Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. is a Masonic craft lodge located in Dunedin, Florida, a town in the Tampa Bay area with a strong Scottish heritage. Currently we have about 200 members of which approximately thirty attend a stated or called communications; forty on a good night. Having been Secretary of the Lodge, I noticed that attendance is high in the spring but low in autumn (we are dark for the summer). It isn’t until November, when the “snow birds” return to Florida and attendance starts to bounce back. Knowing this, I wanted to try something different during my year in the East. Basically, I was looking for something to stimulate the Craft and give us some momentum going into the Fall.
Believe it or not, the idea came from The Philalethes Society’s Internet discussion group where a member from the north reported his Lodge held a “100 Master Mason Night” to encourage attendance. To me, this was the idea I was looking for and seized on it. In June, just before our summer recess, I called a meeting of our officers and suggested the idea which was warmly received. Consequently, I scheduled August 17th, our first meeting back from recess, for our version of “100 Master Mason Night” and began to promote it in our newsletter and printed up flyers which I distributed to Lodges in our area. I also brought it to the attention of our Masters & Wardens Association who embraced the idea.
I personally invited local Masonic VIPs, including area Worshipful Masters, the President of the Masters & Wardens Association, representatives of the local
High 12 Club, and members of the Grand Lodge. All were introduced accordingly.
Realizing this was not going to be an ordinary stated communications, I started to prepare checklists with assignments for my officers who pitched in without question.
I also formed a telephone committee to contact the Craft about the meeting. Between this, along with an e-mail campaign, people started to register for the meeting, slowly
at first, but then faster as we moved closer to August 17th. By the morning of the day of the meeting, we had 132 reservations. Although we expected some “no shows” we came
close to the mark with 126 people in attendance.
Because we were expecting a large crowd, I wanted to keep the program concise, upbeat, and to the point. One variable I had not anticipated was that our new District Deputy Grand Master, who happens to be a member from our Lodge, wanted to use this date to make his first official visit with his entourage. At first, I thought this would drag things out, then I realized it would be a golden opportunity to help our DDGM kick start his year. Consequently, I kept him advised of our plans as they unfolded.
In fact, we went so far as to schedule a rehearsal with his people so that everyone knew their parts.
Knowing that it was important to put on a first class dinner prior to the meeting, our Junior Warden stepped up to the plate without batting an eye and did a great
job. Not only did he secure the services of his stewards and other volunteers, but he contacted a Lodge member who was a restaurateur who greatly assisted in the
laying out of the menu, ordering the supplies, and orchestrating the kitchen.
Because of the Lodge’s Scottish background, our Senior Deacon, who is a superb bagpiper, piped into the Lodge the Masonic VIPs along with the District Deputy and
his entourage. This stirred the attendees noticeably.
As this was a stated communications, the Lodge naturally had some business to attend to which we expedited as quickly as possible. Other than normal Lodge business, the
- As Worshipful Master, I began with some introductory remarks discussing the need for more Freemasonry, not less (see speech below).
- First time visitors were presented west of the alter where I met each one individually on the level (a local Lodge custom).
- A Master Mason catechism examination was conducted by the Lodge Instructor for two Brothers. Following this, they were presented their white leather aprons.
- Interestingly, one of the Brothers returning his catechism was the son of the District Deputy, who was proud to present him with his apron, a very moving moment in the Lodge.
- Another high point was the presentation of a 70 year Masonic service award to a Brother who hadn’t been back to Lodge in the last few years as his health had been slowly declining. Nonetheless, there was a twinkle in his eye as we presented his 70 year pin and rendered grand honors to him.
I received an e-mail from his wife the next day saying how excited he was to sit in Lodge again and receive the award.
For Masonic Education and to improve awareness about our lodge, we showed a new MS PowerPoint presentation featuring a brief history of Dunedin Lodge (about 9 minutes in length).
- Knowing our Secretary was celebrating his 55th birthday on this day, I surprised him by having him escorted west of the altar and led the Craft in singing him “Happy Birthday.”
- The Master’s gavel was then turned over to the District Deputy Grand Master who conducted his program. Following the meeting, many of the attendees adjourned to nearby Dunedin Brewery which was specially opened for the Masons.
This was an interesting experiment. Hopefully, this will not only invigorate Freemasonry in Dunedin, but it will also stimulate all of the Lodges in our area (a few are considering a similar meeting in their own Lodge). My officers did an outstanding job and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts which, as an aside, kept them organized and motivated during the summer months. The spirit of cooperation was truly infectious. For example, our chaplain was called away on an emergency at the last minute and a chaplain from a neighboring Lodge quickly volunteered his services. Likewise, our organist was out of town and another readily filled in for him. It seemed everyone wanted to take an active part in this historic evening.
Through this program of “100 Master Masons” the message I tried to communicate was twofold in nature: that our Lodge had its act together, and; that a Masonic Lodge
meeting need not be boring. Hopefully, the evening’s spirit of Masonic goodwill will rub off and encourage others to redouble their efforts for the fraternity.
I don’t know who exactly it was from The Philalethes Society that came up with the idea, but thanks! It works.
WORSHIPFUL MASTER’S REMARKS – WE NEED MORE FREEMASONRY, NOT LESS – by W:.Tim Bryce, PM
My Brothers, these are indeed strange times we live in. The economy has been shaken to its foundation, people are out of work, companies are closing their doors, morality is
crumbling, we have considerable political wrangling and backbiting underfoot, we have grave concerns about health care and the national debt, the country is still on guard
against terrorism, and the nuclear threat has never dissipated. Obviously, we can ill-afford to conduct business as usual. If we are to survive, we must find new and
imaginative ways to grow and evolve. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.
As we have learned, stagnation means death.
The critics of our fraternity claim that Freemasonry has outlived its usefulness; that it is no longer in step with the times; that it is actually an evil society that must be stamped out. I vehemently disagree. Although we are an imperfect society with our own unique set of problems, I hardly believe we are an obsolete institution.
Now, more than ever, the world needs more Freemasonry, not less. We need more patriotism and civic pride, not less.
We need more cooperation, loyalty, and teamwork, not less.
We need more religious tolerance, not less.
We need more positive examples of ethics and pride in workmanship, not less.
We need more Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love, not less.
To do all this, we need more honest and respectful debate, not less.
Yes, we need more Freemasonry, not less.
Maybe I’m old fashioned; maybe I’m wrong, but this is how I see True Masonry; a universal and beautiful concept embraced by men around the world. We must remain the example for others to emulate. We must practice what we preach.
And Brothers, consider this: If not us, who?
Our Politicians? The media? Religious zealots? Who?
Freemasonry is uniquely qualified to lead the charge. We are not a religious or political organization, we represent a cross-section of people from all social strata, located around the world, with honorable intentions. We are well established and have a strong historical background. As long as we do not deviate from the basic tenets of Freemasonry, we’ll be fine.
I therefore admonish all of you to redouble your efforts as Masons and help perpetuate this great fraternity and make the world a better place.
Keep the Faith!
by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS, MMBBFMN
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent
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