Grand Master Programs 2013
As I considered what I want to happen during my year as Grand Master, I kept coming up with ideas for programs. But the question kept recurring, “Yes, but to what end?” Or as one brother from a small rural lodge said to me, “what are you going to do for my lodge?”
Going forward, whether Masonry in Oklahoma grows or declines, whether in ten years we have 200 lodges or 20 lodges, the future of our organization depends upon the experience each mason has with being a mason.
We must commit to improving the masonic experience for all brothers. Too often we experience dull meetings, unproductive arguments and petty quarrels in our lodges. These are all the effects of boredom – not the cause. The cause is lodges and masons drifting along, continuing to do today as things were done yesterday.
As Worshipful Master of your lodge – what can you do? First and foremost, you have to set some goals. A goal is just something you want to achieve. Even if you do not take advantage of a single program offered through the Grand Lodge, if you as Worshipful Master set goals for yourself and your lodge, you have a much greater chance of success. Goals need not be complex to be significant, but you need them to help you direct your path through the year.
To give us a framework to build upon, I have developed a theme based on the importance of Craft, Community and Commitment in Masonry.
Masonry is a craft: you have to work at it just as the craftsman works at self-improvement. Learn to be a better man and mason. The ongoing effort to become a better man is at the root of our being masons.
Community is what we create among each other. Community covers not only participation in your town or region (would your town miss you if your lodge were not there?), but also the relations among brothers in the lodge (what are you doing to develop a better community among brothers?) Enjoy a stronger communal bond within your community and among brothers in lodge and you will enjoy a better masonic experience.
Being committed to something means sticking with it, even if it is difficult. We seem to live in a society that does not value commitment; in this, Masonry’s values seem to contradict society’s values. Becoming a mason requires ongoing commitment to becoming a better man. If you are committed to being better, you will work to make a better masonic experience.
Taken together, Craft, Community and Commitment may serve as a guide to improve the masonic experience.
The following document describes the 2013 Oklahoma programs. They are “Grand Lodge” programs, but success for the Grand Lodge can only occur if local lodges are successful. You are the Grand Lodge. Taking advantage of some or all these programs will help you to better develop a plan for your year and what you want to get done.
If you have questions, ask your District Deputy or a Grand Lodge officer. If you cannot find someone to answer your question, call the Grand Lodge and we’ll help.
Because setting goals is a critical part to improving the masonic experience; I want each lodge to have some goals for the year.
Worshipful Master Agreement
In 2013 I want you as Worshipful Master to have a goal for your year in each of the theme categories of Craft, Community and Commitment.
The Worshipful Master agreement is just a commitment between the Worshipful Master and his lodge telling them what he wants to get done during the year. It helps you develop as a Worshipful Master by helping you become clear as to what you want to get done during the year. It helps the lodge by giving them an understanding of what you want to accomplish, and being a written document it strengthens your commitment to getting things done! (If you tell someone you are going to do something, you are more apt to actually do so.)
There will be a letter from Grand Lodge requesting the goals (and a form to complete) sent in December.
Another advantage of the Worshipful Master agreement is that it will allow the Grand Lodge to locate areas where we can help. We will also distribute the lodge goals to the District Deputy for your district.
Here are some sample goals – and you need only have one goal per category.
Have the lodge members learn the parts to confer a degree or have each brother learn one new part in ritual.
Have a short 5-minute education piece the second lodge meeting night and have the brothers discuss.
Teach a man his categorical lecture.
Find four new prospects in town…and talk to them about Masonry.
Invite a Grand Lodge elected or appointed officer to speak on a topic
Visit sick or needy brothers and all widows at least twice during the year.
For every 50 members in the lodge, commit to raising one new Master Mason.
Have two more men attending lodge regularly (by calling every local member through a telephone tree).
Send a letter to each member discussing what the lodge is doing.
Send your warden to our Leadership Retreat.
Increase press coverage and local awareness of masonic events
Have your lodge name or a sign on the building denoting it as a lodge
Have an annual lodge budget.
Raise annual dues so they cover lodge annual operating expenses.
Put aside $5000 for a new roof or needed repairs.
Purchase new tablecloths or carpet for the lodge.
Remember, these are only ideas – feel free to come up with your own goal.
