The last time I wrote to you I had just finished the second quarter of my term as Grand Master – and here I am finishing up my third quarter! I just returned from the Northeast Conference of Grand Masters, where I presented Ohio’s 2022 Ohio membership initiatives and our preliminary results. Our membership year ends on July 31st, so I am looking forward to getting the final numbers and presenting them to our Ohio Masons in my upcoming third quarterly update (most likely in mid to late August).
As I reflect back on the past three quarters, I am proud of the hard work and dedication that our Ohio Masons, District leaders, and Grand Lodge have put forth. We have made some significant improvements to all aspects of our membership metrics – including raising a large number of Masons, lowering our suspension rate, and improving our reinstatement/restoration rates. The many efforts across all levels of the organization are what made this happen. I am happy to say that we are in a better position now than we have been in for many years.
This does not mean that we can take our foot off the pedal. We must keep our focus on continuing to bring in a larger number of Masons in the coming years – and continuing to do whatever it takes to keep reducing our membership losses. We can no longer afford to have our leadership focus on single membership programs or initiatives. In order to move the “membership needle”, we must execute on multiple initiatives at the same time and ensure that they are all working in concert with one another.
This year’s results show how the “layered programs” approach moved the needle and we must continue to do the same in the years ahead. This year’s large number of raisings, new centralized dues payment system, online dues payments, reinstatement and restoration programs, and working closely with our appendant bodies, all contributed to the overall improvements that we saw this year.
This year the Grand Lodge gave our Lodges and Districts the flexibility to raise Masons however THEY wanted to – through traditional methods, single day and multi-day Grand Master Class events conducted within our Districts / Lodges, or by bringing candidates to the statewide Grand Master Class events. I believe that giving our Lodges this flexibility significantly contributed to us raising almost 1,500 new Master Masons for the second year in a row!
I strongly believe that it is important to push the decision-making process concerning Grand Master Class events (and multiple candidate degree presentations) down to the local Lodge and District leadership levels. Our Lodge Charters state that our primary purpose is to make Masons, so I do not believe that the Grand Master should need to give Lodges special permission to carry out what their own Charter dictates for them to do.
Our Lodges and our members must hold the Grand Lodge leadership accountable for continued improvements in our membership going forward. Everyone – at all levels of our organization – must step up and do whatever is needed to continue to drive and promote the many membership initiatives currently underway. There are no excuses for us to take any steps backward; we must press on and continue to build this great fraternity for the future generations of men.
Your Grand Lodge’s next focus will be on preparing for our upcoming Grand Lodge Annual Communication in Columbus, Ohio in late October. I hope that you will consider attending this important event this year and possibly join us at one of the banquets on Thursday or Friday evening.
As many of you know, I have not said “goodbye” at any event that I have attended this year – and I won’t say it now either (although this is the last Beacon article that I will be writing to you as Grand Master). I believe that “goodbye” signals an end, and I will not be ending my work or my dedication as your Grand Master until October 28th around 5:25 p.m. (when the next Grand Master takes his oath). But I will leave you with a few thoughts:
- Dream Big, Think Big, and Execute Big
- Do not let the minutia get in the way of ALL OF US making progress
- EVERYONE has a role to play in the success of our fraternity – and I ask each one of you – what is YOUR ROLE?
God bless you, God bless our country, and God bless our great Masonic Fraternity.
Timothy S. Wheeland
Grand Lodge of Ohio