The North Carolina Mason

January/February 2022

North Carolina Mason

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Page 2 The North Carolina Mason January/February 2022 REVIVAL, from page 1 Carolina has remained relatively constant since the 1980s, while the number of Freemasons last peaked in the 1980s and has never rebounded. e current membership in North Carolina – around 34,000 Masons – is now equal to the number of memberships recorded in the post WWI era. In other words, says Grand Master Larry B. ompson Jr., the numbers tell a bigger story. "History tells us this is the natural ebb and flow of things," he said in a recent interview. "And I think, with some effort and care, history tells us we're going to be just fine." "What we do and offer as Masons is a value that is never going anywhere but forward," he said. at said, it's a sad day when a lodge closes or merges. Inevitably, some brothers won't attend the new lodge and are not likely to join a different lodge. ey become lost to the Masonry they once loved. "It's a hard thing," MW ompson said. "Some lodges just get to the point where membership is down or brothers are simply not coming to lodge and they don't know what to do next. ey may not know that it's OK to do something completely different. "It's OK to close if you need to, but make sure you're good and ready and have tried a few alternatives first." For example, try meeting fewer times a year and make those meetings BIG, a real event. Try changing your mission. Be an observant lodge. One lodge – Royal White Hart #2 in Halifax – changed the playing field when membership dwindled so low it threatened the future of the historic lodge located just yards away from Joseph Montfort's burial site. Grand Secretary Jonathan Underwood was among about 20 Masons who joined the lodge last year to ensure it would live on. None of the new members live in Halifax, but all of them care about preserving such a major site in Masonic history. "Royal White Hart retooled how and when they met, and who its constituents are," he said. "ey are rein- venting who they are." Some lodges in the course of life run out of steam. Brothers who once loved the lodge find they don't really get along as well, or don't do things they all enjoy. In some cases, MW ompson said, those lodges are right to close. "e ultimate goal of any lodge is to be close to one another and enjoy being in each other's company and doing the things that they do. We don't talk about lodge culture all that often, but maybe we should – sometimes lodge culture just changes over time. Too many lodges stick together because they have a charter. But they're not friends anymore." Some suggest that capping membership in lodges is something to consider. For example, the United Grand Lodge of England hit 10,000 lodges as of the end of 2021. e culture there is to limit lodge numbers to a size that supports close friendships and fellowship. Newer observant lodges are capping membership at 50, as a way to make lodge meetings more collegial and transformative. Entering such a lodge, MW ompson says, "you change the way you act. Like you would in a museum or a courthouse. You're entering a place of reflection." A lodge shouldn't be a social club or just another man cave, they say. So how does a lodge facing closure move forward? MW ompson suggests a true lodge self-assessment. Find it here on the Grand Lodge web site: https://www. "Ask the hard questions, get a real handle," says Grand Secretary Underwood. "Follow a path of contin- uous improvement. Masonry should find ways to be modern. Lodges should create new lodges and harmony. Truly, the only reason to have a Masonic meeting is to make new Masons or to have a philosophical discus- sion." MW ompson has one word for lodges that want to survive hard times: Willpower. "at's what it takes. Be willing to do the work. Be prepared for change. Make your lodge look great and inviting, especially from the outside. Spaghetti suppers are great – but they just don't work anymore. People today, especially younger men, want an experience, not just something to do. ey want to invest their time instead of just spending it," he said. Welcome the new, he advises. Give younger brothers a chance to shine in lodge, like others once did for you. And finally, remember that numbers don't matter in a lodge. Quality does. "It's OK to close if you need to, but make sure you're good and ready and have tried a few alterna ves first." Before even considering throwing in the towel, make sure to get a measurement of your lodge with a self- assessment. Use the tool on your Grand Lodge's website: education-resources GM Larry ompson

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