DECEMBER 2020

Contents

This Year, Officers Are Being Installed Online

Once again, it’s time to ring in a new year—and with it, a new crew of lodge officers. This year’s a bit different, though. Sticking with the unofficial theme for 2020, officers’ installations are going virtual.

For a 300-year-old fraternity, that’s required pivoting to develop a ceremony that’s sufficiently meaningful, as befitting a sacred ritual. Typically, that's not particularly easy: To change even a single word in the Masonic ritual language requires a vote by Grand Lodge at an Annual Communication. Instead, the newly developed virtual installation ceremony has been kept entirely intact. The only difference this year is that there is no floor work during the ceremony. “The idea of making the installation ceremony ritual virtual isn’t as crazy as it sounds,” says Ricky Lawler, the grand lecturer and a member of the Grand Lodge Ritual Committee. “We’ve already found that most lodges are conducting Zoom meetings and gatherings over the internet.”

So, this year, instead of planning an in-person installation ceremony, a lodge simply has to create a Zoom meeting (or any other video-conferencing platform). Because the installation ceremony is ordinarily a public affair, there is no requirement that the meeting be private or password-protected. In place of the floor work, participants will be given the floor—so to speak—over a Zoom call when their part of the ritual comes up. To help create an appropriate atmosphere during the ritual, the ritual committee has put together a PowerPoint slide deck of Masonic imagery, which a lodge can have playing during the ceremony itself. According to Lawler, lodges should reach out to their inspector to get the slides and for any other questions they might have. All things being equal, the event should go off without a hitch, even if it feels a bit different this time around.

If that feels a little too unusual, don’t worry—you won’t have to get used to this whole virtual ritual thing forever. Says Lawler, “This will not become the norm for lodge rituals. If anything, this is an emergency measure we’ve taken.” It is true that an important feature of Masonic rituals are the in-person interactions between participants—and some things are bound to be lost when you translate such a human interaction into an online format. Though, truth be told, there are some benefits to this emergency measure. For one, it offers the perfect time to take advantage of conducting a joint installation with another lodge—say your sister lodge. For instance, on December 16, Riverside Lodge No. 635 and Elk Grove Lodge No. 173 will be hosting a joint installation; two lodges on opposite ends of the state, there’s no doubt they would never be able to achieve this in an ordinary year.

Then again, there’s nothing ordinary about this year.

Tips for Hosting a Virtual Officer’s Installation

For detailed instructions, Lawler encourages lodges to contact their inspectors, all of whom have been debriefed on this year’s changes. Alternatively, officers can access a how-to video here, using access code e41=%Yqt.

In general, however, here are some things to keep in mind when planning your own virtual installation.

Tips for moderators

  • It’s a good idea to reach out to members well in advance of your installation. Make sure those less tech-savvy among you know how to access the ceremony once it’s live and how to operate the basic tools of the platform (especially the mute button—see below).
  • Practice! You all know the installation ritual by heart, but don’t let that lull you into a sense of complacency. This year will be different—so give yourselves time to practice in this format in advance of the official day.
  • Require all members to “mute” their profile. When you get 10 to 20 or more people on one video conference, the background noise of all 20 can create a distracting cacophony. Members can unmute themselves when it’s their turn to speak or if they have a question.
  • Encourage your participants to utilize the “chat” function of most video conference platforms. If one of your participants has trouble hearing other members, or needs to let you as the moderator know something, they can type it in and it will appear for all to see without disrupting the flow of the meeting. These chats can usually be aimed at the entire group or just the moderator.

Tips for participants

  • It’s best to treat this year’s installation exactly like in-person ones. If you wouldn’t go to lodge looking disheveled and wearing your pajamas, don’t log onto the installation ceremony that way either. By taking the effort to put yourself together, you can get into the right headspace. The saying, “The clothes make the man” is still true here.
  • By that token, be conscious of where you’re going to be sitting for the installation ceremony. Remember, everyone on the line can see immediately behind you. Maybe move that dirty clothes hamper two feet to the right and out of the shot. Make sure you aren’t backlit (like having a window directly behind you.) All the same tips that make for a good selfie apply here: Have your camera eye level or higher and avoid distracting backgrounds.
  • Be patient. This is new for everyone.

Reminders and Masonic News

Member Restoration Campaign 2021

The Member Restoration Campaign is once again active for 2021. Last year, the program offered members who’d been suspended for non-payment of dues a simple way back to good standing. More than 1,300 of them—about 12 percent of those who were approached—took it up. This year, we have an opportunity to reach out to even more of our suspended brothers and provide them with an easy and fair way to restore their membership and join in all the aspects of Masonry that make our fraternity so special. In order to participate, lodges must opt into the program by passing the 2021 Restoration Campaign Resolution by a 2/3 vote at stated meeting. Lodges that took part in the 2020 campaign can opt back in by passing the Continuation Resolution. LEARN MORE

Pay Dues Online!

Lodge dues for 2021 are due December 31, 2020. With the new payment service available this year through iMember 2.0, members can now pay their dues by credit card and get immediate access to their new dues card. Log in to iMember today to get started. PAY DUES NOW

Your December Checklist

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

Executive Committee

  • Hold installation of officers, or continue to prepare for installation.
  • Meet with the inspector to review your plan for the year.
  • Prepare to attend 2021 leadership retreats—details to be released soon.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
  • Prepare 2021 budget to present to the lodge in January.
  • Budget for, and prepare to attend, 2021 leadership retreats.
  • Ensure that all committee assignments have been determined. After installation as master, confirm Audit, Charity, and Membership Retention Committee appointments.
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.

Secretary

  • Continue sending out dues notices and collecting member dues.
  • Begin preparing secretary’s annual report to present to the lodge in February.
  • Review the list of suspended members sent to you by Grand Lodge and determine if your lodge wants to participate in the 2021 Restoration Campaign.
  • Budget for, and prepare to attend, 2021 leadership retreats.

Treasurer

  • Begin preparing treasurer’s annual report to present to the lodge in February.
  • Budget for, and prepare to attend, 2021 leadership retreats.
  • Ensure that the lodge financial records are up to date and bank accounts are reconciled.

Questions? Contact Member Services at memberservices@freemason.org or (415) 776-7000.

For Your Trestleboard

Use this content to spread the word about the Distressed Worthy Brother Relief Fund and MCYAF’s Telehealth services.

This month:
Distressed Worthy Brother Relief Fund
MCYAF Telehealth

Question of the Month

Last month we asked how has meeting virtually affected lodge participation. Of those that responded:

  • 65%- Fewer members than usual are participating. 
  • 17%- Other Answers. (Members from out of area check in to meetings, Fewer members due to lack of knowledge or desire to use technology,  We have a mix of local and out of state participants)
  • 15%- The same as before.
  • 4%- More members than usual are participating. 

Here is your next question.