Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Beyond the lodge

HOW-TO: Finalize your installation plans

Send us your best

Raising A Reader


Question of the month



BEST PRACTICE: Beyond the lodge

In the Masons of California strategic plan for 2010-2015, one key priority is to go "beyond the lodge": deepen the connection between members, lodges, and the worldwide body of Freemasonry.

In Union City, a new outdoor lodge will do just that. When construction is complete, it'll be a travel destination for lodges throughout the state, and will allow brethren to share in the special Masonic tradition of outdoor degrees. In the meantime, it's connected four lodges in the area, who have joined forces to make the vision a reality.

Jim Leggate and Jack McClellan, residents of the Home at Union City (secretary and past master, respectively, of Siminoff Daylight Lodge No. 850), are leading the project. They explain:

A few years ago we noticed a natural amphitheater on the Union City campus. We wanted to create something to benefit the whole fraternity: a permanent outdoor degree site, available to every lodge in California.

In May 2010 we received the go-ahead and, with the help of four area lodges, started fundraising and construction. It’s been a true labor of love.

Why an outdoor lodge?

  • Participate in a tradition: There's historical significance to outdoor degrees: If you go back far enough, degrees were conferred outdoors before there were lodge buildings. There's also something special about communing with nature. It adds another layer of meaning to the degree.
  • Fellowship and fraternity: A lot of lodges plan a traveling degree once a year. It’s a nice fellowship activity and an opportunity to visit a new community for a weekend. In this case, brothers can visit the Union City campus, have a barbecue, and tour the Home and Acacia Creek while they’re at it.

A common cause

  • Labor of lodges: Alameda Lodge No. 167, Pleasanton Lodge No. 321, Mosaic Lodge No. 218, and Siminoff Daylight Lodge No. 850 volunteered to supply all of the labor, so our only expense is materials. These four lodges have physically built the lodge. It’s a great example of brothers coming together to accomplish something lasting and meaningful.
  • Putting the "operative" back in Masonry: At least 35 brothers have been involved, many who are operative masons by trade: carpenters, cement masons, a brick mason, and more. The day we poured our gutter, 14 brothers helped place the concrete and finish it.
  • Cleanup crew: About six regulars go to the site on a near-daily basis to clean up, paint, and do other small tasks.

Special amenities

  • No assembly required: Our outdoor lodge is unique because it’s designed as a permanent site. Other outdoor sites are usually makeshift spaces that you have to prepare on the day. Here, the lodge room is set up, and you have bathroom facilities and a building for storage and candidate prep. You can just walk in and do your degree.
  • Experts on staff: Masonic Home employee Ken Hamm is a member of Siminoff Daylight Lodge, and happens to be a journeyman plumber and electrician. With his help, we have installed an electrical system and audio system under the lodge floor, and water around the perimeter.
  • Attention to details: The altar and lecterns are constructed out of concrete blocks, topped with ceramic tile. Mountain View De Anza Lodge No. 194 donated pillars, which we remodeled and refinished. Jack McClellan’s wife made protective covers for the pillars, using a pattern created especially for the occasion.
  • Room with a view: The site is very private. It's surrounded on three sides by hills and a grove of trees.

Next steps

  • We need fundraising support to complete some final touches.
  • The outdoor lodge will be available to all California lodges, and we believe it will be a real asset to the fraternity. Once we wrap up construction, we’ll begin scheduling the space. (For inquiries, email
  • In the meantime, we’re planning degree practice as a trial run.

The outdoor lodge means a great deal to the lodges and brothers who have devoted their time, creativity, and skills to its construction. For lodges that may visit someday, it represents an opportunity to get together, build a sense of community, and participate in a unique Masonic experience.

For more information or to contribute to the project, contact Jim Leggate:

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HOW-TO: Finalize your installation plans

First things first

  • Select the date and reserve the lodge building
  • Select the installing team
  • Create a budget
  • Create an installation plan, including:
    • theme
    • reception/dinner arrangements
    • entertainment/music
    • special presentations
    • youth order involvement
  • TIP: Review last year's installation plans to be sure you've covered everything.

