11 March 2020
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren all, Provincial and District Grand Masters have recently submitted their annual surveys. One of the questions asked is for them to outline their perception of any particular weaknesses in their Province or District.
We receive a wide range of answers but one of the points that is raised time and again is their concern over a resistance to change among a small percentage of their brethren.
I can understand this as, I suspect, many of us like things to continue as we have known them and enjoyed them for many years and I am certainly not one for change for change’s sake.
However, there is a much overused saying that to stand still equates to slipping backwards. I trust that we would all agree that we must avoid falling into that trap.
Different people and different Lodges will have their own views as to what constitutes acceptable change, and equally what is unacceptable to them. I would, however, hope that we could all agree that changes that seemed to reinvigorate some of our weaker Lodges, and those that assure the futures of our stronger ones are, at the very least, worth a try.
There can be no doubt that we have some exceptional lodges throughout the country and, indeed, throughout the world. These Lodges have found a formula that works for them and, in many cases, they have embraced many of the same changes, which has produced better attendances and a younger overall membership. Surely that is to the benefit of us all? I still find that one of the most satisfying aspects of a Lodge meeting is when a ceremony is conducted really well by young, inexperienced brethren. Brethren, we old ‘has beens’ should be encouraging this and not standing in the way and sitting criticising the slightest mistake. I want to make it clear that there should be no place for that sort of behaviour in our Lodges.
For the first time in this building’s history, the mosaic above our heads is shrouded from view. It is undergoing a deep clear and repairs and should re-emerge in time for our September meeting in all of its original splendour. Much as the mosaic above forms a coherent whole because each part works perfectly with its neighbour, so we should ensure that whoever we are, whether Provincial Ruler, Lodge Secretary or DC or member, we realise that the Craft has a job to do, now more than ever, and it will do it so much more effectively if we all pull together. That mosaic, like us, is so much more than the sum of its parts.
We recently held our Provincial Communications Officer forum here at Freemasons’ Hall. It was one of a number of steps we are taking to harmonise how we, as a whole organisation, begin to work together in improving our public image – to ensure that what is said in one Province, cannot harm the image of Freemasonry in another, and to ensure that we paint a coherent and attractive picture to future members and to the public at large.
Communication between the Centre and the Provinces & Districts is greatly improved but not without some kick back from those who feel they should be allowed to go it alone. We are also building better inter Provincial and District communication as well. The really important by-product of this is that it is much easier for 'best practice' to be identified and shared. None of it is rocket science and much of it is staring us in the face if we are prepared to see it. I am not going to try list all the various points today, but I would say 'please be prepared to give change a chance'. You can always revert if it doesn’t work and not everything will work for everyone, but if you don’t try you can’t know.
I wish you all a very Happy and, above all, Healthy spring.
Let us all hope that we will be able to enjoy our Freemasonry over the coming months. Advice on how we should proceed will continue to be issued both from the centre here and from the Provincial and District offices.