IS FREEMASONRY A BUSINESS?

IS FREEMASONRY A BUSINESS?

by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
timb001@phmainstreet.com
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”

Conceptually, No, Freemasonry is not a business. In its purest form, it is a spirit by which men govern their lives, it is what I have been calling “True Masonry.” However, being realistic, Freemasonry is implemented by the Grand Lodge system, which most definitely is a business and since the two are inseparable therein lies the rub.

I realize this talk of “business” drives Masonic purists crazy, as well as other nonprofit organizations such as homeowner associations, Little League, volunteer clubs or whatever. But the reality is that Grand Lodges must manage thousands of members, records, their offices and equipment, employees, vendors, Masonic Homes, and millions of dollars. They are legal entities recognized by the state and have a Federal Tax ID. This means it is an organization that is licensed to transact business (e.g., buy and sell things), get permits and licenses to build buildings and perform health care services (such as for our Masonic Homes), and be subject to lawsuits. Consider charities such as the Red Cross, the Health and Medical Societies, or even the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory; they are all big businesses and have to operate accordingly. And talk about really big, consider organized religion such as the Catholic Church, the Mormans, or any other Judeo-Christian organization. Think they are not businesses? Think again.

Thinking of Freemasonry as a business is repugnant to a lot of Masons who tend to see it more as a spiritual or social organization than anything else. But the fact remains, under our current system, we cannot detach “True Masonry” from the Grand Lodges which are all bound to the same laws, rules and regulations as any other commercial enterprise. The sooner we recognize this, the better.

Keep in mind, a lot of the internal disenchantment related to the fraternity these days stems from how badly Grand Lodges are run, not by the lessons inculcated in our degrees. This brings up an important point, there are two sides to running a Lodge, be it Particular (Blue) or Grand, the “True Masonry” side and the administrative side, both of which have to be adequately served in order to succeed. We learn “True Masonry” from Masonic Education as well as our degrees and by practicing it accordingly, but rarely is there any genuine effort to properly teach the administrative side; e.g., leadership, managing finances, record management, communications, public relations, resource management, empowering workers, etc. It is hoped that the people coming into office are blessed with such skills, but too
often they are not.

What is needed are some businessmen to run the Lodge properly. Unfortunately, the pay isn’t very good and demands a lot of time and attention. Consequently, the people who become Lodge officers tend to be retired, somewhat older (and less flexible), and not necessarily skilled in management. For example, it is not uncommon to have officers who are more concerned about wearing their aprons as opposed to solving problems or
leading the fraternity.

Generally, when someone is running for a Lodge office we ask them about their Masonic background; e.g., their proficiency to perform a degree or a lecture. This is important to know but equally we should know their professional management qualifications. For example, what did they do in their professional lives? What is their education and skill set? How many people have they managed (department size) and what did they accomplish? These are questions that are typically not asked of candidates.

As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, the fraternity is faced with some serious problems; e.g., membership, finances, direction, etc. These problems will not go away simply by ignoring them. They have to be defined and addressed by our officers. At Masonic gatherings, I sometimes ask, “How do we want to be remembered fifty or a hundred years from now; as the guys who dropped the ball or ran with it for a touchdown?” Frankly, I think we are fumbling away the fraternity due to politics and bad management, not because of our Masonic degrees
or obligations.

I am often accused of being too cold about the fraternity. Understand this, I have a firm belief in “True Masonry” and regard Freemasonry as a noble institution. I only question how we implement it. I see it for what it is, a business.

Keep the Faith.

NOTE: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida).
When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and
“http://www.freemasoninformation.com”

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~ by Greg on September 1, 2006.

9 Responses to “IS FREEMASONRY A BUSINESS?”

  1. Bro. Stewart, I love your website and my deepest thanks go to you for posting Bro. Tim Bryce’s articles. I am quite young by Masonic standards at 22, but I have always agreed with everything Tim has had to say, including here. Masonry -is- a business, and does require effective leadership to head into the future. What the Masons in leadership positions need to realize is that running a lodge is a labor of love.

    Fraternally,
    Bro. Chris Bowman
    Beech Lodge #240
    Hendersonville, TN

  2. Way to go Tim. You hit it on the nose. What a shame you can’t just publish your stuff yourself.

    Dr. Ronald J. Cottman PM California
    Author- Masonic Action Teams (Macoy Publishing)

  3. Thank’s Tim, good food for thought. I am president of an organization that is need of a business plan and I have sent your article to the chairman doing the plan, as I said, for “food for thought:. Keep up the good work in educating Masons in Masonry for the betterment of the Fraternity.

  4. Dear Tim,I totally agree with you bro.
    Many new raised brothers come to freemasonry looking for light in ways that, he will be able to support better himself and his family.
    And for all Lodges succede they will need expertize members to make it grow and bring more members, members with quality.
    I think also that some officers should be paid acordingly due to the responsability, many brothers doesn’t have idea all the work needed.
    Also those with experience in business should give seminars for other brothers, and help then to succede in life,some are able to run they own business but doesn’t know how,if they learn and try and succede,they can beter suppot the fraternity, and help those who are elderly, or sick no able to turn up again.Masonic houses cost millions of dollars every year and if one day we won’t be able to support who will?
    There is many members as my selfe that have to work 2 sometimes 3 jobs to keep family going.
    In my entire masonic life about 4 years only I just miss 2 or 3 meetings, but many misses all due no time or disposition. When come my time to Master would I be able to serve the Lodge, and the others too?
    Think about and see if I’m wrong.
    I think we need to see the businnes side also, For we pratice charity and help we need money, without it we cannot help.
    I’m the brotherhood chairmain on my Lodge and I can tell you was very poor the campain this year, hope it gets better.
    Fraternally.
    Bro C.M.
    New York.

  5. Good points. We do not spend enough time looking at the management qualifications of those we put in the line. So.. We get at times people who don’t do so good in that regard. Having a team of Past Masters to guide the Lodge helps, but we all need to vote for a Brother who will be an effective Worshipful Master in 4 or 5 years rather than a “nice guy” or a charismatic leader.

    Bob Chadwick
    Treasurer
    Palm Bay Lodge#397
    Palm Bay, FL

  6. and BTW, it’s Mormon, not Morman. I hate to criticise spelling, but correct spelling speaks to accuracy and precision of thought, and thereby to professionalism and credibility.

    Bob Chadwick, again
    Palm Bay, FL

  7. The easiest way to minimize the management problem while not alienating older members would be to leave the officer positions in the progressive line alone, but expanding the responsibilities of the treasurer and secretary to handle more of the business aspects (and giving them decent pay, which they could choose to donate if they don’t need it).

  8. You got me thinking about something I hadn’t really thought about and now I actually have some idea what Freemasonry is about.

    Thanks

  9. By George:
    Tim, you have shrunk into a pint jar when looking to “Business” as though all forms operate in like manner. Farm Cooperatives, Elec. Coops. etc show business form without spears of tax or law issues. You too may look inside Grand or Blue only to find there are better than pint size jars to look for “Better Business” systems.

    Keep up the trojan horse theme, but live long enough to smell the acacia blooms in your wake.

    G. Bell
    Sharon #136
    Grand Lodge of Ohio\
    Aladdin Shrine Center

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