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BEST PRACTICE: Engaging the new member

HOW-TO: Engage members through the years

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Coming Home: Your success stories

Question of the month




BEST PRACTICE: Engaging the new member

When Sonny Stormes was installed as junior warden in December, he took his responsibility for serving the lodge at refreshment to another level. Stormes restructured the Knife and Fork Committee into a well-oiled rite of passage for new Master Masons. Besides involving new members right off the bat, built-in attendance incentives have more than quadrupled lodge turnout at some events.

Stormes reports:

Background: New Master Masons don’t always know how to get involved in the lodge. One thing we noticed was that everyone liked to come out and help at dinners, but it was very unstructured. So we redeployed an old concept, the Knife and Fork Committee, with a twist: it’s mandatory for new Master Masons.

By making the committee their first assignment, new members are actively involved with running the lodge.

There are incentives for other members to participate voluntarily, too, which has been a big boon for attendance at lodge events.

How it works

  • Committee responsibilities: The Knife and Fork Committee prepares food, sets up the dining hall, and serves the lodge during refreshment. Many lodges have some form of this, but ours is much more structured.
  • Terms of service: The last five Master Masons raised compose the committee. They rotate out as new Master Masons come in.
  • Voluntary participation: The committee’s open to everyone. Right now we have a couple of 20-year members on it, too.
  • Management team: Four lodge members, who all happen to be officers, make up the committee’s management: a chair, vice chair, scribe, and degree manager. Among other responsibilities, this team oversees service assignments, manages event operations, juggles the finances, and keeps the lodge informed about upcoming programs.


  • Service Award: At the end of the year, the committee member with the most points will receive the Junior Warden’s Meritorious Service Award. Points are accumulated for fulfilling different duties.
  • Point system: Members earn points for things like attending meetings and lodge events and helping with carpools, and other responsibilities during lodge dinners, degree preparations, pool nights, and more.
  • Extra credit: Members who participate voluntarily (new Master Masons who stay on the committee after their mandatory term ends; and longtime lodge members who join of their own accord) are weighted more heavily, so their points count for more.
  • Just deserts: The prize is the member’s name on a perpetual trophy, and this year, a 32” flat-panel TV. I’ve actually had a lot of wives ask if they can join.


  • Engaging all levels of leadership: One thing I noticed as senior steward was I didn’t have any involvement in directing the lodge – that was left to the master, senior warden, and secretary. The committee’s management team, which is made up of lower-rung officers, is instrumental. It gives those officers ownership in directing the lodge.
  • Attendance increase: There’s a big incentive for everyone on the committee to attend events; if they don’t show up, they lose points. Before the Knife and Fork Committee we had maybe two or three sideliners, at best, for first and second degrees. Now we usually have 10 to 12.
  • Mealtime: We have a fast-growing lodge, so before, there wasn’t enough manpower at mealtime. Meals were chaos. Now it takes 10 minutes to serve dinner.
  • Lodge workings: The committee familiarizes new members with how we do things before they move onto other committees and the deeper business of the lodge.

Everyone’s busy. The nice thing about this committee is that it breaks up participation into smaller chunks, so it doesn’t take over members’ lives. And it’s really helped new members feel involved.

For details about the committee structure and point system, contact: Sonny Stormes,



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HOW-TO: Engage members through the years

“Engage and Retain: Guide to Member Retention” is a valuable how-to resource for involving all members of your lodge. The guide is broken down by member demographics, and offers specific examples for ramping up member involvement – from satisfaction surveys to committee assignments.


  • First impressions: Set the stage for an active lodge by taking these key steps with prospective candidates and recent initiates.
  • Prospective and new candidates: Welcome candidates with personalized communication and lodge information.
  • The Entered Apprentice: Follow these tips to assure that your lodge’s newest members feel included.
  • New member orientation: Make orientation memorable and meaningful, and deliver an informative lodge overview.

