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Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Lets Try Templary"

From the Knight Templar Magazine, Volume LXIII, Number 7, July 2016, pages 30-31, written by our own Sir Knight Carson Smith, Past Commander of Raper Commandery No. 1 in Indianapolis:

“Let’s Try Templary”
“Whence come you?”
It is frequently reported that Membership in the Knights Templar in the State of Indiana has been, as is the case with all of our Masonic Bodies, decreasing since 1969.
In an effort to slow the decline, recruitment programs have been developed that have included everything from brochures, to posters, to DVD’s, to window decals.
Both the Grand Encampment, and the Grand Commandery, have incentivized new member recruitment efforts by offering medals, cordons and embroidered jackets.
The programs developed have enjoyed varying degrees of success, but the fact of the matter is that deaths and demits continue to thwart our efforts to increase membership.
Halting our decline and maintaining and increasing our membership requires a three-fold approach that emphasizes recruitment, retention, and restoration.

By improving our communication, by every means available to us, and by meeting, and exceeding, the expectations of our Sir Knights, we can significantly reduce our demits.
To reach a digital generation that lives online, we must communicate as they do, through frequent email, interactive websites, and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
If all that our Sir Knights ever receive from their Commandery is a dues statement, our younger members, in particular, will continue to leave, and our Commanderies will fold. 

“Whither are you travelling?”
Unlike the Chapter and the Council, which are derivatives of Ancient Craft Masonry, the Commandery has a language, usages and practices that are peculiar to Templary.
While we recognize our position as one part of the York Rite, the unique aspects of Templary create a singular identity, and serve to foster pride of membership.
And there are Commanderies that draw Sir Knights from other Commanderies, by way of affiliation or transfer, due to their emphasis upon maintaining “a Templar culture”.

“Let’s try Templary.”
To paraphrase Dwight L. Smith, in Whither Are We Traveling, “Let’s try Templary.”

Are your new Sir Knights given the Grand Encampment’s new member packet?
Are your new Sir Knights given the links to our York Rite websites?
Are your new Sir Knights given a mentor and assigned a role or task, large or small?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do your Sir Knights have their own copy of the official ritual?
Do your Sir Knights have their own copy of the latest revision of the tactics?
Do your Sir Knights have their own copy of the officer’s manual?”
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do you open your Commandery monthly?
Do you open your Commandery monthly, and in uniform?
Do you open your Commandery monthly, and in uniform, with rehearsal of duties?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do your Sir Knights have well maintained uniforms, and do they wear them correctly?
Do your Sir Knights understand Templar protocol?
Do your Sir Knights know their sword arm from their bridle arm?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do you have a program for Templar education, ancient and modern?
Do you have a drill team and, if not, are you capable of attempting a pass in review?
Do you have a Beauceant or a ladies auxiliary or family activities?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do your Sir Knights go to the Blue Lodge to present the United States flag?
Do your Sir Knights go to the Blue Lodge to present the York Rite?
Do your Sir Knights go to the Blue Lodge to present the Commandery?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Do your Members believe that being a Templar is something special?
Do your Members believe that being a Templar is simply a completion of the York Rite?
Do your Members believe that being a Templar is just one more dues card?
“Let’s try Templary.”
Having exalted a Royal Arch Mason, greeted him as a Royal & Select Master, dubbed and created him as a Knight of the Temple, we allow him to demit, without a word.
When we are able to provide our Sir Knights with a meaningful fraternal experience, we can go so far as to reach out to former members and draw them back into our midst.
We must acknowledge, without apology, that Templary at every level, was, is, and shall remain, for the foreseeable future, the most costly body to which one may belong.
“There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.” - John Ruskin
We must not, in the pursuit of our objectives, be tempted to lower our standards, or be seduced by the notion that bigger is better. Bigger is not better. Better is better, and who knows, if we get better, we might just get bigger.

Sir Knight Carson C. Smith, KCT, KTCH
Past Commander
Raper Commandery No. 1


  1. My buddy Carson C. Smith is a passionate Knight Templar. He lives, eats, and breathes Templary. He is a member of like four or five Commanderies, and he travels all over the state helping every one of them whenever they need it. He has an enormous mailing list and weekly (or almost daily) sends out statewide reminders of Templar activities going on locally, everywhere. And he participates in multiple drill teams. He is also a part of Levant Preceptory and was one of the first guys to sign up when we started that.

    He has repeatedly turned down requests to join the state Grand Commandery officers line. Heck, I'm not even sure he ever even agreed to be on a state committee. He can accomplish much more meaningful work without the politics and backbiting and just plain crap that state and national lines just seem to generate on their own.

    Now, not everybody is cut out to do that. Not everybody has the time or the cash or the interest or the commitment. But YOUR Commandery needs at least one or two of them to keep kicking guys into participating. NOT out of guilt, but out of enthusiasm and by showing the way...

  2. Now, having said that about my buddy Carson, I will say that we kind of don't let on to potential members just what they're getting into when they join a Commandery and are expected to participate. Not every Mason has any interest whatsoever in being an officer (almost none really do), marching in drill team practices on a Sunday morning (or ever), paying sometimes major bucks for a uniform they don't even particularly like, and learning sword tactics. And I'll bet cash money that when they signed a petition, they didn't know they'd be expected to do any of that. They expected to be made KNIGHTS, not ROTC recruits.

    If we want monthly participation we need to make damn sure that we provide something at every meeting for the guy who shows up and can't afford a uniform and has no interest in that other stuff, because he feels like a bait and switch got pulled on him. So we need to be providing some kind of Templar education at every meeting, on medieval history, or discussion of the Order's rituals, or something. (When was the last time you heard anyone give a paper on the first two Orders of Chivalry you took just before the Order of the Temple? And why would Templars wear a "Maltese Cross" on their uniforms, when the Templars couldn't stand the Hospitallers? Etc...)

    It also means some kind of fellowship. Our Commandery at least as a Beauceant chapter that's active that provides a pitch in dinner at every meeting, so the Knights' ladies are involved every month. And a few members go to the local tavern after the meeting, but not all. But it's just like the Blue Lodge - if Commandery becomes a place you meet and flee from, you've got troubles.

    1. And I still say that Commanderies could get three times the participation if they brought in a fencing instructor every couple of weeks, taught members how to handle and fight with foils, and held fencing competitions between Templar fencing clubs.


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