Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

HOW-TO: Prepare a lodge history

Ready for your close-up?

RESOURCE: Lodge Investment Program launches

Question of the month




BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

At Naval Lodge No. 87 in Vallejo, members wanted a closer look at Masonry’s intellectual landscape. They got it.

This year, Master Tom Langford kicked off a unique “philosophy series.” Langford explains:

Background: Naval Lodge already has a strong Masonic formation program, which is often based on a lecture or presentation. However, our younger members wanted an opportunity to engage in serious intellectual discussion. We needed another type of program.

The Philosophy Series was created to help members understand the philosophy behind Masonry’s ritual and symbols.

How it’s set up

  • Open for discussion: The series is in a seminar format, so everyone can participate. It’s promoted as a serious intellectual discussion.
  • Special programming: We hold the seminars on a separate night from stated meeting, which gives members another opportunity to spend time with the lodge.
  • Where and when: We meet for 1.5 hours in an informal library setting in the lodge lounge.
  • Master mediator: A seminar leader mediates the discussion, posing questions and guiding the conversation.

The concept

  • Survey of World Philosophy: The series addresses important schools of thought, which have either contributed to Masonry or provide an interesting comparative point of view.
  • Come prepared: Although no reading is assigned, attendees are expected to come with a basic understanding of the philosophy or topic of discussion.
  • Compare and contrast: We use these topics to inform and expand our understanding of the tenets of Masonry.

 2010 topics

  • The Egyptian Book of the Dead
  • Plato's Academy
  • Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics
  • Marcus Aurelius and Roman Stoicism
  • Buddhism  and the Japanese Zen warrior
  • De carte and Cartesian Thought

The results

  • The average attendance is eight to 12 brothers. Everyone who attends has been very engaged in the discussion.
  • This program helps members understand the context that gave rise to speculative Masonry in the 18th century. It helps them articulate Masonry’s position in the world of philosophy.

This program compares, challenges, and refines our philosophical perspectives. In sum, it brings the ideas of Masonry alive through discussion.


Contact: Vance “Tom” Langford,



[Back to Top]





HOW-TO: Prepare a lodge history

By preparing a lodge history, you leave future generations with an important piece of Masonic education, and help preserve the rich heritage of Masonry. You’ll probably learn a thing or two, as well.

A lodge history can be a straightforward listing of events, or it can be a detailed account of lodge accomplishments. It can be print or electronic, prose or pictures, even video.

Here are tips to get you started.

Put the past in front of you: Make your lodge history a lodge priority

  • If you already have a lodge history, see that every incoming master ensures it is updated on a regular schedule. (See bottom, “History repeats itself.”)
  • If you do not have a lodge history, solicit volunteers to form a committee. Use the project as an opportunity to engage members who share an interest in history.

Historians, take your mark: Divvy up the tasks

  • Gathering reference materials
  • Member interviews
  • Writing/recording
  • Editing
  • Obtaining graphics and/or pictures

Synchronize your watches: Establish a project schedule

  • Deadlines for each committee member to complete his assignment
  • Date to present a complete draft to the lodge
  • Deadline for lodge suggestions and changes
  • Date for completion

Hit the books: Gather resources

  • Lodge minute books
  • Correspondence files
  • Attendance registers
  • Lodge notices
  • Grand Lodge proceedings
  • Scrapbooks
  • Old photographs
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Archives
  • County museums
  • Member interviews

TIP: Use this opportunity to reach out to elder lodge members, especially those who are no longer active. Asking about their memories of lodge is a great way to remind them that their lodge cares about them. It also provides historical details that you won’t find in any reference book.

