Saturday, October 15, 2011

Development of a New Lodge: A Template Based on What We Have Learned


Lodge #--- aspires to emulate the best practices and principles as follows: Traditional American Freemasonry (including much expressed by RW John Mauk Hilliard); Anglo-Latin or “European Concept” practices (as outlined by RW Kent Anderson, UGLA); and something of the initiatic focus of Traditional Observance (promoted by the Masonic Restoration Foundation);  organizing along the principles of Affinity (including those espoused by RW Oliver Lodge UGLE and RW William A. Hill);  reintroduction of Anglo-Saxon traditional Masonry in a focus on wide ranging intellectual inquiry (as urged by WB Julian Rees PJGD, UGLE);  avoidance of the petty and perfunctory including officialdom, kakistocracy, obsession with promotion, rank and lengthy procedure and time wasting (as shared by RW Dwight Smith and RW George Braatz and immediate involvement in areas of lodge function beyond simply occupying “chairs”, (also shared by Smith and Braatz).  

The core principles for us INCLUDE:
Distinct and sole focus on Initiatic function of Lodge meetings;  Programs of Regular Indoctrination into the intellectual, spiritual teaching and social applications of the Fraternity and the Lodge;  Bringing the Lodge into intimate fellowship and personal communication;  Charity first among the Brethren and also in the immediate community;  Mutual Support in Advancement of Brothers;   Refined and elevated Environment in behavior and presentation in all aspects of Lodge functions;   Limiting the number of Lodge meetings held to the absolute minimal needed for degrees and votes to maintain the initiatic focus;   Selectivity, Exclusivity and Continuity with a thorough, independent program for identifying new members;  Compatibility among membership, formulating and continuing a distinct character and Affinities of the Lodge:  a relationship with a formal or informal society, club or other organization for mundane affairs such as charitable endeavors, social events, membership development, debate and other opportunities ;   Warm relations with and support of the governance of the Grand Lodge ;  Relationships with other Lodges; Relationships with spiritual organizations and other civic and social organizations in keeping with the interests and characteristics of the Lodge;  Required commitment to the Lodge and its supporting structures that assures at least minimal level of involvement and support of the Lodge and its members (and the rancourless disassociation of members who cannot meet this requirement).

Mission and Goals of the Lodge:
·         To Benefit our constituency in the Lodge, the institution and the community in that order. 
·         The Lodge would be as a group of brothers, dedicated to mutual support, well being and development of each Brother, emphasizing the values of the Lodge and Freemasonry through our actions toward each other in ways tangible as well as intangible.
·         Every Brother would know that the most Masonic duty of Charity would be engaged in first and unfailingly within our Lodge membership.
·         Every Mason in the Lodge would be able to point to the manifest benefit of being in the Lodge and why he attends. No brother would need to use platitudes and idealization to explain his reasons for membership in the Lodge.  
·         The continuation and establishment of traditions and customs that reinforce the Masonic spirit and ethos within our lodge in service to our members, the institution and the community.

Organization and Operation of the Lodge:
·         Our Lodge meetings will have a clear agenda of dealing with vetting candidates, organizing and carrying out degree work and engaging in education befitting those of substantial intellectual development and educational attainment. 
·         Engage in the "European Concept" model of education where new candidates would share some research or information about Masonry rather than focusing on memorization from rote, and the pursuit of members that show evidence of taking the exhortations to learning in the liberal arts and sciences seriously.
·         Be influenced by Traditional Observance scheduling and focus of formal meetings, to wit, Lodges being held only for review of candidates and giving degrees, work being done in ancient manner to the degree allowed by the jurisdiction. (An atmosphere of solemnity including use of a contemplation room; brevity and austerity rather than “dramatic flair”, affectations and camp in ritual performance). Formulation of a Lodge specific Credo as a touchstone to communicate and retain the character desired.
·        Hold informal round table business meetings, with clear agendas either on some Lodge meeting nights (or on weekends or Friday when possible).
·         Short term and long term goals, tasks, time-lines and calendar, point people and committees.
·         Nights for guests and for inter - lodge visitation (usually when degrees are held).  The opportunity will be taken to offer our assistance and request assistance from other Lodges in the Work.  Otherwise we would encourage privacy and exclusivity to build the bonds and maintain the distinct character within the Lodge.

