Saturday, January 30, 2016

‘Freemasonry is a verb in New York’

Where else should a Knight of the North be than in the service of the NorthStar Project?

NorthStar is a Grand Lodge of New York initiative being rolled out under the direction of Deputy Grand Master Jeffrey Williamson. While it is a strategy to improve membership development and membership retention, it is a comprehensive approach that makes Masonic education the common ground on which Masons young and senior may build tomorrow’s Freemasonry together. It will put very deliberate action into key teachings of the fraternity, and that’s why it will succeed.

NorthStar is understood under two denominations: Candidate Selection Process and Success Coaching. The former is a vetting system that will screen potential petitioners to ensure appropriate and informed guarding of the West Gate. This is apart from, and in advance of, the procedural investigation of a candidate already undertaken by the lodge. I’m always reluctant to use business jargon in discussing Freemasonry, but I suppose this can be considered Quality Assurance. Candidate Selection permits the prospective petitioner to learn about both the Masonic fraternity at large, and the particular lodge he has contacted, while allowing the lodge to assess the man, and decide if he is the right fit for Freemasonry, and, if so, which lodge would be best for him. The right lodge may turn out to be a different lodge than that he contacted to inquire into membership. Success Coaching is the logical next phase of the strategy. If you are familiar with the term “godfather,” as employed in Continental Masonic systems, then you know this Grand Lodge is embarking on a change of culture that will instill action into brotherhood.

Freemasonry is a verb in New York.

In this endeavor, the Success Coach fulfills a great duty to the candidate, from the petitioning phase through his Masonic maturation. Just as the Selection Process is distinct from the standard candidate investigation, the coaching is not to be confused with the mentoring that helps the candidate prepare for the initiatory degrees. It is to be the method of instructing the new Freemason in the meaning of Masonry. This plan acknowledges that Freemasonry is a lifetime pursuit, and that Masonic education is essential for advancing on the path. While many mistake Masonic education for ritual instruction and etiquette lessons, it is explained in perfect clarity in NorthStar that education shall encompass “the Craft’s history, purpose, operation, symbolism, law, philosophy, obligations and ideals.”

This is where I’ve always wanted to be in Freemasonry—aiding others in acquiring the meaning of Masonry, and metabolizing the tenets and values for the improvement of the individual, and the invigoration of the fraternity. As of Monday night, about 75 of us from various Metropolitan lodges are certified to bring the NorthStar Project to fruition in our lodges and other lodges. This is a very ambitious enterprise that could reform an entire culture in the Craft that for decades has acquiesced to initiating every man with a pulse who asks, before practically abandoning him to find his own way after his Third Degree, and then barely noticing his absence and inevitable quitting the fraternity. To too many Masons for too long that has been the accepted lodge model, but NorthStar delivers the guidelines that bring focus and purpose to the art of initiation and to the making of a Mason. Light added to Light.

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