In a similar vein I often reflect on the day to day work and processes in the Provincial Secretary’s office here in Leicester. For the past six and a half years I have been involved; first as a volunteer, then Assistant Secretary for four years and now Secretary for two. There have been some remarkable developments in that time and I believe the initiatives put in place by the Past Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, have led to some exciting new opportunities.
When I was first initiated, some thirty-five years ago, I knew precious little about Freemasonry. All I knew was that my father was a Freemason and I respected him and his friends. In time I realised that this was an organisation that was indeed a force for good, both for society and the individual. It certainly improved my self-confidence and with the support of the senior members of my lodge I eventually conquered my nerves and went through the Chair and subsequently took on other responsibilities within the lodge and eventually the Province.
Well that was fine for me, but how many good men have we lost to Freemasonry because they were not aware of the values that Freemasonry stood for? Furthermore, how many men who would have liked to join were not able because they had no means of accessing the Fraternity?
One way forward is to use that technology I referred to earlier on. From the 1980’s onwards the internet is the medium that most of the population turn to for information. Even the socalled silver surfers find it an indispensable tool. Some lodges and most Provinces have their own website and Grand Lodge has a very informative website with lots of news and information. It is through this medium that we are now receiving a small but significant number of enquiries regarding membership.
Over the last two years I have begun to receive many enquiries from gentlemen interested in Freemasonry who have sent an e-mail to my address in the Provincial headquarters.
More have been forwarded on to me from the Grand Lodge website. In every case I respond personally and invite the gentleman concerned into the office in order that I can give an explanation of what Freemasonry is about and show him around our building with its lodge rooms and museum. I then get an idea of his interests and where he works and lives and then try to match him with a lodge that would fit in with his normal diary.
I must stress that it is then down to the lodge to make its own mind up about the potential candidate. They need to get to know him in a social environment for some months and make suitable enquiries as to his character. In this Province we have two universities in the city of Leicester and another university in Loughborough. All of these institutions attract a large number of post-graduates and on top of this we have the usual incomers who have moved job or returned to the city after training elsewhere.
Our society is changing and we are a more mobile population. Our wonderful organisation needs to become more accessible to good candidates. As it happens, even as I was writing this article, I received a number of names of potential candidates from Grand Lodge all of whom had enquired through the Grand Lodge website and another through our own website.
Twelve in total and even if some eventually decide that Freemasonry is not for them this is a good starting point. In order to monitor the success of the scheme so far I have checked up on the potential candidates that I have passed on to various lodges and it seems they are making good progress. Some have already been initiated and so far they are playing as full a part in the life of the lodge as any other candidate and have made new friends and are enjoying the experience.
One thing is sure; all of these candidates will require ongoing help in their first months and years in Freemasonry. They will need to develop lasting friendships in the lodge and it is in this respect that the lodge mentor will play a very significant role. All new Freemasons deserve help in their masonic life and a Brother who will help them to understand the meaning of the various ceremonies and ensure they meet and mix with all the lodge members will prove essential.
Don Peacock is Provincial Grand Secretary for the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland.