By Ill. Edsel Emery, 33°
Guest Blogger

When I came in as the Deputy's Representative for the Valley of Steubenville a little over 2 years ago, there were many challenges that needed attention and action. One issue was membership. For the first time in our long history, the Valley was forced to cancel a reunion for lack of candidates.

Edsel Emery

Here are the actions we took in Steubenville that, after allowing time for the program to build, has resulted in increased membership.

Where are Our Members Coming From?
The first week in office, I undertook an analysis of the last 10 years of Scottish Rite membership classes by lodges. The charting of that information into a spreadsheet gave us a basis to take action on two central issues:

1. Analyze where members are coming from
2. Determine which lodges need more attention and outreach

Replacing Ineffective Ambassadors
In addition to the immediate appointment of a new Membership Chairman for the Valley, we replaced all ineffective Lodge ambassadors. With a polite “thank you for your continued service, Brother," we moved on to finding ambassadors who would be effective in spreading our message and reaching out to potential candidates.

Welcome Cards and Pins
Cards were printed for our new ambassadors to distribute to EVERY new member of their lodge. Those cards welcomed the new Masons to the craft, and congratulated them on their membership. On the back of the card was an informal invitation to join the AASR. We bought 200 square-and-compasses pins and attached them to the cards to make a nice gift. Each ambassador was given 10 cards to start. You can see the cards, the pin, and the text in the images below.

Moving the Valley Out of the Temple
The Membership Chair and I then decided to move our Valley OUT of the Temple. Previously, we have not held any Scottish Rite candidate events outside our Temple. I wanted to create a new experience, and we named the initiative The Scottish Rite Experience.

The idea is simple, and here is how it works:

  • We contact a lodge in strategic locations throughout the state. We only ask for use of the facility on a non-meeting night. We take care of the rest. The Valley of Steubenville is over 120 miles long, with our temple in the middle. We have worked with lodges in the northern part of our Valley and to the south to make the candidate’s experience more convenient and closer to home.
  • Event announcement notices are sent to all blue lodge secretaries to invite the local Masons to The Scottish Rite Experience.
  • We bring our banner, our altar jewels, and refreshments to the event.
  • Our secretary signs everyone in, stamps passports, etc. We replicate the experience of a Reunion.
  • The event is opened with the Declaration, Pledge, and Prayer as always.
  • We ALWAYS present the host lodge with a nice plaque of appreciation.
  • We show the 4th degree if needed, and at least two other degrees on video.
  • We close and have refreshments.
  • As follow up, we write letters to the Master of the lodge and the Secretary thanking them for their hospitality. We post pictures in the newsletter and on Facebook.
  • The 32nd degree is presented live at the Scottish Rite Temple in the Spring.

Results?
It's working.

The first year when this idea was brand new, we added three members. The second year we added six. This year we had the largest class in 20 years for our Spring Reunion where we welcomed 24 new members. A majority of those members came from lodges we visited.

So that's it! The Scottish Rite Experience. We are getting increasing interest from young members. Three new members have asked to be put on the planning committee for The Scottish Rite Experience. We have found that moving outside of our Temple was one of the best things we have done in a long time.

I don't think it's a new idea, I just put a catchy name on it, and it’s working!

Fraternally,

Edsel Emery, 33°
Deputy's Representative
Valley of Steubenville

New Member Card

New Mason welcome card and pin (front)

New Member Card back

New Mason welcome card (back) with invitation to join the Scottish Rite

Learn more about how the Valley of Steubenville increased their membership with a thoughtful marketing strategy in this video: