It is just a few days since the Metropolitan Grand Lodge Investiture where I had the honour and privilege of being installed as one of the three Deputy Metropolitan Grand Masters. I am the seventh brother who has held that office since the Metropolitan Grand Lodge was formed in 2003. The previous six being Russell Race, Michael Ward, Simon Duckworth, Stephen Fenton and the two other current Deputy Metropolitan Grand Masters, Chris Hayward and Warren Duke. I do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants, and I am very much humbled by it.
With my appointment and investiture, we have moved away from the concept of a Senior Deputy in MetGL. Warren, Chris and myself are all equal and act together as a team with Sir Michael and the rest of the MetGL leadership. We do have different portfolios of responsibilities. One of the responsibilities I have is the very broad subject of MetGL membership.
In recent years the contraction of the membership of MetGL had slowed to less than 1% annually, and pre-pandemic showed signs of potential growth in membership. The pandemic radically slowed the initiation of new members, which in a normal year exceeds 1,200, but we also saw a reduction of the loss of members from resignations, cessations and exclusions. It seems that the considerably improved public perception of Freemasonry has encouraged many to maintain their membership even though Lodges and Chapters have had limited opportunity to meet.
Now some degree of normality is returning to society and our meetings, our focus must be to keep the members engaged with their Lodges, Chapters and Freemasonry. Three simple things a Lodge or Chapter can do are, first, to ensure that new members are cared for and offered opportunities to widen their masonic connections. Tim L’Estrange highlighted this in Arena 47. Secondly that the Lodge or Chapter stays in touch with members who cannot attend and offers support when needed. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, to remember to have fun at our meetings. The pleasure in the ritual, fraternal friendship and the festive board is what keeps many of us engaged and eagerly awaiting our next meeting.
Many of you will have seen the new Members’ Pathway. This tool is here to help Lodges by offering practical advice and guidance in many areas of membership. The entire Lodge Membership Team (Secretary, LMO, Almoner, Mentor, Master) will all find something of use in the Members’ Pathway. As with all tools, the real success is set by the people who make use of them. We are looking to support the Lodge Membership Teams’ engagement with the new Members’ Pathway by providing development material and initiatives such as the new Leading Lights.
Although membership is a significant focus going forward, the entire leadership team is aware that a lot of change is occurring simultaneously. Most notably is the use of Helipad for honours submissions and the long-awaited rollout of Hermes. These changes ultimately will make the process of administering MetGL less bureaucratic and less paper orientated. In many cases, the forms that Secretaries and Scribe Es have been asked to complete in the past will be completely eliminated. Things will get easier for the hard-working Secretaries and Scribe Es, who our Lodges and Chapters so heavily rely on.
There is much to be optimistic about, and I look forward to meeting many of you over the coming year as well as helping your Lodges grow and thrive.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 48 April 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 48 here.