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A Raising and Membership Challenge Visit at Tablers

Newly raised Bro David Satchell and Bro Benjamin McHardy with the PGM

R W Bro Ray Guthrie, Provincial Grand Master (PGM) for Somerset and the Provincial Team attended Somerset Tablers Lodge as part of the Membership Challenge. The Lodge was opened and the PGM gave the presentation which was well received. The presentation explained very simply that our numbers are falling. Sadly this is due to death and old age but also some resignations too. The PGM Ray further explained that we as an organisation need to do more to recruit new masons and retain existing ones as a continued decline will harm the organisation we all hold dear. In the past 15 years numbers in the province have dropped by 25%, we need to reverse this decline and we must all play a part. Following the presentation there was a positive discussion with ideas for how Lodges can retain and recruit new members. These included

  • Ensuring a Lodge has a Membership Officer appointed and that he works as part of a wider team with the Almoner and Mentor to ensure that new masons are engaged and attending lodge. Often a simple phone call early on is enough to bring members back
  • Having informal coffee meets, or meets in a pub, where masons are encouraged to bring friends and family, where masonry is not on the agenda as such but inevitably gets discussed. Many non masons still think they need to be asked to join, and as such never start the conversation. This is a subtle way of inviting them into that conversation.
  • R W Bro Ray also stressed that ‘masonry makes good men better’ and that we need more good masons, not just more masons. A good interview process is important to make sure we identify those good men. R W Bro Ray said there are resources on Solomon to help with interviews http://solomon.ugle.co.uk/

After the discussion the Lodge opened in the second and then third degrees and Brother David Satchell was raised to a Master mason, Bro David had obviously prepared well as he delivered his answers with clarity and precision. The ceremony was fantastic, the ritual was well delivered, W.Bro Prestwood commanded this Lodge well and his officers did him proud. I cannot write this without special mention of the DC W.Bro. Stephen Williams PProSGW whose rendition of the Traditional History was absolutely superb.

The PGM then presented Bro Benjamin McHardy with his Grand Lodge Certificate. Bro. Benjamin McHardy and his brother Bro. Robert McHardy were both initiated and passed in double ceremonies delivered by their own Father as WM – W.Bro. R John McHardy ProJGD.

After the lodge was closed the brethren retired to the Shrubbery Hotel for pre-dinner drinks and the festive board. The Shrubbery is a lovely Hotel with great parking and a well stocked bar, we dined in their dining room. The food itself was of a high standard and the service exemplary. The provincial team were spread around the tables, not sat together, and encouraged free flowing discussions around the future of masonry and how we ensure it is a thriving organisation for many generations to come. It is always good to finish dinner with the visitors song, as well as the Tyler’s toast by W.Bro. Hall Smyth which was also delivered to a good melody.

The PGM with Chris waterhouse and Duncan Sully-Dunbar

This was my first visit to Somerset Tablers Lodge and I would love to visit again. This was also my first Membership Challenge presentation and I was part of the provincial team representing the Adair Club https://www.youngmasons.co.uk/ The presentation was very positive and I recommend all Brethren attend theirs. As a club we can help Lodges keep new masons engaged in Lodges in general, and in masonry in particular, and are willing to visit any lodge and give a presentation and talk to their members. 

By Bro Tom Beasley

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