Life is truly a wonderful journey. You never really know what is going to happen to you on any given day, or during any given week. Here I was all set to write a stinging, scathing article on how the City of Newark, New Jersey used $300,000 of homeland security funding towards the purchase of garbage trucks when a couple of unrelated events came together and created a totally new sentiment for me to share with you. It is a nice sentiment.
I owe a great debt to the two men who helped me to change my mind on what to share with you. One man is Most Worshipful Daniel M. Wilson, the Grandmaster of all Freemasons in New Jersey. The other man is my pastor, the Reverend Scott Brown of the Colts Neck Reformed Church. It is a pleasing thing to share the good works of great men like Scott Brown and Dan Wilson with you.
One man showed me how to buck the forces of change in a well-planned, dynamic way. The other caused me to pause and ponder my impact on the world in a day-by-day way. Neither offered an easy route to success, however, both offered a life of service to others.
Given the influence of the Supreme Architect of the Universe on these two men, it is then easy to see how their actions converged is a way that influenced me to be a more peaceful person. That is in itself a miraculous event.
Before proceeding further, let me explain to you that Masons are very much creatures of tradition and past practice. Think about the impact of tradition on the fire service and then multiply that thought by a factor of ten. As Masons, we are not supposed to ask people to join us. We are supposed to wait for them to ask us. Talk about a tremendous bar to growth and development.
Many of us in the Masonic world have become quite talented at spinning a web of Masonic lore around those men we felt would be good candidates for membership in our lodges. However, a number were not prepared to come into our world via the traditional route which involved a tremendous commitment in personal time and intellectual talent.
Unfortunately a great many men were not, and are not, prepared to enter our world in the classic manner. From time to time, controversial measures were taken to bring members in our fraternity via a truncated method. This has, over time, created a great deal of controversy. It became an "old way" versus "new way" dichotomy. In the meantime, while the philosophical battles were being fought, our membership decline continued unabated.
Four years ago Dan Wilson decided that he wanted his one year as Grandmaster to having a long-lasting impact upon the Masonic fraternity in New Jersey. Much like the world of the volunteer fire service, Freemasonry has been experiencing serious recruiting and retention problems. In our case, the older brothers are dying faster than new brothers were being brought in to take their place.
Dan Wilson decided early on that it was worth battling tradition and convention to create a mechanism that would help to stem the tide of membership decline in our ancient fraternity. Over the course of four years, he put the framework in place to create a special, one-day session for bringing new members into the Masons.
His was not an easy battle. As all of us who have at one time or another fought tradition and convention will agree, such battles are never easy. There are those traditionalists who believe that our organization has been diminished by these new "one-day" brothers.
This was a campaign that did not always wrap itself around the usual older member versus younger member battle lines. There were a number of young traditionalists and a number of older liberalists. Dan Wilson listened to all sides and then made his decision. He went ahead with the one-day program.