Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Focusing on fellowship

HOW-TO: Conduct new member orientation

Your feedback can help members in need

Moving checklist

Your lodge in the Member Annual Report

Summer school

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Focusing on fellowship

It’s all too easy for new members to feel stranded on the sidelines of their new lodge. Irvine Valley Lodge No. 671 in Lake Forest came up with a number of solutions, including its popular Fellowship Night. Past Master Art Salazar Jr. explains:

Background: Today, Irvine Valley Lodge has an enthusiastic membership of 173. The lodge consolidated in 1997 and has spent years rebuilding, cranking out degrees, and moving members into the line. Officers started to burn out from the constant degrees, and in 2007 we realized that it was time to ease off the gas. Our focus shifted to fellowship.

Fellowship Night
These nights are all about hanging out and bonding. It just takes some pizza, some soda, and attention to what your members want. Our lodge likes movie nights. For another lodge, it might be book club or game night.

  • Planning: I held a few planning nights before my year as master (2008) and opened them to every member of the lodge. There was a call for more social activities, so we came up with the idea of Fellowship Night.
  • The first Fellowship Night: We watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and ordered pizza. It was an unqualified success: about 35 attended, including quite a few members we hadn’t seen in awhile.
  • Checking in: Last spring, I held a mid-year meeting to gather feedback. Everyone requested more Fellowship Nights. I asked Entered Apprentices how they felt about it becoming a monthly event: Would they be upset if their degree process took longer because of it? The response was “Absolutely not” – many had joined Masonry because they wanted more fellowship in their lives. After that meeting, Fellowship Night became official.
  • Programming: Every third Tuesday of the month is Fellowship Night. Every other month we do a movie with pizza and soda, and on the alternate month we do a game night, or members bring in Masonic memorabilia as a show-and-tell.

    TIP: Open Fellowship Night to spouses, significant others, and non-Masons, and schedule special Family Fellowship Nights. Irvine Valley is planning a July Fellowship Night with a kid-friendly Disney Pixar film.

Mentorship and coaching
Besides creating time for Fellowship Night, we think that a slower degree process makes candidate advancement more meaningful. We use a few other techniques, too.

  • Mentorship program: We started the program last October. As soon as a candidate is initiated, we assign and introduce him to his mentor. This gives him a primary contact within the lodge and creates a sense of personal accountability.
  • Degree coaching: Every degree night, candidates and mentors get together for coaching. That one-on-one time creates a strong sense of fellowship for new members.

All-inclusive activities
For new and old members, we’re always thinking up ways to include the whole family.

  • Dinners: We make stated meeting dinners an extension of Fellowship Night. We bring families, and always invite prospects to come with significant others and kids. We encourage people to show up early to hang out. We consistently serve a packed house of about 45.
  • Family outings: The average age of our new member is 35, and many have newborn to preteen-age kids. We’ve started organizing family events, like a picnic at Irvine Regional Park and a trip to the zoo.
  • Community events: We have a twice-annual blood drive, which is a great way for members to share Masonry with neighbors and non-Masonic friends.

Consistent scheduling
To fit lodge into everyone’s busy schedules, we keep our calendar very predictable.

  • Lodge calendar: First Tuesday is stated meeting; second Tuesday we initiate the candidates voted in the week before; third Tuesday is Fellowship Night. If there’s another Tuesday, we do second or third degrees, depending on our candidate backup.
  • Standing appointment: The standing initiation on the second Tuesday is important. When prospects turn in applications, we tell them to plan for the date. They put it on their calendars and are already looking forward to being initiated.

Benefits

  • Member involvement is up. Nearly every Master Mason is involved in mentoring, coaching, planning events, or running the lodge in some way.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for new members to feel useful. At first, just two of us planned Fellowship Nights. Now that we have momentum, members step in to help – especially those that want to get into the line.
  • We have a ton of candidates in the pipeline, and such depth in the officer line that we’ve actually expanded our progressive line.

Some members were concerned that if we slowed down degrees, we would lose candidates. But we’re keeping candidates engaged in activities that provide fellowship and involve their families. It doesn’t matter if it takes a little longer to go from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason; they already feel like an active member of the lodge.

