The Cheshire Masters’ and Masons’ Forum were delighted to host an online lecture discussing the Members’ Pathway and its benefits to lodges, by guest speaker Stewart Cranage, the Provincial Grand Mentor in our neighbouring Province of West Lancashire
As an active member of the UGLE Pathway Working Party, Stewart has an in-depth appreciation of the initiative and so was in a unique position to shed light on the real benefits of the Members’ Pathway to the audience, who included Steven Varley, the head of Derbyshire Freemasons, describing it as a ‘comprehensive toolkit’ which supports lodges in the maintenance and growth of their membership.
The overarching theme of Stewart’s presentation was the absolute need for the Members’ Pathway in a modern lodge, particularly in such turbulent times, to secure the future of Freemasonry. He spoke in detail about the format of the initiative and its key themes of marketing, recruitment, mentoring, and of encouraging former members to re-join. Amongst a plethora of thought-provoking ideas, Stewart discussed methods to raise a lodge’s profile within the local community, and how to successfully recruit candidates, whilst stressing the stark danger of unstructured recruitment.
The lecture also discussed important guidance surrounding the development of current members. The Pathway provides clear structures to encourage every lodge member to get involved in meetings, from providing those without office the opportunity to read ‘nuggets’ from Solomon for example, to carefully considered succession planning strategies for the various offices in the lodge. This concept was further developed during the Q&A segment of the talk, with a discussion around the careful use of online conference platforms such as Zoom. Such applications have allowed virtual social gatherings of lodges to take place, helping to galvanise the brotherhood during such recent testing times. In addition, the work of the Masters’ and Masons’ Forum’s Training Academy was highlighted as providing a continuation in the development of junior members whilst lodge rooms remain closed.
The lecture was a timely one: UGLE are planning a nationwide marketing campaign in the summer, to dispel the misconceptions which have blighted the organisation in recent years, and to encourage people to join the organisation. By applying the Members’ Pathway, lodges will be in an excellent position to maximise recruitment and later, retention. To support the implementation of the Pathway, the Province is working with every lodge, using statistical analysis to identify individual lodge membership trends and provide assistance in being successful not only now but into the future.
In his response to the lecture, Senior Cheshire Freemason David Dyson thanked Stewart for his stimulating presentation and echoed his sentiment of the importance of the Pathway. In his opening statements he proposed that ‘we all have a duty to secure the future of Freemasonry’: after listening to the lecture it was clear to all 163 members in attendance that the philosophy and processes behind the Members’ Pathway will empower lodges to achieve just that.