“Freemasonry is one of the most nimble, flexible, and adaptable organizations in history.”
For centuries, our ancient and honorable fraternity has captured the hearts and minds of quality men who choose to design, create, build, and contribute positively to the world around them.
Through a shared focus on the core skills of architecture and the building process, Freemasons have contributed mightily to the advancement of humanity across the globe. The number of noteworthy Brethren who were change agents and symbolic pillars throughout history is too numerous to mention.
The commonality amongst them has been forged through deep trust in one another, the steadfast appreciation of the talents that our Brethren can bring to the work ahead, and a focus on harmony to unite us in a shared purpose and mission.
Extracting from our unique ritual experiences, we have learned how to speculate, think for ourselves, envision possibilities, and design a future that propels our Speculative Craft of builders forward across time.
Building Towards the Future
Our Masonic legacy around the world is balanced on a firm foundation of staying true to the past while being aspirational about the future.
Said differently, our ability to leapfrog through time is driven by an unwavering focus on using the symbolic art and applied science of architecture to positively build and lead a better life for our families, communities, and Brotherhood. Thinking small is not an attribute shared by true master architects or many of our fore-Brothers who have helped dramatically transform countries and societies across the globe.
As Freemasons, we think big and bold about the ingenuity and capabilities of skilled workmen to build a brighter future.
When examining our fraternity’s history throughout Illinois, our Masonic temples were amongst the first structures built in many towns and communities. Similarly, our Masonic Lodges are some of the earliest incorporated entities in several geographies throughout the state. Reflecting on our Masonic accomplishments since 1840, we shift and pose this question: What does your Lodge look like, in 2032? As we peek through the looking glass, the first reality check is a realization that the Worshipful Masters and Wardens who will serve in these roles in 2032 may not have yet alarmed the Preparation Room door.
What will be needed to ensure that the Brethren on the membership roll in 2032 are enjoying a quality Masonic membership experience?
The Five Masonic Renaissance Drivers
To address that question, we will focus on the Five Masonic Renaissance Drivers needed to design and implement a compelling and successful future for our Lodges and grand jurisdiction.
- Driver #1 - Go Back to the Basics. Let’s Not Assume
Freemasonry is complex and requires a solid level of knowledge to understand it, execute our work and activities, and be useful.
We must challenge the assumption that Brethren have a working knowledge of basic Masonic topics like Masonic etiquette, how to successfully serve on a Lodge Investigating Committee, how to vote on several matters within the Lodge, how to effectively talk about our Masonic membership experience in both compelling and accurate ways, how to successfully execute Lodge events, among many other fundamental topics.
Keep in mind that unless a well-informed Brother shared the above information and effectively guided you or other Brethren in your Lodge through topics like those listed above, we should not assume that a widespread understanding exists of our unique Masonic practices, procedures, and protocols. Let’s work together and commit to proactive membership development to confidently reinstall a solid “standard” of what it means to live as a knowledgeable and productive Freemason and useful member of a Lodge.
- Driver #2 - Grow Masonic Teachers.
The vast majority of new Brethren coming into Freemasonry are sincerely interested in genuine self-improvement and living more fulfilling lives; that trend will absolutely continue.
To help these good men and all of us become the best version of ourselves, we have to: - help Brethren work on themselves in a safe and supportive environment
-help Brothers accrue confidence from valuable work and contributions
- Provide recognition and confirmation that they are being useful
That progression and those achievements are supported and advanced by our humble and knowledgeable Masonic teachers (e.g. Grand Lecturers, Certified Lodge Instructors, Lodge Intenders, and well-informed Past Masters).
Reflect on the answer to this catechism question to frame the critical importance of this success driver: how do you know yourself to be a Mason?
Thus, the journey of our Masonic Teachers begins with the Lodge Intender Program. In that crucial experience, a newer Brother learns from and is guided by a faithful friend and guide as he progresses through the learning experience and degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry.
if you have a passion for helping others learn and are willing to dedicate yourself to acquiring the required knowledge and expertise to serve that mission for Freemasonry, then we encourage you to chart and advance your journey to becoming a faithful Masonic Teacher.
