Freemasonry in the Keystone State has always been strict as far as their practices go. No written rituals—all work is mouth to ear, and the W∴M∴ does almost all of the speaking in all three degrees. Pennsylvania has rarely succumbed to one day classes, and never allowed even limited solicitation.
Well, much of that is changing this year. R∴W∴B∴ Thomas K. Sturgeon, Grand Master for 2010/2011 has announced an ambitious slate of changes for the upcoming year, under the aegis "21st Century Renaissance."
- Selective invitations allowed
- Three black balls now required to reject a candidate, instead of one
- One day class in 13 locations next October 30th
- District ritual teams may confer degrees on multiple candidates
- Any 60+ year old Mason who successfully recommends two new members under 30 are granted lifetime dues remission
- Dues may now be paid via credit or debit card (any GL that doesn't allow this is out of its fiduciary mind)
- A proficiency pin program certified by schools of instruction (Indiana was one of the first to do this)
- Shortened versions of opening and closings for meetings are now allowed
- Suspensions and expulsions to be largely handled at the local lodge level, and not by the Grand Master, with new clarifications about providing proper due process (Hooray!)
- Relaxation of the traditional formal dress code in meetings
- Per capita increase of 50¢ to support youth groups
- Greater expansion of community and charity service, including an individual commitment by every single Pennsylvania Freemason to perform a weekly random act of kindness (a simple, but beautiful and proper lesson in the real meaning of masonic charity)
- Simplified secretary/treasurer software to help each lodge with its annual audit (every GL should be doing this)
- A Masonic "congress" meeting in February for all Masonic groups, to seek ways to work together statewide
- A written ritual will now be made available for study for the first time in Pennsylvania history
The "Laudable Pursuit" generation of grand lodges officers are moving into the top positions all over the country, and are at last making the changes needed to adapt to the new century. In case you think Freemasonry never changes, we are living through a momentous time in the fraternity, with greater experimentation going on than at any other moment in history. Power is being devolved to the lodges, and grand lodges are removing barriers to new methods of holding meetings, teaching, learning and operating.
We live in exciting times. I'll be curious to see the reaction of Pennsylvania brethren.
Thanks to Brother Lee Martin for the heads up.