Together we make a profound difference

Lodge culture

Develop your lodge identity

Your November checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on

Question of the month


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Lodge culture

In the northwestern corner of sunny Orange County, Cornerstone Lodge No. 659 in La Habra contributes its own share of light. The lodge is known by area Masons as a hub for fellowship. One of its inspectors refers to it affectionately as “the friendly lodge.” Its open, jovial manner fuels a culture where everyone feels welcome and new ideas are encouraged.

Past Master Travis Halstead explains.

Background: I had already been a long-time DeMolay and a Mason for 16 years when I stumbled upon Cornerstone Lodge. From the moment I walked in, I thought, “Wow. This is special.” There are no divisions between old and young members. Everyone is made to feel that he belongs; that this is his lodge.

Open-mindedness and ownership

No matter someone’s age or how long he’s been a Mason, we want to hear what he has to say. You’ll never hear, “That’s not the way we do it here.”

  • During my year as master, a younger Mason approached me about setting up a master’s blog on the website and social media accounts for the lodge. I didn’t know much about any of it, but I said OK. The next thing I knew, we had a big following on social media. I’d come to lodge and people would be asking for my next blog post.
  • That same member came to me when the Ice Bucket Challenge (which raises money in support of Lou Gehrig’s Disease) was popular on social media, and suggested we do it as a lodge. At first I thought he was crazy. But when we brought it up in lodge, everyone from our youngest Mason to our 75-year-old guys wanted to try it. His idea brought us together.
  • Another young Mason wanted to organize a community blood drive. We had a great turnout, we got our name out into the community, and we did something important. Needless to say, it wasn’t our last blood drive.
  • Yet another younger member suggested we host a hazardous electronic-waste collection. It would never have occurred to some of us. It was a success, and afterward, a local company approached us and asked us to be an e-waste drop-off site year-round. That generates a little bit of revenue for the lodge, and people see the square and compass every time they drop off their donations.

Brotherhood between lodges

We hold an open ritual practice every week. There’s a standing invitation for brothers from any lodge to drop by and participate.

  • We begin every practice with a half-hour of social time and snacks. That gives a personal touch to the evening. You get some fellowship and comfort, and then you get to work.
  • We time the practice so that everyone gets home by 8:30 p.m. We want to honor the importance of family and personal time.
  • We practice hard and take a great deal of pride in our ritual. But we have fun at it, too. We always walk away laughing.

As a young DeMolay, this is exactly what I imagined Masonry to be. We’re a team. Everybody’s friendly with each other, and everybody feels wanted. There are no barriers between old and young, new and experienced. Plus, it’s fun to be here. You’d think this was DeMolay sometimes, with all the laughing and joking.

The culture keeps growing. This is what our newer Masons are brought into, and they’re carrying it forward.

Contact: Travis Halstead

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Develop your lodge identity

When a prospect asks about your lodge’s personality, do your members have an answer that they’re proud of? Lodges that embrace their own unique character and interests build the strongest member bonds. Here are 11 tips.

Ask your lodge

Send out a member survey, or discuss the following with your Executive Committee

  • As a whole, how does our lodge spend most of its time?
  • What is something our members take particular pride in?
  • What is something our members want more of?
  • In the past couple of years, what events have had the highest member attendance? Is there a pattern?
  • What are we known for in the community? What is something we want to be known for?
  • What do we hope our prospects and newest members will say about us? What do we hope our long-term members say about us?

Define your identity

From the answers you get from members, make a list of words that describe your lodge, or that you’re working toward. For example:

  • Friendly
  • Social
  • Charitable
  • Diverse
  • Historic
  • Philosophical
  • Formal
  • Modern
  • Traditional

Develop your strengths

Look for opportunities to put your identity into practice

  • Populate the 2016 lodge calendar with events that support your lodge identity.
  • Create a relevant lodge slogan and create patches, baseball caps, or T-shirts to spread lodge spirit.
  • Consider incorporating a special “uniform”; for example, white gloves for a more formal lodge, or a string bowtie for a lodge with Western heritage.
  • Promote the lodge identity in the Trestleboard, and encourage members to talk about it with prospects when they visit the lodge.
  • Follow up with members year-round to ask what kinds of activities would help deepen their involvement, and call for volunteers to lead planning.

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Your November checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your November checklist:

Executive Committee

  • Urge respective officers to practice and qualify early as senior deacon, wardens, and master
  • Along with the lodge, elect officers
  • Along with the senior warden, set 2016 calendar and identify event leaders
  • Finalize installation date/venue and prepare installing team
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement
  • Meet with inspector to review plan for the year

Senior warden

  • Urge respective officers to practice and qualify early as senior deacon, wardens, and master
  • Urge respective officers to answer the junior warden, senior warden, and master questions early
  • Along with the Executive Committee, set 2016 calendar and identify event leaders
  • Finalize installation date/venue and prepare installing team
  • Present 2016 calendar and program plan to the lodge
  • Finalize 2016 budget
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement


  • Transmit certificates of election in iMember
  • Continue sending out dues notices and collecting member dues

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

By partnering with Masonic Assistance, you can make sure your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support.

Member outreach should be a year-round effort for your lodge, with a devoted committee that keeps it running smoothly. But several times a year, why not organize special handyman projects so that more members and families can get involved? Use this guide and its attached resources for help.

Download: Guide to Launching a Handyman Project
Distribute and discuss among lodge leadership and Outreach Committee

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Find it on

Whether you want to know about your membership’s skill sets or their hopes for the future, member surveys are an important tool. Here are resources for creating and distributing yours.

Simple survey

Resource articles

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how your lodge advertises its events to the community. Of those who responded, the top three approaches for advertising were:

36% - Social media
15% - Newspaper
6% - Invitations to public officials and local organizations

In addition to being the most popular advertising strategy, 71 percent say that social media is also the most effective.

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

p: (415) 776-7000