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Addressing the Membership

Freemasons in Newport


During a momentous Quarterly Communication, representatives of several Lodges from across Wales recounted the success of the Members’ Pathway.

Stephen Fearn, Saint Padarn Lodge, Province of West Wales. Members’ Pathway and Universities Scheme

Many thanks to Most Worshipful Brother Jonathan Spence and everyone involved in today’s proceeding for allowing me to share with you the successes of an individual Lodge within the Province of West Wales and how the introduction of the Universities Scheme and the Members’ Pathway has elevated Saint Padarn Lodge into one of the most successful Lodges within the Province.

George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.’ Brethren, a controversial statement, but how often are we faced with this dilemma on a regular basis in our Lodges?

Saint Padarn Lodge in Aberystwyth, established in 1932, has always been associated with Aberystwyth University, and has benefitted from many staff members joining the Lodge across the years. The launch of the Members’ Pathway in 2019 coincided with Saint Padarn Lodge formally joining the UGLE Universities Scheme and these two things have combined to turn around the fortunes of Saint Padarn Lodge.

The implementation of the Members’ Pathway across our Provinces is an incredible resource enabling us to support our Lodges. In 2019, with the support from UGLE and our own West Wales Province, we attended our very first Freshers’ fair where we attracted the first generation of our university applicants. Our focus on the Members’ Pathway in conjunction with joining the Universities Scheme meant that not only did we attract many university students, we also attracted candidates from the local community.

Just as we were about to initiate our three new candidates in our first ever triple Initiation degree ceremony, COVID-19 hit. Moving on two years, and with the support of the Order of Women’s Freemasonry, we returned to the Freshers’ fair, recruiting six new university candidates eager to find out about Freemasonry. We were surprised by the excitement and engagement received by the Lodge Brethren, with the dynamics within the Lodge dramatically changing, not only socially but within the Lodge.

It is a reflection of the success of the scheme that we have initiated 10 university candidates within the last two years and already have three candidates registered for interviews for next year. That is before we have attended next year’s Freshers’ fair. But we must not lose sight of local attraction to ensure succession in our Lodges for the future.

Brethren, this is an exciting time for Freemasonry post-pandemic, and with the advertising strengths of social media and its resources and the implementation of the new strategy, it has been a delight to be part of the exciting new developments and successes of Saint Padarn Lodge in the West Wales Province.

Dennis Sproul, Secretary of Loyal Monmouth Lodge, No. 457 Province of Monmouthshire

Thank you for the opportunity to present the history of our Lodge, and the progress we have made within the framework of the Members’ Pathway in consideration of the values and ambitions highlighted in the new strategy.

Our Lodge is rich in early history. The oldest working Lodge in the Province, it was consecrated in 1839. The following year, it moved to an old music hall in Monmouth, and we remain there to this day, 184 years later. Today, our building is home to our Craft Lodge, our Royal Arch Chapter, a Rose Croix and, more recently, a Mark Lodge.

By the late 1990s Loyal Monmouth faced severe decline: in reality it faced a catastrophic membership crisis. In 1990, membership was down to 117 and 10 years later was only half that. By 2015, membership had sunk to just 38. Consequently, our Grade II* listed building fell into dreadful disrepair – becoming a major financial challenge.

A drastic change of approach was needed for membership in terms of both attraction and retrieval. We needed a new culture and renewed enthusiasm. Then, the Members’ Pathway landed in Monmouth.

Monmouthshire was selected as a pilot Province and Loyal Monmouth became a pilot Lodge. The Members’ Pathway was fully integrated a year later. Loyal Monmouth embraced this concept by appointing a Members’ Pathway Committee, and it worked. In 2018, we had 40 members. Two years later, 48 members. This year, our number reached 61, with a further five candidates ready for Initiation.

The increased Craft membership is inevitably having a positive effect on the Royal Arch. Scribe Ezra advises me that five new members have been Exalted with three more in the pipeline.

As an overview, based on our recent experience within Loyal Monmouth, I would strongly advise any Lodge, either struggling with members or with stagnant numbers, to try a proactive approach; generate enthusiasm, create a happy and vibrant team spirit, and importantly, instigate the Members’ Pathway.


Dr Samuel Lloyd Williams, Province of South Wales

I represent 10 Lodges and several Chapters that are actively utilising the Members’ Pathway and our Provincial guidance to address the membership challenge in South Wales.

In South Wales our Executive Strategy mwy na geiriau yn unig (more than just words) aligns with UGLE/Supreme Grand Chapter strategy, adopting a partnership approach and team-led structure to implement clearly defined actions. The strategy provides a vision for success and an action plan which helps ensure all Lodges and Chapters in our Province have a shared understanding of what we hope to realise as a collective.

We have a relatively diverse range of communities in South Wales and our 23 Masonic Centres are located in the more rural areas towards the north of our Province down to the larger cities in the south of the Province, such as Swansea and Cardiff. This diversity, we believe, is one of our strengths, and where Lodges have been most successful in attracting new members, it is usually because they have ensured strong connections with the nuances of their immediate locality.

Our well-managed Provincial Communications team has played an integral role in supporting individual Lodges to engage with their communities by utilising the national digital marketing campaign. With 219 men waiting to be initiated, 31 prospects and a further 50 enquirers, we are making sound progress and we are confident that the Membership Challenge for South Wales (both Craft and Royal Arch) is eminently achievable, Brethren!

Further, we are particularly pleased to be supporting efforts to produce these resources yn yr iaith Gymraeg in the Welsh language. We are proud to have been granted permission to work Defod y Grefft yn yr Hen Iaith where our ceremonies are brought to life in the Welsh language at Dewi Sant Lodge, No. 9067.

I have been particularly fortunate to work with the other four Provinces here in Wales who, under the direction of the AGM RW Bro Steven Varley, have begun translating Troedffordd yr Aelodau (the Members’ Pathway) into Welsh, which strengthens the emphasis and value we place as an institution on integrating our beloved Craft with the language of Wales and its bilingual communities.

In short, Brethren, realising the MW Pro Grand Master’s strategy requires mwy na geiriau yn unig, and it is incumbent on all those who wish to successfully address the Membership Challenge to realise more than just words.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you very much. 


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