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The time is now. It is time to draw the line in the sand and declare that we will no longer accept our decline in membership. It is time to go to war against complacency and denial. All of us are quick to acknowledge that our numbers have been spiraling downward for quite some time. The problem is we recognize the problem then come up with excuses for why it is happening. We are quick to point fingers or direct blame. The reality is we have been losing 100’s of members every year because of ourselves. If you blame our loss on the Black Camel, you sell all of us short. The truth is we lose more Nobles through non-payment of dues and demits than death. Somewhere along the line these men have decided we no longer have anything of value to offer them. We have failed them by not searching out what they need from our great fraternity. We have failed them by not reaching out to them with an open hand and welcoming them as they became Nobles. We have failed ourselves by being content.

And now for the good news… In all probability 90% of Mizpah Shriners stopped reading this message after they realized it was about membership. You did not. You kept reading. You are interested in being part of the solution. That means we still can fix the problem, because we acknowledge that the future of Mizpah depends on our actions now. It is not someone else’s problem. It belongs to all of us. Our battle has just begun and we can win it. If we all work on creating and maintaining new members there is no limit to what we can achieve. We can turn our decline around. The time is now.

First we need to bring more men to Masonry. The days of keeping our secrets are over. You can get on the internet and see almost every part of our degree work. Every great mystery we once kept so closely guarded is now on the History channel. We all know men who lead a Masonic life. They are men we work with or see at church. They already lead good lives but no one has ever approached them about becoming a Mason. Why not tell him what Masonry has done for you? Why not invite him to a place where good men become great men?

 Second we cannot be afraid to talk about being a Shriner in our Blue Lodges. We all know that politics and religion are taboo subjects within our lodge walls. Talking about how you lead a Masonic life by supporting the needs of the burned and physically challenged children is always a welcome topic in any circumstance. Two months ago I was asked, “Why did you become a Shriner?” My answer was simple, “How can I be a Mason and not be a Shriner?” Shriners are committed to helping others in their time of need, just as we help our Masonic Brothers when it seems they have nowhere to turn.

Finally we need to stop letting Nobles leave out the backdoor. What I mean is we continually attract great men only to lose them after we do not take care of their needs. They buy into our message at first and then leave before we know their names. We must continually search for new ways to keep them interested in all we have to offer. My Pote’s pin represents the way we all should greet Nobles we have never met. An open hand and a smile go a long way.

On Saturday November 16th we will gather to welcome a new class of Shriners as they join us in the Fall Ceremonial. The night starts with registration at 5pm. Snacks and refreshments will be served as we take advantage of our first chance to meet the new Shriners and ask them what they are interested in. At 6pm all Nobles new and old are invited to attend the First Section of the Ceremonial which will be performed in the Ballroom. Remember a special Ladies program will occur upstairs from 6pm to 6:30pm. All Ladies of current Shriners are invited to attend this informative meeting. This is a great chance for the new Ladies to learn about who we are and what we do. At 6:45pm we will all come together in the Ballroom for the Arch Degree. This degree explains our roots as well as what we do today to make the world a better place. The night wraps up with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails as we enjoy all the social benefits of being a Mizpah Shriner. The band will once again perform and clubs and units will be welcome to set up displays to attract new members. Last Spring’s Ceremonial was a huge hit with 200 guests attending and this one promises to be even bigger and better.

Your Humble Servant,
Michael Hardiek, Potentate 2013