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Friday, May 13, 2011

"I Resign"

I look at lots of Masonic online forums in the course of a week. But I saw a post today that is a lesson for every lodge, every chapter, council, commandery, orient and club. A Brother posted that he was demitting from his Cryptic Council and Templar Commandery. I won't give his name or where he's from, because he could be from anywhere in the fraternity. But what he said needs to be burned into the brain of every officer of every single Masonic organization (or any other volunteer organization, for that matter).

He was leaving after
"two years of never getting a single communication that wasn't a dues notice, never even getting a dues card for either, and having repeated requests for same ignored pushed too far. I can't look my wife in the eye and say I'm going to spend the dues monies . . .

The odd thing is that Commandery, at least, doesn't seem to care. My father's WM of our Lodge, and had occasion to talk to the secretary for Commandery. His concerns are the same as mine- he rejoined Commandery at the same time I joined, and has the same problems with no dues card, no notices, no Maltese Cross, and so on.

Upon telling the secretary he was going to demit unless something was done, the secretary did the unthinkable.

Nodded and said "Okay."

What? You don't do that. You do that too long, you cease to exist, and with a Commandery that is hard-pressed to have the 8 needed for a stated meeting, it's not as if they have the members to spare."



  1. Yeah, dues cards are hard to come by in my lodge as well. All but one of the Brother raised had to wait at least 2 meetings to receive their aprons in my Lodge as well. I wish the older crowd was a little more on the ball. People these days aint impressed with organizations that aren't interested enough to run the machine.


  2. Very much so. As sitting Secretary of one lodge, past Secretary of another, co-Secretary of a State-level genealogical organization, and pro-tem Secretary of an international organization, I can say that the job is not for those who are just "filling in". It talas organization, automation, and planning. I still fall short of where I want/need to be, but to tell a Brother "Okay" in response to a threat to demit because of administrative failure is beyond the pale!!!! As the Master, Wardens, and all officers of any body- they are there to serve the members, not to compensate for yet another title. If you do not have the administrative background required, defer to someone who does. Secretary and Treasurer are the two positions which, if not properly executed, will cripple an organization. The Secretary is often the point of contact for the Lodge, editor of the trestle board, by-laws guru, BoC guru, and Grand Lodge admin requirements guru. Also note that the Secretary and Treasurer are elected positions, so just because Bro. A has been doing it for years, if it's a mess, get someone new. This ensures the member stand a chance of seeing a dues card, per capita is not being paid on the dead, and maybe the TB is more than a meeting schedule and list if past masters. My current lodge's is 7 pages..... what you got?. Thanks Brother Chris! Nice article!!!

    Brother Greg Starr

  3. I belong to a York Rite group that I have never been able to attend since I became a member. Now, three years plus removed from my one day class, I've never heard a word from anyone except for the notice of a meeting. My work changed shortly after I joined, and I've got to work most of the weeks when a meeting is scheduled. I'd love to get anything...never have. Dues cards have been it. Get those....as far as anything else from my York Rite membership since the one class....nothing. And, I know that some here are members of this very group.


  4. Wow. When Chris Hodapp offers a critical word about the administration of mainstream masonry, it really must be in trouble.

  5. Mainstream Masonry is only in trouble if it continues the pursuit of numbers instead of quality.

    The problem of poor quality for the sake of quantity dishevels the very foundation our honorable fraternity was built upon.

    Bro. Gary Emerson

  6. I was advanced into Mark Masonry around 4 years ago. As with regular Masonry, you are supposed to get a Grand Lodge certificate from Mark Grand Lodge once advanced. I asked several times over the four years where my GL certificate was, and the secretary finally admitted that he'd lost it. Luckily the Lodge paid the replacement fee. I should be receiving it at the next meeting in June.

    In addition, while many Lodges complain about nonpayment of dues, this particular Lodge never sends out dues notices, while printing in the Summons the note: "Please remit your dues straightaway to the Treasurer". I have a letter ready to post in which I ask the Treasurer for a statement so that I can pay my dues.

    Secretaries and Treasurers often do much work for Lodges with no compensation. However, taking on the job means that the Brother must make a commitment to do the work. I'm just about ready (once I get my Grand Lodge certificate) to demit from that Lodge and concentrate my efforts on my other Mark lodge.

