Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Applied leadership training

HOW-TO: Implement leadership lessons

Retreat roundup

Convene with the craft

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month


BEST PRACTICE: Applied leadership training

A strong, cohesive officer line steers the course of a healthy lodge. That’s why leadership training is a 2010-15 strategic priority for Grand Lodge, which has implemented a new webinar format for the Lodge Management Certification Program and a combined retreat structure for masters and wardens, and secretaries and treasurers.

Two Sacramento-area lodges share the training they’re applying from the 2014 Master and Wardens Retreats.


Just south of Sacramento, Elk Grove Lodge No. 173 celebrates its 150-year anniversary this month. It’s a small lodge, but recently its number of prospects has grown. About 25 miles north, in Folsom, the larger Natoma Lodge No. 64 is focused on increasing member involvement.

Leaders from both lodges attended the Master and Wardens Retreats earlier this year. “I’ve been through a billion management and leadership seminars, both in military and private business,” says Elk Grove Lodge master Timothy Harper. “I honestly feel that Grand Lodge does as good a job as anyone.” Natoma Lodge senior warden David Lagala agrees. “The retreat helped our goals materialize.”

Here are their major takeaways.

Leading as a team
The retreat underscored the need to take time as a team to plan for the future.

  • Calendar of meetings: For the first time, we plan to meet regularly as an executive committee. Upon returning from the retreat, one of the first things we did was schedule a team meeting.
  • Planning prompts: We are going to think about our lodge’s needs, asking: Are we meeting those needs? If not, how can we?
  • Cohesive goals: We’re going to talk about our one-year and five-year goals, carving out a path for the next several years.
  • Defining roles: We’re going to talk about the responsibilities of each officer, and try to get those who aren’t in the line to understand how they can have more ownership in the lodge.

Membership growth and retention
The retreat helped us think about what our members want.

  • Identifying interests: We’ve identified three basic categories of member priorities that we want to address: philanthropic; social; and esoteric, or ritual.
  • Opportunities for involvement: Attracting new members is the lifeblood of the lodge. And getting them to move through the degrees and become active is key. The retreat helped codify some of the ways to do that. For us, it’s community involvement. We participated in a recent community event, attended by almost 30 members of the Masonic family. Our younger members found it very rewarding, and we even received several prospect inquiries.

As a direct result of the retreat, we’re more involved in outreach and relief than ever before.

  • One-on-one outreach: We are in the process of revising our Sunshine Committee, to heighten our lodge outreach efforts to older brethren.
  • Awareness initiative: We always knew that Masonic relief existed. But we didn’t know the breadth and depth of it until the retreat. We decided we need an ongoing program to educate the officer line and the entirety of the lodge about Masonic Assistance.
  • Advertise support: Immediately following the retreat, I made a presentation at our stated meeting about Masonic Assistance support services. We’re going to invite Masonic Outreach staff to make a presentation to the lodge, too.
  • Fraternal field trip: We’re also talking about planning a lodge visit to the Masonic Home in Union City.

In sum

The concept of combined trainings for masters and wardens is crucial. For the most part, the officers and masters attended different electives, and then shared the information afterwards. The retreat opened their eyes to ways they can step up as leaders.

For more information
To learn more, contact:
Timothy Harper, master, Elk Grove Lodge No. 173
David Lagala, senior warden, Natoma Lodge No. 64

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HOW-TO: Implement leadership lessons

If you attended a Master and Wardens Retreat or Secretary and Treasurer Retreat earlier this year, you synthesized a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Here are 13 steps for applying those lessons at lodge.

Reflect individually
Ask every member of the executive committee – master, wardens, treasurer, secretary – to do the following:

  • Make a list of your lodge’s strengths and challenges.
  • Review your retreat materials. Take notes on great ideas, best practices, and resources that you think could best support your lodge.
  • Make a short list of lodge goals, in the context of your lodge’s strengths and challenges.
  • For every goal, write down the resources and support you’ll need, including what kind of team to assemble, skills to build, or training to attend.
  • For each goal, create a plan for accountability. How will you measure success? What guideposts will you set to stay on track?
  • For extra guidance, refer to this lodge development planning document.

Plan as a team
Schedule an executive committee meeting to discuss retreat reflections.

  • At the recap meeting, hear retreat summaries and discuss each officer’s list of lodge goals.
  • As a team, select a handful of goals to implement. Make a list of resources to obtain, success measurements, and guideposts.
  • Assign a brother to lead each objective.
  • Hold regular leadership meetings to report on progress.

