District Grand Masters, District Grand Superintendents, and other District Grand Officers, gathered for the Third Conference of the Central Masonic Charities and District Grand Lodges at Freemasons' Hall on Tuesday 24 April.  Due to the increasing popularity of this annual event, the setting has now moved to Lodge Room No.1 to accomodate over fifty representatives from the Districts as well as representatives from each of the four central masonic charities.

Hugh Stubbs, President, Masonic Samaritan Fund, welcomed all members on behalf of the four Central Masonic Charities, and gave an introduction before members broke for the first of the group discussions.

Walter H Scott, District Grand Master, Jamaica & the Cayman Islands, spoke on the relationship between his District and the Central Masonic Charities, which led into the second group discussion.

Following lunch, James Bartlett provided an update on the Mentoring Scheme and, in particular, the Ambassadors for Freemasonry Scheme, and a presentation was given by Nick Cripps on the selection of Personal Mentors.

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Fourth Mentoring Conference
22 March 2012
An address by the MW Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

 

Brethren,

I would like to give you an overview of our various initiatives and how they fit together into our overall strategy. You are all very well aware of the many factors that have been affecting the Craft over the last thirty years or so. All of which resulted in a negative image for Freemasonry, discrimination against our members and despite a rise in the population as a whole a steady decline in our own numbers. Whilst we are not alone in having a declining membership, I believe that we have something special to offer and that there are many men, who if they joined would enjoy and benefit from their membership, just as we have done.

So what is our strategy and how do you and the Mentors fit into it? Our first task was to counter unfair discrimination that our members were facing mainly in public office, local government and the armed services and to promote a positive image of the Craft. You will all know that Jack Straw had to change the Government’s stance on Freemasonry and the Judiciary. Local Government has had to remove its discriminatory enquiries into membership of Freemasonry. At the same time both at a National and Local level we have been talking to the Press, Chief Constables, Local Radio and Television to counter the misunderstandings that have arisen about the Craft. We have encouraged local Masonic Halls to open their doors to the public and we have promoted this building as a venue for Films, Fashion Shows, Launch Parties and other events. Whilst it brings in welcome revenue it has also meant the last year alone 100,000 members of the general public came into Freemasons’ Hall to see for themselves that we had nothing to hide.

We have also reviewed our image on the Internet. Grand Lodge now has two sites. The Grand Lodge Website which is outwardly facing and is mainly for the use of the general public and prospective members, looking for information about Freemasonry, and the Freemasonry Today website which is for our members. This not only has copies of the latest edition of the magazine, but also other topical items of news and interest. In addition nearly every Province and District has its own website as do many Lodges.

All of this has made the Craft more accessible than ever before and is helping to dispel the myths and misinformation that have grown up about us. At the same time we have been developing the Universities Scheme. If young men become interested in Freemasonry and find it enjoyable then we are building a firm foundation for the future and they are spreading the word to the next generation.
 But the best way to show the world what we stand for and that we have nothing to hide is through our members. If we have 250,000 members of the Craft talking confidently and competently to friends and family about their membership and why they enjoy it then word will quickly spread like ripples on a pond in ever increasing circles.

Brethren - enjoyment is the key and enjoyment comes through involvement and understanding and that is where the mentor comes in. When I addressed Grand Lodge last December I said that there were three stages to Mentoring. The first two cover logistics and a basic understanding of the ritual and developing a sense of belonging. The third is how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non mason. To be able to do this confidently and competently our members must have a sense of involvement and understanding that comes from the other two stages.

I have said on many occasions that the key to our future is quality candidates, that is - men who will “come to appreciate the value of masonry” and who will indelibly imprint on their hearts its sacred dictates. But we must look after these candidates, make them feel welcome in fact treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. It is a simple message, the right men, properly looked after, enjoying and understanding what they have joined. We need these men to talk about their membership to others of like mind, who may then become interested enough to want to join as well.

I see pastoral care being – at the very least – eighty per cent of what mentoring is all about.  Put simply, the real test is how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards.  I do not want, nor I am sure do any of us, to have a complicated or onerous scheme – rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allowing consistency of advice and support.

The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic logistics that are involved in becoming a Freemason. It is really about a proper welcome.  I am not going into that in detail today – other than to say that a candidate should never feel under briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitment. During this stage the personal mentor answers any questions the candidate may have for him to gain a sense of belonging.  In other words, there should never be any surprises.

