By Walter Boomsma, Communications Director
If you went searching, how many of those small blue books (Grange Manuals) will you find closeted in your Grange Hall? It might be an interesting exercise to round them up, count them, and while so doing see what edition and year each was published. The one I use most regularly is the thirty-fourth edition from 1964. According to the handwriting on the inside cover, it originally belonged to a Subordinate Grange that closed some years ago.
The release of a “new” Subordinate Grange Manual last year went largely unnoticed and that is unfortunate. Much effort went into this forty-sixth edition. Clearly attempts have been made to include specific instructions that are clearer and, in many cases, simpler for various tasks such as balloting for candidates, conducting the obligation ceremony, etc. Anyone who’s been at a meeting where there twelve Grangers and thirteen opinions regarding “how to” execute a certain procedure will appreciate the guidance offered in this new manual.
You’ll also find some new titles have been introduced alongside the traditional. One example is the gatekeeper/greeter. Both are included to indicate a choice more than a change, so there is no need for controversy and debate.
I’m told some of the language has been updated and simplified. I did not compare this manual with previous editions line by line, but as one who loves our heritage and tradition, I do not see a noticeable difference. I suspect those who edited this new edition recognize there are many who have memorized parts and major changes would certainly cause confusion.
I did have the opportunity to compare the Grange Burial Service in the “new” manual with previous editions and find the new one contains much of the same language, but the order and flow is actually greatly improved. As acting Chaplain for the service, I added some of the “new” language and was interested to hear compliments later regarding the traditional service. I offer that as evidence that we are not losing or abandoning the fundamentals of our Order’s ritual and heritage.
A comparison of “closing the Grange” showed very little difference. The steps are the same except that the new manual includes the language for the Grange Salutation which must be remembered when using an older manual. Also the Overseer’s closing in the new manual omits the word “duly.” My sense from this is a combination of the new manual with older ones would not be confusing. (Most Granges currently are probably using different editions anyway.)
There is one negative with this new manual in that it is paperback and not hard bound. Perhaps because it is new, it does not open easily and stay open. This may improve with use. It is also slightly larger but remains pocket-sized and easily carried. The slightly larger size allows for a larger font size making the manual much easier to read from.
The 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual is available from the National Grange Store at a cost of $10 plus shipping. The manual includes the observation that manuals are sold to Grange “units” only and not to individuals. I’d encourage our Granges to consider purchasing at least a few copies to gain the additional information for reference and start what is surely going to be a slow transition to a slightly updated approach.