Engage the lodge
To increase accountability and strengthen lodge identity, involve the membership.

  • In the Trestleboard or at the stated meeting, share a summary of the executive committee’s retreat reflections, and how they apply to the lodge.
  • Share any plans to implement those lessons.
  • Ask for member support in specific, measurable ways. For example, if prospect experience is a priority, set a goal for member attendance at an event that’s open to prospects.
  • Share goal progress with the lodge in a special section of the Trestleboard or at stated meetings.

Have something to add? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.orgwith How-To: Implement leadership lessons in the subject line.

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Retreat roundup

Leaders who attended this year’s Master and Wardens Retreat or Secretary and Treasurer Retreat benefitted from a weekend of interactive training. Review the three key takeaways here.

1. Manage the prospect experience
Disciplines: prospecting, social experience

Use the “take-five” approach

  • One prospect expresses interest in the fraternity
  • Two brethren serve as hosts to meet the prospect and introduce him to current lodge members
  • The prospect has three get-acquainted meetings with a host and three lodge members
  • The prospect is invited to and hosted at four lodge events
  • The process takes five months or more before the prospect turns in an application

Or, use the “friends-to-brothers” approach

  • Chairman introduces each prospect to a brother
  • The brother and prospect meet one-on-one
  • The brother facilitates other member connections
  • The prospect forms meaningful friendships and actively seeks two sponsors

2. Use the Candidate Learning Center
Disciplines: education, ritual

The Candidate Learning Center helps candidates by:

  • Enhancing understanding and retention by teaching through text, videos, practice games, and reflective journals
  • Increasing discussions between candidate and coach
  • Reducing the recordkeeping burden by tracking participation and learning objectives
  • Offering convenience through technology: it’s available 24/7 – and fits in any schedule
  • Making candidate education easy and affordable for every lodge
  • Providing a program for lifelong learning

To get to the Candidate Learning Center,

  • Log into the Member Center
  • Go to Reports & Features > Candidate Learning Center to access all three degree courses
  • Secretaries must link coaches and candidates
  • Questions? Contact or 415/292-9118.

3. Create a program plan
Disciplines: leadership, lodge business

A program plan:

  • Sets the tone for the upcoming year
  • Is a base for all lodge activities
  • Includes a theme for the year, calendar of events, roster of officers, and committee appointments

Questions to ask when creating a program plan:

  • What is important to the lodge and the members?
  • What programs are currently working?
  • What targets are set by the strategic plan and lodge priorities?

Your Program Plan should include:

  • A theme for the year
  • Priorities that can drive the theme
  • Programs that complement the theme

People to involve in the planning process:

  • Senior warden, junior warden
  • Future officers, committee chairmen
  • Select past masters and lodge opinion leaders

Program Plan timing:

  • Ideally, begin writing your program plan as junior warden (two years in advance of the year you will serve as master)
  • Continue to update and augment the plan up to the summer of your senior warden year
  • As senior warden, prepare a budget
  • Publish the plan before being installed as master
  • Get the budget approved in January

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Convene with the craft

Every year, Annual Communication is your chance to celebrate the past year and usher in the new. If you’re a voting delegate, you’ll directly impact the future of California Masonry.

Every year, Annual Communication features social events, educational exhibits, and lodge and leader resources. In 2014, you’ll enjoy a newly renovated auditorium, free Wi-Fi, business stations, and a new exhibit, “The Masonic Art of Education,” which features some of the best examples of the craft’s evolving commitment to educating its members.

Register online now for hotel packages and event tickets, and to review detailed event information.You can even print your tickets at home.

Questions? Contact Kim Hegg, Program Services Manager, at 415/292-9111 or

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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.

The true tales of masonic outreach are moving and inspiring. Share these stories with your lodge to raise awareness of outreach services and to reflect on the good you do by supporting Masonic Assistance.

Your Annual Fund donation makes it possible to improve thousands of lives. If you haven’t already made your contribution, make one today at

This month, read how Masonic Outreach Services provides life-saving support for a brother and police officer who was injured on the job.

Download: Beyond Obligation: Brother in Blue

Publish in your Trestleboard, and print out and post in the lodge.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge is involved with local youth orders. Of those who responded:

90% - Yes
10% - No

Of those lodges who said yes, 22 percent helped start a new local chapter, bethel, or assembly.

Here's your next question.





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