Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Serving our communities

HOW-TO: Raise awareness and interest in your lodge

Service from the start

Educating members about the Homes

Major attendance increase at Secretaries’ Retreats

Question of the month




BEST PRACTICE: Serving our communities

Many members join Masonry for the opportunity to give back to their communities. Lodges that put a priority on community service not only fulfill the expectations of such members, they also tend to inspire others in the lodge and community. Live Oak Lodge No. 61 is one of them. Assistant Secretary Allen Rodda describes the lodge’s busy community service program:

Background: Live Oak Lodge has a long and distinguished history in the Oakland community. The lodge was founded in 1854, and more than 20 of Oakland’s early mayors were members. Today, the lodge’s 400-plus members take pride in the community and invest their money and time to show it. Brothers have connections to different community organizations and schools, and it’s resulted in a diverse set of service projects.

Child ID

  • A few years ago, we made an investment in two stations’ worth of Child ID equipment, and now make a regular effort to use it for the good of the community.
  • At public events: The lodge ran Child ID booths at the 2007 and 2008 Oakland A’s Fan Fest. (The Fan Fest was cancelled in 2009.) Each year, about 20 brothers prepared emergency identification documents for the parents of more than 400 children.
  • At public schools: The lodge also runs a Child ID booth at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School, less than a mile down the road, to benefit the lodge’s immediate community.

Partnering with Masonic organizations

  • Oakland Scottish Rite Childhood Language Clinic: Many Live Oak Lodge members are also members of Oakland Scottish Rite, and over the years the organizations have developed a strong relationship. One Scottish Rite cause that the lodge rallied behind is the Oakland Childhood Language Clinic. Since 2000 the lodge has contributed $1,000 annually for a total donation of $10,000 to date.

Local youth

  • Scholarships: The lodge presents two to three college scholarships each Spring, ranging from $500 to $1,000 each. The total contribution to date is $6,500.
  • School supplies: Since 2005 the lodge has provided funds for summer school learning materials and helped with school clean-ups to benefit nearby Santa Fe Elementary and Emerson Elementary. Although our budget is much tighter this year, we still devoted the same dollars as in previous years.
  • Direct involvement: The lodge has supported Cleveland Elementary Science by providing judges for the school’s science fair and attending other academic programs. The lodge also hosts a Christmas party for all kids in the neighborhood – not just those connected to the lodge.

Supporting member causes

  • One of the remarkable things about Live Oak Lodge’s community service regimen is the number of different brothers who have stepped up to spearhead projects. The lodge’s commitment to service does not exist simply by dint of one or two members.
  • The lodge has created an atmosphere where brothers feel empowered to come forward and present ideas for worthy causes. They know they’ll be given earnest consideration.

TIP: Do your homework. Before bringing a cause into lodge for consideration, ask a lot of questions. Come prepared with in-depth information. With a strong presentation, you’ll earn broader support from lodge leadership and members. Once the cause is accepted by the lodge, keep the membership informed of its ongoing progress.


  • We’re portrayed in a way that we would like to be viewed: as a real group of friendly and open guys, not some mystical group as is sometimes presented by TV or movies.
  • A lot of new members are in their mid-20s to mid-30s, live in the Oakland area, and have kids here. They’re willing and physically able to help. Having activities like school clean-ups and Child ID gives them the opportunity to get out and do something.
  • Community service is a great motivator for members to get involved. A number of brothers drove more than 60 miles to assist at the Child ID booths at the Oakland A’s Fests.

We all have a lot of pride in Oakland, and everybody sees a need for civic involvement. The lodge benefits in the same way as anyone who volunteers his time: There’s an inner sense of satisfaction from doing good.

Contact: Allen Rodda at

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HOW-TO: Raise awareness and interest in your lodge

Many men join Masonry because of a desire to serve the community, but it’s hard to serve a community that doesn’t understand who you are – or worse, doesn’t know you exist. By increasing your lodge’s visibility, you’ll gain the recognition you deserve and lay the groundwork for community partnerships. Here are tips to get you started.

If your lodge hosts a community event, display a limited number of brochures, available from Lodge Supplies at 415/292-9131.

  • Masons of California brochure
  • Pass It On wallet brochure

Web sites

  • Your lodge site
    • Post photos of recent activities.
    • Include a calendar of upcoming events and highlight those open to the public.
    • Include contact information and appoint someone to check regularly for messages (e-mail or voice mail).
    • Upload a history of your lodge that includes interesting historic facts about the lodge in your town.
    • Link to
    • TIP: Keep it current! Out-dated calendars or articles give the impression that your lodge is no longer active.
    • Point public to Current News, About Us, and California Freemason magazine online.
    • TIP: Refer interested individuals to the Press Kit on (found in News & Events/Press Information) even if they are not members of the media. They’ll find articles about our history, charitable services, and FAQs.
    • COMING SOON: Virtually browse the Henry W. Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry.
    • Add as a Favorite link on your lodge site and share it with the public.
    • Watch and The Leader for launch announcements.


