This question started as one of those silent moment thoughts: What will Freemasonry look like after COVID-19?
The easy answer is that Freemasonry will go on business as usual. Monthly stated meetings, degree evenings, appendant body meetings and the bi-annual festive board. The question is, will members be willing to return given the breadth of the crisis and the disparity in following safety protocols or safe distancing standards?
The question, as I’m thinking it through, isn’t so much about how Freemasonry will respond to the easing of COVID restrictions and the return to a semblance of normal, but how the members will. After a yearlong (maybe two) hiatus from activities around the fraternity, how do things restart?
I don’t think there is an easy answer to this.
Going into the pandemic, Freemasonry was already contending with a decrease in membership. This was illustrated in several stories on this site (The Death of Freemasonry: When Change Changes You, To Die Or Not To Die). Now, nearly a year into the quarantine, the old questions are compounded with having to figure how to re-engage and invigorate past members to come back and drive interest to new members to join–all while under quarantine and socially distanced.
My thinking is that now would be the time to start planning or rolling out campaigns to reinvigorate interest.
I see this happening in the content the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. They’ve been producing a stream of content around new members, virtual reunions and driving the message home that it’s still there, doing what masons do. You can catch a glimpse of the work in this one social post from Twitter.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.— ScottishRiteNMJ (@ScottishRiteNMJ) November 2, 2020
Learn more about the gift of giving to our Grand Almoner’s Fund below and tune into our #GivingTuesday Telethon to explore all the ways you can support our charities: https://t.co/epvEbGGt2C pic.twitter.com/xpQEhJdDgv
It’s impossible to say what the net impact will be of a campaign piece like this. But smart, and well crafted, and on point. It’s an interesting glimpse of the bigger picture of what they’re doing which is building the Scottish Rite brand and strengthening the reach. They’ve really done a stellar job with their digital footprint.
Imagine this footprint spread across the 50 states. And this is only one example of one organization on one social platform.
The possibilities are nearly limitless to broaden the reach of your flavor of local Freemasonry.
I started this post with the headline Freemasonry after COVID, but I suppose the better lead would have been Freemasonry in the middle of COVID. The issues aren’t insurmountable. How do you reach and keep existing members engaged when social distancing is restricting face to face gatherings? And how do you grow and add new ones?
If you’re a Freemason away from lodge, how interested would you be if your Grand Lodge did more to engage you? Are they doing enough already? Do you think it would help to retain your interest in this period of social distancing while we await a vaccine?