Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Candidate education

HOW-TO: Get started on the Candidate Learning Center

Changes to the Online Grand Master's Itinerary

Be a Part of the Stairway to History

Trestleboard and more

Question of the month


BEST PRACTICE: Candidate education

Candidate education prepares new brothers for a lifetime of Masonry and, in turn, impacts the long-term health of the lodge. That’s why improving candidate education is a fraternity-wide objective, and the aim of a new interactive web-based tool now available from the Member Center: the Candidate Learning Center.

Two California lodges – one Northern, one Southern – explain how they keep up with the times.


On the outskirts of L.A., Yorba Linda Lodge No. 469 must compete with the busy schedules of its young candidates who are typically in their 20s or 30s and juggling work, family, and often college. 400 miles north in the Bay Area, Antioch-Brentwood Lodge No. 175 looks for ways to modernize the lodge and attract younger men. When it comes to candidate education, here are both lodges’ solutions.

Weekly coaching nights

To get candidates into the habit of coming to lodge, Yorba Linda Lodge introduced weekly coaching nights. Typically, about 10 coaches and 10 candidates attend.

  • Opening protocol: Beginning the night as a group gives candidates a chance to get to know each other. They discuss Masonic protocols and explain the significance of items in the lodge.
  • Individual sessions: After the group meeting, coaches and candidates break off into one-on-one coaching.
  • Coach change-up: Depending on availability, different coaches may attend each week. The candidates like this because they get to meet more brothers, and they benefit from multiple teaching styles. One coach may focus on learning the words, another on how to apply lessons to everyday life.
  • Officer emphasis: Every Master Mason is considered a coach, and all of them are encouraged to attend coaching nights. But they especially focus on officer attendance, and officer practice is scheduled immediately following coaching sessions, so officers already have a reason to be at lodge.
  • Results: Candidates are used to carving out time for lodge each week, which leads them to be active members long-term. They’re always at stated meetings and help out at dinners. They come to social activities and get involved on committees.

Candidate Learning Center

To attract and retain younger candidates, Antioch-Brentwood Lodge supplements traditional coaching with Grand Lodge’s online education tool, the Candidate Learning Center.

  • Keeping current: The world is moving away from hard copies, and that includes modern lodges. The Candidate Learning Center helps bring the lodge into this century.
  • On-the-go education: Candidates like that they can use the Candidate Learning Center on their iPhones and iPads. It’s a convenient way to study without having to carry around printed materials.
  • Maximize time: Each candidate can go at his own pace. Whether he has a few hours or just a few minutes, he has the program at his fingertips.
  • Essential lessons: The material is challenging and gives candidates a deeper understanding of Masonry. The candidates find the quizzes and learning tools useful and meaningful. Candidates are required to complete each module before progressing to the next degree.
  • Improved coaching: Coaches can check on their candidate’s progress through the program and see where they may need help. This increases accountability of both candidate and coach, and can improve in-person sessions.
  • TIP: Hold a special class to introduce the Candidate Learning Center to coaches, and make sure they show their candidates how to find and use the program. Contact Assistant Grand Secretary James Banta at to sign up for one of his popular monthly live demonstration webinars.

A few final tips

  • Live demonstration webinars: Assistant Grand Secretary James Banta is offering monthly live demonstrations of the Candidate Learning Center. It’s a great time to ask questions or learn how to host your own training session. The next sessions will be held June 3 and June 5 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Contact James at to sign up.
  • Long form recommended: If a candidate races through the short proficiencies, he may never come back to lodge – he doesn’t have enough skin in the game. But if he takes the time to do the long form, he might become more invested. The choice of the proficiency form is the candidate’s. Make sure he understands the benefits of both.
  • Pairing coach and candidate: Once you finish an investigation, look at the applicant’s interests and age group. Put some thought into who would be a good coaching match. Pair him with someone who could become a good friend.
  • Involve older members: There are certain lessons that can only be passed down mouth-to-ear from older Masons. Find ways to encourage these conversations. Supplement each candidate’s required degree work with the wisdom and support of older members.

