Together we make a profound difference

Masonic education

Offer meaningful Masonic ed

Your February checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on freemason.org

Question of the month

 

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Masonic education

Since the mid-90s, Liberty Lodge No. 299 in Santa Clara has made a remarkable commitment to Masonic education.

Every month, before commencing the business portion of their stated meeting, the lodge hosts an hour-long presentation and discussion on a topic related to Masonry. And, it’s not just for Masons: Spouses, partners, and community members are invited, too. The program is a special point of pride for the lodge, and it has drawn a curious and engaged crowd for nearly 20 years.

David Kampschafer, who currently runs the program, and Mike Hertzberg, who previously did, explain.

The topics

  • The topic changes every month: We’ve covered spirituality and Masonry in ancient, modern, and future times; a series on how Masonry teaches character; the purpose behind Masonic symbols; the Constitution and why Masons celebrate it; what Freemasonry is like in the rest of the world; and Freemasonry’s influence on popular culture.
  • Over the years, we’ve solicited and received topic suggestions in a number of ways, including member surveys, emails, and conversations at Officers Association meetings. We ask newer members what interests them. We take note of public inquiries, for example, about Masonry in the movies. We try to be flexible. If a question is really burning, we make a point to address it.
  • We also use the Masonic Service Association’s Short Talk Bulletins as inspiration and resources.
  • Every month we announce the upcoming topic in the Trestleboard. Sometimes we’ll pose a question to spark interest – for example, “Did you know there was only one Mason on the committee that created the dollar bill?”

The format

  • Each program lasts about an hour, beginning with the presentation and ending with discussion.
  • In recent years, the two of us have been the main presenters (and researchers). We have also introduced a number of guest speakers from our lodge and others. Sometimes a member will suggest an idea for a topic, and we’ll encourage him to host the presentation himself.
  • We often use PowerPoint to enliven the presentation. We’ll incorporate excerpts from movies and documentaries when helpful; for instance, we showed part of a special on Rosslyn Chapel for the Masonic symbolism program.
  • We aim to provide enough information to whet attendees’ appetites and encourage them to seek even more knowledge.
  • At key points, we open the event up to questions and reactions. Then we switch from acting as presenters to moderators. There are no foolish questions. Some of our best discussions have begun with the non-Masons in the group.

Benefits

  • We’re educating our fraternal family and community, as well as our own brethren.
  • We’ve had prospects attend four or five times, then ask for an application. These applicants come into the lodge with a better understanding of Masonry, and already valuing our spirit of lifelong learning.
  • Our brothers are getting the education they need to be more effective Masons, and to bring and use Masonry in their daily lives.

Contact: Mike Hertzberg and David Kampschafer

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Offer meaningful Masonic ed

To be done well, Masonic education requires a personal touch. It’s not just a matter of presenting rich and compelling material; it’s about finding the best way to deliver the information, so that it resonates with members long after they leave the lodge building.

Here are 15 strategies to try at your lodge.

Experiment with different formats

  • 10-minute talks
  • Open forum discussions
  • Posting questions and trivia on the lodge app
  • Shared research projects
  • Presentations by outside speakers
  • Movie or book clubs
  • Masonic ed “drop-in” hours at lodge
  • Group trips to Masonic ed programs at other lodges

Pursue passions

  • Set aside time, whether at stated meeting or on a special day of the month, for lodge members to share research and discuss Masonic education topics
  • Invite members to draft short “applied Masonic ed” articles to publish in the Trestleboard
  • Invite members of all degree levels to present on topics that they feel passionate about

Go beyond the lodge

Mark your calendar for world-class educational events:

  • This year’s UCLA Conference, “Brothers Across the Sea: Freemasonry’s Spread to Africa and the Middle East,” explores the fraternity’s spread to countries and cultures across the Mediterranean Sea. A global panel of Masonic scholars contrasts historic and current cultural Masonic dynamics in these cultures with those we experience in America. March 5 in Los Angeles | REGISTER NOW
  • The 16th Annual California Masonic Symposium explores the African American Masonic experience, including its history, rituals, concordant and appendant bodies, members and relations with other Masonic obediences. June 11 in San Francisco; June 12 in Pasadena | Registration coming soon

Additional resources

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Your February checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your February checklist:

