Lincolnshire Freemasons are welcoming an increase in the number of people seeking to explore the possibility of joining the 300-year-old fraternity – and it’s believed to be the pressure of the pandemic that’s behind the upsurge in interest for two reasons, says Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler
He said: 'I’m sure it’s about our values and our work in the community,' he said. 'We’ve read extensively about how individuals’ mental wellbeing is coming under pressure because of the uncertainty that’s been part of our lives for almost a year. Such an uncertain world has created a need for people to search for something positive they can feel part of; something which has secure values of integrity, friendship, respect and charity. Having existed for more than 300 years, Freemasonry can clearly offer those values and that degree of stability. 'History bears that out; after both World Wars the number of Freemasons rose significantly – and whilst the pandemic can hardly be compared to a World War, the fear and uncertainty that comes with it is certainly very similar.'
The second reason, he believes, is based on the greater degree of publicity being generated by the way in which Freemasons are supporting their communities, either through financial assistance or in kind. 'The kind of person who becomes a Freemason is someone who wants to be part of a community, and to support those who need help. That’s manifested itself in the large cash donations we’ve been able to make through the Freemasons Charity the MCF, and the time and effort people have been putting in to improve the quality of life for people who need support. I’ve no doubt that like-minded people who are not Freemasons have seen that, and have been motivated to explore how they might become part of what we do.'
So far almost 150 people have come forward to find out more, making their approaches through the internet and social media. 'Not all of those will become members, but we are talking to all of them to explain a little more of what we are and what we do. Some have decided they don’t want to be involved, and discussions are being progressed with others. Women have been amongst those making approaches to us, and we have passed their details to members of the Order of Women Freemasons, whose Lincolnshire members meet in Lincoln, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby.
'We are also running pilot projects with Facebook, using the expertise of one of our Grantham members, and early results from that have been very encouraging,' he added. 'I anticipate that the number of people expressing an interest about becoming Freemasons will only grow in the months ahead. I’m sure my fellow Freemasons are looking forward to welcoming new members to our ranks when the restrictions are lifted, when we are once again able to meet in our 21 centres through the historic county of Lincolnshire.'
• Could Freemasonry offer something lacking in your life? Visit these web sites to find out more: www.lincolnshirefreemasons.org and www.ugle.org.uk