LODGE VERSUS LONELINESS
Suicide of a Past Master caused Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge to adopt the Five Points of Fellowship Programme
Five Points lapel pin.
The suicide of a Past Master of his Lodge shook W. Bro. Allein Moore of Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge. “We both rode motorcycles in the old days and spent many happy weekends riding in Malaysia. Because of his business, he left the Lodge and moved to Malaysia and, sadly, we failed to keep in contact,” said W. Bro. Allein. “His death left me with feelings of guilt.”
Then, a few years later, another senior Mason from another Lodge in Singapore died in his home and his body was not found until badly decomposed. It was around this time that a younger – and popular – expatriate Brother, confessed to W. Bro. Allein that he felt quite lonely during the weeks between Lodge meetings. These incidents made an impact on W. Bro Allein.
Our Brothers go through many personal trials such as losing a job, getting divorced or suffering from a potentially fatal disease. Life often hits us with cruel blows. At any age, we can have an unexpected crisis. While we chat in the bar before meetings or enjoy the fellowship of the Festive Board, these social occasions do not lend themselves to more personal or sensitive conversations.
W. Bro. Allein Moore felt as masons, we should do more. He recalled The Five Points of Fellowship in the Third Degree and wondered if we were really living up to the promises made.
He floated his idea in 2015 to then Master of Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge, W. Bro. Alex Maroske who gave his whole-hearted support. The Five Points Programme or “Buddy” system, as it became commonly known, was proposed to the Lodge Reference Committee where it was received enthusiastically and within a few months the details were worked out. The new programme was unveiled and subsequently adopted with the full support of the brethren. The Lodge even created a lapel badge as shown at the end of the article.
Each brother became a “Buddy” offering a discreet shoulder on which to cry if necessary. Each commit to call on the phone (or even send SMS or WhatsApp messages if travelling abroad) and give a friendly greeting, enquiring if everything is going well. Once a month, they should try to meet face-to-face over a coffee or a beer. Apparently, some brethren have now turned this into a weekly lunch as they have become very close to one another.
The Lodge kicked off the programme in mid-2015 by asking each Brother to list four members of the Lodge with whom felt he would like to buddy. Obviously, there were popular brothers who appeared on many lists and only one Buddy could be allocated. The Lodge Almoner, assisted by two other Senior Brethren, matched up the pairs based on their assessment of the people involved.
Only Master Masons were brought into the program as the more junior Brethren were considered still under their Proposer, Seconder, and the Lodge Mentor. As new Master Masons were raised, they became part of the programme.
One cannot say if any lives were saved over the five years this programme has been implemented in Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge but, as W. Bro. Allein Moore points out, “Until we take the time, outside of Lodge meetings, to really know a brother and listen to his personal problems, we cannot appreciate how much he is hurting. Often all he needs a sympathetic ear.”
If the District Grand Lodge believes the Five Points Programme does offer some benefits, it could be expanded into other Lodges in the District. Freemasonry does a lot through charity to help others in need. We must not forget our own brethren may also need support. A friendly voice from a Buddy once a week can make a big difference.