Hopefully you are becoming more acquainted with my good friends, the Brothers of Rough Ashlar Lodge. Good old Rough Ashlar has been struggling but they are trying to pick themselves up by their bootstraps this year.
The Brothers of Rough Ashlar Lodge have been working hard on learning the ritual, they have reached out to their members. The lodge has energized their stated meetings by streamlining the business and having some great and interesting discussions using the Masonic Study Series.
Rough Ashlar has added some nice touches at each meeting. There is always a greeter at the door. A nice meal is now served at each meeting. Ladies and families are being involved much more often than in the past.
So many good things are starting to happen, yet Rough Ashlar hasn’t had any petitions come in lately. The lodge is excited and proud of how they are doing, but would like to grow and add new members – not just for the numbers or more dues, but because there are lots of good men in the community that would fit in and enjoy the fraternity.
Rough Ashlar is suffering from keeping their light under a bushel. Their old building has been around for years, but the community really doesn’t notice it anymore. Even those that know where the lodge is, only know that “Grandpa” used to be a member. Rough Ashlar has become invisible to the community. We need to fix that!
Let’s give old Rough Ashlar some ideas on how to be more visible in their community. These aren’t new ideas, and they don’t come from Grand Lodge, but we can borrow ideas from other lodges that are having success.
“Wearing the Colors”
Let’s make sure the community knows we’re Masons. There is a ready made Masonic polo shirt available through the Grand Lodge that can be customized with Rough Ashlar’s name and number on it. Let’s encourage all of our members to purchase a shirt and begin “showing the colors” around town.
Rough Ashlar has decided to make a special effort to volunteer at community events. Whether it is the Firemen’s Picnic, the 4th of July Celebration or the County Fair, its more fun to volunteer as a group and it’ll make a nice impression when our neighbors see the new Rough Ashlar shirts!
This is a little more challenging than ordering lodge shirts, but also twice the fun and twice the rewards! Several Lodges around the state have built floats or displays to enter in the local parade. This can be as simple as hooking up a trailer and hanging a nice banner from the sides, or it could be creating a Square and Compasses that can become the centerpiece of a float. If the trailer is big enough invite the kids to ride along with squirt guns!
Spaghetti, Fish and Pancakes
Nothing new here, lots of lodges do spaghetti dinners, fish fries and pancake breakfasts, but let’s consider doing some of these with a purpose that supports the community. What if the proceeds from our event are plowed back into community projects, donations or scholarships? We certainly could use a fund raiser to help spruce up the lodge, but we really need to improve our visibility in the community if we are going to grow.
Rough Ashlar has spruced up their building sign and cleaned up the landscaping and lighting around it. They even added a timer so that a light shines on the square and compasses every night.
To help boost attendance and community awareness of their fund raisers, the lodge has had some yard signs printed. These are the kind of signs you see all the local politicians use. Fifty signs are not super expensive and can make a big difference. The square and compasses should be prominent on the sign and the language should be designed so the signs can be reused. For example, “Pancake Breakfast this Saturday at Rough Ashlar Lodge. 8am-11am. 189 Main Street. All proceeds go to the Mason City High School Scholarship Fund.”
People are always curious to see what really happens inside those Masonic Lodges! Open houses can be held even if the lodge doesn’t own its own building.
Rough Ashlar is proud of the sprucing up they’ve been doing and is going to plan to hold an open house several times each year. To make this easy and worry proof they have decided to print yard signs that say, “Free Coffee and Donuts this Saturday at Rough Ashlar Lodge. 8am-11am. 189 Main Street. Tours of the Lodge and Masonic Displays.”
The great part of the coffee and donuts idea is that it isn’t expensive and Rough Ashlar can hold one every few months. Whether twenty people show up, or two show up, the lodge brothers can share some fellowship and get to know any potential new members.
Before the first Open House, Rough Ashlar held a test run with the lodge members and families. It was especially helpful having the ladies take the tour of the lodge. The Brethren didn’t realize that there was still a lot of junk stashed in plain sight, and that a little more organizing was necessary! It also helped to work on the Masonic displays that they wanted to set up. The ladies were able to give some really good feedback on making the lodge more welcoming to guests.
If Rough Ashlar is going to be successful improving their visibility in the community, they will need to be consistent. Community events need to be on the calendar every year. The community needs to see the Brothers on a regular basis so that they can start to know who the members are and what the lodge stands for.
This will be an exciting year for Rough Ashlar Lodge! They are ready and willing to become an active community supporter. They are looking forward to attracting some of the best men in the community to join them in the Masonic journey!
Donald W. Hensiak