Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Beyond the lodge

HOW-TO: Go beyond the lodge

CHECKLIST: Countdown to installation

On display at Annual Communication

Resources

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Beyond the lodge

One of the fraternity’s 2010-15 strategic priorities, and Grand Master Lowe’s theme for this fraternal year, is to go “beyond the lodge”: To instill a wider Masonic perspective inside and outside the fraternity by deepening the connections between members, lodges, and the worldwide body of Freemasonry.

In one Los Angeles neighborhood, Granada Hills Lodge No. 378 set out to do so in award-winning fashion. They started by creating a catchy slogan to pique community interest: “The San Fernando Valley’s Best Kept Secret.”

Master Celso Cardano explains:

Background

Our lodge had fallen into one routine: conferring degrees. About three years ago, we began a strategic planning process to change that. We wanted to rejuvenate the culture and identity of our lodge.

We established several major goals and a guiding mission statement: “By distinguishing our conduct as men and as Masons, we will make a profound difference in the lives of our families and community.”

Planning the 2012 Masonic year

  • Using surveys, On the Level, and open-forum meetings, we gathered input from members on how to improve the lodge.
  • We designed a lodge plan, set specific goals, and established a monthly executive committee meeting to keep track of progress.
  • We all wanted to do more than just degree work. We resolved to commit to one charity, community, or lodge event per month, and called upon members to brainstorm ideas.
  • We researched each event suggestion, weighing its feasibility and how it would make a positive impact for the lodge, the community, and Freemasonry in general.

Monthly projects

We wanted to increase the relevance of our fraternity and enhance the experience of members and their families. We also wanted to increase community involvement, including strengthening relationships with other Masonic groups, while supporting charitable causes.

  • Budget: The year prior, the lodge had suffered its worst financial loss ever – so we had to ensure that each project would be self-sustainable.
  • Publicity: We posted large event posters at the entrance of our lodge, on local community newsletters, and on our new website and Facebook page. (Our page’s “likes” increased from 125 to 730.) We made weekly announcements to our members. We improved our monthly Trestleboard and used it as a space to share event photos. Finally, we increased our email distribution list from 80 to 400, and sent email updates to our families and friends.
  • Planning committees: Every project had a minimum of three brothers planning: Each 2012 officer was assigned as an event chairman, and formed a smaller committee of members and volunteers. The executive committee met monthly to discuss progress and meet with chairmen and event committees on an as-needed basis.
  • Attendance: At least 20 brothers volunteered at each event. Event attendance ranged from 25 to as many as 250.
  • TIP: In the future, we plan to improve our promotions and extend our planning timeframes. We’ll also reach out to organizations for more donations towards charitable causes.

Year in review

  • January: We hosted a community Masonic Information Night featuring an original presentation titled “Mysteries of Freemasonry Revealed.” More than 100 people attended, including members of the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce.
  • February: We held our annual Ladies’ Appreciation Night for lodge ladies and sweethearts, and tripled attendance from one year prior: The phone committee called each widow to personally invite her. Two guest speakers presented “Women’s experience in Freemasonry.”
  • March: The lodge visited the nearby Masonic Home at Covina for the first time and performed a degree ceremony with the Masonic residents.
  • April: We hosted a golf tournament fundraiser for Raising A Reader. Following the event, we held a fellowship night at our lodge to recognize donors.
  • May: We served a warm meal to the women and children of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. This was many members’ first exposure to the homeless in our area.
  • June:We hosted our first annual Outdoor Family Movie Night, offering a movie on our lawn catered by local food trucks. The local neighborhood council, Boy Scouts, and Masonic youth orders attended. During the preshow, we played a slideshow displaying the lodge’s charities and programs. The event was a hit.
  • July: We hosted our Hiram Award reception, including a dinner presentation on the importance of Masonic character.
  • September: We brought Constitution Observance Night back to the lodge – a tradition that had lapsed.
  • October: In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we ran a special “pink issue” of the October Trestleboard and passed out pink ribbons during the stated meeting dinner.
  • November: We commemorated the year’s accomplishments at the Master’s Ball and Recognition Night.
  • December: We marched in the Granada Hills Holiday Parade in full Masonic attire. The event drew thousands of participants and attendees from the community.

Benefits

  • Through our community and charity events, we revitalized our role in the community and improved our lodge culture.
  • Through each officer’s responsibility as an event chairman, we encouraged strong leadership.
  • We engaged and developed candidates by allowing them to share their talents in various committees and community events.
  • We increased Masonic awareness by getting more of our families to actively participate in charitable and community activities.
  • By creating a lodge culture based on Masonic charity and community, we created a deeper connection between our members. Consistent monthly projects drew absent members back to lodge and attracted new members.
  • We demonstrated the continuing relevance of Masonic principles and values to our families, local community, city, county, and the state of California.

Granada Hills Lodge was a winner of the 2012 Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Masonic Awareness. California Lodge No. 1 in San Francisco was also a winner.

For more information, contact Celso Cardano.

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HOW-TO: Go beyond the lodge

Throughout this Grand Lodge year, Grand Master Lowe has issued the following challenge to California Masons:

Beyond the Lodge: Serve our communities. Support public schools. Make a profound difference in California.

Here are 15 ways – with links to even more – to make going "beyond the lodge" a habit for the years ahead, too.