Eight to 10 weeks before the event

  • Set deadlines for design and printing of materials, including:
    • invitations
    • programs
    • flyers/advertising
  • Delegate or request volunteers for the following roles:
    • create and send invitations
    • guest book and program attendants
    • flag bearers
    • photographer
    • musician/vocalist/sound technician

Four to six weeks before the event

  • Mail invitations to:
    • past masters, officers, and their ladies
    • your inspector
    • neighboring lodges
    • Grand Lodge officers in the area
    • youth orders
    • community organizations
  • Include:
    • date, time, and location
    • dinner/reception details
    • whether reservations are required
    • suggested attire

One to three weeks before the event

  • Publicize via press release to local media (use this template)
  • Print installation programs, including:
    • date, time, and location details
    • officers to be installed
    • members of the installing team
    • program aganda
    • list of individuals who helped with preparation and ceremony
    • TIP: Include your lodge strategic plan and calendar for the upcoming year. On the calendar, note activities for fraternal family and the community.

The week before

  • Rehearse with the installing team and officers (your inspector will require this), including musicians or sound technician.
  • Consult with your inspector to get approval or assistance.
  • Finalize the program script, including introductions, presentations, and remarks.
  • TIP: Write everything you wish to say after the formal ceremony, too, including the names of all those you want to introduce.

For more details on planning your lodge’s installation, consult the Lodge Manual, found in the Member Center on Log in, then select Resources and Publications.


Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to with HOW-TO: Finalize your installation plans in the subject line.

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Send us your best

California Masonry's strategic plan for 2010-15 outlines ambitious strategic priorities for our fraternity. At the Grand Lodge and lodge levels, we've already made significant progress.

How has your lodge been inspired by the strategic plan? Maybe you've launched a new Masonic education program. Maybe you’ve improved your investigation process, taken a different approach to candidate advancement, or added more family activities.

No matter what changes you've made, we want to hear about them.

Just send an email to with the following information:

  • Your name and lodge
  • Change(s) inspired by the strategic plan
  • How the lodge did it
  • Results
  • Benefits to lodge

We look forward to sharing your successes.

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Raising A Reader

Reading fluency by the end of third grade determines our ability to learn for the rest of our lives, and is closely associated with long-term career and professional success. Unfortunately, California currently ranks near the bottom in the United States for child literacy.

Through a bold new partnership, the 2011-12 Grand Master's Project aims to change that.

The Masons of California have partnered with Raising A Reader, one of the largest and most successful literacy programs in the country. Raising A Reader provides each child and family with 100 high-quality books a year, and works with parents to build the language and literacy experiences at home that their child needs to succeed at school.

We will bring this program to those who need it most: kindergartners in California's lowest-performing public schools, who are at the highest risk for educational failure.

Our goal this year is to provide Raising A Reader to 250 kindergarten classrooms, touching the lives of more than 6,000 at-risk children.

Together, we can make a profound difference for child literacy in California.

To contribute, please contact the Office of Philanthropy at 415/292-9117 or

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By educating members about Masonic Assistance, you can make sure that your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

This month's resource focuses on the Masonic Center for Youth and Families (MCYAF). MCYAF opened in February, offering single-point-of-service care for youth ages 4 to 17 who struggle with behavioral, academic, emotional, or social difficulties.

MCYAF makes it a priority to meet the unique needs of Masonic families. As part of this promise, the center recently introduced a dedicated Masonic case manager, Nicole Ho, MFTI. The position was created specifically to improve outreach to fraternal family.

To learn more about the center, download the "Guide to"


This month: Guide to
Questions about MCYAF? Download this guide to to find answers online. Then, connect your members with the center’s groundbreaking services, including their dedicated Masonic case manager.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge uses the Basic Education for Candidates booklets created by Grand Lodge. Of the 113 who responded:

86% - Yes
11% - No
3% - Don't know


Of those who said yes, about 40 percent actually quiz their candidates on the booklets.

Here’s your next question.





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Please email questions to

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Grand Lodge of California
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San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000