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February 2023: Restoring Suspended Members

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    Restoring Suspended Members

    Masonry is a lifelong commitment—and the numbers back it up. In fact, for members in California, the evidence shows that once they’re raised to the degree of Master Masons, more than 90 percent remain dues-paying members for life. Nearly the same percentage say they strongly value their membership, regardless of their standing. That’s the case whether they’ve been a Mason for less than a year or more than a decade.

    And yet every year, for all sorts of reasons, a significant share of members are suspended for non-payment of dues. Again, the numbers suggest that this membership loss isn’t a reflection of these Masons’ feelings toward the fraternity. The explanations run the gamut, from facing financial distress to simply forgetting to mail in their check. The one constant seems to be that, when contacted by the Grand Lodge to inquire about their reasons for leaving, suspended members overwhelmingly indicate that they want back in. Last year, five of every six suspended members said they hoped to be reinstated to good standing.

    Life often gets in the way of even our most cherished commitments, there’s no way around that. But as a fraternity, the Masons of California have a powerful tool at their disposal to make things right. Already, one-third of California lodges have opted into the Membership Restoration campaign, whereby suspended members can be reinstated for a simple, flat fee. And as lodges face the uncertainty of our post-pandemic future, it’s never been more important.

    Bringing Members Back into the Fold

    The pandemic hit California Freemasonry hard, according to Jordan Yelinek, director of member mervices and lodge development. In 2020-21, more than 4,000 members let their membership lapse. When asked why, three out of four suspended Masons indicated financial distress as the leading cause.

    Of course, Masons have options for dealing with that. In most cases, members experiencing financial difficulty are eligible to have a portion of their dues remitted. And yet most of these suspended members never inquired about such a remittance, Yelinek says. “Good old-fashioned pride was the leading reason for remaining silent,” he says.

    The Restoration Campaign sidesteps members’ unease about asking for help. Through the program, staff from the Grand Lodge membership team reach out to suspended members directly, offering them a way back to lodge for a simple, one-time $100 fee. Especially for those facing multiple years of back dues, “that partial remission can be a lifeline,” Yelinek says.

    Since the first campaign kicked off in 2019–2020, more than 3,000 members have been returned to good standing. Of that number, 88 percent remain in good standing to this day—a testament to the campaign’s effectiveness and members’ enduring feeling toward Masonry.

    But with more than 4,000 members dropped from the rolls in just the past year, it’ll take a bigger effort than ever before. The Grand Lodge is aiming to bring 800 members back into good standing through the campaign this year—and that means having more lodges opt into the program.

    For lodges that have not yet joined the program, a common refrain has been a concern about members relying on the partial-dues remission, rather than simply paying their normal dues. However, Yelinek says, “the facts don’t bear that out.” Of the 3,000 members brought back into the fold since the first campaign, only three have repeatedly relied on the partial remission.

    Given the high number of Entered Apprentice degrees planned for 2023, having 800 members restored this year would go a long way toward helping the fraternity post its first year-over-year membership growth in more than half a century.

    Joining the Campaign

    It’s simpler than ever for lodges to sign up to join this year’s membership restoration campaign. If you’re one of the dozens of lodges who joined in a previous campaign, simply skip the step about voting on the resolution—your previous year’s vote continues forward for this year as well. Follow these steps:

    1. From iMember 2.0, run a report of members who are suspended for non-payment of dues.
      • To do this, go to your lodge dashboard and select “Reports” in the sidebar.
      • Select the “Events” report, input the date range desired, and select “Suspended NPD.”
      • Note that this report shows all members who were suspended for non-payment of dues during that time, so sort out any members who do not have the status “suspended.”
      • This report can be previewed in your browser and printed as a PDF or an Excel file.
    2. Note any members on the list that should not be included in the restoration campaign.
    3. If your lodge did not participate in previous Restoration Campaign, vote on the attached resolution at stated meeting. The resolution will pass with 2/3 vote of all present at the stated meeting.
    4. Email your edited list and the signed resolution to Grand Lodge at
    5. Grand Lodge will reach out to all indicated members of your lodge and invite them back to the fraternity.
    6. Grand Lodge will receive the payments from suspended members, update their member record, restore them to good standing, and record their payment. Grand Lodge will then notify the member and your lodge, so that you may reach out to them, issue their dues receipt, and welcome them back to lodge.

    For Your Trestleboard

    Use this content to spread the word about resources provided by the California Masonic Foundation, the Masonic Homes of California, and more.

    Masonic Health Services:

    Services at MCYAF Across the Lifespan

    The Pavilion at the Masonic Homes

    Masonic Homes of California Resources

    Masonic Value Network

    Masonic Philanthropy:

    Masonic Youth Order Resources Library

    California Masonic Foundation Cornerstone Society

    February Officers' Checklist

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

    Executive Committee

    Senior Warden

    • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
    • Begin preparing 2024 program plan.
    • Begin preparing 2024 budget.
    • Begin preparing 2024 officer appointments.
    • Begin preparing 2024 installation of officers.
    • Prepare to attend 2023 Leadership Retreats.


    • Present secretary’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting.
    • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due on January 1).
    • Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee.
    • Send any suspension notices.
    • Charity Committee considers remissions.
    • Review the list of suspended members sent to you by Grand Lodge and determine if your lodge wants to participate in the 2023 Restoration Campaign.
    • Budget for and prepare to attend 2023 Leadership Retreats.
    • Register for and prepare to attend the next virtual Secretary’s Association meeting on Tuesday, May 16.


    • Present treasurer’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting.
    • Prepare financial reports for Grand Lodge, to be filed by end of March (unless your lodge uses Intacct, in which case you do not need to submit anything).
    • If you haven’t yet, enroll your lodge in the Dues Invoicing Service. Lodges enrolled in this program saw more members pay their dues compared to lodges that did not participate. All lodges that participated last year will be enrolled again this year. Lodges enrolled in the program will be emailed about dues through December. To opt into or out of the program, contact Member Services.
    • Prepare to attend 2023 Leadership Retreats.

    Hall Association

    Audit Committee

    • Begin auditing lodge books, to be completed by end of April.

    Question of the Month

    Last month, we asked whether you were planning to attend the 2023 Leadership Retreats, and if not, why. Of those who responded:

    • I have signed up! - 40%
    • I haven't signed up yet, but plan to soon - 16%
    • Cost prohibitive - 15%
    • Scheduling difficulties - 12%
    • Other - 17%

    Here's your next survey question