The Plucky Lodge that did... because “No one owns a charge”

From WBro D Hudson, Sec and Newsletter Compiler

There are a lot of ingredients which go into Lodge Devotion’s success. It’s never one person and it’s never one thing, but one important element is planning.

On the day of our last meeting on 12 March 2020, I received 11 apologies on the day due to a sniffle or cough; men were cautious about COVID-19 and took no chance of spreading the virus. This left us in a tricky position to perform a Degree, with several allocated primary and backup presenters of Charges absent; but we came through with flying colours and performed a fantastic Degree. We only had 13 members in attendance, but our reaction was not to lament that low number, but celebrate being together and set forth to have a great night – which is exactly what we did.

With the exception of the Reasons for Preparation, performed beautifully by the backup, our organist, WBro Dennis, every other Charge and was given by a Brother who was under fifty.

That bodes well for us!

A week later I sent this (slightly edited) email to one of our newest Master Masons, with the subject line “Learning a Charge”. The invitation goes for all members of Lodge Devotion;

Hi Bro

Just doing a bit of work on our ritual capability.

I was so proud of Devotion at our last meeting; despite a lot of apologies, we pulled off Bro Andrew's First Degree because of the expertise we have developed in the lodge. That was no accident. We've been working on it for years with the goal of getting everything in triplicate. A lot of forward planning goes into this, and we have primaries and backups for charges at each meeting. Attached is the list for the last meeting (and our register of who knows what charge, explained below). Our plan became unviable last meeting, but we still had the expertise present to do the Degree. COVID-19 aside and despite our obligations to responds to all "signs and summons:" we always say the order of a Freemasons priorities should be;

1 Family

2 Work

3 Lodge

So don't feel bad work took you away from us. It happens. If a Lodge cannot operate within the order of these three things, family, work then Lodge, we have lost the plot. We thought we had all charged covered before starting, but had forgotten the Preamble, but knew all would be well because Bro Jordan immediately got up and presented it by memory. It was the first charge he learned and he gave it faultlessly - probably because he does what I recommend - occasionally revising all charges he knows. I do this as I walk up to the train or in quiet moments of boredom (I do get them occasionally! LOL).

We have a saying at Devotion - "No one owns a charge". This means we cycle through presenters... constantly developing our capacity, and giving Brothers enough time to learn not just the words, but how to present them and what they mean, ideally including via multiple presentations in Degree Ceremonies, especially for longer charges, but once they have, stepping aside for the next guy. This also means we hear different presentations of the same Charge and hear each Freemason's interpretation. These can be interesting. Like Shakespeare's plays, the words are (hopefully!) the same - but they can be presented differently and in that, give new messages. When visiting other lodges, I still hear new things in the charges, especially when given by different presenters. I know a couple of Freemasons who are masters at this, Rick Burman at Golden Fleece is one of my favourites.

We use a list to track this, it is attached for your information. We don't give it to members until they become MM.

We extend the invitation to all to learn charges, and there are some easy ones which are good to try at first.

Would you be interested in learning the Extension of the Badge in the Third Degree ?

(And the above is part of the reason our lodge prospers)