June 2023: Harmony Is The Measure of a Lodge
Interviews conducted during the creation of the 2025 Fraternity Plan with both longtime and new Masons, as well as prospects and interested candidates, revealed something that many lodge leaders have long understood to be true: Positive member relations are absolutely crucial to the fraternity.
In fact, among members who said they were no longer engaged with their lodge, the No. 1 reason for their leaving was member relations. That means that when it comes to both making Masons and keeping them, nipping issues of disharmony in the bud is a top concern.
Disharmony stems from many issues, including issues of power and control, personal behavior, a misunderstanding of the rules of engagement, and differences between longer-term members and newer members. As Masons, though, the ideal of harmony is part of our heritage, and it will be our legacy. If practiced intentionally, it can be the fraternity’s greatest strength.
But what, exactly, does harmony look like? And why is it so important? For starters, harmony is important because members come to lodge looking for it. “We all come to lodge to be among friends,” says Deputy Grand Master Sean Metroka. According Metroka, a harmonious lodge is one in which “a bunch of people like each other, trust each other, and are actively working to create that sort of atmosphere in lodge.” Recently, Metroka has led lodge leaders in workshops on crafting lodge harmony and he’s become something of an expert on the subject. According to Metroka, among the characteristics of a harmonious lodge, trust is probably foremost among them. After all, without it, there is no way lodges can confront disharmony head-on.
And according to Metroka, dealing with disharmony in a timely manner is crucial. “As human beings, we’re not always going to agree with each other,” Metroka says. “Once we accept that, we have to be on the lookout for disagreements and deal with them immediately.” Letting disagreements between members fester is the worst thing a lodge can do.
When it comes to dealing with disagreements and fostering a sense of harmony in lodge, it’s the responsibility of all members. “It’s true that the master should lead the way in dealing with these issues, but it’s ultimately a matter of individual responsibility to handle conflict in a respectable manner,” Metroka says. When it comes to dealing with disharmony, the best solution is to simply talk it out. You’d be amazed at how effective a simple conversation can be in dispelling negative feelings between members, Metroka says. “At the end of the day, harmony is the strength and support of our fraternity, and should be a goal of all lodges.”
Harmony is the measure of a lodge. Masters are responsible for its safeguarding. It is the foundation on which understanding, fellowship, and respect are built. Lodge leaders at all levels should value the active, ongoing pursuit of harmony. Keep these tips in mind when you’re trying to develop a sense of harmony in lodge:
Lead the lodge with harmony as a priority. Since member relationships are the single most important factor in membership engagement, harmony should be a priority of the lodge’s leaders. From planning events and stated meetings designed to build harmony and friendship to listening to what members want from their Masonic experience, lodge leaders must build and nurture harmony in their lodge.
Clarify expectations of Masonic culture. Lodges should develop an active, ongoing pursuit of harmony. To nurture harmony, lodge leaders must clarify the rules that were designed specifically to build harmony in the lodge. The concept of “who can best work and best agree” must be understood by all members of the lodge. Expectations of lodge culture include:
- Lodge meetings and activities should be free of personal conflict.
- Subjects that are inherently divisive, including politics and religion, are not discussed within the lodge.
- Decisions of the lodge are honored by all members once made. Members speak with one voice.
- Opposing perspectives are welcomed, expressed in a dignified and respectful manner, and considered with patience and open-mindedness.
At the end of the day, as Masons, we must expect and exhibit behavior that is in line with Masonic values, and hold one another accountable. Behavior that runs counter to Masonic values should not be tolerated.
For Your Trestleboard
Masonic Health Services:
Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your June 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 2024 and identify event leaders.
- Continue preparing 2024 budget.
- Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
- Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.
- 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.
- Send list of members with late dues to the Retention Committee.
- Send any suspension notices via certified mail.
- Provide necessary information so Charity Committee can consider remissions.
- Review roster for accuracy in preparation for the end of the Grand Lodge membership year, June 30.
Questions? Contact Member Services at email@example.com or (415) 776-7000.
Last month, we asked what kind of positive-awareness resources your lodge could use more of?
- 46% - Social media assets (videos, photos, logos, etc.)
- 21% - Contemporary newspaper/magazine/news articles
- 11% - Physical materials (flyers, booklets, etc.)
- 11% - Online videos
- 11% - FAQ web articles