Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

HOW-TO: Individualize Masonic education

All-new education

Last chance! Intacct in-person training

Austrian adventure


Question of the month


BEST PRACTICE: Masonic education

Masonry is a lifelong journey precisely because its members never stop learning.

Oakland Durant Rockridge Lodge No. 188 is spreading that mindset throughout the Bay Area with a bimonthly “Philosophy and Enlightenment Guild.”

Sergey Aityan, a brother and university professor who leads the program, explains:


ODR Lodge was looking for a way to encourage philosophical and scientific discussions. Late in 2012, we introduced a new Masonic education program. Now, every other month, we host a lecture followed by a discussion. The program has become popular throughout the district.

The objectives

  • Discuss philosophy, sciences, and arts, their history, modern status, and perspectives
  • Raise awareness about the latest achievements in the seven liberal arts and sciences
  • We also want to raise awareness about Freemasonry

The program

  • We host an event every two months
  • We begin with a 30-minute lecture, followed by group discussion
  • I host and moderate all meetings
  • So far, about eight brothers play active roles in preparing for meetings, presenting, and filming lectures and discussions
  • About 35 to 45 people have attended each event so far
  • We publicize each event with a flyer introducing the topic and the questions that will be addressed. We invite nearby lodges and usually encourage everyone to bring guests.
  • Depending on the topic, we open the event to the public; to Masons only; or to Masons of a certain degree
  • The lodge and the Scottish Rite provide food and soft drinks
  • We ask Masons who are subject matter experts to present each lecture.

The topics

  • We are intentional about the topics we select, and the order in which we present them.
  • We want the program to form a progressive system of learning about our world, and to represent the evolution of scientific thoughts and concepts.
  • Topics so far:
    • February: “From Euclid’s 47th Proposition to Modern Geometry”
    • April: “Music and the Underworld,” a performance lecture
    • June: “Resisting Darwin"
    • August: “Where is Mankind Going?”
    • September: “On the Other Side of Consciousness”
    • Upcoming on November 15: “Freemasonry: Foundations and Role in the Society”


  • Members practice lifelong learning, participate in philosophical discussions, and experience personal growth.
  • The events bond members together with common interests.
  • Our communities also benefit from the lessons presented. At the same time, they are gaining a positive perception of Masonry and a better understanding of what the fraternity is all about.

Future Plans

After a year, the Philosophy and Enlightenment Guild is growing and spreading. The events are so well attended, we had to move to the larger venue of the Oakland Scottish Rite library. We were invited to Martinez Lodge No. 41 to repeat the presentation “From Euclid’s 47th Proposition to Modern Geometry.” In the near future, we plan to add a research element to the program.

For more information, contact Sergey Aitvan.

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HOW-TO: Individualize Masonic education

A brother’s Masonic education is influenced by any number of factors: his learning style, his interest in certain topics, not to mention which resources are at his fingertips.

How do you adapt your program for individual impact? In sum: Make resources easily accessible, encourage research, and start a dialogue.

Here are six ideas.

  • Spotlight trusted resources. Ask lodge leaders and coaches for their top Masonic education books, articles, movies, and other resources, and have them write a few sentences on an index card about why they are recommending it. Make the materials and index cards available in the lodge library (print out any online articles, if practical).
  • Do a general resource round-up. What are go-to resources for the rest of your members? Ask the lodge on Facebook, via email, with a drop-box at stated meeting, or in the Trestleboard. Vet and list valid sources in a Masonic education section of the Trestleboard, on the lodge website, in the library, or elsewhere. If the material is for Masons only, be sure it’s posted in a secure manner.
  • Create original material. Invite members to submit essays on Masonic topics of their choosing. Provide sample topics, and give guidelines for length and formatting. Ask members to list their research sources. “Publish” appropriate articles on a secure member website, in a PDF that you distribute via email, or as hard copies in the lodge library.
  • Encourage participation. Seek out members of all degree levels to give brief presentations on topics they feel passionate about. Set aside time at the beginning or end of stated meeting for presentations, or if you have enough interest, form a “research group” that meets separately. Ask presenters to draft short blurbs of their topics to publish in the Trestleboard.
  • Experiment with new elements in your existing Masonic education program.
    • 10-minute talks
    • open forum discussions
    • breakout groups for sharing research projects
    • presentations by outside speakers
    • movie or book club
    • Masonic education “drop-in” hours at lodge, with one or two coaches on hand
    • collaborative research project
    • organize group trips to Masonic education programs at other lodges
  • Create a Masonic Education Corner. Create a members-only page on the lodge website, a new section of the lodge Trestleboard, or a special electronic newsletter to publish and promote all of the above.

If you don’t already have a Masonic education program for your lodge, or want to overhaul an existing program, read this HOW-TO article on creating something from scratch.

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to with How-To: Individualize Masonic education in the subject line.

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All-new education

This fall, the Masons of California launched the Online Candidate Education program. Candidates can now learn from innovative resources including photos, video interviews, interactive games, online articles, and journaling exercises.

Setting Up Your Online Candidate Education Bookshelf

Candidate Coaches

  • Log into the Member Center at 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.)

Candidates, lodge offices, 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 in bulk. 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.

Questions? Contact Assistant Grand Secretary James Banta at or 415/292-9118.

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Last chance! Intacct in-person training

Last year Grand Lodge rolled out Intacct, an accounting and reporting solution that simplifies processes for lodges and hall associations.

You can transition to Intacct anytime—but you have just two chances left to attend an in-person training this year.

  • Sacramento: November 16
  • San Diego: December 7

Online or by phone

To try out the new program, log into the Member Center at, then go to Resources and Publications>Intacct Resources and view the eight training videos. You can also request a one-on-one training call with an Intacct team member.

Register for a training or enroll in Intacct:Contact or 415/292-9170.

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Austrian adventure

Journey abroad May 5-14 with Grand Master John Cooper and his wife, Heather.

Explore the rich fraternal landscape of Vienna, Austria, which inspired the celebrated Masonic composers Mozart and Haydn. Tour castles, spend time in historic villages, and take in breathtaking mountain vistas.


  • Tour of historic Vienna
  • Visit to Schloss Rosenau castle and Masonic museum
  • Explore Mozart’s birthplace, home, and burial grounds
  • Walking tour of Salzburg
  • Visit Haydn’s birthplace and 18th-century memorial church
  • Tour of Cistercian Heiligenkreuz Abbey
  • Dinner cruise on the Danube River

Registration ends Jan. 29. For more details and to reserve your place, click here.

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Resources: Beyond Obligation

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.

We recently introduced lodge leader guides to several branches of Masonic Assistance. We continue this month with an essential guide to the Masonic Homes of California.

You’ve already received a few resources related to the Masonic Homes, including an informational flyer. This guide expands on those materials and answers common questions.

This month: Masonic Homes guide

View, share, and present to fellow officers as a PowerPoint, or print and save as a reference.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how often your executive committee (master, wardens, treasurer, and secretary) meets independently to discuss lodge business. Of the 90 who responded:

30% - Every month
21% - Every few months
12% - Once or twice a year
27% - Never

Of those who meet independently, 11 percent distribute minutes for committee members to follow.

Here’s your next question.





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