Be a good neighbor

  • Participate in Make a Difference Month: October is Make a Difference Month, a time to reflect on our neighbors in need and make a special effort to help. In past years, Masons and youth orders have led clothing and food drives, volunteered at shelters and community centers, and raised money for worthy charities. Print out this month’s resource to motivate your lodge.
  • School support: Public schools need help now more than ever. Reach out to your closest school, or school board: They can point you to the classrooms and programs with the greatest need. Here are 26 ways to help. (Live in San Francisco? Become a Masonic Literacy Mentor.)
  • Public recognition: Sponsor annual awards for outstanding students, teachers, or civil servants.
  • Local causes: Adopt a service project such as a park cleanup or coat drive, or throw a fundraiser for a community cause.
  • Local culture: Sponsor or host a community program, such as a theater festival, senior classes, or a student science fair.
  • Local groups: Drop by the meeting of another organization – Rotary, the Elks, the school district, the historical society, etc. – and look for opportunities to work together for charity.
  • Facebook: Build your lodge’s social network. Remember to “like” and participate on local Facebook pages, too.
  • Partnership possibilities: Check out this list of 31 ideas for community service.
  • Give back: Today, in California alone, Masonic charities aid hundreds of thousands of individuals. Make a profound difference for your fraternal family, community, and state by supporting philanthropic programs such as the Annual Fund and Raising A Reader.

Strengthen family ties

  • Masonic youth: Try these 25 ways to get involved with the youth orders.
  • Fraternal groups: Show your support for concordant groups such as Eastern Star. Attend their events and make them a partner in community activities.
  • Nearby lodges: Cohost events with other area lodges. Try this list of 13 ideas for district activities.
  • Around the world: Follow other lodges and grand lodges on their Facebook and social media pages. When planning your next trip out of town or abroad, contact Grand Lodge Member Services for information about arranging a visit to lodges in the area.

Become a student of Masonry

  • Masonic education: The more your members explore the history and lessons of Masonry, the more they understand how those principles apply outside the lodge room as well. Make education a priority at your lodge.
  • Applied Masonry: The most important way to go beyond the lodge is in your day-to-day life. Whether you’re in the grocery store or at the office, make choices that reflect the fraternity’s lessons.

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with How-To: Go beyond the lodge in the subject line.

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Countdown to installation

First things first

  • Select the date and reserved the lodge building
  • Select the installing team
  • Create a budget
  • Create an installation plan, including
    • Theme
    • Reception/dinner arrangements
    • Entertainment/music
    • Special presentations
    • Youth order involvement
    • TIP: Review last year’s installation plans to be sure you’ve covered everything.

Eight to 10 weeks before the event

  • Set deadlines for design and printing of materials, including
    • Invitations
    • Programs
    • Flyers/advertising
  • Delegate or request volunteers for the following roles
    • Create and send invitations
    • Guest book and program attendants
    • Flag bearers
    • Photographer
    • Musician/vocalist/sound technician

Four to six weeks before the event

  • Send invitations to
    • Past masters and officers and their ladies
    • Your inspector
    • Neighboring lodges
    • Grand Lodge officers in the area
    • Youth orders
    • Community organizations
  • Include
    • Date, time, and location
    • Dinner/reception details
    • Whether reservations are required
    • Suggested attire

One to three weeks before the event

  • Publicize via press release to local media (use this template)
  • Print installation programs, including
    • Date, time, and location details
    • Officers to be installed
    • Members of the installing team
    • Program agenda
    • List of individuals who helped with preparation and ceremony
    • TIP: Include your lodge strategic plan and calendar for the upcoming year. On the calendar, note activities for fraternal family and the community.

The week before

  • Rehearse with the installing team and officers (your inspector will require this), including musicians or sound technician
  • Consult with your inspector to get assistance
  • Finalize the program script, including introductions, presentations, and remarks
  • TIP: Write everything you wish to say after the formal ceremony, including the names and titles, if necessary, of everyone you will introduce.

For more details on planning your lodge’s installation, consult the Lodge Manual, found in the Member Center on freemason.org. Log in, then select Resources and Publications.

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On display at Annual Communication

Guests of the 164th Annual Communication will get a close look at historic treasures.

The Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry will present an exhibit on Masonic holy writings, featuring:

  • The Bible used by George Washington during his inauguration as the first president of the United States. This is the first time that Washington’s Bible has been displayed west of the Rocky Mountains. Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush were also sworn in as U.S. presidents with it.
  • The John L. Sullivan Bible, owned by Hanford Lodge No. 279. Dedicated to the lodge in 1930, it bears more than 900 signatures from Hanford Masonic officers; past grand masters; and various Masonic dignitaries – including three United States presidents.
  • Temple of Solomon model built by Edward A. Hudson, past master of Paso Robles Lodge No. 286. The model contains about 10,000 components – including 150 pillars, 25 statues, and several hand-carved figures – and took the artist nearly 5,000 hours to complete. It is considered one of California Masonry’s most stunning contemporary artifacts.
  • Temple of Solomon print, circa 1723-1730. The print was made to commemorate Gerhard Schott’s celebrated model of the temple, built in the late 1600s for the Hamburg opera and displayed throughout the European continent. The towering replica stood 13’ tall and measured 80’ around.

All fraternal family members are invited to attend the exhibits and social events of the Annual Communication. To learn more and register for Annual Communication, visit freemason.org.

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Resources

We’re dedicating this Resources section to a special month of going beyond the lodge.

October is Make a Difference Month, a special opportunity for California Masons to reflect on the needs of their communities and partner with youth orders to lend a hand.

Use this ad to motivate your lodge.

This month: Make a Difference Month ad

Publish in your October Trestleboard, or print out and post at the lodge

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how many Masonic education discussions your lodge hosts per year. Of the 84 who responded:

31% - One to five
18% - Five to 10
17% - More than 10
30% - None
4% - Don't know

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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