INVOLVEMENT IS ESSENTIAL
by F. Lamar Pearson, Jr.
Worshipful Brother Pearson is Editor of The Masonic Messenger,
official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. We thank him for
providing this thought-provoking manuscript for use as a Short Talk
What to do with the newly-made Mason is a challenge that has faced
Worshipful Masters, subordinate Lodges and Grand Lodges perhaps more
than any other question. The fledgling Mason abounds with enthusiasm
and energy; he is ready to work and eager for an assignment. It is
precisely at this time that many Lodges fail miserably.
Indecisiveness on the part of Lodge leadership and inertia on the
part of Lodge members allow a priceless resource to go neglected and
which will probably never be
There are a number of reasons for this neglect and lack of
utilization. Too frequently, Worshipful Masters are pushed through
the Lodge stations so quickly that they reach the East unprepared and
immature. In short, they don't know how to identify potential skills,
much less how to utilize the people who possess them. Accordingly,
there is a remarkable lack of management by objective. Secondly, the
immaturity of the Master literally propels him to surround himself
with his close friends to the point that a clique of personality
sometimes emerges, and those who do not belong to it do
not get the opportunity to serve or to be recognized in a
constructive way. This type of management often permits a Past Master
to control the Lodge in ways that he perhaps never intended. Ritual
tends to be performed by a select few; potential dramatists seldom
get an opportunity, and when they do, it is often too
This lack of involvement is very readily demonstrated by the small
number of Brothers who attend Lodge Communications. Lodges can count
themselves blessed if they have as many as ten percent in attendance.
The brethren regret the statistical facts and often ask why. The
obvious answer, non-involvement of Brothers, rarely impresses itself
upon their minds, and when it does, the brethren ask how this
involvement can be accomplished; how can these newly-made Masons, who
fall by the
wayside each year, be retained.
There are some basic answers to these questions. The problem is
readily capable of solution. Determination to meet the problem and
stick with the treatment for it on a sustained basis is very
difficult at best. Lodges did not create their problems overnight;
accordingly, it will take more than a day to solve them.
One of the most discernible ways to involve newly-raised Masons
immediately is in the area of Lodge Visitation and Relief. Not much
expertise is required, and there is a fabulous opportunity for the
Brother to gain valuable experience. Each Masonic Lodge reflects a
vast range of ages and conditions among its members. Ages range from
twenty-one in most Jurisdictions, to more than one hundred.
Many Lodges have a considerable number of their brethren who are
emeritus. Herein lies a golden opportunity, for these brethren
constitute a veritable wealth of experience, knowledge and talent.
They are usually eager to share in each of these areas. They are
literally waiting to be asked. All too frequently they are not asked.
Many of these brethren are quite willing to go to Lodge, but cannot
unless assisted. Cataracts are the reason for many. Even though
operations are very successful, night
driving is out of the question for many. Then there are those
brethren who need physical assistance to get to Lodge. Many Lodges
have faced reality and installed elevators and riding chairs for the
infirm. Coronary disease inflicts the young as well as the old. It is
a wise Lodge which addresses itself to the needs of the Brethren.
There are also those Brethren who feel because of age or health that
they cannot leave their wives alone. Here is an excellent opportunity
for the wives of the brethren to get
involved by sitting with these ladies while the men go to Lodge.
A wise Master can utilize the newly-made Masons in this area most
effectively. Think of the wonderful instruction these senior
Craftsmen can impart. Think also of the precious example their lives
set for these impressionable Craftsmen. What an opportunity exists
here for teaching, learning, sharing, caring and for growing. The
most fantastic examples are being set, and a young Mason is being
molded in the finest tradition possible.
Many elderly Masons live in retirement homes. Often they are unable
to go to Lodge. A special opportunity exists here for the newly
initiated. Visits to these brethren mean so much. A visit, albeit it
brief, is two-edged. The old Mason is cheered by it, and the young
Mason is richly rewarded internally. He builds up that store of rich,
vibrant, experience that adds so much to the construction of his
There are the Masonic widows. Women on the average, have a
considerably longer lifespan than do their husbands. Most Lodges have
a responsibility to a large number of widows. A resourceful Master
can and should have at least one Widow's Night each year, and the
Lodge widows should be included in all social and festive events. It
is important that visits be made on a regular basis to insure the
widow's welfare. Newly-made Masons and their wives should visit the
widows in the company of older Brothers. The Brothers and their wives
can help the widow to shop; they can assist her in
meeting appointments with the physician and the dentist. They can see
to it that she gets to and from church, and vitally they insure by
their presence and concern that she is important as a person - as a
special creation of God.
