Since May 2008 the Chapter Executive have sought means by which they might improve members enjoyment of and involvement in the Royal Arch, encourage recruitment and secure membership. Chapter Liaison Officers have been appointed in Lodges (to encourage Chapter membership) and the role of the Chapter Almoner has been expanded to include responsibility for membership retention (for details click here). At an early stage the concept of holding ‘Cluster Meetings’ was established. These are intended to encourage Chapters who, for whatever reason, might be struggling. They are joint meetings, for local Chapters, which provide a forum for members to discuss problems, exchange ideas and provide general encouragement. The meetings are hosted by a Chapter at one of its regular convocations and have proved to be very successful.
The general format is that after an introduction by the Deputy Grand Superintendant the Second Provincial Grand Principal opens the discussion and he is followed by a very senior companion who circulates amongst the companions, seeking out their views, inviting comments and suggestions. The meeting is drawn to a close by the Deputy Grand Superintendant with some short remarks, after which the members retire to a finger buffet at which the executive members mingle, answer questions and listen to comments which have often not been voiced at the meeting.
These meetings have produced a many ideas and often exposed problems which have lain long dormant and unvoiced.
Examples of the questions asked or items which have been discussed or voiced are:
- Why did we join the Royal Arch?
- What have we gained from it?
- Should we join a Chapter in a different area to widen our circle of Masonic friendship?
- When is the best time to join?
- How can we assist members with financial problems?
- We should consider changing the format of our meetings e.g. start with a buffet and then hold the meeting; have a meeting without a festive board; have a finger buffet; have a fish & chip supper.
- When do we first mention the Royal Arch to a member of the Craft?
- Sometimes a member feels that he has being pressurised into joining too soon.
- Each candidate should, at his exaltation, be given a ritual book and a list of members.
- The high importance of the role of the Lodge/Chapter Liaison officer and that of the Almoner.
- The care and welfare of all the members, including regular contact with them, the offer of every assistance when required, the development of talent and expectation, the generation of enthusiasm through enjoyment and involvement from the outset of membership.
- Members’ responsibility to impart knowledge and afford positive encouragement.
- The exchange of ideas so as to provide interesting lectures, to be split amongst junior members thereby ensuring their regular involvement, e.g. a lecture/description’ of the chapter ensigns involving at least 12 companions or one upon the platonic bodies
Cluster Meetings provide a unique forum for members to voice their views freely. They have emphasised the importance of the role of the Lodge Liaison Officer & the Royal Arch Almoner. The careful selection of both officers is of paramount importance. They should be ‘the right man for the job’ as opposed to the most senior companion available. Good public relations skills and real concern for the well being of their fellow members are of the utmost importance.
If your Chapter would be interested in holding a cluster meeting, please contact Martin Ransom