Executive Committee

  • Schedule inspector’s official visit and examination of the books, due by end of March
  • Attend, or make plans to attend, the Secretary & Treasurer Retreat, taking place in Irvine Feb. 26-28 Register now
  • Make plans to attend a Master & Wardens Retreat, held March through May in Monterey, Irvine, Lake Tahoe, and Palm Springs Register now
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement

Senior Warden

  • Begin preparing 2017 program plan
  • Begin preparing 2017 budget
  • Begin preparing 2017 officer appointments
  • Begin preparing 2017 installation of officers
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement

Secretary

  • Present annual report to the lodge at stated meeting
  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due on January 1)
  • Send list of members with late dues to the Retention Committee
  • Send out notice of intent to suspend letters via certified mail
  • Charity Committee considers remissions

Treasurer

  • Present annual report to the lodge at stated meeting
  • For lodges not using Intacct, prepare financial reports for Grand Lodge, to be filed by March 15
  • If your lodge has employees, distribute W-2s no later than Feb. 1 and file W3 no later than Feb. 29
  • If your lodge has employees and the IRS has approved an annual filing of Form 944, file this form no later than Feb. 1
  • If your lodge uses independent contractors, file IRS Form 1096 no later than Feb. 29

Hall Association

  • Submit annual report to the lodge at stated meeting

Audit Committee

  • Begin auditing lodge books, to be completed by end of April

Questions? Contact Member Services at memberservices@freemason.org or (415) 776-7000. For questions regarding IRS filings, contact the Grand Lodge Finance Department at (415) 292-9170.

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For your Trestleboard

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support.

This special installment features an actual letter received by Masonic Outreach, from the daughter of a Masonic widow. Share her words of gratitude with your lodge to raise awareness of our outreach services – and to celebrate the good that you do by supporting Masonic Assistance. To make a gift in support of our fraternal family, visit freemason.org/contribute.

Download: Beyond Obligation: A Daughter's Gratitude
Publish this article in your Trestleboard, email it to your membership, or print it out to post it in your lodge.

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Find it on freemason.org

Hands down, the best way to connect with many members is through their smartphones. And, Grand Lodge is now offering every lodge a free, customized lodge app that makes staying in touch easier than ever.

Lodge app features

  • Social media platform just for lodge brothers facilitates more member bonding and engagement
  • Synced calendar and push notifications increase event attendance and improve lodge communication
  • Ability to collect RSVPs, event fees, dues, and charitable donations saves time and administrative hassle

Testimonials

  • “The app has fostered an online community with a life of its own and a real sense of connection. A brother recently visited a lodge in Canada and was able to share his photos and experiences in real time. Several members from out of state have sent photos and good wishes. When we found out that one of our older members was in poor health, we used the app to quickly coordinate a group of brothers to visit and bring him a gift.” –Greg Cherry, Santa Monica Palisades No. 307
  • “It's great to have this platform for bonding outside the lodge. It's becoming our hub for lodge information, sharing everything from vacation photos to holiday greetings. The guys also like that our lodge roster is on there. I got a call from a brother thanking me for offering the app: He had been away for so long that he’d lost touch with his friends. Through the app he could reach them again.” –Kyler Schroder, California No. 1
  • “The app is making calendars much easier to manage, and thanks to the reminders and RSVP features, communication between our members and officers is improving.” –Mark Burger, Pacific Grove No. 331
  • “The membership is excited about the ability to post messages to each other and to have open Masonic discussions on a secure platform. And, the app helps keep inactive members more involved and aware of upcoming activities.” –Stu Ryan, Blythe-Needles No. 473
  • “The app is bringing our connection to a whole new level. You can keep in touch with your brothers and be up to date with lodge business anytime and from anywhere. Communicating is now easier than ever!” –Edwin S. Dimarucut, San Leandro No. 113

Get your own lodge app: Start here.

Not ready to sign up just yet? In-person training on the lodge app will be featured at this year’s leadership retreats. Register today.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked what your lodge did in 2015 to bring back non-participants - and we had a rare tie! Here are the results:

58% - Reached out individually via phone or email
58% - Offered rides to elder or less mobile members
37% - Held more lodge events
29% - Sent a general (non-personalized) letter or email inviting members to return
26% - Increased publicity for lodge events.

A majority of respondents said that the most effective tactic has been to reach out individually by phone or email.

Here's your next question.

 

 



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