I have now reached the end of the second quarter of my term as Grand Master of Ohio – and it has certainly been busy! Grand Master’s Reception season is well underway, and I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling around the state to visit with the brethren and their ladies over the past several months.
As I reflect forward on the months ahead, all I can think about is the long list of things that your Grand Lodge wants and needs to accomplish. The future of this organization is at the forefront of our thoughts, and we are striving to make our great Fraternity more vibrant, more relevant, and more meaningful to our members and to our communities.
On April 19, I presented my second quarterly update to the brethren. We made great progress in the first quarter, and have accomplished even more in the second quarter – including the completion of our new centralized annual dues process. Our initial analysis shows that the new dues process has helped reduce our suspension for non-payment of dues to the lowest level in a decade (which is GREAT news!).
Your Grand Lodge will now be focusing on the second part of the annual membership cycle – which includes implementing a new process that allows members who were suspended this year to reinstate their membership (both online and via the mail). We will also be implementing a Grand Master’s Restoration Program that will allow members from previous years to rejoin our ranks as members in good standing. We believe that these efforts, combined with the new annual dues process, will help significantly drive down our membership losses over the years to come.
Another successful accomplishment that occurred in the second quarter was the raising of more than 700 men at the Grand Master’s Class events that were conducted across the state on March 26. Additional Grand Master Class events are scheduled over the coming months – and we expect to have many more men introduced and brought into our great Fraternity during the summer and fall.
I will be announcing (shortly) that I will be permitting Lodges to conduct stated meetings over the summer months (when they normally would be dark). We lost some time in the fall months due to some of our Lodges not meeting because of concerns with COVID – and I want to give those Lodges the opportunity to achieve the required number of stated meetings (and give them more time to work on making Masons).
This edict will allow all Lodges to continue the petition process, vote on candidates, conduct traditional degree work -- and conduct additional Grand Master Class events during this time. I will also be announcing that the date to qualify for the Grand Master's Award will be pushed out until the end of September (providing an additional two months for Lodges to qualify for the award).
As you know, one of my goals for the year is to lay the foundation for our Fraternity to be able to turn the tide on our membership losses -- and start to grow our organization in the years to come. To do so, we must all try different ways of doing things -- and start to adapt our organization to support the future generation of younger men that will be knocking on our doors in the years and in the decades ahead.
Our Fraternity must stop waiting for men to seek out our organization – we must go find them. We must start searching out, attracting, and actively recruiting the next generation of men who will fill our ranks when the scythe of time comes knocking at our door. We can no longer simply hope that society will change, and that men will come pouring into our Fraternity like they did after World War I and World War II. We must act now, and we must start taking decisive actions to move this organization into the future.
To the brethren (and ladies) who are reading this, I ask that you push the envelope on what we can all do in the coming months and in the coming years. Do not accept what we have always done as a reason to keep doing what we have been doing. Reflect on the future of our organization – and take action now. The future of our organization really does depend on it.
God bless you, God bless our country, and God bless our great Masonic family.
Timothy S. Wheeland
Grand Lodge of Ohio