I had two great – although very different audiences – for my Masonic talks this last week.
On Tuesday I ran an online Members’ Pathway session for West Lancashire’s Secretaries and Scribe Es, with an audience that peaked at 240. On Thursday I did my talk “Is belief in a Supreme Being really essential?” online for Lyceum Lodge of Research No. 8682, in the District of South Africa North, with an audience of just under 100.
Along with others, I have been working on the development of the Members’ Pathway since early 2015 and sit on UGLE’s Membership Working Party sub-group. The great thing about the Pathway is that we know it works. Lodges that use it have planned their future development, attracted and introduced new members and are improving their retention practices, all using techniques that have been tried and tested. The challenge is to get it in the hands of more Lodges and then help them to use it.
This is where my talk on Tuesday came in. West Lancs have a weekly Zoom call for Secretaries and Scribe Es and they wanted to know more about the Members’ Pathway. So, they invited me. As I was speaking on behalf of the sub-group, and UGLE, I needed permission to speak, which was readily given. I updated the introductory session we ran for the regional roll-out workshops and it seemed to go down very well. Certainly, the feedback from the Province and people who took part has been very positive. As always, I enjoyed the Q&A session most and was pleased to engage with those who wanted to know more. I asked the audience to appoint the best person they could to be their Lodge Membership Officer and to support him as he takes the Lodges through Step 1, “Lodge Planning”, and beyond.
Thursday was the second time I had delivered a talk to Lyceum Lodge of Research. The first had been a live delivery of my Prestonian Lecture in the fabulous Masonic Hall in Johannesburg, back in 2012. The Secretary then was W Bro. Jeff Spiller, who has been on many of my recent online talks and continues to promote my work.
It was great to see so many brethren whom I had previously met, either in South Africa or on my visits to South Africa Lodge No. 6742, in London. The questions were challenging, as might be expected of a research Lodge and for such a topic.
It was also clear that many brethren find it difficult to disentangle the notion of a Supreme Being from that of organised religion. Of course, as Freemasons we don’t discuss the teaching, theology or dogmas of any religion, concentrating instead on what unites us together, a shared belief in a Supreme Being. But if Freemasons find it difficult to differentiate, how do they discuss the issue with prospective candidates and applicants? Perhaps we need to offer more guidance in this area, so that brethren can explain the distinction with confidence and candour.
Other key events this last week included tuning in to “Freemasons without Borders” to hear MW Bro. Christine Chapman, Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF), now known as “Freemasonry for Women”. Christine gave a great talk explaining the origins and development of women’s Freemasonry. She is a brilliant advocate for Freemasonry in general and passionately believes that if men can benefit from it than so too should women. Christine made it clear that her Grand Lodge wishes to continue to work with ours, but no more wish us to combine than we do. She and I are already talking about how we can work together with Scouting.
Yesterday, The Ralph Reader Lodge M.M.M. No. 1997 held a Virtual Business Meeting, to elect my good friend Bro. Jamie Ingham Clark as our Master for the next year. I am so proud of this Lodge and look forward to see it grow over the coming years as it introduces more brethren with a background in London Scouting into Mark Masonry.
So, what do I have planned for this coming week?
If it hadn’t been for Covid-19, tomorrow I would be in the Province of Cornwall to deliver my talk, “The future of Freemasonry: evolution and change” to One and All Lodge No. 330. Instead I will be joining Austral Lodge No. 2534, the Lodge in Mafikeng, South Africa, for our regular catch up Zoom call and then joining my West Kent brethren for a “Ask the Provincial Grand Master” Zoom call.
Tuesday, I “go to” Mimosa Lodge No. 4396 in the District of Orange Free State to deliver my talk, “Have we anything to communicate? The language of Freemasonry in and out of the Lodge”. OFS is a small District but most welcoming and I am looking forward to being “with” them. If you don’t have anything on Tuesday at 6.00 pm BST, please book to join this call. There are some places left and I know the brethren will appreciate your support, as will I. You can book using the following link https://hwatc-ofs.eventbrite.co.uk and will be sent the meeting details three hours before the talk is due to start. The talk is all about how we talk about Freemasonry and encourages us to use everyday language when talking with non-Masons.
If you want to see dates of other talks beyond this coming week, please go to https://prestonian2012.org.uk/upcoming-talks/.
On Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting for The Scout Lodges M.M.M. & R.A.M. No. 1907. I am especially looking forward to this, as our members come from far and wide. Being the first ever Mark Lodge for those with an interest in Scouting, it travels the country to introduce local Mark Masonry to local Scouting.
Most of the rest of the week I am on Scouting business, and some paid work as well. Having had such success with my online Masonic talks, I am preparing some of my sessions on leadership, change and organisational development for online delivery to paying customers, all based around my book, “Introducing the Success Cycle”.
Lastly, on Thursday, Diane and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. I shall be taking the day off from all Scouting, Freemasonry and work. As I am still shielding, I just hope the weather will be good so that we can spend our time in the garden.
I plan to have a good week and hope you do too.
Onwards and upwards!