Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Connect, Communicate, Commit

RESOURCE: Countdown to National Literacy Month

Learn from the best

Ritual report

Resources

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Connect, Communicate, Commit

Two of the fraternity’s 2010-15 strategic objectives are to increase community involvement and increase public awareness of the fraternity - key steps towards the strategic priority to improve philanthropy programs.

In addition, Grand Master Frank Loui’s theme for the year is Connect-Communicate-Commit: a call to action for lodges to reaffirm their community ties.

In San Francisco, Columbia-Brotherhood Lodge No. 370 has had its doors propped open for some time: Several times a year, they invite members from the surrounding community for a laymen’s discussion of Masonic education.

Danney Stiltner, senior warden, explains:

Background
Columbia-Brotherhood Lodge makes Masonic education a priority, hosting weekly events that deliver a one-two punch of educational discussions followed by candidate coaching.

In recent years, we found a way to incorporate the community: We began tailoring select Masonic education evenings to address questions from the general public. These "laymen’s nights" have not only helped us meet the neighbors; they’ve strengthened our relationships with our lodge ladies and children.

Beyond the lodge
On these special nights, we open up the discussion to the general public. Community members are encouraged to suggest topics, and we put the word out in advance: If you have a question, bring it.

  • Community kids: A number of high school students have come to the lodge, either because of school research or simply out of curiosity. The first time this happened, it was because a mother called the lodge on behalf of her son. He had questions about Masonry based on television programs and Dan Brown’s novels. We invited him to stated meeting and answered all of his questions. He told his peers about the experience, and it encouraged others to come forward.
  • Lodge youth: Members’ children have used the lodge as a resource for school reports about Freemasonry.
  • Lodge ladies: The laymen’s nights are a great venue for wives to bond with other lodge ladies and learn about what goes on at lodge. Many come prepared with questions.
  • Lodge connections: On March 3 we are hosting a laymen’s afternoon with two other lodges - the first time we’ve combined efforts to host one of these events. We’re privileged to present the grand secretary as our guest speaker.

The important role of Masonic education

  • Ambassadors of knowledge: Thanks to our regular Masonic education nights, our brothers are informed about and engaged in Masonry. As a result, they’re more willing and able to spread that knowledge to the community.
  • Insider exclusive: We still dedicate most of our education programming to members. On members-only nights, discussion topics are taken from research lodges or developed here by our lodge members.
  • Building a following: When you start a program like this, you need the backing of your master and a handful of enthusiastic members who get in the habit of attending regularly. Once they’re in the habit, you’ve won the battle. It’s almost like working out: If you skip your workout, you actually miss it.
  • Three C’s between lodges: We connect, communicate, and commit within the Masonic community, too. We consider ourselves lucky to have the funds and backing for a strong Masonic education program, so we’ve opened it up to neighboring lodges. Those brothers have taken aspects of what they’ve learned from us back to their own lodges; for example, one brother started a discussion class at Mission Lodge after attending ours.

Culture of transparency

  • Open-door policy: Even if we don’t have a laymen’s night coming up, the lodge always encourages inquiries from our neighbors.
  • Special stated meetings: If someone has questions, we’re apt to invite him or her to stated meeting for a discussion.

Benefits
Thanks to our "laymen’s nights" - and our readiness to invite the general public into the lodge - we’ve increased our community’s overall awareness and understanding of Freemasonry. We are building trust and respect. Our neighbors know that we are good men who want to be a resource to the community.

For more information, contact: Danney Stiltner, Stilts1933@aol.com

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Correction

In the February 2012 Best Practice about Martinez Lodge No. 41, we listed Past Master Richard Hixson as the contact for the lodge’s Masonic education discussions. Please note: The current contact for the program is Bruce Weissenberger, the lodge’s director of Masonic education. We apologize for the oversight.

If you have any questions or comments about Martinez Lodge’s Masonic education program, you may contact Bruce Weissenberger at oakland@scottish-rite.org.

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RESOURCE: Countdown to National Literacy Month

April is Public Schools Month, a cherished tradition among California Masonic lodges. It’s also National Literacy Month - which is especially relevant this year, as our fraternity forges its new partnership with Raising A Reader.

To highlight the importance of child literacy in our public schools and communities, lodges are asked to recognize National Literacy Month at the April stated meeting. Below is a list of tasks to help you determine whether your lodge’s programming is on track.

Already completed

  • Form a National Literacy Month program committee
  • Establish event budget
  • Assign program responsibilities (program, refreshments, publicity)
  • Identify and invite local librarians and/or literacy specialists to speak about the importance of child literacy

This month

  • Run March Trestleboard article
  • Finalize literacy speaker(s)
  • Finalize remaining program details
  • Invite neighboring lodges
  • Publicize in local media (if event is public)
  • Prepare Trestleboard article for April
  • Determine transportation for elder members, if needed

At the event

  • Announce that April is both Public Schools Month and National Literacy Month
  • Give a brief history of Masonry and public schools, if desired
  • Play the Raising A Reader DVD to explain the need for our partnership
  • Introduce guest speakers
  • Encourage members to share thoughts on the importance of literacy for our children, families, and communities

For more event-planning info, refer to pages 4-5 of the Raising A Reader Sales Kit.

If you have questions or need programming support, contact Joyce Hahn, foundation programs coordinator, at 415/292-9139 or jhahn@freemason.org.

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Learn from the best

Dr. Walter C. Wright is a senior fellow at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, an acclaimed presenter for CEO associations and management programs worldwide, and a best-selling author on leadership development.

He’s also the keynote speaker for the 2012 Masters and Wardens Retreats.

In line with the fraternity’s strategic plan, the retreats have been restructured and expanded to include masters. A primary focus will be creating stronger, more integrated leadership teams - a specialty of Wright’s.

At the 2012 retreats, Wright will discuss lodge culture, how to deepen relationships between lodge leaders, and techniques for harnessing individual strengths of members and officers to reach long-term goals.

Don’t miss it: Register online now for a retreat near you.

2012 Masters and Wardens Retreat

  • San Ramon: March 9-11
  • Newport Beach: March 23-25
  • Sacramento: April 20-22
  • Ontario: May 4-6

Questions? Contact Kim Hegg, program services manager, at 415/292-9111.

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Ritual report

Participating in Masonic ritual can be a transformative experience for new and veteran members alike, and is a powerful tether to the worldwide body of Freemasonry.

As part of the strategic priority to improve ritual here in California, Grand Lodge is issuing an electronic survey to all lodge officers, officer coaches, and inspectors.

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Resources

By educating members about Masonic Assistance, you can make sure that your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

Masonic Senior Outreach has saved the lives of hundreds of senior Masons, wives, and widows - often, thanks to fellow lodge members who recognized warning signs and intervened.

Not sure what to look for? Before you visit an elder brother or widow, review this checklist.

This month: Checklist for outreach visits

Consult this checklist when you visit senior Masons, wives, and widows to determine if MSO services are needed. Call Masonic Assistance at 888/466-3642 for more information.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how you prefer to receive California Freemason magazine. Of the 193 who responded:

69% - Printed version
31% - Online/digital version

Of those who prefer the printed version, 59 percent said they share the magazine with family and friends.

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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