“The Future of Masonry”
The eleventh in the series of presentations on “Opportunities”
by R. W. Brother Friedhelm Hoffmann
District Deputy Grand Master of South Huron District
Upon his Official Visit to Britannia Lodge #.
Brethren; Tonight I would be about the future of Masonry.
My speeches were strategically laid out over this year were all integrated in a Visioning to inspire you. You can eventually read all the speeches on the District website. I deeply thank my friend and Brother James Brisbin for his great support for my speeches. He receives them after I present them in Lodge and makes sure the Germanised English is corrected so it makes sense and is easily read. These speeches are not publicised to make me feel better but only for your interest and to perhaps to generate thoughts for your own contemplation. To put speeches and themes together for 11 visits was not an easy task. But, in my opinion, it was important to create a certain vision in our District that will guide the Mason that (who perhaps came to every Official Visit) through a well-rounded year. The thoughts fit in with what we try to do as masons – particularly in this district.
I could now go on and talk about the future of masonry. To talk about the future is difficult and, for me, involves way too much speculation. I am not going there.
But still, true long-term planning is important. To just talk about a rosy future is unrealistic. A negative outlook only creates frustrations that are not necessary. We have them every day now.
But I can talk about what we have done, and do to explore and to secure our future. We started by signing up all Lodges of this District for the Grand Lodge Cornerstone project. Every Lodge signed up. Congratulations! This program does have the segment for establishing a Long-term plan for each lodge. My successor, W.Bro. Stephen Hearn, is already working on a program that will help each lodge implement a simple and effectual long term plan. But with any long term plan there must be discussion in Lodge. I wish I could be a fly on the wall of your lodges to listen to each of the discussions – that’s how much I am interested in each of our Lodges.
There are items that are necessary to touch on, especially the content that we do not want to talk about. The anxiety of talking about the “elephant” in the room is everywhere. Every Lodge has its own “elephant”. Brethren, we all know how an organization looks like if we do not plan and if we decide not address issues that are looming before us. If I learned anything this year, it is that there are anxieties in talking about the future of masonry in our lodges – especially declining membership which can translate eventually to financial issues. And even when finances are not a problem, money alone does not solve the issues of a lodge either. There are numerous scenarios that you all know better than we do. When I say we I include my fellow District Deputies present this evening. Whenever we travel together, we talk about our experiences and really, they are not much different in London, Sarnia, North Huron, Chatham, St. Thomas, Waterloo, Wilson District or elsewhere.
Brethren, there should not be such anxiety. There is so much good that masonry offers that anxiety is not necessary. Our principles teach us differently. The principles of Masonry are not written for bank accounts, membership numbers or buildings. They are made for our heart. Everything starts in our hearts. And we can look at the reports on condition of masonry up and down as much as we want. If we do not take the information seriously and talk about the “elephants” in our lodge room, the future will be difficult.
Remember that our principles are in brotherly love, hope, faith and charity. As long we take our ritual work seriously and translate it into our hearts, into our lives, there will be no fear and no anxiety. Nothing can harm us. But as soon we doubt, as soon we get out of the sun, as soon we get out of the east, as soon we are not looking for the eastern star; we are in danger of walking towards the darkness. I know that our rational world thinks it important to know all the realities but they can easily lead toward darkness.
Please do me a favour and look to the east, look to the sun that provides the energy in all you do – not just the lodge. All answers and experiences are actually written in the Volume of Sacred Law. We just need to study it as we are told to do in our work. To work without a good knowledge of the Volume of Sacred Law will potentially make us work on a building that misses the cornerstones and the building will fall apart. It will be a building built out of sand and it will be washed away with a stroke.
I was asked often this year…”What can I do to improve masonry?” Well, the answer is easy. You need to travel. Travel like the masons hundreds of years ago as they went from lodge to lodge to work. I learned a lesson together with these DDGM’s and Grand Lodge officers sitting with us today. When you start traveling, the masonic world looks so much more different. Brethren when you discuss and mull over where you want to be as a lodge in 3, 5 or 7 years, make sure to get to know masonry in full. Travel! But not just once. You need to travel multiple times outside your own district in order to get to know masonry. And when you have done it a few times and come back to your own lodge to discuss long term planning, you will have a better idea of where you have to navigate. You will know where the light switch is. It may not be where you looked for many years, because you did not know that there was another place to look. There is no reason to ever doubt masonry and its future. There is only ourselves standing as a frozen wall that is afraid to let anything go through. We always need to refresh our views, especially when we love something. I love Masonry as it has so much to offer and is one of the best organizations to enhance our lives. I am telling you tonight that I love Masonry and its principles. I use the word Love purposely. I learned a lot in this past year. It means a lot to me. It means that I have met so many masons I never got to know before. The many I met and talked to, and the many lodges I visited made me realize that it is actually a beautiful system. Every time I visited, I went home uplifted. The more lodge meetings I attended and the further I drove away, the more I came home satisfied and my inner peace was strengthened. The experience of sharing life with each other made my day and the next day. Some experiences and what it does to yourself cannot be explained. Travel is probably one of the top priorities in our fraternity. Everyone experiences the benefits of travel in their own way.
Brethren never forget that we are here not just for ourselves. We cannot make it about ourselves. We have to make it about others. We are here as good men to become better. That means that we are charged to take that ‘brotherly love’, ‘hope’ and true ‘faith’ and implement ‘charity’. Helping others in this our world is the ultimate goal. But we cannot do it by ourselves. We can do it if we get out of our comfort zone, get up and do it ourselves. Masonry offers much! It is impossible to explain it all.