring plans.
    • Make sure that the interview is not too formal. It needs to be conducted in a relaxed manner so that prospective members give and gain the correct information.
    • Introduce a payment plan to spread the cost of membership.
    • Have proportional joining cost to start date.
    • Have formal exit interviews.

    4. How can we improve attendance rate of members?

    • Organise a “Reunion night” for absent brethren. Contact to be the responsibility of the proposer and or seconder.
    • Make sure new member are not left on their own at meetings. Organise a buddy system.
    • Reduce pressure on new candidates to join side degrees. Have a cooling off period.
    • Share ritual, especially the bigger parts. Good ritual was generally seen as fundamental in promoting enjoyment.
    • Planned social events.
    • Have a robust method of collating attendance records and then use them to prepare a plan to find out the reason for absence and address the issue. Make sure there is a defined contact.

    5. How can we ensure that we recognise early and offer support when a member is not enjoying his membership or has personal issues that we may need to support?

    • Install from the very early stages of membership where confidential advice can be sought.
    • Make sure that the mentoring is proactive.
    • Ensure a varied programme of ceremonies that involve as many members as possible. Include the festive board.
    • Include other topics, lectures and talks to generate interest.
    • A comment from one group - “Masonry is a way of life” - was agreed by many delegates.

    6. A 5 year succession plan for all the key offices in the lodge?

    • Ensure the involvement of all members in preparing a detailed plan and that it is made available and publicised to all lodge members.

    7. A succession plan to the Chair that avoids pushing brethren prematurely and too fast?

    • A succession plan is essential but the information must be made available to all members.
    • Consider a two year option for office of WM (Lodge discretion).

    8. Plan a varied programme of meeting content to include discussions, orations and talks on masonic matters including helping brethren to be more open?
    • Annual programme to include a meeting for talks or lectures.
    • Not enough lecture, talks, personnel and other resources available for lodges to use.

    9. Develop use of electronic equipment?

    • Province to develop, provide and co-ordinate programmes/softwear for lodge officers to use. Mention was made of “The Lodge Manager” that was commercially available at a cost of £99 for three years.

    Lodge suggestion for Provincial/Grand Lodge assistance and consideration

    • Make it easier to transfer to another Lodge/Province. Consider cost implication.