An immediate feeling of welcome, check, Great Ritual Work, check; Great Fellowship, check; … oh.. hello, sorry, I was busy looking over my “what a Lodge needs for Masonic Renewal” and Braden Lodge #168 is a great example of how Freemasonry is hitting its stride and coming back. I would like to describe how Braden Lodge #168 has accomplished what Lodges must do to begin the Masonic Renaissance.
On Thursday, March 19th, I was fortunate to again enter the Triune Masonic Temple to visit Braden Lodge #168 to watch seven candidates receive their Entered Apprentice degree. That’s right, seven. Also, they had conferred the first degree on another brother earlier who would be joining the class later, making in all eight newly made Masons. When I asked the brothers if that was a common size for degree classes, I was told that it is between seven and ten and sometimes bigger. What, what, what, what?!
I come fr0m a Lodge that does pretty well bringing new brothers into the Fraternity. When I heard that Braden Lodge raises two classes ranging from seven and ten, I wanted to know how. What are their secrets of success?
I think it is rather obvious and other Lodges should take note what Braden does well for their own success. The first attribute of this Lodge is that they make visitors and newly admitted brothers feel welcome. When you are in an old building built for the practice of Masonry, it can be rather austere and overwhelming. Unless you have a brother to guide you through this new experience, you can be taken aback right out of the door. That is not the case as I entered the door into the Lodge. I was greeted, and after making sure I was in fact a Mason, I felt immediately welcome into Braden Lodge. Also, looking into the faces of my new brothers, I could see also that they felt comfortable within their new Lodge.
The second attribute is that they do quality ritual work. When the ritual is treated with the respect and care that it deserves, the brothers and candidates can feel the electricity in the room. The first degree is always the most important degree to do well. When a new brother goes through the degree work, it is the first time that he will experience Masonry. If the work is done shoddily, lazily, or without proficiency, the candidate’s experience will be cheapened to the point that they may not seek to return to the Lodge to complete the degrees. Braden Lodge did the ritual extremely well and I could see on the candidates’ faces that they could feel the energy within the Lodge Room.
The third attribute is that Braden Lodge has a culture, from what I could see, of fellowship and friendship. Each candidate was given a mentor to work through to the next degree. Mentorship is essential for creating the bonds of brotherhood. However, it isn’t just mentorship that made these newly admitted brothers feel welcome. After the meeting, we continued to talk and chat late into the night as brothers but also as friends.
From all that I saw from the brothers at Braden Lodge, this Lodge and many that are like it, are leading the way to a renewed Fraternity, a Fraternity that seeks to impress upon its members the lessons but also the friendships that are created and maintained through our brotherly ties. I want to congratulate the work of the brothers of Braden Lodge #168 and I also want to congratulate my newly admitted brothers; you have entered the greatest Fraternity that the world has ever seen. I am sure that you will find what you learn here will help you in throughout your life.
I want to thank brother Mitch for inviting me to visit Braden Lodge. I don’t know how I keep experiencing great Masonry at the Triune Masonic Temple after visiting both Saint Paul Lodge #3 and Braden Lodge #168 but I do each and every time. I am hoping in the near future to complete the trifecta and visit Unizar Lodge #347 which also meets at Triune. I am sure that it will be another great experience in my Masonic travels.