    W.Bro. Chris Hansen

  7. I must be luckier than most -- I think I've gotten dues cards and/or regular publications for everything I've been in: Blue Lodge, Lodges of Research in 3 states, York Rite, Scottish Rite, SRRS, QCCC, MS, MBC, Philalethes, Phylaxis. And I get a letter almost weekly from the Scottish Rite -- asking for a donation, or urging me to buy an expensive watch, ring, credit card, jacket, etc. (I do like their calendars, and the notepads come in handy, but between e-mail and bank bill-pay, I have no use for any more of the reams of pretty name labels.)

    After 20 years as a Mason, I've never been asked to show a dues card. A few years ago I tried making a collage out of them, but too many; I would have needed a Jackson Pollack-sized canvas for them all. But it could have been worse. If I'd saved all the AASR letters, I could probably have papered every billboard between here and Albuquerqe.

  8. Quimbisero, apparently you don't know Chris Hodapp very well...and haven't been reading his blog very long.

  9. My jocular comment above not withstanding, I am concerned that this is symptomatic of a larger and far more serious problem. How, and when will brothers begin to step up and say "we need to do something serious to turn things around while there's still time?" Thank you for adding your voice to the issue, Bro. Chris.

  10. This is a problem that is invading every part of Masonry - and it is the third time I've heard similar complaints just this week.

    The last was an experienced Brother & District Lecturer who commented that it was bad enough that the meetings of the Scottish Rite were so sadly the same month-to-month, but that the blue Lodge meetings were nothing more than an opportunity to drink coffee & eat a mediocre meal.

    Something needs to happen to stir the pot, Brothers! Where is the fire in our hearts? Speakers, events, study... there is plenty that CAN be done. It is a matter of breaking out of the 50 year stagnation that has assailed our fraternity.

    Question is:Wwill we try?

  11. What is this "Mark Warrant" of which you speak, Brother Hansen?

  12. "Mark Warrant"? I didn't mention a "Mark Warrant", did I? Don't see it in my comment. Mark Master Masonry is an appendant body of Masonry here in England and Wales and other places, separate from UGLE. We work a ritual based upon the building of the Temple. In England and Wales it is generally twinned with Royal Ark Mariners.

  13. GL certificate, then. Pardon my misspeaking. Still have not seen such.

  14. Oh, I see. Every Master Mason raised in UGLE or in Mark Masonry receives a certificate in Lodge which attests to the fact that they are Master Masons or Mark Master Masons. Here is an explanation of what the UGLE certificate is and what it looks like. There is no UGLE equivalent of the dues card; if necessary you get a letter from your Treasurer attesting that you are current in your dues. When you visit a Lodge here that you are unfamiliar with, you bring your certificate and may expect to be tested before you are allowed to sit and labour in Lodge. I am also a member of Philanthropic Lodge in Marblehead, Mass. (my home town) and have a dues card from them. If I were travelling and visiting in the US I would take the dues card rather than my GL certificate.

  15. It's all very nice to say "defer to someone else". But few will step to the plate and do the job themselves. It's easier to complain.

    I ended up, because of hospitalisation and other issues, Secretary of six Masonic/condordant groups at one point. All I heard is "No one knows how to do it" and "We haven't got anyone else" so I took over. Doing all that and holding down a full-time job cost me sleep and health. Mercifully, I'm down to one and anyone who feels they can do it better is free to affiliate with the Lodge and take over.

    I agree with Greg. It's inexcuseable to tell people to go ahead and demit. But having heard one snippet of a story, I can't make much of a judgement as to why he said it.

    I've seen 80-year-old Secretaries who are far more efficient than I am. And I've seen some who are 30 with their heads in the clouds and not a clue what to do. "I wish the older crowd was a little more on the ball" is ageist nonsense.

    To someone not from the U.S., it seems incomprensible a member gets no notification from his Council. On this side of the border, my experience is notices of each meeting are Constitutionally required to be sent to every member and, if I recall, the District Deputy and the Grand Office.

