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The Leader
July 2021: True Friendship

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    The 2025 Fraternity Plan: True Friendship

    Deep, lifelong friendship is one of the most important outcomes of Freemasonry. The trust and bonds members forge through the ritual experience and social connections often last a lifetime. As the Masons of California look toward the future and launch the 2025 Fraternity Plan, it’s no surprise that true friendship is the first pillar of that strategy. For each of the next three months, the Leader will focus on each of the three pillars of the 2025 Fraternity Plan: True friendship, diversity and harmony, and finally positive public awareness.

    While friendship may be one of those elusive ideas that’s hard to quantify, research shows that those who feel they’ve established deep bonds within their lodge report much higher overall satisfaction with their Masonic experience. In fact, the greatest single factor affecting how a Masons describes their membership with the fraternity is relationships with other Masons. Similarly, terms like brotherhood, fellowship, and friendship are the most commonly cited reasons that Masons value their membership.

    According to the 2025 Plan, lodges and the Grand Lodge will develop programs and initiatives that support precisely those kinds of meaningful and lasting relationships. That means that Masons should understand and value Masonic friendships, should foster an atmosphere conducive to forming friendships, and become known in their communities for helping foster true friendship.

    Chay Wright, lodge master of Beverly Hills No. 528, knows a little something about true friendship. Growing up, his grandfather played an important role in his life. A well-respected Prince Hall Mason, the elder Wright surrounded himself with Masonic brothers, leaning on them in times of need and jumping at the opportunity to help them when he could. “It wasn’t until my grandfather’s funeral that I realized all these men he had in his life weren’t just great friends, but Masonic brothers,” Wright says.

    That experience has informed Wright’s Masonic involvement to this day. Now, as master of his lodge, Wright strives to craft an environment where others have the same kind of opportunity to forge deep friendships. “Monthly stated meetings aren’t enough,” he says. Instead, he says, look for other opportunities for fellowship. Whether it’s bringing snacks and drinks to your degree practice or reaching out to brothers when you know you’re passing through their neighborhood, more face time equals more chances to develop deep friendship.

    And that’s not all: “Don’t just think about ways for current brothers to forge friendships,” Wright says. “The candidate experience is the perfect opportunity to begin that process.” Think of how other fraternities craft bonds amongst their prospects—specifically the college Greek fraternities. During Rush Week, prospects are given the chance to get to know their fellow candidates—called line brothers—and bond over that experience. “No one’s saying we should haze our candidates,” Wright is quick to point out. Rather, think of ways to make the prospect experience more communal. For starters, don’t be so quick to advance a prospect to candidacy. Instead, accrue one or two more prospects and schedule group gatherings where those prospects can share their ideas and expectations of the fraternity. “You’d be amazed at how powerful a bonding experience something like this can be,” Wright says.

    In the end, it’s all about being deliberate about ways to create opportunities for members to form lasting friendships. “Friendship is the foundation of the bonds that connect us as Masons,” Wright says. “During the first-degree examination, we claim that this man next to us is ‘a friend who we later found to be a brother.’” This is our opportunity to live up to that.

    Goals and Strategies

    How can Masons ensure that members are able to form and value the true friendships that Masonry is so known for? Over the coming years, a number of new programs will be rolled out to help support that aim. In addition, the organization will work toward a few key goals related to true friendship—at the Grand Lodge level, the local lodge level, and the individual level.

    Goal 1: Masons Understand and Value True Friendship

    Supporting what is already a key component of the Masonic experience is pivotal. By ensuring that members recognize the deep and lasting relationships Masons develop, the fraternity will not only increase its relevance to current members, but also demonstrate to prospects and the outside world its enormous impact on people’s lives.

    Goal 2: Masons Build True Friendships Through Excellent Membership Experiences

    While members overall report that they highly value their membership, only half of members are engaged with their lodge, with only a third of members highly engaged. Creating a lodge atmosphere where members feel engaged will help them develop true friendships.

