Grand Master's Message

What is your curb appeal?

By Grand Master Speed Hallman

WB Ben Wallace, one of my best and smartest Masonic buddies, likes to say, only partly in jest, that Beth Grace is his favorite Mason. I agree.

Beth, editor of the NC Mason, came to us with no exposure to Masonry, and she checked us out before applying for the editor’s job. Fortunately, she liked what she saw, and she wanted to work with us and help advance Masonry. Beth is a Mason in spirit, and the warm reception she has received from brethren across the state has cemented her bonds with us.

Be sure to read her column in this issue. Beth tells a heartwarming story of a 4-year-old boy meeting the real Santa in a Masonic lodge. It sweetly and deftly drives home a point that I like to make about the first impressions we create as lodges and as Masons. First impressions are critical in attracting the potential Masons who, like Beth, are interested in us but want to know more before taking the first step.

My pitch starts like this: Have you looked at your lodge lately? Can you see it with fresh eyes, like a newcomer? This is a lesson I learned years ago when my wife accompanied me to the lodge on an errand. Susan, who always sees the bright side of anyone or anything, shocked me by saying “This place is a dump.” I realized she was right. We brothers had let the place go. We had become complacent with peeling paint, cracked plaster, worn carpet and faded curtains.

It’s not that we were slouches, necessarily. The lodge was our happy and comfortable place, brimming with brotherly love and fellowship, and its blemishes were invisible to us. We were already bought, in and couldn’t see it like first-time visitors, also known as the next generation of Masons we hope will replace us. Susan’s comment enlightened me. In the years since then, through good leadership, a renewed feeling of pride and the labor of lots of Masons, our lodge has become a showplace.

Take a look at your lodge with new eyes, starting with a web search. That’s where your potential Mason will start. What turns up? Old news, or a fresh and vibrant website? Is there a link with the lodge’s contact information? Is your potential Mason’s email query answered promptly?

Then do a drive-by. If the lodge were a house, would you want to live in it, or would you want to join the group that inhabits it? Park and walk up to the door for a closer look, and go inside. Think about what you’d replace, repair or repaint if it were your home.

That’s the easy part. Now look below the surface and consider how the community interacts with your lodge. Are your doors open to friends, neighbors, total strangers? Can they see any of the light that shines within? If so, good things will happen.

Beth’s column describes Waxhaw Lodge #563’s annual “Pancakes with Santa” breakfast for kids. While the event was underway, a Waxhaw Mason spotted a family outside in the cold and invited them into the lodge. They came inside, and their skeptical son met the real Santa. Magic. That family didn’t know anything about Masonry but they do now.

Beth's column is a story of human kindness, generosity and brotherly love. It also contains common sense. Open those doors and see who’s out there. Welcome a stranger in for warmth, friendship, education or a bowl of Brunswick stew. Give your neighbors a reason to come in and look around, ask questions and see Masonry in action. The Masons in spirit will find you.

I’ve adopted the hourglass as a symbol for this year. It represents the passage of time that ere long will cease for each of us. Freemasonry – the greatest fraternity in the world – is in our care for a brief time before we hand it off to a new generation. Who’s going to take the handoff?

Good people near you are curious about Masonry, Googling your lodge and doing the drive-by. There are others who aren’t curious – yet – because they haven’t noticed you. Let both groups see a bit of your light and get ready to meet some new favorite Masons.