This in on behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons. Ed
In a bid to reverse a decline in membership, Freemasons are forming special interest lodges that are designed to attract new men to the fraternity.
Nowhere in the country has the policy been more enthusiastically embraced than in the province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
In the last three years a scouting lodge, rugby lodge and motor sport lodge have been formed and a sailing lodge, football lodge and a motorcycle lodge are expected to follow.
This policy has been driven by the Provincial Grand Master, Mike Wilks (pictured), who is also a great believer in the power of social media to encourage new members.
There are over 200,000 masons in England and Wales, but numbers have been declining, especially with the aging wartime generation; Freemasonry experienced a surge in membership after the Second World War providing a haven for men seeking fellowship and comradery on their return.
Attracting and retaining members is therefore an important priority for the ‘Craft’, which will be celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2017.
The new lodges require a certain number of brethren to petition for a warrant from Grand Lodge, and they are proving hugely popular.
The motor sport lodge ‘Chequered Flag’ was recently consecrated in Southampton with over 230 brethren attending including representatives from the Silverstone Lodge, a lodge with a similar special interest based in Northants.
Mike Wilks said:
“While our numbers are still healthy our membership has been slipping and it requires us to innovate to attract new men.
“Although our charitable giving is not the only reason we exist, it is very important to us, and the attraction of new members will help secure our charitable legacy into the future.
“To that end we have recently formed several new lodges including a ‘Lodge of Brevity’ to cater for the busy working man.
“And the specialist lodges enable those with similar interests to meet together and to attract men with similar interests to join the Craft.
“They are working extremely well and I was very pleased to preside at the recent consecration of the Chequered Flag Lodge in Southampton.
“As well as sailing and football lodges, we also have plans for a motorcycle lodge, which is of particular interest to me as I am a motorcycle enthusiast and help run a racing team.
“The ‘Scouting’ and ‘Rugby Bastion’ lodges are now well established and booming.
“Combined with social media, the new lodges are helping to attract new members who might not otherwise have considered joining Freemasonry
“Men can make contact via the Internet or Facebook and Twitter and help is available to guide them through the process.”
Six million Freemasons worldwide
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a series of dramatic plays.
Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
There are an estimated six million Freemasons worldwide.