The second stage is to understand the basics of the ritual, especially after initiation and then passing and raising.  This understanding should lead to the ability to answer questions about the myths that non Masons have – so that right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny handshakes, the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up – all these classics. The questions on these myths need to be answered accurately and without embarrassment.  I am not talking about an in depth knowledge, but more a common understanding. The Mentor can, of course, point them in the right direction for this additional and important information as they require it.

We all understand the need to look after candidates, but it is the third stage of giving them the confidence – from the very outset – in order that they can speak to, in particular, family and friends about Freemasonry. That, Brethren, is vital to ensuring the future.  A candidate – and indeed this applies equally to the rest of us – needs to understand how to talk to the non Mason about what Freemasonry means. The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry.

Brethren let me repeat what I said in December that an ambassador is not a rank or office - it is a mode of behaviour. On the fundamental understanding that we recruit only people who live up to our principles – an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but also, importantly will be able and willing, with our support and guidance, to talk to family and friends about their Freemasonry, as and when appropriate. We need to have confidence in them to do so competently.  To quote the Grand Master, “Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation”.

I hope that I have set in context the work you are going to do today. Firstly in helping Lodges to effectively adopt the new office of Mentor and secondly in discussing ways in which mentors can help our members become confident and competent ambassadors for Freemasonry. We at Grand Lodge will give you every support.

In a nutshell brethren our strategy is:
•    To promote a positive image of the craft.
•    To remove discrimination towards our members.
•    To encourage the right men to join.
•    To help them enjoy their membership.
•    To encourage them to talk positively about Freemasonry.
•    Thus completing the circle.

This is our strategy and you, brethren, and the Lodge and Personal Mentors are key to its success.

Published in Mentoring Scheme
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

Understanding the light touch

With mentoring high on the agenda, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes takes the opportunity to give clarity and perspective to what it means for Freemasons

You have all heard that the Mentoring Scheme is designed to eventually mentor members at all stages of their masonic progress. Initially this is especially for candidates – the next generation – during the three degrees and then to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. London and all Provinces now have a Metropolitan or Provincial Grand Mentor who currently is responsible for liaising with the lodge mentor. For the avoidance of doubt, the lodge mentor is responsible for coordinating and selecting suitable brethren to be the personal mentors. It is most certainly not the intention that the lodge mentor should carry out the task himself – the personal mentor is best described as a friend and guide.

We all have our own ideas about what mentoring is and, for that matter, what it is not. Indeed, some believe there is no need for mentoring and some believe they are already mentoring perfectly satisfactorily. These sentiments are understandable without an explanation of what we actually mean by mentoring and what we are trying to achieve. In an ideal world, mentoring would happen naturally, everyone would be looked after as a matter of course, and this, in turn, would take care of issues such as recruitment, retention and retrieval – the three ‘Rs’.

Whatever your idea of mentoring might be, one of the aims we should all keep in mind is the promotion of an environment of belonging, understanding, involvement and enjoyment within the lodge. The skill will be to achieve this with a ‘light touch’.

three stages of mentoring

But first, let’s look at the word ‘mentoring’, which is translated in so many ways – rather like our masonry. Let me be quite clear: mentoring is not just about the Lodge of Instruction, valuable though that is for advancement in masonic ritual. Rather, it is mostly about pastoral care: seeing that the candidate is looked after, kept informed and that that support and care remains throughout each member’s masonic life.

In terms of the mentoring scheme, I see pastoral care being eighty per cent of what mentoring is all about. Put simply, the real test is how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards. I do not want to have a complicated or onerous scheme but rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allows consistency of advice and support.

Mentoring has essentially three stages. The first two are straightforward as they cover logistics, basic ritual meaning and developing a sense of belonging. The third – how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non-mason – needs more explanation as it links in with our overall communications strategy that supports an external-facing organisation and underpins our new ambassadors’ scheme.

The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic logistics that are involved in becoming a Freemason. Essentially, they should get a proper welcome. A candidate should never feel under-briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitments. During this stage the personal mentor answers any questions the candidate may have for him to gain a sense of belonging. In other words, there should never be any surprises.

common understanding

The second stage is to understand the basics of the ritual, especially after initiation and then passing and raising. But this understanding should be about the ability to answer questions about the myths that non-masons have. Right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny handshakes, the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up. The questions need to be answered accurately and without embarrassment – I am not talking about an in-depth knowledge, but more a common understanding. The mentor can, of course, point them in the right direction for this additional and important information as they require it. It is not, however, part of the new mentoring scheme.

