Together we make a profound difference

Masonic education

Create unique experiences for learning

Your February checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on

Question of the month


Printable Version


Masonic education

By introducing candidates to key lessons leading up to their degrees, and then reviewing those same lessons after, you curate a more impactful degree experience – and set an expectation for lifelong learning.

In San Francisco, ongoing Masonic Formation Classes have championed this approach since 2005. Run by Columbia-Brotherhood Lodge No. 370, the classes are held almost weekly, regularly attended by the three lodges that share the building: Columbia-Brotherhood Lodge, San Francisco Lodge No. 120, and California Lodge No. 1. Attendance often numbers in the 20s and 30s, and other lodges – and non-Masons – are always welcome.

James Gonzalez leads the classes as the current head coach. Danney Stiltner, who developed the curriculum and still helps coordinate the classes, explains:

With some exceptions, the classes are usually held the first three Mondays of the month, from about 6 to 9 p.m. In the first hour, we have a light dinner and time for socializing. In the second hour, we have a presentation followed by a question and answer session. If we delve into a topic restricted to Masons only or certain degree levels, we split this session accordingly. In the third hour, we offer breakout groups for individual coaching on degree proficiencies, officer lectures, floor work, etc.

Presentation topics
We are fortunate to have a large lodge library, including old tracing boards and teaching manuals. Our curriculum was developed out of all these materials. Topics include:

  • Preparing candidates for lessons they’ll encounter in their upcoming degrees (without giving away any surprises)
  • Lessons and symbols that candidates may not have fully absorbed during past degrees (ex. walking an Entered Apprentice through the perambulation again and explaining what everything means)
  • Responsibilities of a Mason, such as the duties of a first-time signer and the duties of a lodge member
  • Masonic symbols
  • Masonic history
  • Knights Templar
  • Anti-Masonry and the Morgan Affair

Special events

  • Once or twice a year, we present a “laymen’s night,” specifically for questions from the public.
  • A few times a year we hold a moderated discussion, restricted to Masons only. We’ll pick a hot topic in Masonry and debate both sides of it. At our most recent discussion, about 75 brothers attended from six different lodges.

Replicating the program
We share our curriculum with other lodges so that they can use it as a template. Mission Lodge No. 169 modeled its program after ours, and Peninsula Lodge No. 168 is currently developing its program.

These Masonic Formation Classes help candidates enjoy and appreciate the journey through their degrees. For all others that attend, from prospects to officers, they promote fellowship, a love of learning, and a much deeper understanding of Masonic lessons.

Contact: Danney Stiltner

[Back to Top]



Create unique experiences for learning

A priority of the 2020 Fraternity Plan is to ensure that degree experiences are memorable and meaningful for both candidates and longtime members. To deeply resonate, they depend upon quality Masonic education for candidates. Try the following approaches to enhance education at your lodge for members of all degree levels.

Attend Grand Lodge events

Develop lodge programming, such as

Take advantage of teaching aids

[Back to Top]



Your February checklist

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

Executive Committee

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Begin preparing 2018 program plan
  • Begin preparing 2018 budget
  • Begin preparing 2018 officer appointments
  • Begin preparing 2018 installation of officers
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement


  • Present annual report to the lodge at stated meeting (To create it, use the helpful tool on the Member Center homepage under Reports & Features.)
  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due by January 1)
  • Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee
  • Send any suspension notices
  • Charity Committee considers remissions


  • Present annual report to the lodge at stated meeting
  • Prepare financial reports for Grand Lodge, to be filed by end of March (unless your lodge uses Intacct, in which case you do not need to submit anything)

Hall Association

  • Submit semi-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 or (415) 776-7000.

[Back to Top]



For your Trestleboard

An international learning experience comes to Los Angeles next month, and an extensive library and museum of Freemasonry is always just a click away. Use these ads to remind your members.

For additional information and resources, download the 2020 Fraternity Plan brochure and refer to

This month:
UCLA Annual International Conference
HWC Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry
Acacia Creek Ad

Share in your Trestleboard.

[Back to Top]



Find it on

Every month since 2008, The Leader has featured a lodge success story as its lead article. Did you know that you can access more than eight years of best practices? Get valuable insight on how to build a vibrant and thriving lodge.

Success stories from 2016

To access all the archives on, from 2008 to present, go to and scroll to the bottom for the archives.

[Back to Top]



Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge hosted an open house or public information event (ex. “On The Level”) in the past few years. Of those that responded:

37% - Yes
61% - No
2% - Don't Know

Of those who said yes, 44 percent hold this kind of event multiple times per year.

Here's your next question.



View past issues

Please email questions to



Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000