ISSUE 22, July 2007
Editorial
Quarterly Communication: Speech of the Grand Master : Address of the Pro Grand Master : Report of the Board of General Purposes
Historic: Architect to a King
Young Masons: Value of a warm welcome
Faith and Freemasonry: The twin supports
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro 1st Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
The Grand Secretary: Notes
   Travel: In the footsteps of the pharaohs
Inventor: Voice of the people
Human Rights Court Judgement: Landmark victory for Masons
International Conference: Masonic history unveiled
The Grand Chancellor: Special overseas role
Specialist Lodge: Prior Rahere and his legacy
Public Service: Serving the famous
Education: Events : Importance of the cable tow
Lbrary & Museum: Fraternal art
Masonic Charities: RMTGB : Grand Charity : RMBI : NMSF
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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STAR LETTER

LISTEN MORE TO THE YOUNG

I am 23 years old and my journey into Freemasonry started at 16 years. During my teenage years I enjoyed history and it was during a visit to the local library that I came across a book about Freemasonry.
    After reading numerous books and conducting my own research, I decided at around the age of 17 that I would like to become a member.
    I wrote to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex, which was very helpful, sending me some guidance leaflets and putting me in contact with a Lodge in Worthing.
    The secretary invited me to attend social functions, which was a great help, but I was informed that I would have to wait until I was 21 before I could become a member. This was disappointing and I imagine very off-putting for anyone else in my position.
    It is disappointing that the average age of members is very high. This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, and a way of doing this could be appoint a ‘Younger Masons Committee’ for each Province.
    The age of initiation should be lowered from 21 to 18. Today, men are considered adults at 18 rather than 21.
    By lowering the age of initiates the Craft will benefit, it will attract people at a crucial development age before they start their own families and fully develop their careers.
    Meeting times should be addressed.
    A start time of 5pm is just not realistic if the Craft wishes to gain younger members. There are many things at Lodge meetings which could be shortened or even cut out all together and still not detract from the quality of meetings.
    This is something which the Young Masons Committee could discuss and put forward, working alongside more experienced members to perhaps try as a trial run and see if it works.
    Many Provinces have outdated and poorly designed websites, with the appearance of a retirement club, its meeting times conflict with working hours and generally its members are not open to change, and are sceptical of young people.
    I am as keen on Freemasonry as I was the day I discovered the book at the local library, but my interest lies in Freemasonry itself, the rich history and the chance to wear ornate aprons and traditional clothing.
    We could attract many other young men by making some clever changes and appreciating that to attract young men we need to listen to them as well.

    Daniel Clapp
    Worthing, West Sussex



Involving younger Masons
I was initiated in June 2003, and at 38 and fully concur with the salient points by Craig Adkins (MQ, Issue No. 21), especially about the ritual, learning thereof and delivery in open Lodge. This is a particular part of my Masonic life that certainly gives me a buzz.
    At our Lodge we have enough members to practice two Lodges of Instruction – seniors and juniors. As ‘juniors’ we hold two demonstrations a year, mentored by two seniors, and invite the ‘seniors’ along as visitors to partake in our demonstration and to join us at a small festive board afterwards.
    This not only allows the juniors the time and opportunity to show how well they can understand the ritual and floor work, but also gives us the opportunity to practice all roles within the Lodge.
    I think this is an excellent way of retaining new initiates, because we have relatively relaxed practice meetings, enabling the new members to settle in, get to know their contemporaries and have a more enjoyable time at regular meetings.
    We also encourage visiting. As soon as possible after a First Degree, we organise a visit to a Lodge with the same ceremony, giving the initiate a sense of belonging.
    After all, visiting is the lifeblood of Freemasonry.
    We are now open and public enough, but to go any further would remove part of the attraction that certainly appealed to me and to the three candidates I have introduced so far.
    Hugh Kirby
    Yeadon, near Leeds

The right age
I am 36, and contemplated joining for a year or so before taking the plunge, and now wish I had joined earlier. As Craig Adkins mentions, it is the conventional, time-honoured aspects of our fraternity that provide the most fulfilment.
    From my experience, new members are frequently in their 30s or older. This may give some indication on when individuals are ready to join such a fraternity. This is different for all of us, but it was in my 30s that I settled down after spending many years starting a career and working abroad for long stretches.
    It is at this age that I was able to appreciate what Freemasonry provides. I am not sure if I would have had the time or been ready in my 20s with so much going on in my life.
    Stephen Smith
    Thame, Oxfordshire

Workload problems
I am a relatively young Freemason at 36, with just over two and a half years in the Craft, a full-time employed lawyer and, like most young Freemasons that I know, fully committed to a career. I work 40-plus hours a week and frequently work weekday evenings and weekends.
    Whilst I appreciate that there are only four meetings per annum, I am now an officer in my Lodge, and therefore required to attend Lodge of Instruction most Thursday evenings.
    Whilst I do try to attend as often as possible, last-minute work commitments sometimes make this difficult. My request is that others, especially older, retired brethren give due consideration to the workload and personal lives of younger members.
    Undoubtedly, younger Freemasons enjoy the same pleasures and challenges as their older brethren. This would also help recruit and retain younger brethren, who may refrain from an invitation to join, given their already busy work and social commitments.
    Grand Lodge and individual Lodges must do more to avoid this potential tragic shortage of younger Freemasons from joining and remaining within the Craft. How to solve this? Perhaps open days, enticing potential younger members to join. Attaching new members to the Lodge committee would also reassure new brethren.
    Paul Empey
    Brondesbury, London


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