Together we make a profound difference

Repairing the world by improving ourselves

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic Education

HOW-TO: Create a Masonic education program

Journey to Israel

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month

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Repairing the world by improving ourselves

At the 165th Annual Communication, the fraternity celebrated the accomplishments of last year and the start of the next.

The theme for Grand Master Russ Charvonia's year is "Repairing the world by improving ourselves." In the months ahead, California Masonry will lead a movement for civil dialogue, in our own lodges and in society beyond the lodge.

For more on the year ahead, watch the first episode of the grand master’s new video series, On The Level. To view the grand master’s itinerary, sign into the Member Center on freemason.org and select the “Grand Master’s Itinerary & Info” link on the left.

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BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

In 2011, Conejo Valley Lodge No. 807 celebrated its 50th anniversary in Thousand Oaks. It was well-established and more energized than ever. It already had a strong tradition of philanthropy. Member applications were steadily streaming in. But for all it was doing right, the lodge realized it could do one thing better: Masonic education.

Today a “Legacy Wall” is growing in the lodge, hung with vibrant event posters, as evidence of the program lodge members created.

Past Master Marc Newman explains:

Background

Conejo Valley Lodge is a young, active lodge. Our members are eager to lead, and believe in aligning ourselves with Grand Lodge. When the fraternity’s 2010-15 strategic plan was announced, we looked at how we held up in each priority area. Right away, it was clear that we were lacking in Masonic education opportunities. We decided to create a speaker series. The first event was held in 2012. Almost three years later, the program is a hallmark of our lodge. The next two years of presumed masters have already committed to continuing it.

Structure

  • Frequency: We host one Masonic speaker in the fall and one in the spring. This gives us plenty of time to plan a quality program and promote it well.
  • Informal committee: The master selects and invites the speakers for his year. His leadership team and past masters are there to provide support.
  • Speakers: We are fortunate to have had some of California’s most respected fraternal leaders as our speakers, including Grand Secretary Allan Casalou and Deputy Grand Master M. David Perry.
  • Topic of choice: Each speaker has determined his own topic, including Freemasonry around the world; the master’s journey; and Masonry and the Bible.
  • Tech support: We purchased a portable screen and laptop for the lodge, and ask speakers to send their presentations in advance. A tech-savvy brother handles the A/V equipment.
  • Dinner’s on us: We open the event with a complimentary meal catered by the lodge. We want Masonic education not to cost anything but time.
  • Structure: We keep the presentation to an hour or under, and allow plenty of time for questions afterwards.
  • Open invitation: For the inaugural event, we invited all the lodges in our district. For subsequent events, we invited all the lodges in our division. As long as the topic is appropriate, we encourage families and friends to attend. At a recent presentation, about 10 ladies attended with great interest.

Keepsakes

  • Wall of fame: We create a commemorative poster for each event: an 11-by-14-inch, full-color printout, designed by a brother who is a graphic designer and approved by the speaker. We frame and hang these posters on a “Legacy Wall” in our lodge. They celebrate the specific event and the overall value of Masonic education.
  • Tokens of appreciation: We present each speaker with a lodge tie and lodge lapel pin as a symbol of our gratitude. We also arrange any helpful accommodations, from transportation to tourism.

Results

  • Attendance: From the beginning, these events have packed our lodge room nearly to capacity, about 100 people. We’ve got people driving in from 30 miles away – which, during Southern California rush hour, is remarkable.
  • Fraternal bonds: The program is strengthening our sense of camaraderie. In addition to learning, these events are about bringing people together.

In closing

We were inspired by the Masonic education programs of other lodges, which we’d heard about at Grand Lodge leadership retreats. Now other lodges are coming to our events, and talking about using them as a model for their own.

Our advice? If you want to start a Masonic education program, communicate with other fraternal leaders. Ask what’s worked for them. And then adapt it to your lodge. Imitation is the finest form of flattery.

For more information, contact: Marc Newman.

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HOW-TO: Create a Masonic education program

Masonic education can enrich all aspects of a brother’s fraternal experience, from his connection to the ritual to his interest in lodge events. As a result, a good Masonic education program can vitalize and inspire your lodge.

If you don’t already have a program in place, here’s a guide to getting started.

Survey member interests

  • Create an online survey using a service such as SurveyMonkey, or distribute a written questionnaire
  • Ask open-ended questions such as:
    • What drew you to Masonry – ex. the history, the ritual, the international community?
    • What do you wish you knew more about in Masonry?
    • Do you have any questions about your recent degree?

Identify a theme
Analyze answers to see if any common interests emerge, such as:

  • History
  • Ritual
  • Symbols
  • Philosophy
  • Travel

Recruit Masonic educators

  • Put out a call for volunteers
  • Look for standout survey responses
  • Approach members who are history buffs, teachers, or strong public speakers

Create a schedule of topics

  • Based on your pool of educators, decide how many events you want to host for the year
  • Ask educators to brainstorm their own topics – ideally, relating to the broader theme you already identified
  • Establish a calendar of educators/topics
  • Urge educators to aim for a presentation of no more than an hour, and to allow another 30 minutes for discussion
  • Consider inviting an outside speaker, if appropriate

Promote and prepare

  • Advertise the event to your lodge and others in your district
  • Clarify if the topic is appropriate for friends and family, or if it is restricted to Masons of a certain degree
  • Rehearse any technical pieces, such as microphones, PowerPoint presentations, or video, ahead of time

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org.

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Journey to Israel

Journey abroad May 3-14 with Grand Master Russ Charvonia and his wife, Linda.

Explore ancient Israel and its surrounding lands, rich with history and awash in Mediterranean breezes. Swim in the Dead Sea, walk holy pathways, and visit the sites that inspired Masonic legend – all while strengthening the bonds of universal brotherhood. Reserve your space now!

Highlights include

  • Old Jaffa and the Masonic Legend of the Apron
  • Tel Aviv
  • Tiled meeting at the Holy Land Lodge
  • Acco and the Crusader Fortress
  • Nazareth
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Jerusalem
  • Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives
  • Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity
  • Tower of David Museum and Night Spectacular show
  • Masonic meeting in King Solomon's Quarries
  • Dead Sea
  • and much more

Watch and be inspired

For more details and to reserve your place, click here.

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Trestleboard and more

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

This month, download a Trestleboard directory of specialty care services – from burn care to language development – funded by Masonic organizations and provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

Download: Specialty services by Masonic organizations
Publish in your trestleboard, post at lodge, and include in a special email reminder.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge has its own strategic plan. Of those who responded:

43% - Yes
32% - No
25% - Don't know

Of those who said yes, 62 percent said their plan was based at least somewhat on the fraternity’s 2010-15 strategic plan.

Here's your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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