At the annual meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, held on Saturday 11th June 2016, the Provincial Grand Master thanked a number of brothers for the contribution they had made during the previous year. These brothers, who work so hard and often behind the scenes, cover all aspects associated with the running of a successful Province: from administration to education; from organisation to ceremonial duties; from charitable works to the care of our members. He also outlined his thoughts and plans for the year ahead. With respect to membership, which he mentioned several times during his speech, the Provincial Grand Master reported the following interesting fact:
“The Provincial Registrar, Barry Griffin, produced membership figures for the first five months of this year, which happily, and for the first time that he could recall, showed a net increase in our membership members. We can no way be complacent about this, it being a small statistical sample, but it is good news...”
It is indeed good news! Whilst the figures are but a sub-set of the total for the year, they do reveal a very positive and upward trend: Freemasonry is making up lost ground and striding confidently forwards. There are undoubtedly many reasons why our numbers are on the increase: the public are much more aware of Freemasonry than they once were, with Lodges spreading our message of openness; Lodge and Provincial web sites, together with social media feeds, allow potential members to find accurate information quickly and easily; membership initiatives are running throughout the Constitution, and here in Worcestershire V.W.Bro. Michael Cole's “Freemasonry in the Community Group” is focusing on this very task; men with a genuine interest in membership are openly encouraged to make enquiries. The list is impressive and continues to grow. There is, of course, another factor that is responsible for this upward trend: retention. During the previous three years, I have noticed a marked improvement in the quality of support given to our newer members by their Lodges, through the work of Lodge and Personal Mentors, and a general acceptance that we must all play our part in securing our future. Worcestershire is, without doubt, a happy and strong Province, and the work of its mentors is bringing impressive results: our retention figures show that very clearly. So well done and a most sincere thank you, mentors everywhere, for what you have done and what you continue to do. You really are making a difference.
The Provincial Grand Master then went on to add:
“... and does demonstrate that we can be confident, and should encourage the more pessimistic amongst us, to accept that recruitment, retention and retrieval can all be improved.”
We have spent, and continue to spend, a significant amount of time looking at ourselves and our Lodges, and asking how we can make Freemasonry more enjoyable for our members. Clearly, we must continue to do this if we are to remain relevant and the Provincial Grand Master makes an important point: we must now be confident in ourselves and our fraternity, and welcome our newer members with the enthusiasm, warmth and commitment that will ensure they remain with us for many years. So when you return to your meetings in the autumn, please keep this in mind: be confident and carry out your work with the expectation of success.
Provincial Grand Mentor