    Goal 3: Masons Are Known for True Friendship

    The specific focus on friendship is unique to Freemasonry among similar service organizations, and one of the reasons members stay Masons for life. Promoting Masonic friendships is a priority for the fraternity, so that outsiders see Masonry at its best.

    Meet Jonathan Prestage, Membership Development Representative

    In March, Jonathan Prestage joined the Grand Lodge staff in the position of membership development representative, where he’ll serve as the primary intake for all new membership inquiries. Prestage is no stranger to the fraternity: In addition to his work with Grand Lodge, he’s also general secretary for the Oakland Scottish Rite, lodge master of Templum Rosae No. 863, and a member of Crow Canyon No. 551, the Columbia Historic Lodge, and the Northern California Research Lodge.

    In the coming months, expect to hear from him as he directs incoming prospects toward the appropriate lodges, helping ensure that the right people are being introduced to the right lodges. Here, we asked Prestage to introduce himself and the work he’ll be doing.

    The Leader: Can you tell me about your Masonic background?

    Jonathan Prestage: In October 2003, I was initiated into Porterville Orange Belt Lodge No. 303 (later Exeter No. 303), which has since merged with several other lodges in the Central Valley (as Visalia No. 128). But it wasn’t until June of 2012 that I was raised a Master Mason. My own life led me away from the fraternity early on, but once I felt ready as a man to complete the path of my father, my grandfather, and great grandfather, I approached the nearest lodge in Bakersfield, which was Libertas-Security No. 466. Since then, I’ve served as an officer in my lodges each year, and now on my third term as master of Templum Rosae No. 863.

    The Leader: What role has Masonry played in your life?

    J.P.: I’ve been blessed to develop many friends in the fraternity who have offered guidance on matters ranging from the culinary arts to the deepest reaches of philosophy and spiritual symbolism. I wouldn't trade these friendships and my experiences for anything in this world.

    The Leader: Can you describe your role with Grand Lodge?

    J.P.: My new position is as a member development representative under the member services department. My role works closely with prospects expressing an interest in joining Freemasonry. When a person submits an inquiry through, I reach out to discuss their interest in the fraternity, and if through that interview the person seems like a good fit for our gentle craft, I refer them to a few Masonic lodges in their area where they may seek further answers and potentially apply. This is important as a first line of contact—a sort of concierge—to prospective Masons. It allows us to better coordinate those initial experiences that prospective members have with the fraternity and ensure they are connected with an active lodge in their area. It’s a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to speak with so many men interested in the fraternity, and to discuss why they have been inspired to reach out and knock on our door.

    Your July Checklist

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

    Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

    • Identify and approach members for 2022 open elected and appointed officer positions.
    • 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.
    • Register now for the 2021 Masonic Online Leadership Retreat!
    • Reach out to suspended brothers and provide them with an easy and fair way to restore their membership through the Membership Restoration Campaign.

    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.
    • Register now for the 2021 Masonic Online Leadership Retreat!
    • Reach out to suspended brothers and provide them with an easy and fair way to restore their membership through the Membership Restoration Campaign.


    • Begin preparing semi-annual report of membership activity, due in August.


    • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February).
    • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88.
    • Using the Paychex Payroll system? Paychex will complete and file the above quarterly payroll tax returns for you.
    • Begin preparing semi-annual financial report, due in August. Using Intacct? The report is available and auto-generated from the Intacct system. If you need assistance to update your financial records in Intacct. please contact financial services, Tel: 415-292-9170,

    Hall Association

    • Begin preparing semi-annual report, due in August.

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

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    Question of the Month

    Last month we asked what has been the biggest challenge to returning to in-person lodge meetings? Of those that responded

    • Members are hesitant to return to in-person meetings. - 36%
    • Too many members unvaccinated. - 25%
    • No problems—we’re back in person now. - 16%
    • Other - 16%  
    • Difficulty preparing a site-specific plan. - 7%

    Here's your next survey question