Cortland-Madison Masonic District

Grand Lodge F.&A.M. State of New York

December 2017 DDGM Article for The Word

Dec 21, 2017 | From the DDGM, News & Events from The Grapevine

My Brothers,

This year is almost concluded and, while it’s not quite time to be considering resolutions, that time will be upon us shortly.  As we turn toward the New Year and toward the challenges and opportunities that it will afford us, let us consider our present and plan for our future.

Currently, there are 408 Master Masons belonging to the 8 Lodges of the Cortland-Madison District. Actually, the number is less than that as this figure includes dual (or plural) members, but we’ll stick with this number as it makes the math easier.  This means that, on average, each Lodge in our District is composed of 51 Master Masons.

Again, on average, each of these Master Masons is just shy of 65 years of age.  This means, of course, that some are older than 65 and some are younger than 65.  Let’s assume that age 50 is about the midpoint of a typical Masonic lifetime (spanning the beginning of eligibility to the current life expectancy).  After a not-so-quick foray into MORI, I discovered that only 91 of our 408 Master Masons (22%) are under the age of 50. With each successively younger decade, these numbers plummet.  Only 52 of our District’s Master Masons are under the age of 40 (13%) and a scant 2% of our membership, or just 9 Master Masons, are under the age of 30. No Lodge has more than two 20-somethings and there are no 18 or 19 year-old Master Masons in our District

Well, that’s all very interesting, but what does it mean?  It means that all those years where we did not bring young men into the Craft are about to catch up with us, and in a big way.  Over the next quarter-century, we will likely lose approximately 300 of our 400 Master Masons to the Celestial Lodge. Unless we see, and can maintain, a large increase in the number of young (20s & 30s) men entering our Lodges, we will not be able to stem the tide of our losses to death within this District over that same time period.

Some of our Lodges have already started working on this issue and are seeing good results. Not surprisingly, the age-distribution of the members in these Lodges is somewhat more sustainable.  Two Lodges, in particular, stand out in this regard: Cortlandville, No. 470, and Homer, No. 352.  They have the two lowest average ages in the District. Each of these Lodges has approx. 35% of its membership under the age of 50 and 25% under the age of 40. These numbers are encouraging, however, neither Lodge has more than 4% of its Master Masons under the age of 30 (again, the best in the District).

Men typically bring other men into the Fraternity from within their own social circle and, consequently, age group.  Recognizing this, we need to find ways to bridge the generational gap and make our Lodges attractive, or even known, to men who may be decades our juniors. Does your Lodge have a web page? Social media presence? Is it active and visible within the community?  How do you respond to questions of interest and inquiry about the Fraternity? Do you respond?

How does your Lodge work to ensure that its newer, and presumably younger, members are afforded an interesting and enriching experience?  How does your Lodge incorporate its younger members into Lodge life and activities?  What does your Lodge do to make its new members want to bring their best friends to the Fraternity?

If you don’t have well-defined answers to these questions, then you are missing out on the possibility of significant, possibly exponential, growth.  Visit other Lodges. Share ideas.  Work together.  Please remember that the Fraternity is bigger than your Lodge – don’t pass over a college student or do less than your best for a young man at the beginning of his career, just because he may not be around in two years.  True, he may not be a member of your Lodge in a few years, but if you give that Brother the wonderful Masonic experience that we have promised him, then he will be a member of someLodge.

My Brothers, I wish each of you the best for this coming holiday season.  May you enjoy safe travels, good health, and time well spent with family and friends.