From Damien of Lodge Devotion
Soon after becoming a Freemason, I remember enthusiastically telling a friend about what comprises a Lodge and of the values of Freemasonry. He perceptibly asked “Well, if Freemasonry believes all men are equal, why do you have ranks?”. I thought for a moment and replied that Rank and Office are not about status but are about the jobs you perform - but more particularly about your responsibilities. I think I was a Fellow Craft at the time – but it is an exchange I have never forgotten. Unfortunately, some Freemasons, and certainly most non-masons would view an office like “Worshipful Master” or “Grand Master” as a position of privilege and power. Perhaps they are - but more importantly they are in fact positions of responsibility.
Installation at Devotion was last month. This of course is the evening when officers are Installed and Masons, particularly Master Masons like me, move up "the ranks". Most of us assumed a new group of responsibilities. Being appointed (or even elected) to an office is not a right – it is a privilege. Something easy to forget this in times of low numbers when Lodges face challenges filling their chairs..
Certainly the “entry” office is often considered Steward. As such, I think Lodges often overlook the important functions that Stewards can play. Dummies.com dismissively describe Stewards as “the low guys on the totem pole of the officers' line .….. they may also be the kitchen and wait staff of the lodge, which means they're champing at the bit to move up to the Junior Warden's job.”
Surely a Steward is more than a Masonic Waiter who bides time until his next office?
Think of the Lodges you visit. Lodges that I like to frequent may not always have spectacular ritual or food – but they always do one thing very well and consistently– they greet me and play host spectacularly. I don’t feel like a “visitor” when I am in such a Lodge – I feel like a Brother amongst Brothers.
As Stewards move about the room, they can play a critical role in making sure visitors are comfortable and feel welcome. However the responsibility to receive and make men feel like welcomed Brothers falls to each and every member of the Lodge. A heartily greeting is the way to start.
There are two tasks that see a Mason really circulate in the South - selling raffle tickets and playing the role of Steward. Particularly for newer masons, being a Steward affords the chance to say a quick G’day to almost everyone in the South while you hospitably serve wine and food and make sure members and guests are comfortable. This is also a great way of becoming known to others and being a good host. Immediately above is a picture of our DC and IPM doing that very thing as they tend to the needs of guesses at Installation 2007.
Many visitors to Devotion love to come because of the warm welcome from our members, the interesting conversations, and the good food and wine. Even if we have never failed in this, let's make sure every member takes responsibility and makes it a priority to make all Brothers feel welcome and valued at Devotion.