Thursday, January 17, 2019

Millennial Masons Make Meetings in New Digs

Chicopee, MA - Massachusetts has always been on the forefront of Masonic innovation, so Worshipful Brother Kyle Renn was confident that his idea for a new lodge would be approved.

“A bunch of us felt uncomfortable in those lodges in the Springfield area,” Kyle told The Past Bastard. “Nothing major, but we’re all in our 20s and 30s, and we just can’t get into feeling like a part of these old, historic lodges. Well, it’s not just the lodges, it’s the older members. Nothing against the older guys, but on one hand they’re complaining about the roof leaking, or the fridge that needs to be replaced, or how they have the same thing for dinner every meeting. But on the other hand, whenever you propose moving the dues up from, say, sixty or seventy bucks a year to a couple of hundred, they whine and howl about that.”

Brother Renn met up with a number of other younger members during district meetings, and they came up with an idea.

“We decided that it was just too much work to change the culture of the older lodges, so we wanted to start our own. We don’t have much money, but we figured we could meet in some free or very inexpensive places, and not worry about having the buildings falling down around us,” he told The Past Bastard. “We found a spot, got some agreements, and contacted the Grand Lodge for permission. There was surprisingly very little pushback, and we got a working charter right away. We’ve been meeting for the last six months, and I expect that we’ll get the formal charter for McDonald Lodge at the next Grand Lodge session.”

Worshipful Brother Renn and a dozen of so other brothers from around the area hold their meetings twice a month at a McDonald’s Restaurant at a shopping plaza in Chicopee. The Past Bastard asked Worshipful Brother Renn about their decision.
McDonald Lodge (Under Dispensation) is the newest
lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

“I know what you’re thinking, but for us, it made perfect sense.There’s a few tables in the back corner that are perfect for seating a small group. We are intentionally keeping our lodge small; there’s about ten or twelve of us, so it’s not overly crowded,” he explained. “When you consider that half the lodges in the area barely get enough members to open, we think that this is a workable number.”

“Also, at seven to eight o’clock in the evening, it’s never crowded, and since we don’t have to discuss fixing the roof, or painting the siding, or replacing the furnace, or any of those things that take up eighty percent of the time in our old lodges, we can have a meeting, then some nice discussion, and we’re done in an hour,” Worshipful Brother Renn told The Past Bastard.  “Plus, they have wifi, the coffee is decent, and we can have a festive board that won’t break our budgets.”




Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Lodge uses kids to get more adults

New Hope, TN -- Inspired by an article on Chris Hodapp's blog, the members of Mountain Fell Lodge No. 449 started looking around for projects that needed to be done. However, without ties to a boy Scout troop  or even a DeMolay Chapter, the members couldn't bring themselves to make their small chapter of Job's Daughters responsible for cleaning, painting, or shingling the roof. However, Past Senior Deacon Jonah Momoa did see one opportunity that has led to a positive impact on their lodge.

"I almost didn't even go to lodge that night," said Bro. Momoa. "My wife was sick, and she was giving me the stink-eye about going out to lodge and leaving her with three kids when she was down with the flu. So then I started thinking, it's too bad that they don't have a day care group like we do in our church, and that's when it hit me: we got a bunch of teenage girls who could be doing that. So, I went to lodge anyhow, and brought up the idea. Then Mark Jacobs talked to his wife Ruth -- Ruth runs the Jobie Bethel chapter thing, you know -- and she brought it up to the girls. By the next month, we had the Jobies running a babysitting group at the lodge."

Worshipful Brother James Isiah, Master of Mountain Fell Lodge, told The Past Bastard that he was pleased with how things were working out.

"We've had an increase in members showing up. A few of them are divorced dads who can bring the kids down, where the girls keep an eye on them. And we've had a surprisingly good response from the wives of members who use it as an opportunity to get out of the house, themselves. I think that some of them meet up at the Elks over on Maple Street, and have a few wine coolers," he said.

The Past Bastard contacted Bethel Guardian Ruth Jacobs to ask how well the babysitting idea was going.

"Oh, it's just like those guys to ask that the girls babysit, but not to offer much in the way of compensation," she told us. "They come down on a meeting night, they give the girls leftovers. They're teenage girls, they don't want to eat baked chicken and green beans, for Pete's sake! We're going to give it a few more months, and then renegotiate."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Grand Lodges to offer "Belly Mason Rewards Card"

Steubenville, OH - The members of the Grand Lodges of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina have started out the New Year with an announcement that the members of their respective constituent lodges will be eligible to buy into their Belly Mason Rewards Club.

"Some of us noticed how many of our guys were going to different restaurants all the time 'cause they had rewards cards; you know, like Cracker Barrel, Shoney's, Red Robin, and all those places," said VWB Wynn Dixon, the Belly Mason Coordinator for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. "We thought it would be nice if we could get that kind of loyalty and consistency from our members, and a few of us thought that maybe some kind of rewards card for things like table lodges, surf & turfs, and fish fries would be something the brothern would be interested in."

Members would buy into the Belly Mason Club for $25, for which they would get an electronic swipe card for their wallet, similar to the ones used at coffee shops. Participating lodges would simply scan their cards, for which they would build up credits over the course of the year.

Before long, lodge members will be able to use their
Belly Mason Reward Card to save money on
meals at masonic lodges all over the region. 
"We figure it would take about six months of dinners to start paying off for the members," said VWB Dixon. "After that, their credits would get them things like five percent off the next dinner, or if they waited a few more months, perhaps enough credits for a free dinner. The more they go, the more they'll save."

VWB Dixon said that they're hoping that this program will expand into the neighboring states. If they can get enough support, they plan to create a phone app. "Although that's much farther down the road, since most of our guys are still using flip phones," he said.