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The Leader
August 2021: Strength in Differences

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    Getting to 2025: Strength in Differences

    With over 39 million people, the state of California is both the largest and most diverse in the country. And yet the makeup of California’s Masonic lodges generally do not adequately reflect the communities they call home. “Masonic lodges have always tried to be places that unite people of different backgrounds,” says Junior Grand Warden Randy Brill. “We need to reinforce that goal.”

    As the Masons of California look toward the future and launch the 2025 Fraternity Plan, efforts to increase diversity and harmony are a key pillar of the strategy. For the months of June, July, and August, the Leader is focusing on each of the three pillars of the 2025 plan: True friendship, diversity and harmony, and finally positive public awareness.

    Nurturing diversity in our lodges, and ensuring our leadership is representative of our members is about strengthening the very foundations of the fraternity, Brill says. “For an organization that strives to make good men better, ensuring we have a diverse membership is vital.” The reason is simple. “The more diversity in our lodges, the greater the range of life experience and the greater opportunity for men to learn from each other and improve themselves.”

    Internal reviews and market research indicate that the fraternity has room to improve when it comes to representation. The research done of our members and prospects indicates the fraternity skews toward an older, white, married, retired, and upper-income demographic profile. Prospects and candidates, on the other hand, tend to come from a wider range of backgrounds, and life experiences. By reaching out to a wider range of applicants to the fraternity—and by encouraging them into leadership positions, lodges can benefit from having different sets of perspectives.

    But just reaching out isn’t enough. Prospects and candidates—especially those from different backgrounds—need to feel comfortable and supported when they approach California lodges. Too often, that’s not happening, according to our research. For instance, while Latino prospects reported high levels of enthusiasm for Freemasonry, but they also felt lodges needed to be more welcoming to people of different races or ethnicities.

    The issue of harmony is broader than ethnic, racial, or religious diversity, although the two support one another. “We can’t have diversity without harmony, and vice versa, and still call it a success,” Brill says. “The two are mutually reinforcing.” Rather, disharmony stems from many issues, including issues of personal behavior, a misunderstanding of the rules of engagement, and differences between long-time members and newer members. The ideal of finding and promoting harmony among diverse individuals is part of the fraternity’s heritage—and it will be its legacy. If practiced intentionally, it can be the fraternity’s greatest strength. “We have a lot of potential for improvement,” Brill says, ”but that’s a good thing. It means we’re headed in a direction that will make the fraternity stronger than it has ever been before.”

    Diversity and Harmony: Goals and Strategies

    How can lodges ensure their doors are open to all in their community, regardless of race, religion, or creed? And how can they inspire a lodge culture that ensures more harmonious relationships between Masons? Over the coming years, a number of new initiatives will be rolled out to help support this aim. In addition, the organization will work toward key goals to ensure our fraternity meet its ideals.

    Goal 1: Lodges seek out and are welcoming to people of all races and backgrounds.

    There is a significant demographic difference between prospects and newer members compared with and longtime members. Age, affluence, levels of education, and backgrounds are all aspects of the demographic differences between members and prospects. Because long-term members and new members may be so different, it’s not surprising that this difference can be a driver of disharmony. But it is something we can recognize and remedy.

    Goal 2: Leadership is diverse at all levels.

    Organizations with diverse leadership attract diverse members. Our organization is no different, and in fact, provides ample opportunity to lead at many levels. Achieving a meaningful diversity of viewpoints in both our membership and our leadership is critical to maintain a thriving culture.

    Goal 3: Leaders have the knowledge and support they need to build harmony.

    Harmony is the measure of a lodge. In fact, members reported that “member relationships” were the single most important factor when asked to rate their lodge—for better or for worse. Lodge leaders are responsible for safeguarding the harmony of the lodge. As such, leaders at all levels should value the active, ongoing pursuit of harmony—and be equipped with the support and training they need to build and maintain it.

    Goal 4: Our Masonic family works in unison.

    Freemasonry in California is not limited to lodges that practice under the Grand Lodge of California. There are nine other Grand Lodges in the state, in addition to Masonic organizations such as the Order of the Eastern Star and various Masonic youth orders. All of these organizations benefit from sharing and presenting a common view of Freemasonry. Working together to raise each one’s profile will only benefit Freemasonry as a whole.

    Your August Checklist

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

    Executive Committee

    • Make plans for your lodge master, wardens, or other representatives to attend the Annual Communication this October.

    Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

    • Identify and approach members for 2022 open elected and appointed officer positions
    • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
    • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early
    • Identify and approach members for the 2022 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
    • Set calendar for 2022 and identify event leaders.
    • Continue preparing 2022 budget.
    • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain
    • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

    Junior Warden

    • Continue tracking 100% officer giving to the Annual Fund, with officers setting an example through gifts that represent their capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs.


    • Pay lodge per capita.
    • Prepare semi-annual report of membership activity, due in August.


    • Pay lodge per capita.
    • Prepare semi-annual report of membership activity, due in August.

    Hall Association

    • Present semi-annual report.

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

    For Your Trestleboard

    Use this content to spread the word about joining the Cornerstone Society and to share resources provided by the Masonic Homes of California.

    Cornerstone Society

    Masonic Homes of California Resources

    Question of the Month

    Last month we asked for lodges that have returned to in-person meetings, what has attendance been like since in-person meetings resumed? Of those that responded:

    • About the same - 36%
    • Significantly higher - 25%
    • Significantly lower - 21%
    • Other - 18%

    Here's your next survey question