  16. I guarantee I do not put all blame on older members, or secretaries/recorders. Any lodge/chapter/council/commandery that has no communication with their members apart from a dues notice deserves a short crawl to the tar pit. But that means ANY member can step up and volunteer to put together a regular newsletter, or a web page, or a Facebook page, or all three. In fact, a Secretary SHOULDN'T have to do it all.

    It comes down to asking what are you and I willing to do to improve a lodge or appendant body, both on the small level of each meeting, or the larger level of a plan for programming. Blue Lodge masonry has been demanding answers to these questions for decades, and lodges are finding new ways to keep members active and happy. Chapters, councils, etc. not so much. Does your Chapter, Council or Commandery have dinner before or after its meeting, or do you just meet and flee? Is there something other than minutes and degree work? If not, why not?

    Back in the days when the York Rite and AASR had guaranteed members who were required to join one or the other on their way to the Shrine, these groups never worried about keeping members. There were always loads more where they came from, and they had to keep their dues paid if they wanted to drink all night for $4 at the Shrine. That's not the way anymore. The AASR, at least in the Southern Jurisdiction, has bolstered its position as the "university of Freemasonry," with a huge commitment to education and publications. The AASR NMJ has turned its back on that, is divesting itself of the dyslexic centers, and seems to only concentrate on the social aspects of the fraternity. And the York Rite is in real trouble. Royal Arch and Cryptic Council have seemingly no design for the future, and no guidance for chapters and councils at all. At least the Grand Encampment is making major long-range plans, and communicates monthly with all of its members (even if the local Commanderies never do).

  17. Interesting stuff, Bro. Hansen. I do have my MM Certificate- called a Warrant in my neck of the woods- but I've never seen the Mark equivalent.

    I'll have to ask around. Chapter is precious to me, and I'd like the paperwork if it exists.

  18. While waiting to join Blue Lodge, I couldn't wait to dive in and continue on to York Rite; after all, it's described as the continuation of the Blue Lodge degrees, so it seemed like the logical next step.

    I wound up as Junior Deacon of my lodge only months after being raised, and decided to hold off on joining anything else. Three years later, I'd still like to take the capitular degrees at least, but I'm not tremendously encouraged by the things I hear about the state of nearby Chapters; I hear the familiar complaints about nobody showing up, and meetings consisting of little more than open, minutes, bills, close. The York Rite bodies closest to me have gone so far as to switch their meeting nights so that Chapter, Council, and Commandery all meet on the same day of the month, in hopes that people from one will show up and stick around for the others. I can't imagine the quality of any of the three meetings being enhanced by that practice.

  19. The AASR NMJ has not done the things mentioned in Bro. Hodapp's posting. We are currently working on structuring an education system, we have been opening new dyslexia centers and we most definitely focus on social aspects because members should always come first before the institution, which seems to be the point of the blog. As a dual member of both the SJ and the NMJ, I am able to see the positive attributes of both. It is irresponsible to lump us in with the accusations in this member's complaint. - Jerry A. Roach, Jr., Executive Assistant, Supreme Council, AASR, NMJ.

  20. I'm not going to add another detailed example about how I see the same problem in New England, other than there's some brothers in officer positions who seem to go out of their way to not communicate. Maybe they've done it too long, maybe they don't care, maybe they're too busy, maybe they're not right for the job or maybe they don't like doing any work but want all the honors that go with it (very likely this option), but it makes for hassles where none were (to which they often reply openly how people have to get serious about things, yet it's not people but them who cause and sustain the problem). I like to joke that anyone over 50 doesn't have e-mail or a telephone, because that's the only explanation I have for the lack of response to any and all things.

    But, let's not forget what happens next. I find a few things on the short and long term horizon due to problem: 1. people just start doing things on their own, which sets up camps of us vs. them, officer vs non-officer, as guys don't want to see Masonry suffer just because someone won't return e-mails and thus there becomes this territorial war; 2. new Masons leave as they don't feel included and/or they see things not being done and it doesn't make them feel good; 3. (the one that drives me particularly crazy) because the older generation is like this, then it's okay for the next group to act the same way, because lack of response is how its always been done.

    The end result is departing and frustrated members and things don't get done that could very well help the fraternity.


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