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September 2020: Masonic Lecture Series


Want to Keep Your Lodge Engaged? How About a Talk?

As lodges pass into the sixth month without in-person meetings, the challenge of keeping members engaged is growing ever-more acute—especially as the novelty of hosting Zoom meet-ups begins to wear off. Lodges are finding that many of the same rules about hosting dynamic meetings apply equally to cyberspace as they do to in-person events. Luckily, going virtual has opened lots of possibilities for exciting and appealing programming—like talks, lectures, and discussions—that can be hard to plan for in the real world.

Going Beyond the Zoom Hangout

Adam Hanin, master of Acalanes Fellowship Lodge No. 480, realized his members were getting burned out on their weekly Zoom calls. So he decided to liven things up. “My job as master is to keep lodge relevant to members—to keep Freemasonry on their minds,” he says. Thinking back on the topics of discussion that had invigorated their early Zoom meetings—and taking his cue from the Grand Lodge’s own online speaker’s series—Hanin made a list of potential speakers he could invite to his lodges’ next meet-up. The following week, the group was joined by Masonic scholar Mark Kolto-Rivera, a past grand historian for the Grand Lodge of New York and author of Freemasonry: An Introduction, who spoke about the history and future of Freemasonry in a post-COVID world.

That first lecture attracted about 30 people, including several prospects and members’ spouses. Since then, Hanin has invited three other speakers to present lectures on a wide range of topics, from a discussion on race in America to the esoteric art of memory. Each subsequent speaker has attracted more people than the one before. “What this experience has shown me is that bringing in an external perspective is valuable to our members and prospects—it’s an invigorating reprieve from us talking amongst ourselves,” Hanin says.

In addition to the lodge’s invited speakers, members have also tuned into the Grand Lodge Online Speaker Series, which this summer partnered with the noted research lodge Quatuor Coronati, to present weekly speakers on American Freemasonry. That partnership will last into the fall, with a new slate of speakers for the winter being announced at a later date.

In the end, Acalanes Fellowship hasn’t done away with its regular Zoom meetings, either. In fact, Hanin has found that by offering these lively lectures, his membership has brought a newfound energy into its other interactions—and to planning new ones. Looking ahead, Hanin has plans for a virtual open house to engage the several new candidates they’ve recently attracted as a result of the speaker’s series. “This is certainly a year unlike any other,” Hanin says. “As masters, we need to step up and meet the challenge head on. If we don’t, we might return to lodge with fewer members than when we left.”

Tips for Hosting Your Own Lecture Series

Whether it’s a lecture series like Acalanes Fellowship’s, or an open house like other lodges have done, there are simple ways officers can keep their members engaged in the fraternity even from a distance. “Always start with your members’ interests,” Hanin suggests, “It’s true what they say: Give the people what they want.” With that clear admonition in mind, below are some evergreen tips for managing virtual meetings and events, whatever the topic.

  • For a list of Masonic speakers, check out this list of speakers and experts on Freemasonry. Research lodges like Quatuor Coronati also keep up-to-date speakers’ lists you may find useful.
  • Zoom offers a feature called “webinar” (in paid accounts). This type of meeting allows multiple people to serve as panelists, each with similar authority as a moderator. This type of format is great for when you invite outside speakers to present, giving them the opportunity to do things like share their screen, read participants’ messages, and ask and answer questions.
  • It’s a good idea to reach out to your members well in advance of using any new technology. Make sure everyone has the right information about accessing the meeting once it’s up and going, and how to operate the basic tools of the platform (especially the mute button—see below). It might be worth your while to host a Zoom tutorial before your first member engagement event. Planning in advance will make the event itself go smoother.
  • Encourage your participants to utilize the “message” 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.

Your September Checklist

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

Executive Committee

  • Make plans for your lodge master, wardens, or other representatives to attend the virtual Annual Communication this October. Your vote is important to the future of Freemasonry in California.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Identify and approach members for 2021 open elected and appointed officer positions.
  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
  • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2021 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2021 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2021 budget.
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

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.


  • If lodge per capita has not yet been paid, submit payment ASAP.
  • Prepare to send out dues notices and begin collecting member dues, starting Oct. 31.


  • If lodge per capita has not yet been paid, submit payment ASAP.

Questions? Contact Member Services at 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
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Question of the Month

Last month we asked what feature of iMember 2.0 are you most excited for. Of those that responded:

  • 53%  Automatic email/text/call reminders. 
  • 49% Lodge social media feed.
  • 36% Digital dues card payment.
  • 27% Masonic affinity groups.



Here is your next question.