Together we make a profound difference

June is National Cancer Survivors Month

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

HOW-TO: Create a Masonic education program

When a plan comes together


Question of the month


June is National Cancer Survivors Month

By Your Side, the Grand Master's Project for 2010-11, is a fraternity-wide effort to put more certified nurse oncologists in California's hospitals, clinics, and medical care facilities.

As part of By Your Side, and in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day on June 5, California lodges are encouraged to recognize cancer survivors at the June stated meeting.

Need a last-minute idea? Take your pick:

Program suggestions for June stated meeting

  • Honor cancer survivors with a free meal.
  • Read the names of cancer survivors, or invite them to stand and say their names and years of survivorship. Invite survivors to speak briefly about their experience.
  • Hang a blank banner for survivors to sign, place handprints, and post pictures. Leave it up throughout the month. Before taking it down, snap a picture to post in your July Trestleboard.
  • Ask a lodge musician to perform a meaningful song, or ask a member to read an uplifting poem, story, or speech.
  • Observe a moment of silence from those who have passed away from cancer.
  • Distribute lapel ribbons in lavender, the color of cancer awareness.
  • Remind everyone to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and see a doctor for preventive screening.

For more information, review the program guide. It's available online in the Member Center under Lodge Support.

Contact the Office of Philanthropy at 415/292-9139 or



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BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

Two of the fraternity's major strategic priorities are to enhance the member experience and improve Masonic education. If you listen to what new members are asking for, you could fulfill both with a single lodge program.

That's what happened at Temecula Catalina Island Lodge No. 524 (aka TemCat Lodge). They launched an Entered Apprentice seminar last November. The response was so positive they introduced a Fellow Craft version a few months later.

Master Michael Coe explains:

We're a busy lodge with a backlog of degrees. Some members have to wait three months before advancing. We want to get them involved early: in lodge activities, on committees, and attending degrees. We thought if they had a deeper understanding of the degree - if they weren't just watching passively - they'd show up to more degree nights. The Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft seminars were our solution.

The team

  • Dynamic duo: Senior Warden Anthony McLean and I led program development.
  • Research and development: Six members helped gather and organize content.
  • Advisory board: We asked for feedback from a few lodge brothers with an interest in Masonic education.
  • Student becomes teacher: The seminars have given new members a great way to step into leadership roles. For both, we asked Fellow Crafts to collaborate. Would the information benefit them? What was it missing? They've ended up presenting the seminars.

The process

    • Production time: The content for our first seminar was created gradually over time, when there was time. If you really hunkered down to do your research, you might do it in one month.
    • Choosing the material: Most topic ideas came from member feedback. We thought about what we wished we’d known. We talked to Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts. We sent an online survey to the general membership.
    • Resources: Anything that we didn’t know already, we researched online. We pulled a lot of information from websites like
    • TIP: Use a free online survey, such as SurveyMonkey, to ask your lodge about their member experience and any areas in which they’d like more education.

Event particulars

  • Rotating schedule: We hold a seminar per month: Entered Apprentice one month, Fellow Craft the next.
  • Workweek or weekend? When you pick an event day and time, know your members. Our average member is age 44, and his weekday nights are usually packed with family obligations. To accommodate, we hold our seminars on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
  • Open invitation: All members are invited to all seminars. Master Masons are attending and benefiting, too.

Presentation topics

  • Why we're doing this seminar
  • Brief forum: Is Masonry what you expected? What's been positive and negative about your experience? How much information have you retained?
  • Why the degree is taught the way it is
  • Overview of the long-form
  • In-depth information on degree symbols
  • Obligations, rights, and duties
  • Officers and structure of the lodge
  • Secrets, and what’s okay to talk about

After the presentation

  • Question-and-answer session: To wrap up, we address any remaining questions.
  • Handouts: We provide a list of lodge committees with descriptions, and explain that members can get involved even if they're not Master Masons. We also hand out a six-month calendar, noting family and all-member events.
  • Feedback session: Before wrapping up, we ask attendees: What did you get out of this? Was it helpful? After attendees leave, presenters meet and debrief.
  • TIP: Based on member feedback, we now schedule a 15-minute one-on-one with each new Entered Apprentice. We review information that’s not "taught" - for example, basic etiquette (how to wear your apron and address the master) and member resources (officers, books, the Trestleboard).

Attendance is up across the board. Members are joining more committees and activities, and even at seminars, we have repeat attendees. After one seminar, one Fellow Craft said, "This makes me want to go back and watch the degree again and again. There are a hundred things I didn’t notice."

On deck? Our members are asking for Master Mason, pre-application, and post-application seminars.

