You are to act as a "communicator, friend and mentor" and to provide a tangible focussed link between the Provincial Executive and the Lodge. A good Visiting Officer is an asset to the Province and to the Lodge(s) he visits. A well informed Lodge is also more likely to be a more valuable asset to the Province.
To help you in your role you will, in future, receive briefing papers quarterly which will contain information for you to use when speaking to Lodge members. Our web site at www.buckspgl.org is updated quarterly in January, April, July and October and provides invaluable up-to-date information which you may also wish to use. Please also remember that there is a wealth of information available from other sources such as Concord, Freemasonry Today, the Provincial Grand Officers Club meetings, Grand Lodge web site and the various charity web sites.
Part of the Visiting Officers brief is to report on anything of importance from the Province and you will need to gauge the best time to speak to the Brethren. You should try to address the Brethren at each meeting you attend. You may, at your discretion, choose to do this on the Second Rising or as a response to the Toast to the Province at the Festive Board. Many believe that the Festive Board is the wrong place to speak as it takes time late in the evening and the Brethren, who are hopefully enjoying themselves, may not be paying proper attention to what you are saying. It you speak at the second rising the Brethren may be more attentive and the Secretary should take notes which will be recorded in the minutes and hopefully repeated, at least in summary, at the next meeting. It is suggested that two or three minutes, with a maximum of five minutes, should allow time for a reasonable amount of information to be transmitted without the Brethren losing interest. Please encourage the Brethren to approach you later in the evening or contact you by phone or email if they have anything of value to discuss with you.
Remember that your role is not to push a Lodge in a direction in which it is not prepared or willing to go. You need to be selective in providing helpful ideas when they may be required and you should at all times remember that assertiveness does not necessarily win hearts and minds.
You should endeavour to encourage and motivate them to assist in achieving the Provincial strategic objectives and give them advice when called upon to do so. Discretion is needed as you cannot be perceived to be meddling in the affairs of a private Lodge. If you do identify problems within the Lodge you should quietly discuss them with the Master, Secretary, Director of Ceremonies or other Senior Officer present. You should never try to resolve problems whilst speaking to the Lodge assembled.
As you get to know your Lodge and its members your knowledge of the Lodge, its strengths, weaknesses and problems will be invaluable to the Province. You are encouraged to attend Installation Meetings as your knowledge of the Lodge and its members may be very useful to the Representative of the Provincial Grand Master who attends on that occasion.
You should always try to talk to new Masons and “younger” Brethren and not just to the more senior members. All too often, the concerns of newer members are not expressed to the Lodge. This may best be achieved during the interval between the meeting and dinner or by sitting with them at the Festive Board rather than on the top table, as has previously been suggested.
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