Every Mason should visit his Grand Lodge Home for Children or the
elderly if the Grand Lodge has one. Surprisingly few do this. Those
who do, need no convincing as to the reason to contribute toward the
Institutional Endowment Fund. The new Brother should be involved
immediately in an educational plan designed to acquaint him with the
Home and the need to support it. More importantly, his education
should be enhanced by visiting the institution. Lodges should make
visits at special times. This group would yield benefits far out of
proportion of the effort expended.
Virtually every Masonic Temple or Lodge Hall has something for the
new Brother to do. Periodic physical maintenance of interiors and
exteriors comes immediately to mind. Most Lodges are feeling the bite
of inflation. Work formerly contracted, such as painting, could and
should be undertaken by the brethren. All of the Brothers will feel
better as a result of such a group experience. Funds saved can be
well spent on charitable and educational activity.
Some Lodges make a point of involving newly-made Masons in the
preparation of newsletters and Trestle Boards. Often the new Brother
has journalistic skill, typing ability, or other talents that make
him particularly suited for this type of activity.
Secretaries often ask for and receive help in making more coherent
order out of files. This can be and often is tedious work, but it is
work that must be done. And the Brethren will not know who will or
will not do it until they ask.
The Lodge each year should have an every member canvass. Physical
contact should be established with each Brother if possible.
Questions should be asked as to why a Brother has not attended Lodge.
Ideas and suggestions should be solicited from all to ascertain what
can be done to improve the Lodge. The physical visit will point out
to the Brother that his brethren are interested and that he is
Often these visits yield immediate, widespread and long-range
Sometimes Lodges learn for the first time that a Brother is ill, that
he has serious financial problems. Pride frequently has prevented the
wife or other family member from asking for and receiving help. The
problem, however, is that so few Lodges have anything resembling a
real visitation program and few if any newly-made brethren are
involved in it.
One of the really great areas of the Lodge in which to involve the
newly-made Mason is in DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, and Job's Daughters
activities. The youth of Masonry are involved here. There is simply
no better area for Masons to invest time and talent, both of which
are sorely needed-especially talent. Too frequently the brethren are
prone to write a check when time is the greater of the needs. Time
spent in worthwhile activity yields benefits of an intangible nature,
often years away before full
realization. But these benefits are the most special. To see a young
boy and girl grow up to become a fine man and woman is to savor life
at its finest. And this is the essence of Freemasonry, to take the
good man and to make him better.
A word is in order concerning Family Nights. There is no doubt that
the family needs must be considered if healthy Masonic growth is an
objective of the Lodge. A plan of Masonic education which includes
the wife is essential. The Investigating Committee should insist that
she be present when it calls on her husband. She should be told that
it will be necessary for her husband to be away from home for
purposes of instruction at certain times. It should be stressed to
her and to him that Masonry strongly supports the concept of the
family, and that it is never to interfere with a family's
The newly-made Mason should be encouraged to coach candidates as soon
as he is qualified. This will do much to imprint upon his mind the
ritual and the catechism. More often than not this responsibility
will send the new coach to the books to search for answers and to
delve more deeply into the symbolism with which he is involved. Every
Lodge should have a well-stocked library that is added to on a
regular basis. All Masons, young and old, should be encouraged to
consult Mackey, Pike, Pound, Newton and a host of others. The new
Brother ought to make it a habit to read The
Philalethes, the New age, The Short Talk Bulletin, Quotuor Coronati
Transactions, Knight Templar Magazine, and others that members of the
Lodge receive. There ought to be time to discuss Masonry at all
Communications. All of this will help to ground our new Brother in
the fundamentals. It will help him to be a better coach and thereby a
The above mentioned areas are simplistic in nature. All are well-
known and all are in operation, to a degree, in some Lodges. The
problem, however, is that there is no really systematic attempt in
too many Lodges to employ all or, in some, any of them. We need to
return to these basic fundamentals that have stood the test of time.
There is no better time to start than with the present class of
Involvement is essential.