Contact: Art Salazar Jr., past master, at art.salazar@cox.net.

 

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HOW-TO: Conduct new member orientation

Conduct new member orientation every month for recent initiates, even if it is just for one Entered Apprentice. If your lodge confers first degrees once a week, conduct the orientation for small groups once or twice a month. Instruct attendees to bring their copy of the Member’s Guide to Masonry in California.

Lodge overview

  • Share the lodge’s vision statement, plans, and goals
  • Distribute and review Your Lodge information sheet from page 13 of Engage & Retain: Guide to Member Retention
  • Explain opportunities for involvement, such as:
    • Community service projects
    • Social activities
    • Committees
    • Lodge bulletin
    • Lodge Web site
    • Hall Association
    • Open events
    • Ritual teams

Overview of Masonry in California

Member skills and interest survey

Have we forgotten something? Please e-mail suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Conduct new member orientation in the subject line.

 

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Your feedback can help members in need

As officers, you may be aware of Masons within your lodge who are struggling due to the troubled economy. In order to offer the most relevant types of assistance, the Homes has created a short survey for lodge leaders.

The survey findings will help the Homes identify and respond to the most pressing needs of our fraternal family. The results will be reviewed by the Masonic Homes Board of Trustees in September, and decisions regarding expanded services will be shared in The Leader and California Freemason magazine.

Surveys are now being mailed to lodge masters, who may complete it themselves or ask another officer to respond. Return the hard copy using its enclosed envelope or complete the electronic survey now.

Please take the initiative to make this effort successful: Ensure that at least one officer from your lodge completes the survey.

 

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Moving checklist

A member in good standing can apply to any lodge in the world that is recognized by the Grand Lodge of California.

Within California, instruct the member to contact Grand Lodge or use the online lodge locator to find a list of area lodges. Once he’s selected a lodge, he should contact that lodge directly to apply. If accepted, he can maintain a plural membership in both California lodges or demit from his original lodge. He must remain in good standing with each lodge or he will be suspended from both.

If a member moves out-of-state, advise him to contact that jurisdiction’s grand lodge for information about local lodges. Contact information for grand lodges worldwide can be obtained through Member Services. The member should follow the lodge’s application process and, if accepted, can choose to be a dual member or demit from his California lodge.

In both instances, the member must be in good standing, with dues paid and current. Lodges will always request proof from the original lodge. Requests for certificates of good standing from other jurisdictions must go through the Grand Lodge.

 

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Your lodge in the Member Annual Report

We want to recognize your lodge’s generosity in the Member Annual Report.

The Member Annual Report is an outstanding way to celebrate the contributions of our members. An important component is the scholarships awarded by lodges. Last year 235 lodges reported that collectively they gave more than $340,000 in scholarships.

If your lodge awarded scholarships between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, please send an e-mail with your lodge name and total dollar amount of scholarships.

We look forward to sharing your accomplishments.

 

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Summer school

 

Lodge Management Certification Program

Gain the tools and training you need to effectively manage your lodge. This summer the five courses in the certification program are offered in intensive one-day workshops:

Courses

 

Masonic Formation Certification Program

Masonic Formation officers help inspire candidates and renew the spirit of Masonry in the lodge. Get certified and learn how to:

  • Create an effective candidate education program
  • Motivate lodge members to seek more knowledge about Masonry
  • Organize a lodge Masonic Formation program
  • Tap new materials and resources for lifelong learning

 

2009 Dates and locations (same for both programs)

June 6: Sheraton Pasadena Hotel, Pasadena
June 13: Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego
June 20: Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Fresno
June 27: Radisson Hotel Sacramento, Sacramento
July 11: Crowne Plaza San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco
July 18: Holiday Inn, Chico

 

 

To register, call Kim Hegg, Grand Lodge Program Manager, at 415/292-9111, or download the Lodge Management Certification Program or Masonic Formation Certification Program registration forms.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how often you check freemason.org for Current News. Of the 142 that responded:

36% - weekly
37% - monthly
10% - after major events

 

Of those that check freemason.org weekly and monthly, 37 percent have submitted their own news item.

Here’s your next question.

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org

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