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Candidate Care Made Simple
From The Grand Lodge of New Brunswick
As a rule, the Masonic Fraternity in New Brunswick has not done a good job of taking care of their candidates. This was not done intentionally or maliciously, it just evolved. We are now in a position to begin doing things differently and hopefully, by starting each new Mason off better, we can build a stronger and more active Fraternity.
In the past Investigating Committees were chosen at random, often depending on who was in Lodge the night the application was received. If a skilled and knowledgeable brother was available then often things went fairly well. However, in many cases the home visit turned into a fiasco, or, as happened in many cases, there simply was no visit. Often committees arrived at the potential candidate's door with four or five questions they wanted to ask and absolutely nothing they wished to give. Happily we can now put those days behind us and begin to act responsibly toward our potential candidates.
First, the original investigation questions might as well be asked when the potential candidate asks for an application. What better time to find out if he is an atheist, is too poor to afford the costs or if he is illiterate. How much easier to explain to him one on one that he doesn't qualify for membership than to have him embarrassed in front of three strangers during the home visit. Besides, if the questions are answered satisfactorily, the home visit committee can focus on their new role of information providers.
The new Welcoming Committee should begin their task by having a meeting with the two Master Masons who recommended the candidate. At this meeting they can establish if the proper questions have already been asked. Some of the basic information about the candidate such as marital status, family, education, profession and expectations may also be discovered at this meeting. The committee can decide what tools they intend to use, such as the video "I've Heard The Name. What Does It Mean?". They also have an opportunity to go over the questions they feel might be asked and the answers they wish to give. Finally they can decide on a convenient time, or times, for the actual visit.
Once this meeting has yielded all the information it can, it is time to call and make the appointment. Make sure that the meeting time is convenient for both the prospective candidate and his family. Ensure that the wife realizes that she is welcome to participate and check to see that they have a working television and VHS VCR, if you intend to show a video. Be polite and businesslike by introducing yourself as a representative of the Lodge and state the reasons for the meeting clearly and concisely. When the appointed evening arrives be neat, be upbeat, be punctual and be prepared. Remember you are entering HER domain. Do all you can not to lose her before you even get to talk to him. If their shoes were removed at the door, remove yours. Follow her invitations graciously to sit here or there, for coffee or tea, etc. When you actually begin your presentation include her right from your opening statements.
Every member of the Welcoming Committee should be fully aware of the importance of the wife in acquiring a good participating Mason. A wife who does not understand the Fraternity or has a negative impression of the Fraternity will not willingly release her husband from his family duties to go gallivanting with his Lodge brothers. If this degenerates into a battle for time between the wife and the Lodge, you can expect the Lodge to lose. If care is taken right at the beginning to include the wife, inform the wife, and to answer all of her questions and concerns, the Lodge stands a much better chance of getting a Mason who participates in Masonry with the blessing of his family.
When the committee has shown its video, asked the questions they felt necessary and answered all of the questions of the family, exit gracefully. Thank the wife for having you in her home and inform the potential candidate of the approximate time before he will hear from the Lodge again. Include an explanation of what will transpire during that time if you think it might be helpful, i.e. presentation of the committee's report, notice of the ballot on the Lodge Notice, the actual ballot, etc.
As a final courtesy to the wife, drop a thank you note in the mail signed by each member of the Committee.
Following the ballot, the Secretary of the Lodge informs the candidate of his successful acceptance and the date and time of his first degree. At this time the Worshipful Master should name a coach and a mentor. The coach will ensure that the candidate arrives at his initiation on time, properly dressed and mentally prepared. He will also be responsible for teaching the candidate his examinations and obligations (if the Lodge still requires them). The mentor is responsible for teaching the symbolism and deeper meanings of Masonry to the candidate. The mentor has several things at his disposal to help him ; The Grand Lodge of New Brunswick Mentor Program, the New Candidate Membership Program and four videos available from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut (these may be ordered through the Office of the Grand Secretary).
These two Masons should make another home visit to the candidate and his family. The video " Understanding What It Means To Be a Mason" is especially geared for this meeting. The coach and mentor should introduce themselves and give a comprehensive overview of what their responsibilities will be over the next three or four months. They should also explain that to do their jobs properly the family will probably see them each on several different occasions over that time period, usually separately. Again, the coach and mentor, as representatives of the Lodge, should be completely open to questions and be prepared to answer, or find the answer to, each question.
The family should be offered a tour of the Lodge. The tour can be conducted by a single Mason or several Masons and should include the entire building. The video Getting The Most From Your Fraternity can also be shown at this time. For those unfamiliar with the inside of a Lodge room, there will be many questions. Be prepared to answer any and all.
The night of the new candidate's initiation is a time of high tension and a certain level of anxiety. It would not be inappropriate to have the coach and mentor take the candidate aside and have a short, private talk with him. Tell him he will be taken to a small room to be prepared for his initiation. Tell him that he will have to surrender all of his valuables and even exchange his clothes for a pajama type of uniform. If he asks why, or even if he doesn't, simply explain that Masonry is accepting him into the Lodge, not his money or his fancy clothes. The Lodge does not care if he is rich or poor, only about the goodness of his heart, so every candidate is placed on the same level for initiation, poor and penniless. Tell him that he will be blindfolded and that that simple procedure will yield several valuable lessons to him during the course of his initiation. Emphasize that what we do is serious business and no tricks whatsoever will be played upon him while he is in the Lodge, with or without his sight.
There is one final recommendation for the care of a candidate. After the degrees are done, the exams are over, the mentor has taught his final lesson and you have added a new Master Mason to your Lodge, appoint a Guardian Angel to watch over him. The new Master Mason does not need to know who this is or even that someone is doing this. The Angel simply watches his progress and steps in if he is needed. The Angel sees that the new Mason gets involved in what the Lodge is doing, makes sure he attends meetings and helps him to get introduced to and comfortable with all the other Masons in the Lodge. Any problems that occur that the Angel can't handle are brought back to the Master for direction and solutions.
The procedures outlined in this module may not get us more Masons, (though a satisfied man usually lets his friends know about his good experiences), but it should help in keeping those we do get involved, participating and happy. Happy Masons are productive Masons and productive Masons are what we need.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014