Seek and find: Target the following information

  • The beginning
    • When, where, and who erected the lodge
    • Where the lodge first met
    • Grand lodge that issued original charter
    • First master
    • First slate of officers
    • First members
    • Dates that the first members were accepted, initiated, passed, and raised
    • The ritual that was used for first members, and how it differs from today’s ritual
  • Growth and decline
    • Initiations, passings, raisings, affiliations
    • Suspensions, expulsions, re-instatements
  • Significant events
    • Official visits made to the lodge
    • Visitations between lodges
    • Involvement by other lodges or Grand Lodge members in degree work
    • Grand Lodge offices held by past or present lodge members
  • Community
    • Public events
    • Charitable works, including aid to fraternal family
    • Community involvement
  • Membership
    • Officer and membership lists
    • Biographical sketches of members, especially active masters or members who served the lodge with distinction

Show and tell: Present a draft at stated meeting

  • Briefly explain the process that you used to create the history, how it’s formatted, and what you hope future generations will take from it.
  • Make copies available for members to review.
  • Encourage lodge brothers to submit written or e-mailed suggestions to a designated committee member.

Post, print, or hit “play”: Make it accessible to every member

  • If electronic, post the lodge history on your lodge’s public website in a clearly marked section.
  • If print, make at least three copies: one for the lodge library, one for safe-keeping, and one for visitors. Contact local historical societies, libraries, and museums and offer a copy.
  • If video or audio, burn DVD copies for the lodge and upload files to the lodge website. Share videos on the Masons of California YouTube channel.

Repeat history

  • Establish a schedule of updates, whether it’s every year or every five years.
  • Each incoming master should ensure that scheduled updates are completed.


Have we forgotten something? E-mail suggestions to with How-To: Prepare a lodge history in the subject line.


[Back to Top]


YouTube debut

The Masons of California are already on Facebook, have an award-winning website and Member Center, and offer a digital member magazine.

But wait, there’s more.

The Masons of California YouTube channel launched in October. It’s a fun, informal place for members and friends of the fraternity to share videos about Masonry - whether it’s a brief testimonial, coverage of a fraternal event, or an example of Masonry’s profound impact on members and communities.

With more than a billion videos viewed per day, YouTube is one of the most popular and fastest-growing online video communities on the Internet.

Among the first videos on The Masons of California YouTube channel:

  • The winning submission from our first video contest, “What does Masonry mean to you?”
  • Honorable mention videos
  • Testimonials from residents of the Masonic Homes at Union City and Covina

Visit us on YouTube to submit yours.

For even more digital resources, check out this article from a past issue of The Leader.


[Back to Top]


RESOURCE: Lodge Investment Program

Consider this: If your lodge is 100 years old, its funds today may come from four or five generations of Masons.

Comprehensive, step-by-step guidelines are now online to assist you in prudently managing these lodge investments.

Whether you're just starting an investment program or already have a sizable portfolio, expert advice - customized for CMC compliance - is just a click away.

To access the new Lodge Investment Program, log into the Member Center on, then scroll to Lodge Support and click on Lodge Investment Program.


[Back to Top]

____________________________________________________________ launches

As an expansion of the fraternity's commitment to serve children with and without Masonic affiliation, the Masonic Center for Youth and Families will open late 2010.

The Center recently launched its website,, containing detailed information about its unique services.

Educate members about new services
Posters advertising the Center and were mailed in late October to lodge secretaries.

Help share the news: Display posters in a prominent place at the lodge, and urge members to visit You can also download the poster .pdf and use it as a full-page Trestleboard ad.

Contact with questions.

The Masonic Center for Youth and Families will serve youth age 4 to 17 struggling with behavioral, academic, emotional, or social difficulties. The Center is designed to serve Masonic and non-Masonic families throughout the state, providing single-point-of-service care with an industry-leading professional team.


[Back to Top]


Question of the month

Last month we asked how many of your lodge's community events received local media coverage last year. Of the 129 that responded:

51% - None
42% - one to five
4% - more than five
3% - didn't know


Public schools events were cited as most commonly receiving media coverage, followed by volunteer activities and fundraisers.

Here’s your next question.





View past issues

Please e-mail questions to

Contact Us

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

p: (415) 776-7000