Lessons Learned - Supreme Council
In order to continue their membership efforts in the COVID era, many Valleys are using Virtual Reunions in lieu of the usual in-person degree performances.
The effective use of the Virtual Communication document recently provided by the Ritual Committee allows our Rite to continue the growth trajectory it has enjoyed for the last few years, without placing candidates or Valley members at risk of contracting or spreading COVID.
During our efforts to assist Valleys in this effort, we have learned some useful lessons, which are outlined below:
1. Find a way to make your candidates feel like they are part of something unique and innovative. These Virtual Reunions should be positioned as being "special" and not viewed as being in any way "less than" normal. We all hear the chatter about "one-day Masons.” The truth is that once a man takes our obligations, he is our Brother, and we owe him the best we can provide.
2. Learn to effectively use the technology, then plan and practice. Without ritual to be memorized or floor work to be learned, it is tempting to simply pick a date, schedule a ZOOM meeting and charge forward. However, more value is added for the new member if the Valley develops a plan and practices the technology so that everything runs smoothly on Reunion Day.
3. Don't just read the PowerPoint. Additional speakers, class discussions, and even awards presentations can and should still be a part of your Reunion. Simply reading the PowerPoint and sending the candidates on their way will not provide an enriched experience. Encourage your Valleys to use their own creativity to make the Virtual Reunion as exciting and engaging as possible.
4. Maintain our standards. We have all experienced online meetings that were boring or ill-conceived. Ensure that both participating Valley Members and candidates alike are informed of the dress code, which in my opinion should be business casual. Officers should be in their caps. In addition, it is recommended they participate in a quiet location so that they can give the presentation proper attention. The Virtual Reunion should be treated with the same respect as a traditional in-person Reunion.
Our Membership Services Department is already working directly with a number of Valleys to help plan and coordinate Virtual Reunions by assisting with everything from ZOOM training to arranging guest speakers. If any of your Valleys are considering a Virtual Reunion, I recommend having them reach out to Membership Services at email@example.com.
Please consider sharing this information with the appropriate leadership in your Valleys if you are encouraging Virtual Reunions in your Orient.
Thank you for all you continue to do to move the fraternity forward even during such a difficult time in our history.
Sincerely and fraternally, James D. Cole, 33°
Sovereign Grand Commander Supreme Council, 33° | Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ, USA