  • On The Level: Introduce your lodge to the community and attract prospective candidates. Read San Jacinto Lodge’s Best Practice about hosting a successful Masonic information event. Download the guide, presentation, and script on by selecting the Member Center pull-down menu, then Membership Development.
  • Public awards: Bring the community to you by sponsoring annual awards for outstanding students, teachers, police officers, firefighters or others dedicated to community service.
  • Community service: Adopt a service project that can include the community, such as a park clean-up, a coat drive, or a breakfast fundraiser for a good cause. Advertise it through word of mouth, e-mail, fliers, and your local newspaper, radio station, and/or TV channel.

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A legacy of philanthropy

Within the first days of its formation, the Grand Lodge of California faced major crisis in the state. A cholera epidemic broke out in Sacramento in October 1850, killing 15 percent of the population within three weeks.

In a joint venture, the Masons and Odd Fellows in the area established a charitable hospital in the southeast corner of Sutter’s Fort. At the time, six California Masonic lodges had been chartered and five were under dispensation, with a combined membership roll of about 300. As the hospital was flooded with Sacramento’s sick and dying, those brethren raised more than $32,000 in support within 10 months – in 1850, an amount that was nothing short of astronomical.

At Grand Lodge’s semi-annual Communication in November 1850, a committee dedicated to the hospital reports, “The noble generosity and disinterestedness with which a few Masons in one of our new cities have contributed so largely to the wants of the brethren coming in upon them from all parts of the civilized world, has afforded a brilliant illustration to the world of the excellence and strength of our principles…”


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Educating members about the Homes

The payment options for the Homes have changed in recent years, and it’s important that lodge members are up-to-date so they can provide accurate information to our fraternal family. Here are the three options offered to prospective Homes residents:

Partial assignment of assets
Applicants do NOT need to qualify financially for this option, which is open to all those eligible. Residents assign 75 percent of their assets and income to the Masonic Homes and are provided comprehensive, lifetime care.

Entrance fee and monthly fee
Applicants must qualify financially for this option, which requires an entrance fee combined with a monthly fee. Residents are financially responsible for most of their medical and dental services.

Monthly fee only
Applicants must qualify financially for this option, which requires a higher monthly fee but no entrance fee. A six-month minimum stay is required. Residents are financially responsible for most of their medical and dental services.

Review these options and additional information about the Homes at


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Masonic training and education in '09


Wardens' Retreats
Work with fellow elected leaders to develop your leadership skills and plan how you’ll implement your lodge goals.

2009 Workshop Schedule
Junior Wardens
April 3-5, San Ramon
April 24-26, Ontario

Senior Wardens
May 15-17, San Ramon
May 29-31, Ontario


Lodge Management Certification Program
Gain the tools and training you need to effectively manage your lodge. Each course is presented in an intensive one-day workshop. Four of the courses are also available online*.


2009 Locations and Dates

  • June 6: Pasadena area
  • June 13: San Diego area
  • June 20: Fresno/Visalia area
  • June 27: Sacramento area
  • July 11: San Francisco area
  • July 18: Chico area



To download registration forms for all events or enroll in the Lodge Management Certification Program online courses*, visit and select Leadership Development from the Member Center pull-down menu.


California Masonic Symposium

The Ninth Annual California Masonic Symposium, “Applying Masonry in Contemporary Society,” will be held Saturday, May 2 at the University of California, Los Angeles. This year’s event is open to Masons and the public at no charge.

In lectures, papers, and panel discussions, the 2009 Symposium will examine how Masonic principles shaped the development of western democracies and where, in today’s deeply divided society, those principles may be more necessary than ever. The program includes talks by Henry Wilson Coil Lecturer Dr. Margaret C. Jacob, Past Grand Secretary John L. Cooper III, and Past Grand Master R. Stephen Doan.

Register now on by clicking on the Symposium button (to the right of Current News), or by selecting Masonic Education from the Member Center pull-down menu.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge uses the Pass It On program. Of the 69 that responded:

44% - yes

Of the ‘yes’ responses, lodges attributed
Pass It On to a membership gain during
the past year of:
61% - one to five members
6% - six to 10 members
5% - more than 10 members


56% - no

Of the ‘no’ responses:
30% - had never heard of the program


Here’s your next question.


View past issues


Please email questions to

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000