Masonic Membership Reported on the Upswing
Here’s an interesting article in the Wednesday June 20, 2007 edition of the Meriden Record Journal, a newspaper that supports the central Connecticut region.
The article plays on some of the more interesting preconceptions and stereotypes of the fraternity. For example:
“They are painted equally with the brush of geriatric decrepitude and secret handshakes. They ride around in little cars for charity, but their origins are rumored to lie in the soaring cathedrals of Europe, or even the pyramids of Egypt.”
I found it interesting that while most people don’t seem to associate the Freemason with the Shriners, this reporter manages to make a connection.
Even more ironic was this:
“Few people know a Mason, but everyone’s grandfather seemed to be one. “
If I were editing this, I think that I would change it to read “Few people realize that they know a Mason…”
On the more positive side, the article did mention some of the great work that we’ve been doing here in Connecticut over the past few years. Eagle-eyed observers will note that the article does mention Worshipful Master David Hubbs of Friendship Lodge No. 33 – my own mother lodge – and the collections for the troops overseas that we have spearheaded for the Year of Giving.
“One of the major activities of the Masons is charity on the local level, such as the 3.5 tons of personal items collected for U.S. troops overseas by the Southington temple, but they also involve themselves in large-scale donations and projects like funding Masonicare in Wallingford, which is considered one of the finest senior healthcare facilities in the country, and the $2 million they donate every day to charities worldwide.
“Masonicare, which services the general public, was started with an original investment of $332 in 1895. What was then a home for a few dozen people on a working farm has become a facility that produces $128 million in revenue every year and assists 3,000 patients a day. “
I know that some Masons object to this kind of publicity because it makes our fraternity look to be merely a charity or benevolent society. However, we must admit that the charitable acts are generally the first, if not the only facet of Freemasonry that most people ever see; not that we, as Masons, need to justify our actions to anyone. But if we are to continue to attract members, I’d certainly want the people in my neighborhood noticing an article like this, as opposed to, for example, articles about the mistreatment of animals at a Shriner’s circus.
The article, though, does point out that in many lodges membership is indeed growing. Friendship Lodge has added about sixteen new members in the last six months, most of them younger men who are joining because they are looking for a solid, established community organization and recognize the serious nature of the fraternity. While some lodges in the hinterlands of the state are still not doing as well as we would like to see, lodges in the more populated areas have been showing similar growth. I’m hoping that this will lead to a new generation of men “discovering” Masonry.