2 June 2021
A Vision for Freemasonry in Victoria
In my role as Grand Master, I am privileged to see Freemasons Victoria and Freemasonry at its very best.
Just the other week I attended the Installation at Lara Lodge and saw an example of what Freemasonry can be. The newly installed Master, Sean Chapman, spoke of the life mentorship provided by his school teacher, Bro. Larry Fraim which lead to a transformational experience in Sean’s life. Freemasonry continually challenges Sean to “be the best person that he can possibly be.”
The same week, I was privileged to attend Altona Lodge where WBro. Archie Alvaraez initiated his son Miguel. The ritual and ceremonial work was inspiring, not least because almost all of the charges were delivered, with emotion and sincerity, by a Fellowcraft and Master Masons.
These are just two examples of what makes us special, makes us relevant and shows what we are about. I could go on with more examples, including on-going conversations with prospective candidates about why they are excited about joining us!
My vision for Freemasonry in Victoria is that these examples of best practice become examples of usual practice. Where Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth are lived every day.
I was fortunate to be part of the team which prepared a Strategic Plan for the years 2017-2025. I am proud of the process we employed to come up with the vision and strategic goals in that plan. There were opportunities for all brethren to participate and express their views. It was a healthy bottom-up process. That vision still applies today.
In that plan we expressed our 2025 goal as: “It is a remarkable organisation with a strong and healthy culture of openness and transparency, real understanding of the values and principles which underpin all that it does and recognition as a real community asset.”
We agreed that in 2025, we could say about ourselves: “While Freemasons Victoria is still known for the excellent ritual and ceremonial work, it is the value added to men and their communities that allows Freemasonry in Victoria to stand out as a beacon of relevance amongst the community and fraternal organisations.”
Excellence of Ritual and Ceremonial needs, however, to be focussed upon the achievement of Masonic learning and member education- not an end in itself
This Vision places proper emphasis on individual Lodges and a high participation rate by its members. Our plan was to de-emphasise the role of Freemasons Victoria, “to get Grand Lodge out of the face of members.”
That is still my plan. Members and their Lodges are the ‘centre-of-gravity' of Freemasonry, working under the umbrella of and with the support of Freemasons Victoria to assist Lodges to achieve their objectives.
Of course, Freemasons Victoria must be the governing body and be an excellent custodian of our assets, a leader in our commercial operations; adopting governance practices that place member interest at the heart of decision making and world's best in providing Masonic services to members and Lodges. Our provision of Masonic Services – at all levels – needs to be first-class, and this involves ongoing learning, training and encouragement. In this we need to better ourselves.
Our Vision continues to be about excellence in fellowship, philanthropy and truth. Our teaching on these levels relies on ‘Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.' Our Masonic way of life provides that we all continually remind ourselves of the values taught in the First, Second and Third Degrees. It especially involves the encouragement of all members, but particularly our newest brethren.
We are right to re-energise our relations with like-minded community organisations. A special focus is supporting Lodges in country Victoria to play their important roles in their local communities.
My Vision for Freemasons Victoria involves a closer relationship with Chapter and Mark, and this will soon be underscored as they, along with the Foundation, come together with Craft Grand Lodge on the second floor at our East Melbourne headquarters.
The Change Management process is an opportunity to review and refresh the key performance indicators that we have set for ourselves. Things change. In the COVID world of 2021, some of our previous KPIs may have become difficult to achieve, or less relevant. Any good Change Management process should include conversations about our responsiveness, our integrity, impartiality, accountability, respect, leadership and human rights. I believe that what sets us apart from others in society, is that Freemasons mean what they say about service to mankind. As well as being leaders, we are servants.
My Vision for Freemasons Victoria is that we are frank, impartial and timely in our actions. Our Vision – and the changes that we need to make along the way – require best practice and best principles.
Integrity means living our values – bringing them to life in all our behaviour every day. We need to re-learn that being a Grand Lodge Officer is not about rank and authority: it is instead about increased levels of accountability and service. Rank is not about privilege and entitlement, it's about responsibility. Improper conduct is never welcome within Freemasons Victoria. We hold positions of great trust, and we must behave accordingly.
The Vision I see for Freemasons Victoria is that we are an organisation that acts fairly, that is accountable not only for our finances, but also for our personal behaviours. We own our decisions. We own our conduct. We willingly hold ourselves open to scrutiny. Masonic Behaviour isn’t just reserved for Lodge meetings but should define each of us in our personal , professional and Masonic life.
In the Freemasonry that I want, the focus is not on individuals as leaders, but a culture of leadership for everyone. Our fraternity offers numerous opportunities for leadership at Lodge, District and Freemasons Victoria levels and training and development is offered to enhance the leadership experience.
I hope that is the Freemasonry that you want too. In 2021, as we re-calibrate our sights throughout the management of Change, I earnestly hope that we are part of an organisation where everyone's views are respected and welcomed. There IS room for many points of view. There IS the opportunity for vibrant and respectful discussion, and sensible conversation.
It is an important principle that the Grand Master, and the members of the Masonic Governing Council, keep arms length from the Change Management Team, and to allow them to do their work, unimpeded. I wish to again thank and congratulate all members for their involvement in working towards making Freemasons Victoria the best possible version of itself.
I encourage all members to have their say, as we prepare Freemasons Victoria for the rest of the 21st Century.
Is it too far fetched that, in five years we could:
- Position Freemasons Victoria in a premier position ahead of other male fraternal not-for-profit organisations in society with membership being a very desirable status,
- Achieve optimum Lodge and District empowerment and delegation,
- Achieve a membership priority of stemming attrition
- Understand the successful candidate profile: to know where we could and should be, and the nature of our membership?
MWBro. Richard Elkington