WBro Alan Kirwilliam PProvJGW, the Provincial Grand Mentor, who led the meeting
WBro Ray Charlton PProvDepGDC, District Mentor for Audenshaw and
WBro Peter Cole PProvDepGReg, the District Mentor for Ashton & Mossley, who assisted
On Monday 4th April 2016, the Provincial Grand Mentor, WBro Alan Kirwilliam PProvJGW, convened a meeting of Lodge Mentors for the Southern Area. In total, more than 30 Masons, most of whom were Lodge Mentors, gathered together to hear WBro Kirwilliam talk about the importance of Mentoring. Assisted by the District Mentors, WBro Peter Cole for Ashton & Mossley and WBro Ray Charlton for Audenshaw, he gave a spirited, informative and very interesting presentation of the reasons why our future depends on Mentoring.
Leading from the front, WBro Gerry Hodson PProvJGW and WBro Peter Douthwaite PProvGSwdB, the Chairmen of Audenshaw and Ashton & Mossley Districts, took an active part in the discussion
If we look back to a time as recently as 1986, we would have seen 574 new Masons being initiated into the Province of East Lancashire, in 2013 that number had fallen to just 135. If we consider the issue of retention alongside that fall in the number of men who are joining the fraternity, our situation might well appear parlous. In recent years we have reached a position where 27% of new members leave before their third year of membership. In 1931 the Province of East Lancashire had about 17,000 members. You will hear a lot spoken about the bulge in membership after the end of World War II, and you will hear many people suggest that all that is happening with membership today is a sort of falling back to the level of membership before the War. Nothing could be further from the truth. At its peak, and that came in about 1971, there were some 23,000 members in East Lancs, but since then membership has fallen steadily to its current level of about 4,700, just about a quarter the size that it was before World War II. As the RW Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, said at Provincial Grand Lodge in 2013, “We cannot stand still and simply let things happen. Given the rapid pace of society today, doing nothing is not an option.”
Everyone working hard during the Workshop session
The strategy that is emanating from United Grand Lodge is to ensure that all initiates have a personal mentor. Clearly, in some circumstances this might well be their Proposer, but it does not have to be. It certainly does not have to be the Lodge Mentor, whose job is more that of managing the mentoring process than being a Mentor for every member, but again that does not stop him from being a personal mentor as well. Mentoring concentrates on the retention of members, and in our Province we have seen a good deal of success in this respect. Since 2012 the number of members that we have retained has increased from 91% to 96%. It isn’t a huge statistic, but it proves that we are on the right track. At the core of this is an understanding that we all have a responsibility to make sure that our Lodge is fit for purpose, so that our members simply won’t want to leave us. In this respect, it is possible to describe the focus of the mentoring as that of ensuring that our Lodge Brethren feel that they Belong, Understand and are Involved in their Freemasonry. This will be possible if we make sure that that what we do in our Lodge is fun, enjoyable and fulfilling. That doesn’t mean that we have to change what we do, we just have to be aware of those aims when planning our meetings.
WBro John Pearson PSGD, the APGM for Southern Area makes a point whilst working with his group in the Workshop
An important part of the Mentoring process as it has developed in the Province, has been the use series of Guide Books that have been developed for use by new Initiates. These Guide Books consist of three individual Guides to the First, Second and Third Degrees, together with a Personal Development Guide that can be used by the Personal Mentor to guide the progress of a new member through his first years in the Craft and a Mentor’s Handbook. Alan commented that the Personal Development Guide is the most important in many ways as it is the glue that sticks the individual bricks together. Sets of these Guides can be obtained from your District Mentor at a cost of £5.00 a set. They will, however, be provided free to all Lodge Mentors in Ashton, Mossley and Audenshaw on request since both Districts have decided to fully fund their use. They can also be downloaded in PDF format from the Provincial Mentor’s Website at the following address:
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