My Masonic journey started off with one of my favourite subjects – Rugby. I never knew about Freemasonry and had no clue of what this organization stood for. I joined Freemasonry in June 1996 after I was asked by a colleague if I am not interested in joining “die Losie”. I told my friend that I would rather just go to the rugby stadium to watch rugby from the stands, as I thought that he meant “die Losie” was a hospitality box at the local rugby stadium in Bloemfontein. Little did I know that “die Losie” would change my way of thinking of all matters relating to my life. Things in my life at that stage were a bit chaotic. I was 25, recovering from being shot due to my work as a Policeman and loitering at home because I could not walk at that stage. I struggled to find direction with my life and at first I was very sceptical about Freemasonry, being brought up in a Calvinist home. However, after some deep and meaningful discussions with this Brother I took the decision to join my mother Lodge, Lodge Oranje 1603, a Scottish Lodge, of which I am extremely proud of and God willing, will stay a member for many years to come. – From Chaos, Order
At first, like all young Freemasons, I threw myself into any and all Lodge activities. I was not married at that stage and I could visit and partake in all that Freemasonry had to offer. Late nights with the Brethren, road trips, Lodge visits and social functions were things to look forward to and boy was it enjoyable. The lasting friendships that I formed with fellow Masons, guided me through my life and the advice and direction gleaned from the older Masons were a beacon of light in my journey. As I got older, the Lodge started to change for me and I delved deeper into the more historical aspects of Freemasonry. I am a history nut and I came to realise that the influence that Freemasonry had on many of the World’s historical figures were something to pursue and research. In 2002 I was honoured when I was elected as the Presiding Master of my Mother Lodge and after my first year as Master, I became less interested in the moral teachings that Freemasonry provided and I found my niche as a Freemason in the administration of the Lodge and the Craft. At that stage, the Lodge was struggling a bit and my new role as Lodge Secretary suited me like a glove as I had the opportunity to delve deeper in the functioning of a Masonic Lodge and the ins and outs of its finance and administration. It is a task I enjoy tremendously but I think nowadays, I am being suckered into that position. – From Chaos, Order
I was a one-Lodge-Mason for many years and only joined a second Lodge, Lodge Unie No. 4 GLSA, in 2017. At that time the Lodge was in severe distress but for the life of me, I could not stand by to see a Lodge of such historical significance, be closed. I bamboozled another brother to join the Lodge with me and ever since, Lodge Unie has become a beacon of Masonic light in the Free State Province. The members of Lodge Unie unified as one in order to preserve this old, honourable and historical Lodge and it was an absolute joy to see this Lodge rise from the ashes. Long may she live. – From Chaos, Order.
During my 25 years of membership, I have seen Masons come and go. I have seen the misuse of the Fraternity by members who chased rank and titles and that aspect of Freemasonry I could never understand. However, I have witnessed and experienced the gentle fragrance of true Masonic fellowship, Brotherly Love and Relief and it is through these principles that I am convinced that the future of this beautiful organisation is sound and bright. – From Chaos, Order.
Now we have come to a part of our Masonic journey that none of us have experience in over 100 years. The Covid pandemic has exposed Freemasonry’s vulnerabilities but has also given us a clear opportunity of how we can transform and shape the future of the Order to be better prepared should such a thing ever occur again. – From Chaos, Order.
But what do we do now when the Lodges open again and we can partake in fellowship again? In my view, the road to recovery and stabilisation is not blurred. Sometimes I think that our members don’t really know to what type of organisation we belong to. We are not just another social club. We are a group of MEN of all races, creeds, backgrounds that come together in a UNIFIED AND ORDERLY manner to advance the idea of a better society, family and ourselves. The Lodge is not just a gathering place to have a few drinks and have a good time. NO, we are there to polish the ashlars of our own ideas, morals etc. In my view AND EXPERIENCE there are a few basic things we can do as Lodges after we open again. Some brethren may disagree and those views are respected.
1. Forget membership development and candidates for the short term. Work with the Brethren that actually participate, arrive at meetings and contribute. Get your planning and programs for the year in place and act on it. Attend to the Lodge’s history, building maintenance etcetera. Don’t let the Brethren become idle.
2. Stabilization of the Lodges administration and finance is CRITICAL. A secretary / treasurer that knows what he is doing and doesn’t see his work as a toil is a massive asset to any Lodge because he takes away the laborious tasks that other members fear doing or just don’t have the ability to do. Not every Brother can negotiate the administration of a Lodge and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Some brethren just have a niche for it and some don’t. Identify those brethren with those skills and nurture them. They are invaluable to a Lodge.
3. Prepare your Lodge at every meeting as if you are to receive the Grand Master, even if you are only 5 or 6 brethren at a meeting. Dress the Lodge, make it beautiful, keep it clean, tend to the gardens and have everything in its place. By doing this, the members take pride in their Lodges and should visitors arrive, it will be clear to see that the Lodge is prepared and willing to work.
4. At a formal Lodge meeting there must be only 1 of three items to keep the Lodge active namely a working, a lecture or a practice. Workings must be of an excellent standard. NO reading out of the ritual. It is not dignified at all and is disrespectful to a candidate. The only two books that are supposed to be open in a Lodge is the Volume of the Sacred Law and the prompters’ ritual. THAT’S IT. If the working can’t be done properly and dignified then postpone it and practice it. No candidate is that important that we have to rush a working.
5. The festive board must be a place of enjoyment and relaxation. Have a PROPER meal with ALL the toasts. A festive board with good decorum gives a flavour to a lodge meeting that’s beyond comparison. Dignity and decorum is critical.
6. HAVE FUN. Involve your families and friends in social activities. Make the Lodge a place of escape.
That’s my personal point of view and I have seen and experienced this basic method working to stabilise and resurrect Lodges. It works. If we go back to Masonic basics, the members will return and the candidates will knock on our doors again. And when we get a new candidate, do a proper and thorough investigation into his character. Don’t let the rubbish in because they will destroy the harmony. It’s ok to say NO to a candidate. Freemasonry is not for everyone and we must not be scared to refuse an application. Harmony of the Lodge is far more important than membership totals.
Let’s act in a manner that becomes the DIGNITY of the craft. Let us be prepared and Unified in our planning for the future. We will meet again soon. – From Chaos, Order.