Let's Move Backward Rapidly by M. W.

Dean Tillotson, Grand Master of Masons in Arizona Royal Arch Mason - Winter 1979 Many of the Past Grand Masters when they commented on the "condition of the Craft" said it was good. They used as proof that the fraternity had made some slight membership gain. I would probably not say it is good, in fact I will say the condition of the Craft is not very good. At the best it is mediocre. Partly this is because our membership gains did not truly reflect the growth in population in Arizona. Much of this gain is caused by affiliations from other jurisdictions. We have not been doing anything which would make any person want to be a Mason. Not that we have bad public relations, we just don't have any. Nobody outside the fraternity knows of us and no one cares. We have hidden our good features for too long. This lack of public relations is our own fault. We don't do anything. When we do something we keep it a deep dark secret. Less than 10% of our membership regularly attends lodge. I don't blame them. Our lodges are run by the ritualists, and only about 10% of us enjoy ritual. Therefore, we hold two types of meetings. One is the degree meeting. We frequently forget these are for the benefit of the candidate, not for some officer who wants to practice his ritual. The other is the stated or business meeting. These are often deadly. There are long minutes read, the secretary drones over minute questions and answers, in the petitions, and endless introductions of practically everybody. How can we expect the average member to want to come to this kind of meeting? Where are the meetings for fellowship? I wonder why there was such an enormous growth in Freemasonry in the 1700's. Was it because the Masons did something? They really had fellowship. They held processions through the towns. The people could see that they were "Freemasons." They held feasts and banquets, not pot-lucks, or cookies and coffee after a meeting. They met in taverns! Do you assume that those old time Masons all went to lodge and returned home without

stopping to raise a glass of conviviality in those taverns? You can bet they didn't. Could it be possible that some of our laws against alcohol should be relaxed? If it would bring back that fellowship, I would be for it. We have started holding Table-Lodges in this state. Can you imagine giving the seven traditional toasts in grape juice? Well, I have and it just didn't seem right. All over the United States, we seem to be worrying about members. We have reason to. We have been losing membership at the rate of more than 50,000 members a year. If this trend keeps up it certainly will adversely affect the York Rite, The Scottish Rite, The Shrine, and every other organization basing its membership on the symbolic lodge. Some jurisdictions are going to great lengths to increase the numbers of petitions. I don't agree with some of the steps they are taking. They are looking at quantity. I am concerned with both quantity and quality. I am particular about whom I call brother. I believe that, if we plan intelligently, we can have both. We can have both if we start talking about Masonry and tell people why we are proud to be Masons, if we streamline our meetings, reducing all this protocol and introductions, if we give our brethren something of interest that will make them come to our meetings, if we develop fellowship again as our forefathers enjoyed it. In the old constitutions and old charges I read that a man must join of his own "Freewill and accord." I find nothing in ancient Masonry that says he cannot be asked or invited. In fact that practice is common now in England. We must seek out good men and acquaint them with the good of Masonry. And we must make Masonry good enough, and interesting enough, to keep their interest once they do join. POTS

Masonry is an art, useful and extensive, which comprehends within its circle every branch of useful knowledge and learning, and stamps an indellible mark of preeminence on its genuine professors, which neither chance, power, nor fortune can bestow. - PRESTON.

George Helmer FPS PM Norwood #90 GRA PZ Norwood #18 RAM MBBFMN #362