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Montana Freemason  August 2015                           Volume 91 Number 2

                     Population                          and more of our members in cities, and fewer of
Montana Code Annotated Sec. 7-1-4111 states              them in towns. And that’s a shame.
that municipalities are divided into four groups:
                                                                         What Can We Do?

1) Every city having a population of 10,000 or              is is only one thing to be looked at. It would take
more is a city of the rst class.                         longer than the scope of this article to evaluate
(2) Every city having a population of less than          lodge assets and expenditures, but the situation
10,000 and more than 5,000 is a city of the second       parallels the community membership: we have
class.                                                   about 1/4 of our lodges who are struggling to
(3) Every city having a population of less than          remain open nancially and may be unable to
5,000 and more than 1,000 is a city of the third         have a charter in 10 years. ink about that for
class.                                                   a moment. Now, when someone tells you to beat
(4) Every municipal corporation having a                 members out of the bushes, or raise money, bear
population of less than 1,000 and more than 300          in mind what you’re working with. It doesn’t mean
is a town.                                               that you can’t get community buy-in, through
A few places are “census-designated places,” or          members or donations: several smaller town
areas that lack separate municipal government.           lodges excel at this. However, many of them are
Montana does not have a designation for a                tired and resigned to continuing to meet 2 or 3
community of less than 300, but by and large, we         times a year until they can’t even do that anymore,
can look at what each lodge has to work with.            and then quietly disappear
Right o the bat you’ll notice that only about the
top 7 cities are designated as “First Class” cities.               The 10-20% Who Show Up

   e next 9 are all “Second Class” cities. About 40      Perhaps we should start with being positive about
some are the ird Class Cities. We have around            the members that we DO have. Value them, and
42 classed as a town. e entire third page of the         their membership. Why do lodges which already
list are unclassi ed communities.                        have Masons lose members?

Recognizing that 28 of our 92 lodges or about 1/3        You can go to New York City, or Miles City,
of them, are in communities with less than 1,000         Montana, and if you get 10-20% of your
people, we can begin to understand the magnitude         membership to show up, you’re doing about
of ignorance that seeks to og members from               average. If your lodge has 100 members on the
these communities - the fact is, they are in many        rolls, and 10 regularly show, with 3 or 4 sometimes,
cases already supporting exactly the number              you’re doing just about “right” according to my
of men that they can reasonably be expected to           unscienti c word of mouth poll.
produce. However, we spend much of our time              Many of our lodges, probably a majority have 1/4
berating them for “not having enough members.”           to 1/3 of their members living out of state. But for
Should we look at the positive and state that their      the rest, where are they? (Reading this magazine
town is small, and yet they are still strong with a      at least, I hope!)
core group of members?

You’ll also notice that the largest metro areas, in the  If you are ful lling something in the members
Top 10, each sport more than one lodge, and how          that you do have and maintaining contact with
few metro areas there are in Montana. However,           them through calls and letters, they’re less likely
what happens when a lodge in a rural community           become Suspended for Non-Payment of Dues
closes? You’ll never get a new lodge there again.        (NPD). Lodges with well satis ed members can
Do you know when the last NEW lodge chartered            elicit greater participation in their communities.
in Montana was? 1966, at our 100th Anniversary           Americans just don’t “join” like they used to -
as a Grand Lodge. It was 157. is coming year,            we were once a nation of joiners. Membership
2016, marks our 150th, or 50 years since a new           in a group meant something. Sometimes lodges
lodge was chartered. As the smaller communities          getting seen - going to events together, having
lose citizens (youth exodus, aging population            family nights, dinners etc - in their communities,
passes away, etc), and as corporations continue to       and being involved in their communities - being
pull up stakes lodges will be impacted. As rural         publicly noticed investing in local projects such
lodges make the decision to close, you’ll nd more

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