- Driver #3 - Invest in Lodge Officer Learning and Development:
We need experienced, well-informed, and confident Masonic leaders who can design plans, interpret the work to be done, and inspire Brethren to follow along on our profound journey to build a brighter and more compelling future for every Lodge across our grand jurisdiction.
Building upon the last success driver above, Brethren who serve as Lodge Officers need help; they are not expected to achieve success for their Lodges alone. They absolutely need guidance and support from Masonic Teachers and other dedicated mentors.
In Illinois, we provide them with valuable reference tools like The Handbook for Officer Advancement along with hands-on learning and development experiences from our “Lodge Officer Development Workshop — A Roadmap to the East'' events and local Masonic Ritual Schools of Instruction.
The Lodge Trestle Boards / Annual Lodge Plans in the future will be designed by upcoming Worshipful Masters and Wardens who will need to keep the Craft rooted in the timeless elements of our Masonic Membership Experience while staying nimble, flexible, and adaptable to the present and emerging times.
- Driver #4 - Embrace and Use Technology in Lodge Operations:
Technological tools and capabilities should be embraced as modern Masonic working tools to help communicate effectively with all members and facilitate efficient Lodge operations.
In particular, every Lodge should have access to a private and secure communications system that is exclusively available for Brethren in “Good Standing” status within our grand jurisdiction. For Illinois Freemasonry, it is the Our Lodge Page System (OLP) which is accessible via the OLP websites and an OLP mobile app.
Next, many younger Brethren (under 50 years old) do not have or use physical checks to pay for anything; therefore, electronic payment capabilities are critical for all Lodges to adopt. OLP provides the ability for Brethren to securely pay dues electronically via credit and debit cards. The Zelle system available from most banks provides a secure electronic funds transfer capability which is done instead of using cash or checks for payments.
Overall, we can expect more technological tools and capabilities in our lives in the years ahead, and our Lodge operations will need to stay flexible and adapt to effectively engage the entire membership across our grand jurisdiction.
- Driver #5 - Inspire Personal Accountability and Ownership:
Being an active and engaged Freemason is quite personal. Good men seek out our fraternity for three primary motivations and expectations — opportunities for fellowship (Brotherly Love), opportunities to learn (Masonic Truth), and opportunities to make a difference and contribute (Relief).
As a fraternity, we are first and foremost a Brotherhood of men who seek to make genuine friends in the real, physical world. Thus, every Lodge should add informal activities to their calendar to provide time for Brethren to casually mingle, connect and just talk.
Working together on Lodge projects, including degree conferral teams, inspires personal accountability to learn, acknowledgment of the self-improvement progress, pride in shared achievements, and joint ownership of “my Lodge,” not just “the Lodge.”
Remember that a Lodge is not the building; it is the list of Brethren named on the membership roll who work together as shared owners and caretakers of Freemasonry now and for decades to come.
Like the Brethren throughout the centuries who have toiled as “fellow workmen in the quarries of Freemasonry,” focusing on the above five Masonic Renaissance Drivers will deliver a brighter and more enduring future for our beloved fraternity.
A Masonic Renaissance has begun, and our momentum is accelerating!
Yes, a Masonic Renaissance has begun. It’s propelled by the passion, dedication, capabilities, and focus of many Masonic leaders and Brethren on executing the five success drivers outlined above(along with other valuable initiatives being implemented across the jurisdiction.
As Freemasons, we are investing in self-improvement and being useful to others. Said simply, we are builders! For more than 182 years, our Brethren in Illinois have shared their talents, time, and resources to advance our Masonic legacy. For the Brethren reading this message today, the baton is now in your hands to carry our ancient and honorable fraternity forward into the future.
Like those who have gone this way before us, we will retain what is truly timeless about Freemasonry while adapting to the changing technological, communication, and social norms in the years ahead. Our motto of “Masons living Masonry in their daily lives” will carry forward to serve as a beacon light for other good men to follow. Without a doubt, in 2032, we will have a great story to tell about what we’ve accomplished together in just the next decade!
- Right Worshipful Brother Wayne Spooner, Grand Lodge Membership Committee Chairman