We’re blocked. When you get to a road block, I imagine several possibilities pass through your mind. Can we get through the blockage? Is there an alternate route? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere? Or, is this the end of the road? We’re at such a decision point with the Kansas Lodge of Research.
Our heritage. The Kansas Lodge of Research (KSLOR) was established in 1982 under Article IX, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Kansas: “The Kansas Lodge of Research is hereby established with the authority to conduct research, hold discussions, gather and preserve Masonic information, assist in the maintenance of the Grand Lodge library, supply papers or speakers at the request of Lodges when convenient, and conduct a program of general service to the Craft in the field of Masonic Education and Information subject to the provision of the law.”
How we got to this point. In 1982, there were over 66,000 Masons in Kansas. Even if only 1/100th of 1% of the Masons then were enthusiastically devoted to KSLOR, there would be 6 leaders to carry the load. As of January 1, 2017, we had 17,281 Kansas Masons and most are over 67 years of age. Mathematically, we’d be lucky to have one (1) Mason with the leadership skills, determination, vision, and time to dedicate to the advancement of KSLOR. More importantly, he’d also need to find and groom others for succession of leadership for long-term success of the lodge. Although the succession training formula has worked well for the Grand Lodge elected leadership through the Deputy Grand Master leadership programs, KSLOR has not been part of the leadership succession training and vetting opportunities.
The way forward. KSLOR is a Grand Lodge entity which has reached a leadership roadblock. Has it reach the end of its usefulness? Should it have a modified mission? Should it just be left to die of its own weight? Or should it be injected with hungry, ambitious leaders who would eventually be good candidates for Area Deputy Grand Master or Grand Lodge elected leadership? I believe it should be the latter with a modification to Section 15. The demographics of Kansas Masonry has changed over the past 35 years. Certainly, the ambitious and wide-ranging mission of KSLOR needs to be reduced to a point it can be more easily managed.
- First, the Council of Administration must step in to make leadership appointments to KSLOR. Head of KSLOR should be equivalent to an ADGM and earn the title of Right Worshipful during their term. It should be made a prestigious, sought-after position that gives the incumbent the same exposure as an ADGM.
- Second. The mission should be reduced to simply Research–Publish–Speak as defined under the KSLOR strategic plan that was gaining much ground in 2014-2015. Maintenance of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum should be removed from the KSLOR mission. Even with a highly capable professional archivist on staff, progress to electronically catalog and maintain the library holdings is moving at glacial speed. If KSLOR can do three, interrelated things well, we’d be light years ahead of where we are now.
- Third. Integrate KSLOR into everything we do. If we keep it in the constitution, then its important enough to have presentations for/by KSLOR at Leadership Academy, Annual Communication, and at any time there is a major Grand Lodge event. For example, if rededication of the State Capital building was important enough to do, what has been done to capture that part of our legacy, add its lessons learned to our Masonic Education line up, and provide knowledgeable speakers to carry that to lodges across Kansas?
The road ahead. Kudos to those KSLOR members who have made significant contributions. Your efforts have not been for naught. This is not a crisis of membership. Thanks to the partnership by Kansas Masonic Foundation, our membership reached a high in the past few years. What’s missing is integration with Grand Lodge leadership with a limited, related, important mission.
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