For more information

To learn more, contact:
Samuel Brandes, senior warden, Yorba Linda Lodge No. 469
Louis Koch, head candidates coach, Antioch-Brentwood Lodge No. 175

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HOW-TO: Get Started on the Candidate Learning Center

Last fall, the Masons of California launched the Candidate Learning Center, an online candidate education program. Candidates can now learn from innovative resources including photos, video interviews, interactive games, online articles, and journaling exercises. The final exam for each degree module includes both a multiple choice and essay portion, helping candidates achieve a thoughtful, deep understanding of degree lessons and how to apply them.

Ready to get started? Here’s how.

Candidate coaches

  • Log into the Member Center and go to Reports & Features > Candidate Learning Center to access all three degree courses.
  • If you do not see the courses in the Candidate Learning Center, ask your secretary to designate you as a coach in iMember and link you to the candidates you are coaching.

Candidates, lodge officers, and other members

  • Log into the Member Center at and go to Reports & Features > Candidate Learning Center
  • Choose a learning module, then click “Add to Cart” and “Proceed to Checkout.” Each course is $15.
  • Once you’ve completed your order, click on the “My Library” tab, then click “Play” to begin your course.
  • To access your course after purchase, simply log into the Member Center and click on the Candidate Learning Center.
  • Lodges may purchase access for candidates. For more information, contact Assistant Grand Secretary James Banta.


  • Candidate coaches must be designated in iMember in order to gain complementary access. Link coaches and candidates today.

See a live demonstration webinar: Assistant Grand Secretary James Banta is offering free monthly live demonstrations of the Candidate Learning Center. It’s a great time to ask questions or learn how to host your own training session. The next sessions will be held June 3 and June 5 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Contact James at or 415/292-9118.

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Changes to the Online Grand Master's Itinerary

Do you use the Member Center to keep track of the grand master’s whereabouts? You may have noticed some changes to the Grand Master’s Itinerary.

Previously, confirmed and unconfirmed (or “preliminary”) events were displayed in separate calendars. Now, all events are displayed in just one calendar, with events that are preliminary or unconfirmed simply tagged “Preliminary.”

To view the Grand Master’s Itinerary, sign into the Member Center on and select the “Grand Master’s Itinerary & Info” link on the left. You can choose among several viewing formats.

Many of the events are open to all Masons. Look for events that interest you and attend if you can!

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Be a Part of the Stairway to History

The California Masonic Memorial Temple is undergoing a historic renovation, including the construction of a decorative staircase in the auditorium.

Make sure your lodge is represented in the staircase. Our goal is for all California lodges to be represented in the staircase. Grand Lodge is asking every lodge to donate a wooden item, which will be cut into pieces and assembled into a mosaic. Participating lodges’ numbers will also be engraved on the mosaic.

What to donate

Items should be small enough to ship, and can range from finished wooden products to raw wood. For example:

  • Gavel
  • Sounding block
  • Plaque
  • Small part of building trim that is no longer in use (ex. crown molding, piece of an old door)
  • Lodge furniture that is no longer in use (ex. drawer front, leg from a tiler’s desk)
  • Branch from a tree on lodge property
  • Piece of lumber donated by lodge member

Please note: Your donation will be altered, and will not be returned.

Where to send it

Mail your wooden item to: The Common Gavel, 15433 Greenleaf St., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403


Hurry! All items must be received by June 30.

Questions? Contact Chris Holme at 818/788-4907 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.

This month, download a Trestleboard directory of Masonic support services

Download: Masonic Assistance directory

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 100% officer giving is a lodge goal this year. Of those who responded:

46% - Yes
28% - No
26% - Not sure

Of those who said yes, more than 80% plan to make special announcements at leadership meetings to motivate their officers to give. More than 30 percent also plan to use email and a letter from the master.

Have you given your gift to the Annual Fund? A gift of just $9 a month makes a profound difference. Donate now.

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