Tips for continued involvement - SAMPLES

  • New members: Establish regular candidate coaching nights
  • Experienced members: Rotate committee assignments
  • Older members and widows: Record older members’ memories of lodge and include in lodge history
  • Family-focused members: Offer babysitting services at lodge events

Resource materials included in “Engage and Retain”

Order “Engage and Retain: Guide to Member Retention” by contacting Grand Lodge Supply at 415/292-9131 or


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A plan for our fraternity

The first strategic plan for the Masons of California was developed five years ago. The initiatives and resources identified as necessary to realize our vision have been completed, but the work is not done. It’s time to create the next five-year strategic plan.

Member opinions count
The process begins with member discussions. What should be the focus for improvement? What must California Masonry do to remain relevant, and attract and retain active members? We need member opinions to help shape the objectives and strategies for the next strategic plan.

Members and their ladies will be invited to join Grand Secretary Allan Casalou and Director of Communications Terry Mendez at one of the special open forum discussions. Please encourage lodge members to attend a forum in your area and plan to attend yourself.

Invitations will be sent by e-mail, so please extend the invitation to those who don’t have e-mail addresses by putting a notice in your Trestleboard and announcing at meetings.

Forum locations and dates

  • Pasadena
    Scottish Rite, 150 N. Madison Ave.
    Monday, April 19
  • San Diego
    Scottish Rite, 1895 Camino del Rio South
    Tuesday, April 20
  • Fresno
    Scottish Rite, 1455 L St.
    Wednesday, April 28
  • San Francisco
    Scottish Rite, 2850 19th Ave.
    Tuesday, May 11
  • Sacramento
    Masonic Center, 1123 J St.
    Tuesday, May 17
  • Red Bluff
    Vesper Lodge No. 84, 822 Main St.
    Wednesday, May 19

All discussions will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about one hour, followed by a reception. No need to RSVP. We hope to see you there! Your opinions are important for our future!

Questions? E-mail


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Coming Home: Your success stories

Coming Home reunited long-lost brothers at celebrations throughout the state. At Friendship Lodge No. 210 in San Jose, brothers, family, and friends cooked up 14 special soups for a crowd that was more than three times the usual attendance at stated meeting.

Kendall Mills, past master and chair of the Coming Home Committee, reports.

The stats

  • Attendance: 76 total: 46 members, 18 family members, 12 youth order guests

The preparation

  • The phone lines are open: Besides our Coming Home Committee, we created a phone committee of 12. Our lodge owns automated phone software, so we started with an automated voicemail to all members, announcing Coming Home and telling them to expect a one-on-one call. We followed up with personal calls.
  • Personal touch: I truly believe we were successful because of personal conversations. We really expressed our desire to see each member and get him re-engaged with the lodge.

The event

  • Home-cooked fun: We asked families to cook a special soup of their choice for our traditional soup and salad dinner. We had 14 delicious soups that night – hard to beat!
  • Youth order involvement: Along with members and families, we invited our local bethel of Job’s Daughters. We held social hour prior to dinner, which gave us more time to visit and get reacquainted.
  • Dinner and a cause: We brought computers in and showed the Coming Home video and Operation Greatest Gift video continuously in our lobby area. We provided dinner at no cost, but asked for donations to Operation Greatest Gift. We collected more than $1,200, in addition to a lodge donation of $10,000 in December.
  • Operation Greatest Gift referrals: We recognized veterans and collected information on those interested in Operation Greatest Gift. Several members volunteered as guardians.


  • Member outreach: Moving forward, we are committed to regularly calling our members. We will not just rely on the Trestleboard to stay connected; this really showed us that a personal conversation works best.
  • Future events: We are going to make this an annual event. With continued effort, we hope to see improved attendance at all our future meetings and events.
  • Finding “missing members”: Because of this experience, we are cleaning up our member data. Our phone committee verified contact information during calls, and created "Milk Carton Displays" for members with missing info. Other members are now helping fill in accurate contact information.
Have a success story of your own? E-mail with Coming Home success story in the subject line.


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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge achieved higher member attendance than usual at the Coming Home event. Of the 142 that responded:

75% - Yes
18% - No
7% - Didn't know


Of those that answered yes, 52 percent said attendance at Coming Home was at least twice as high as previous stated meetings. Of all responses (including “no” and “don’t know”), 82 percent said that at least some previously inactive brothers attended.

Here’s your next question.





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