|Ohio Suggestions for Welcoming New MasonsThe following is from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, concerning its one day class of new Masons (8,300) in April 2002. This is from http://www.freemason.com/welcoming.htm
Welcoming New Brethren
The following information has been prepared for Symbolic Lodges in the State of Ohio for utilization immediately following the Grand Master’s Class in 2002. It is not an attempt to be universal in nature, and time constraints will prevent all ideas from being implemented at one time. Nonetheless, Lodges should do everything possible to make all new members feel welcome, thereby encouraging them to take an active part in the direction each Lodge will take in the future. If applicable, Lodges are urged to incorporate these ideas into a comprehensive plan to welcome all new brothers into the Lodge, and not confine them only to members of the Grand Master’s One Day Class.
1) Host a reception in honor of all the new candidates within a few weeks after they receive the Master Mason Degree. Invitations will need to go out early to insure as few scheduling conflicts as possible. Include the new brothers’ families, so they feel comfortable with him taking part in Lodge activities. Make sure the Mentors attend, and invite every member. A dinner at the Lodge Hall would be a good forum not only to make them feel welcome and more comfortable with their new organization, but it also would allow them to meet and greet their new brothers in a relatively relaxed setting.
2) Conduct a “Walk About the Lodge” with all the new members. This should be given by a brother who is not only a good speaker, but knowledgeable about Masonry as well. This program already has been developed, and is in the hands of all LEOs. It is also on the Grand Lodge Web Page. It is a relatively comprehensive presentation, and is designed to help them feel more comfortable with their surroundings.
3) Give each of the new members a plastic pocket name badge, with their name and the name of the Lodge (or whatever is customary in your particular Lodge). This can go a long way in making them feel welcome, and will facilitate brothers introducing themselves to one another.
4) Make sure they get their Bible signed by as many members as possible, as a nice memento of the evening. Additionally, be sure that the aprons of all new members are signed by the Worshipful Master and the Secretary, as this will not be done at the One-Day Class. This also would be a good time to present the new brothers with their dues cards, as they must be presented as soon as possible. It would be a good idea to set up several “Road Trips,” where groups of brethren car pool to visit other Lodges on a stated meeting night or a degree presentation. This will help the new brothers put their new dues cards to good use, and it will help them to feel more comfortable doing visitations on their own.
5) Make sure they receive a calendar of upcoming Lodge events, and encourage them (and their families when applicable) to join their brothers in the Lodge activities.
1) On a stated meeting night (preferably the first one after raising the new candidate), devote the evening to helping him learn and understand more about the ritual and Masonic customs. A good forum for learning about the ritual, may be the Order of the Rusty Nail, or a similar program. This also would be a great time to invite all members who haven’t been to Lodge in the last five years. In addition to providing great potential for instruction, it also would offer opportunities for new and old brothers alike to experience brotherhood in a non-intimidating manner. The ritual for this program may be obtained by calling the Grand Lodge Office.
2) Customs which should be reviewed may include an explanation of the area between the WM and the Altar; the raps of the gavel; how a brother gains recognition of the WM during a meeting; a short discourse on “So-Mote-It-Be;” Grand Honors; how to enter and exit a Lodge in session; the sending of the substitute and when it occurs, etc. This also would be a good time to discuss local Lodge customs and traditions.
3) Make sure the Mentor (or another knowledgeable brother) sits with the new brother during the meeting. Questions are certain to arise, and having brothers sitting with him to answer his questions on the spot will help him to understand and feel more comfortable during the meeting.
4) Present the new brother(s) with a Series IV Course registration form. The Lodge may even want to hang a plaque on the wall of the Lodge honoring all Brothers who have completed this and the Series V Course, and encourage the new brothers to get their names on it as well. Another idea is to provide some sort of special incentive to those new brothers who complete it within a certain time frame.
1) Ask for the input of your new members whenever possible. Not only will they learn a great deal from their brothers, but the brothers will learn from them as well. They generally will have greater insight about outside perceptions of the organization, and they can be a valuable resource for community involvement issues.
2) The new members also will be your best resource for getting new petitions. Allow them to use their contacts to help increase membership! They should be involved in promoting Friendship Nights and other membership development activities.
3) Put them on committees. Not only will this help them to feel that they have an integral part in the direction and future of the Lodge, but it also will help you to discover hidden talents they may have. Remember – every brother has a many talents; it is up to us to help define, refine, and utilize them effectively in the Lodge setting and in our communities.
4) Make sure they are introduced at the first meeting they attend after being raised, and extend to them a round of applause. They may well represent the future of your Lodge, so let them know you appreciate them.
5) Create a communication process, perhaps a phone “tree,” so the new members can be alerted of special events, Lodge happenings, funeral services, and so on, so they may be readily brought in to the activities of the Lodge.
Remember that a new member often feels overwhelmed and may be afraid to ask questions. The first impression is a lasting impression, and it is up to every Lodge to ensure that the first impression is a good one.
Always include them in a period of fellowship at the conclusion of every stated meeting. Do not allow a “them – us” situation to occur, where all the older members congregate at one end of the room, while the new member(s) are left out of the action at another end of the room. If need be, make sure that there are several brothers who are appointed to prevent this from occurring. These brothers will need to retire to the fellowship area right after the meeting, to greet and engage the new members. Often the Lodge’s officers are busy immediately after the meeting, and don’t see this division happening. By the time they are done in the Lodge room, many of the members already have left. Unfortunately, some of them won’t return if they don’t feel welcome.
For members of the Grand Master’s One-Day Class, the meetings immediately after April 27th may very well be their first visit to the Lodge building. Make sure they know how to get there, and provide them with a map if necessary. Better yet, appoint brothers (or Mentors) to pick them up and bring them to the first couple of meetings or functions. Not only will this ensure their attendance, but it will help to set them at ease as well.
Remember that if it is a brother’s first time there, he won’t know where anything in the building is located. Familiarize him with the location of the rest rooms, Lodge Room, Dining Room, and other important areas of the building. Make sure he knows where the sign-in register is located, and that he should sign in whenever he attends. Additionally, it is important that he know where the aprons are located, and he should be reminded how to wear it (outside the coat at all times, with the flap generally turned down during Master Mason meetings, etc.).
When you focus your efforts on enthusiastically welcoming your new members, you’ll see many of them become active and dedicated brothers of your Lodge. When you make an effort to involve them in Lodge activities, you will experience increased enthusiasm and pride in our organization. This will lead to an enhanced presence and image of Masonry in our communities, and will be the best opportunity for the growth and stability of our fraternity in the future. Hopefully every Lodge in the State of Ohio will take this active role of ensuring a vital and solid future for Freemasonry in Ohio.