For more information, contact: Michael Coe,


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HOW-TO: Create a Masonic education program

Based on member demand, Masonic education is one of our five strategic priority areas for 2010-15.

Grand Lodge is currently developing a number of resources, from a new coaching program to informational DVDs. But it's also important to develop Masonic education at the lodge level.

Here's how to create and host your own program, tailored to member interests.

Find out what members want
Create an online survey using a free service such as SurveyMonkey, or distribute a written questionnaire. Leave space for comments. Sample questions:

  • What drew you to Masonry? Was it the impact of famous Masons in history? Symbols and ancient rituals? The international network?
  • What do you wish you knew more about? How to explain Masonry to non-members? Differences between Freemasonry in the U.S. and abroad? The origin of a particular symbol or ritual?
  • Do you have a favorite Masonic book or author?
  • What are your interests outside of Masonry? Are you a history buff? A student of philosophy? An artist?

Check with new members
Interview new members individually. You may discover a way to offer Masonic education and improve the membership experience. Suggested questions:

  • Do you have any questions about your recent degree?
  • What did you expect to get out of your degree? Did it meet those expectations?
  • Is there anything you thought you would've learned by now, but haven't?
  • Is there anything that you feel uncomfortable or confused about? (For example, lodge etiquette or the next degree.)

Analyze responses
Keep track of similar answers. (An online service such as SurveyMonkey provides tools to summarize and interpret data.) See if any themes emerge, such as:

  • History
  • Ritual
  • Symbols
  • Philosophy
  • Literature
  • Travel
  • Current affairs
  • Membership experience (Read this month's Best Practice for an example)

Pick a topic
Once you've identified a theme, narrow it down to one or two topics. Consider:

  • If it can be covered in an hour: Is there enough information? Too much information?
  • Will it spark member discussion?
  • How difficult will it be to research?

Recruit Masonic educators
Ask members if they'd like to help develop and/or present the program.

  • Look for standout survey responses. Which members put the most time and thought into their answers?
  • Consider members' occupations, skills, and hobbies. Is someone a history buff? A teacher by profession? A dynamic public speaker?
  • Put out a call for volunteers.

Divvy up responsibilities

  • Research/info-gathering
  • Presentation development, such as PowerPoint and discussion outline
  • Event coordination and promotion
  • Presenting

Create the program

  • Aim for the presentation portion to be about an hour. Once you have a working draft, ask for feedback from a few lodge members who aren't on the team.
  • Plan another 30 minutes for discussion. Prepare an outline of discussion topics.
  • Consider inviting an outside speaker, if appropriate.


  • Ask for attendee feedback at the event, as the last order of business. Was the program helpful? What did they like? What didn't they like? What was missing?
  • Hold a brief team meeting afterwards. Discuss attendee and team feedback. Take notes, and in particular, jot down any ideas for improvement.
  • Schedule a team meeting to make any changes and plan the next program.
  • Email with an event summary, and your lodge may be featured as a Best Practice in The Leader.
Have we forgotten something? Please e-mail suggestions to with How-To: Create a Masonic education program in the subject line.


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When a plan comes together


California Masonry's strategic plan for 2010-2015 outlines ambitious strategic priorities for our fraternity. At the Grand Lodge and lodge levels, we've already made significant progress.

Here's the update:


  • The new strategic plan was integrated into secretary, treasurer, and warden retreats
  • The California Masonic Foundation is creating partnerships with districts and lodges to make a profound difference for public education, and launched the Investment in Success scholarship program

In the months ahead, you'll be introduced to new resources, currently being developed by Grand Lodge to enhance the overall quality of the membership experience.

Coming soon

  • Informational DVDs for Fellow Crafts and Master Masons
  • Improved application and investigation process, with new forms and resources
  • Improved prospect education, with new resources

Available in late fall

  • Strong candidate coaching program and improved candidate education, with new training and resources
  • More educational events, including a conference on Latin American Freemasonry
Review the completed strategic plan in the online Member Center, under Reports & Features.


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Masonic Assistance offers support services for the whole family. But too often, members and widows don’t know about the services available to them.

To help, we introduced this “Resources” section last month. Here, you can download flyers to use in your Trestleboard, in mailings to widows and homebound members, on your website, and posted in the lodge.

Because of you, our fraternal family will know where to turn for the support they need.

This month: Masonic Family Outreach

Masonic Family Outreach connects families with the services and resources they need to cope with today's complex issues, such as the impact of divorce, the stresses of a special needs child, or economic events such as job loss or foreclosure. This month's download answers members' most common questions about this support service.


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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge uses the Pass It On program. Of the 92 who responded:

42% - yes
41% - no
17% - don't know


Of those that said yes, 55 percent said they gained at least one new member last year as a direct result of the program.

Here’s your next question.





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