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July 2024:
Lodge Succession: Getting Ready for the Next Guy

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    Lodge Succession: Getting Ready for the Next Guy

    Summer is here! Kids are on vacation, the days are longer, and everyone is planning their trips to the beach or mountains to escape the heat. Even though December seems like a distant future, you’d be surprised how quickly summer fades into fall and fall disappears into winter. It can be easy to put off today what can be done tomorrow. But lodges should fight that impulse, according to Carlos Diez, past master of Solomon’s Staircase No. 357 and inspector for District 905. Even though it’s only July, it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s slate of officers. That’s right, it’s succession planning season.  

    We’ve all seen it before, Diez says: The end of the year comes around and lodges scramble to find replacements for their officer chairs. The result, too often, is a shuffling of existing officers with the master staying on yet another year or a past master stepping back in to fill the void. “It has a ripple effect,” Diez says. “Guys get burned out, from the top where guys are in the same position, all the way down to the new members, who begin to feel a sense of stagnation in the lodge.” It’s enough of a problem that the Grand Lodge has a committee that’s responsible for training officers in succession planning: the Leadership Development Committee. As the current chair of the committee, Diez sees firsthand how lodges struggle to plan for the future—which at its core is all about renewing officers’ roles with fresh faces—by implementing a few easy-to-do strategies.

    According to Diez, one of the challenges of succession planning is knowledge. “We’ve found that there’s a lack of understanding among the membership in what each officer’s position is responsible for,” he says. People often fear what they don’t know or, at the very least, become less likely to volunteer to do something if they don’t fully understand the implications of getting involved. The good news is that this is easy to fix. Have officers be more transparent about what they do, not just as it relates to ritual work, but also in the functioning of the lodge. “Lodges could also think about creating a lodge manual in which all the typical duties of each officer position are clearly laid out,” he suggests. “That way, new members or interested members can review the manual at their own pace and get comfortable with the idea of jumping into the line.”

    Perhaps a bigger challenge to establishing a well-planned line of succession is one that’s trickier to address, since it boils down to an all-too-familiar problem: lack of engagement among members. “Finding someone interested in following the path to the East is easier when you have an engaged membership,” Diez says. The more members who are actively participating in lodge activities, the more potential officers to choose from. But it’s more than just about butts in seats. It’s about finding people who are passionate about the fraternity. “That’s why I often counsel lodge officers to ask members who appear to be disengaged to think about what drove them to the fraternity in the first place,” Diez says. Rediscovering that core passion is the first step toward re-engaging members.

    On the other side of that coin, it’s also about learning to identify officer potential in new members. For instance, Diez tells a story about a time when he was master of Solomon’s Staircase and found that two new initiates were really strong at memory work. “I took advantage of their interest and their abilities by introducing them to some of the work of a steward,” Diez says. “That piqued their interest and primed the pump, so to speak.” By introducing capable members to the officer line in a slow and gradual way, lodges can build interest among members in joining later on.

    At the end of the day, though, succession planning is as much art as science. “Each lodge has its own unique circumstances,” Diez says, “so there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.” But exposing new members to the duties of officer positions and keeping them engaged is a good place to start.

    Succession Planning Tips for Masonic Lodges

    Here are some tips on lodge officer succession planning from Carlos Diez:

    Mentoring Those Who Will Succeed Your Station

    1. Identify potential successors early: Look for members who show commitment, leadership potential, and interest in advancing through the chairs. Get them involved early. 
    2. Regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings with potential successors to discuss their progress, challenges, and aspirations. Keep goals attainable and mentor their growth.
    3. Set clear expectations: Clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations of the role they are preparing to assume. This includes committees, expected hours, and responsibilities. 
    4. Provide feedback: Offer constructive feedback and guidance to help them improve their skills and understanding of lodge operations. Include best practices and remind them to put their own fingerprint on how they conduct that role. It’s OK to showcase your character and personality. Take ownership. 
    5. Encourage participation: Involve them in planning and executing lodge activities to give them practical experience. Give them purpose. 

    Educating Officers on Required Roles

    1. Role-specific training: Organize workshops or training sessions for each specific officer role, detailing duties and best practices.  
    2. Create resource guides: Develop detailed guides that outline the responsibilities of each officer position, such as junior warden, senior deacon, master, etc. Lodge manuals are typically helpful for this.
    3. Shadowing: Allow aspiring officers to shadow current officers to gain firsthand experience. 
    4. Mentorship programs: Pair experienced officers with new or aspiring officers to provide ongoing support and advice. Teach them early, before they are installed in a chair.
    5. Utilize lodge resources: Leverage available resources like past officers’ manuals, lodge records, and experienced members.

    Learning Best Practices and CMC Knowledge

    1. Study sessions: Hold study sessions focused on the California Masonic Code (CMC) and its application to lodge governance.
    2. Interactive workshops: Conduct interactive workshops where officers can discuss real-life scenarios and how to handle them according to the CMC. Join online presentations by Grand Lodge (i.e.: prospect managers meetings, secretary’s workshops, etc.).
    3. Access to materials: Ensure all officers have access to the latest version of the CMC, monitor, and any supplementary materials.
    4. Guest speakers: Invite knowledgeable speakers to discuss best practices and updates related to the CMC.

    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

    July Officers' 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 2024 open elected and appointed officer positions.
    • Identify and approach members for the 2024 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
    • Set calendar for 2025 and identify event leaders.
    • Continue preparing 2025 budget.
    • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
    • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.
    • Introduce and vote on the Membership Restoration Campaign at a stated meeting to invite suspended members back into the fold.
    • Ensure all officers and past masters are registered for the 175th Annual Communication October 25–27.

     Junior Warden

    • Continue tracking 100 percent 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.
    • Introduce and vote on the Membership Restoration Campaign at a stated meeting to invite suspended members back into the fold.


    • Begin preparing semi-annual report of membership activity, due in August.
    • Introduce and vote on the Membership Restoration Campaign at a stated meeting to invite suspended members back into the fold.


    • 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. Make sure to process your payroll in the Paychex Payroll system on a monthly/regular basis.
    • Begin preparing semi-annual financial report, due in August. Using Intacct? The report is available and auto-generated from the Intacct system. Make sure your financial transactions are recorded in Intacct and your bank accounts are reconciled. If you need assistance to update your financial records in Intacct, contact Financial Services at (415) 292-9170 or 

    Hall Association

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

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

    Question of the Month

    Last month, we asked does your lodge have a welcoming committe. See the results.

    • 45% - Yes
    • 37% - No
    • 18% - Working on it

    Here's your next survey question