New Master Mason Forums

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Upcoming New MM Forums:
February 28, 2008      Cedar Rapids            Completed
March 31, 2008              Davenport                     Completed
April 24, 2008                     Council Bluffs
April 29, 2008                           Des Moines

Many more to be scheduled!!!!

If you attended one of the Grand Master's Area Meetings (GMAM) last fall, you will remember that we talked about Managed Masonic Change.  (Refresh your memory here.)  As part of the new process for Engineering our Future, we are implementing a Long Range Planning process.  One of the first steps before the planning can start, is the collection of ideas from the craft of Iowa to see what they believe is needed to ensure the future of Iowa Freemasonry.  Many methods will be used.  This is the first.

We thought it would be very interesting, to say nothing about invaluable, to ask new Master Masons what THEY thought was important.  After all, in 10-30 years, they will be the ones running our great fraternity.  If we ignore their inputs, they may not be around to do that.  So we decided to try holding a series of meetings around the state, inviting men who had been raised within the past three years to an evening of fellowship.  The only attendees, in addition to the new Master Masons were me, the Grand Secretary Bill Crawford, and Jack Butler, who is Chairman of the Committee on Division and Reference (my likely successor) and also Chairman of the ad hoc Long Range Planning Committee.

The evening starts with a half hour of socializing.  This way the men get to know each other informally.  Then we eat dinner.  Breaking bread together is a great way to get folks talking.  We then had a very brief period (10 minutes) of presentations from Bill and myself.  He talked a bit about Courtesies and Customs, and about the resources available at the Grand Lodge Office, Library, and Museum.  Then I talk briefly about the GMAM topics, Attitude, Masonic Pride, Masonic Education, and Managed Masonic Change, thereby providing a an introduction into WHY we were holding the meeting.  Then we held a round table discussion, led by Jack, where the new Master Masons could ask questions, but more importantly tell us what they thought about their experience in Masonry, what they liked, what they didn't like, what they needed more of, what they needed less of, etc.  The topics were very open ended, and the brothers were allowed to pretty much talk about anything they wished.  We tried to limit our own inputs into answering questions, and keeping everyone involved in the discussion.

So far we have had one meeting in Cedar Rapids, on February 28.  Other meetings are scheduled for Davenport, Des Moines, and Council Bluffs.  The plan is for these meetings to continue through this year, and next, or until all of the state has been covered.  At the first meeting, we didn't really know what to expect.  There were several conflicts, with three area lodges holding degrees that evening.  The weather did not cooperate, with slippery roads and a bunch of new snow.  As a result, attendance was limited, but we had a great time.  Seven new Master Masons were excited to share their thoughts with us.  We had planned to limit the discussion to an hour, so that folks could get home.  After two hours, nobody seemed ready to leave.

In fact, here is an email we received from one of the attendees:

I found the New Master Mason's Forum to be not only enlightening but also motivating. I truly believe that the key to building the fraternity is Masonic pride, be it as an individual, a lodge or a grand lodge. Finding and building the pride is what makes it relevant and fun. I also think that that pride is also extremely important in raising interests in good men who are not masons. I would love to take part in something like this again and also believe that many other masons would benefit from a forum like this regardless of how long they have been part of the fraternity. Good job, and thank you for being part of what will probably shape masonry in Iowa for me in 30 years.

Bill, Jack, and I had an idea of what message the new Masons would give us.  And based on one meeting, we were not surprised.  The message I heard was that these men wanted (1) more mentoring, and (2) more activities.  The mentoring they wanted was not just assistance in learning ritual, but training in what the ritual meant, what Masons do, how they do it, why they do it.  Training in the history and traditions of the Fraternity.  And the activities they wanted to varied, in lodge programs, out of lodge projects, out of lodge fun visits, etc.  It will be very interesting to see if the same message is received from subsequent groups.

If you are invited to attend one of these forums, please plan to attend.  Your input is extremely valuable to us.  It will be even more valuable to the future of Freemasonry in Iowa.  A form has been created on this website to allow ALL Iowa Masons to give us their thoughts on these same topics.  The questions on that forum are the same as the discussion topics shown below.  If you are interested in the future of our fraternity, please take a few moments to answer these questions.  It matters not if you have been a Mason for 50 years, 10 years, one year, or one day.  Your input is important to us.  (Please list on the form your age and how long you have been a Mason so we can evaluate possible differences in the responses. The questionnaire can be found HERE.

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The suggested discussion topics were:

What brought you to Freemasonry?

What were your expectations and hopes? What were you looking for?

How successfully have your hopes and expectations been fulfilled?

How have your hopes and expectations changed since you joined?

What have been your surprises? What have you encountered that was unexpected? Which positive items which should be encouraged and repeated? Which negative items should be identified to minimize or avoid?

What do you perceive as benefits of Masonic membership?

What do you want “More of”?

What do you want “Less of”?

What do you like best about your local lodge?

How has the Mentor Program worked for you? Suggestions for improvement?

How well has the Ashlar Program helped you become fully integrated into your lodge?

What is your level of interest in participating in another program similar to Ashlar to more fully explore Masonic experience and knowledge?

Would you like to see some or all of an advanced program handled by several lodges in cooperation with each other?

How often would you like to attend multi-lodge, area, regional, or State-wide events?

What kind of events involving multiple lodges would you like to see planned and conducted?

How many miles, or how much time, are you willing to travel for a wide-area event?

Do you plan to attend Grand Lodge in Des Moines in September?

What events, activities, education seminars, etc., would you like to see offered at Grand Lodge?

What additional topics should be included, and which topics should be eliminated in future New Master Mason Forums?