We all understand the need to look after candidates, but it is the third stage of giving them the confidence from the very outset in order that they can speak to family and friends about Freemasonry. This is vital to ensuring our future. A candidate needs to understand how to talk to the non-mason about what Freemasonry means and we aim to have as many members as possible being ambassadors for Freemasonry. An ambassador is not a rank or office, it is a mode of behaviour. On the fundamental understanding that we recruit only people who live up to our principles, an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but will also talk to others about their Freemasonry.

To quote the Grand Master: ‘Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation.’ It is with these three stages in mind that the Grand Secretary’s working party is producing succinct mentor guidelines. I see mentoring as a ‘light touch’ resulting in everyone enjoying their Freemasonry even more and feeling comfortable in talking
to their family and friends in an informed and relaxed way.

 

Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012

    

Sir,
I was delighted to read the Pro Grand Master’s article, ‘Understanding the Light Touch’. I have always considered that one’s mentor should ideally be one’s proposer or seconder and not a lodge officer. In 1998, I was part of a workshop on the future of Freemasonry at Manchester Freemasons’ Hall, addressing the thorny issue of retention, which proposed a mentor as a substitute for the candidate’s proposer when the proposer was himself too inexperienced to carry out the role.I personally never needed a mentor because my proposer (my father-in-law) took me to every practice meeting of our lodge, arranged many visits to his friends’ lodges and encouraged me throughout my progression to the chair. In other words carried out the mentor’s role in full.

I believe the one-to-one relationship is essential between candidate and mentor and it is good to see the lodge mentor’s role described as ‘co-ordinating and selecting brethren to be personal mentors’. Freemasonry proved to be a strong bond between my father-in-law and myself and I have always been appreciative of the shared interest, as well as the support he gave me.


Graham Holmes
Ben Brierley Lodge, No. 3317
Middleton, East Lancs

 

 

Sir,
A couple of years ago, I invited half a dozen or so of the most junior brethren of my lodge to a very informal meeting. They came and we had a very positive meeting, followed by another in 2011, and it will be repeated later this year. As the brethren progress, I let them drop off and add newcomers. The lodge mentor joins us and we have had enjoyable as well as constructive meetings. When I was new, grand officers were not addressed until they spoke to you and then you called them ‘Sir’. I am proud to be called Ken by an entered apprentice. I intend to continue as long as the GAOTU spares me and, of course, my wife, since she provides the refreshments.


Ken Mason
Beacon Lodge, No. 5208
Loughborough, Leics & Rutland

 

Published in UGLE
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:45

The external image

HRH the Duke of Kent explains why Freemasons need to not only act as mentors but also ambassadors

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in the Metropolitan, Provinces and Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

On a visit to the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects, I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non-masonic charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the unique venues of London we are highly respected within the events industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non-masonic visitors to our events. This included London Fashion Week and an after party for the latest Harry Potter world premiere! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

This is an excerpt from the Annual Craft Investiture address by the MW The Grand Master HRH the Duke of Kent, KG, given on 27 April 2011.  To read the speech in full, press here.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 11:26

Grand Master's address - April 2011

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 April 2011

An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren,

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture and I should like to congratulate all those who have become Grand Officers or who have been promoted in Grand Rank. This is a special day for you. At the same time I thank those other Grand Officers who, reappointed from year to year, do so much to ensure continuity in the direction of the Craft.

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in Metropolitan, the Provinces and the Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each Lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the Lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced yesterday to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

Brethren, in July I visited the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects. I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize-money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non Masonic Charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the Unique Venues of London we are highly respected within the event industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non Masonic visitors to our events. Events that included the London Fashion Week and the after party for the latest Harry Potter world premier! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a Masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

I understand that the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross came to speak at the March Quarterly Communication. This was timely as I am particularly mindful of our Brethren in Christchurch, South Island New Zealand with the earthquake, and those north of Rio de Janeiro in the District Grand Lodge of South America, Northern Division with the mudslides and flooding. Both these Districts received immediate help from the Grand Charity through the British Red Cross. I am pleased to report that though there was considerable structural damage none of our members were lost.

In conclusion I should like to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies and the Grand Secretary and his staff for all they have done to make this meeting such a success.

 

Published in Speeches

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