Once you have some goals in mind, discuss with your wardens and active members. Make sure they are as interested as you in the success of the goals. Give them something to manage (that way they will learn how to be better leaders for the future!) Focus on how the goals can enhance the masonic experience for the lodge and brothers.
And then devote the year to achieving your goals. It may seem as though three goals isn’t enough. I assure you it is more than enough! Once you get through a few meetings, degree work, appendant bodies, youth groups – they will all want a part of your time.
As you consider your goals for the year, here are some programs I have instituted in 2013 that can help you achieve them.
Follow up on new Masons who took advantage of the Chance to Advance Program in 2012
If you had participants in either of the Chance to Advance programs, are they coming to lodge? Has someone talked to them about their categorical lectures? Have you sent them a card or letter telling them how proud you are to have them as a member? We need to keep those men interested and participating in lodge.
At least one elected or appointed Grand Lodge officer visit every lodge in the state.
Beyond coming along to reception of Grand Lodge officers and working cornerstones I want all the elected and appointed Grand Lodge officers to get out and visit the lodges in the state. Invite a Grand Lodge officer to visit. Ask the Grand Persuviant, “What is a Persuviant?” (He is a low ranking herald. The word is from Old French poursivre meaning “to pursue”. At the GL, he assists the Grand Marshall during Cornerstone ceremonies.)
Oklahoma has over forty colleges and universities and in almost every one of those communities there is a lodge. Often lodges are unsure of how to interact with the local college. Why are we not taking advantage of this ready source of new masons? If you are located in a community with a college, the University Relations committee will send materials and even come assist your lodge in a program to introduce yourselves to the local college students.
Young men as they move towards graduation are often thinking about what they will do with their lives – and how they will meet new friends. A young man may have been in a fraternity in college, and now that he is graduating, maybe he is looking for something to recreate that fraternal experience?
Statewide Short Talk Competition
Our Masonic Education committee is going to host a series of Short Talk Competitions throughout the state. These will be original works written by local masons. Being regional, every mason can participate. The best short talk in the state will be read as the Oration during our Grand Lodge session and printed in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge. The Committee will send much more information about the event, but start thinking about a topic and getting your lodge brothers interested in participating.
45 under 45
Who will be the future leaders of our fraternity? Where will the craft go over the next 20 years – and who will take us there? The 45 under 45 Committee will work to highlight some of our best young masons under the age of 45 and help them stay active and enthusiastic about Masonry.
Blue Lodge Reunion Month
September 2013 will be designated Blue Lodge Reunion Month. During September, make a special effort to get all your members back into the lodge building, if not at a meeting. Most of us have been to a high school reunion…make it fun, have nametags, introduce each other. Watch for materials from Grand Lodge office during the summer.
Public Schools Programs
Student of Today and Teacher of Today
Forms are sent out in February, and most schools have awards presentations in May. Be sure to get the forms to your local schools as soon as you can. Contact schools for award presentations dates, times and locations! This program is managed in partnership with our Masonic Charity Foundation.
Most lodges have participated in the Prevent Blindness program with Prevent Blindness Oklahoma. It is one of our most successful programs. Don’t forget the state requires a 3-year certification to handle the ‘magic glasses’ (or else you can only point at letters!) Certification or re-certification is required every 3 years. Check the Prevent Blindness website http://www.preventblindnessok.org/MasonPartnership.aspx for locations or to request a training class in your area.
Student Essay Contest
Packets are mailed to lodges in August, with papers due by October 31st. Winners are announced in February and certificates and checks are mailed in April. Be sure to contact your local school(s) if you have an award to present. Our Masonic Charity Foundation handles the scoring of all essays and distribution of awards.
State-wide Assistance Programs
Lodges are asked to contribute $1.50/member that will be matched by our Masonic Charity Foundation. This year the OETA telethon – and last date for inclusion in the check – is Saturday, March 16th, 2013. Last year, with matching funds included, Oklahoma Masons contributed $50000 to the OETA – let’s beat that number this year!
Food Bank Program
Lodges are asked to contribute $1.50/member to the Food Bank Program that our Masonic Charity Foundation will match. A letter will be mailed in the spring to each lodge regarding this program. All monies contributed stay in your part of the state.