Lodge Jose Rizal is a very young Lodge compared to other Lodges in the jurisdiction. Our survivability depends on our members and officers to carry on the mission of Freemasonry in general; and the mission of LJR in particular. Obviously we want to see the Lodge’s legacy in 10, 20, 30 and 50 years [even at 100 years!] from now.We are very lucky to have some of the most experienced, knowledgeable, motivated and driven senior members. They have an ‘LJR culture’, a legacy that they want to pass onto to our younger and newer members. While we are a successful Lodge we cannot rest on our so-called laurels and past successes. There is always room for more improvements and adjustments to our time-proven manner in the way we do our business. This is the secret to survivability, to adapt to change and continuous improvement.
Our RWBro Secretary Fidel had given me a booklet entitled “101+ Ways to Improve Interest & Attendance in Your Masonic Lodge”. I began reading it and have found it to be of much interest and jibes with most of my plans in directing our focus on Masonic Education, Charity work and the publication of our much awaited souvenir program. Here are the highlights and my comments which I would like to share with you:
1. Focus on Fellowship – This is a definite aspect that we need to improve on. Not just fellowship outside the Lodge, but as well as the way we entertain our first time visitors during and after Lodge meetings. I would like to see our Stewards to work in groups with other Brethren, under the leadership of our Bro JW to make sure that every visitor and our own members are greeted, entertained and introduced to other Brethren and their Ladies. We also plan to have more fellowships and ‘for the boys’ only events to improve our relationships with each other and serve as a team building exercise; especially now that we are continually growing and gaining new members.
2. Time Management – Again, we can improve this by making sure the business end of our meetings are kept to a minimum, without affecting the quality of the outcomes of our real business: our fine ritual work. We are not going to allot less time, but will focus more time to better mentor our candidates and make time and make plan to retain the interest of our members, which in the long run would save us time in following up their absences from our regular and management meetings. This is aside from the usual time we spend on the administrative end of running our finances, festive boards, charity work, etc. The more free time we have, the more time we have for No 1 – fellowship.
3. Plan for a Perfect Evening or event – Obviously we need to plan more to create the results we want. To paraphrase a quote: “Victory loves preparation” so does “Success loves preparation”! Detailed planning with everyone involved but with a specific outcome or outcomes, an action plan and specifying who is responsible for what. We have been doing this with success at our Degree work, with both the WM, Secretary, and DC and Assistant DC appointing who would be doing the Work, the Charges, etc.; as well as assigning those who are doing the Toasts in the South. But we will doing more – “we will plan to succeed”!
4. Get the Ladies on Your Side – I believe we have pioneered and utilised this to a great extent. We have the full support of our Ladies, but will make sure that they are not the only ones toiling in the kitchen. Our Stewards and other Brethren [plus the usual hired help] will work hand in hand with out Ladies to make sure that we have a successful Festive Board and social event.
5. Communicate with Your Members – With most of us have access to emails and the internet; and with the Lodge activities on:
a. Two Blog sites http://joserizalnsw.blogspot.com.au/ for general postings of events and http://lodgejoserizal.blogspot.com.au/ for news, past events, Rizaliana and othe Masonic articles. Both moderated by me as your communications officer.
b. Two Facebook pages, one for members & Ladies only [moderated by our Bro SW Micvi] and one for public social media [moderated by me]. Everyone is encouraged to upload and participate in these pages.
c. An email Yahoogroups, private group messages for members only .
d. A recent Google Calendar spearheaded and developed by our IPM, WBro Manny Placido; which in the future would add SMS direct to your mobile smart phones; whether iPhone or Android.
e. Not to mention our Secretary’s Notice Paper, which is laboriously written, edited, printed and usually snail mailed to members.
I think there is no excuse in missing our news and upcoming activities. But communication denote a two-way interaction; hence we need more feedback through proper channels by speaking directly to your officers and by participating in management and regular meeting discussions. Your input is paramount to OUR success. Do not suffer in silence and just go away.
6. Friend and Mentor – We will be implementing and improving our mentoring system [not spoon feeding], which will be spearheaded by our Lodge Education Officer, RWBro Rey Porras. While we have a non-structured mentoring system, which is almost done by the sponsors of a candidate and the senior members of the Lodge. We will have an accredited mentoring program [per UGL NSW & ACT] to fully prepare and educate our newly interested and would-be mentors. This will guarantee that the information passed onto the candidates and new members are correct, updated and in adherence with the Constitution and Codification, practices and Rituals of UGL NSW & ACT. What is worse than no information at all is information that is wrong.
7. Putting the Phones to Work – Again, there is no excuse not to use our mobile phones. Personal contact has proven and yielded greater results than mere passive communication; as proven by our various past officers and more recently by our former Bro JW, Bro Micvi. One on one human contact is very essential in drumming up support. I am sure our Bro JW, Bro Paolo will continue to utilise that personal contact; not when required but in the usual course of running the Festive Board and other fellowships. We have directed and decided at our last Management Meeting to split the function of Fraternal attendance coordination to our Bro SW; while Bro JW will continue to coordinate our Charity Sizzles, as well as the various groups assigned to the Festive Board. All will be assisted by our junior officers, Bro SW with the Senior & Junior Deacons; while Bro JW by our Stewards. I am hoping that other members will continue to help out as well, as best they could.
8. How Food Can Work for You - Early on we knew and have discovered; as inherent in the Filipino culture, the importance of good food in every special occasion and gathering. We are a very hospitable Lodge, and we will continue to improve our way of serving good food after a hectic meeting. Our members and visitors deserve only the best at a modest and affordable cost.
9. Make Involvement Pay off – Again, I believe we have been doing this. With our system of progressive officers advancing to the next stage in an orderly fashion. We continue to give opportunities to new members to deliver charges and other Ritual work as required. Mentoring members on how to plan an event such as the Festive Board or coordinate a Fraternal visit and Charity work. These are no mean feats and always require dedication and involvement, and pay offs are also as satisfying and mostly gratifying to all those who involve themselves to a successful event. Again, to paraphrase an old saying: “What we put into Masonry is what we will get out of it.” We need to invest to get the best dividends.
10. Creating “Followship” – Out of the last nine previous steps, this is about leadership, the type of leadership I want to cultivate in our Lodge and members – leadership from the front and not merely delegating. We will lead by doing.
Obviously our Masonic life is in extreme competition with our family, other social interests and work lives; and either we balance all these in perfect harmony or choose the ones we feel more important to us. Our challenge then is to make our Masonic lives more relevant to what we would like to become. We will create a better Lodge that can be a second home to all of us!
Irene and myself wish you and your family all the best of the coming Christmas Season and have a great New Year!
Yours sincerely and fraternally