Organization and Operation of the Club:
·         The club would work independently in support of our Masonic work, having the similar duties reflective of the goals of our Lodge.
·         The social and intellectual development, charity (in and out of the Lodge) and our development of the club's financial wherewithal would occur through its calendar of events and programs.
·         The Club will permit social and intellectual discussion and member participation broader than the Lodge. There will not be compulsory membership as to respect the independence of the Lodge.
·         While independently assessed and managed fees will be assessed from the Lodge to cover the basic work of Charity, Agape, and Membership Development (including investigation),  other fundraising will be pursued by the Club independently to support Club and Lodge activities.

·         We would support both the Lodge and club with an integrated (social networking) internet forum, online journal and email and text message group. 
·         We would all have some biographical information to the degree that none of us would be strangers. We would all know the names and something about our fellows in the Lodge- what they are doing, what they are thinking and what their situation is.

·         The Club will be at the service of the Lodge and do thorough outreach to yield a steady stream of good, solid and well-vetted men coming in. The Club’s services will enable the Lodge to avoid soliciting membership (per Masonic regulations) and other limitations and problems often experienced in the selection process, allowing the Lodge itself to maintain an unmarred character and attention to its initiatic focus.
·         According to the principles of traditional Lodges, we will employ selectivity and the strictest attention to compatibility with membership.  The Club will be mindful of this Lodge’s tradition, interests, mission, credo and themes; relationships will be considered along with the careful and independent assessment of potential candidates.
·         The Lodge will welcome candidates with the wherewithal to assist in ensuring that our Lodge is viable.
·         The Lodge will welcome individuals with a genuine interest in esoteric and spiritual meaning of the Craft and capacity to understand these aspects of the Craft. 
·         A graduated dues system similar to clubs (taking into account age, proximity and retirement, university enrollment, clergy, commissioned officers and educators.)
·         Consideration of Masons with ties to healthy Lodges while generally avoiding cross membership to the degree that the Lodge suffers from significantly split attentions.
·         Men who are likely to be in full amity and fellowship with the character of membership we have.

Culture and Programs:
·         Traditional Observance Rituals (candles, contemplation room) focused on the ancient ritual and brevity.
·          Preferably two annual table Lodges.  Festive board (mixer) open for Masons and guests.
·         Guest degree teams (such as Colonial Degree, “Kilties” and the Badge and Square); opportunities to travel to participate in degrees in exceptional environments such as the outdoors.
·         When available, to take part in Grand Master Classes, degrees at other lodges and to invite guests to assist in our work so that the initiation is not just into our lodge but into Freemasonry as a whole, and a chance for the candidate to be welcomed into a wide Freemasonic circle.
·          Appropriateness of dress in Lodge and appropriate Club events (tuxedos or business attire / jackets); Fine regalia including personal aprons, ribbon jewels for Table Lodges and Festive board occasions.
·         Lodge meetings and Agape scheduled and held according to European Concept. 
·         Twinning programs with lodges that nationally and internationally that have been successful and that would be easy to visit, for instance:  Twinning program University Scheme Lodge in Britain; Twinning program with the nearest and best suited University Scheme Lodge; Twinning program with Swedish Rite Lodge in Scandinavia or Germany to encourage familiarity with those recognized but somewhat distinct jurisdictions; Twinning with Lodges of similar character in cities where Brothers show a pattern of relocating in order to ensure Brothers stay involved with the Craft.  
·         Development of a credo, motto, seal and other distinctive statements and indicators as a appropriate to the new lodge.