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Masonic education

How to host a speaker series

Your April checklist

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Masonic education

Masonic education should last a lifetime. At Santa Monica-Palisades Lodge No. 307, one lifetime is hardly enough. Every month, short presentations feature personal topics and new voices. Quarterly forums offer inspiring, in-depth presentations by experts.

Past Grand Master R. Stephen Doan has led Masonic education programming since 2013. He explains the lodge’s strategy.

Stated meeting presentations

  • Every month at the end of the stated meeting dinner, a presenter speaks for seven to 10 minutes, followed by audience questions and comments.
  • Typically, presenters are members of the lodge – although we recently heard from a candidate who was two weeks away from his Entered Apprentice degree. (His topic: “Why I Want to Be a Mason.”) There’s a strong culture of fellowship at our lodge, which helps first-time presenters. They know their audience is rooting for them.
  • When this program started in 2013, I had to do quite a bit of recruiting to get brothers to participate. Now, I simply announce at lodge when I am looking for presenters, and usually get enough volunteers. I still periodically ask brothers to present based on what I’ve heard them say during lodge discussions, or something else I know about them.
  • Each presenter chooses his own topic, which must have some connection to Freemasonry. Recent topics include: “Masonry in Modern Israel”; “Free and Accepted vs. Ancient Free and Accepted”; “The Archetype of a Freemason”; “What Do You Most Desire?”; “Finding a Masonic Purpose”; and “The Mosaic Pavement and Its Symbolism.”
  • I offer mentoring when needed. A few brothers now speak at other lodges because of the training and experience they gained through these presentations.
  • Our stated meeting dinners have high attendance – normally, 30 to 60 people, including non-Masons – and I think the presentations are a contributing factor. We always encourage prospects to attend, as a way to discern their interest in the lodge and in Masonry. When new members ask for an application, they’ve often cited the presentations as a reason for joining.

Master’s Forum

  • These presentations are held quarterly, on dedicated nights. Each event includes an hour-long lecture by an experienced speaker, and about 15 minutes of audience questions. Dinner follows.
  • I usually select the topics and recruit the presenters. I am a regular presenter; Past Grand Master John L. Cooper III is as well. We’ve hosted a number of other notable Masonic scholars.
  • Topics have included: “Masonry’s Response to Societal Inequality”; “King Solomon’s Temple”; “Freemasonry and Religion”; “Alchemy and Eastern Star”; “Freemasonry, Secret Societies, and Ancient Egypt”; and “The Esoteric Art of Memory.”

These programs attract prospects, engage candidates, and inspire members of all levels. They also encourage brothers to pursue Masonic education more deeply on their own time, with the goal of someday sharing their discoveries in a presentation of their own.

Contact: R. Stephen Doan

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How to host a speaker series

If your lodge wants to create a long-term Masonic education program with minimal fuss, consider a speaker series. It’s a beloved format, yet surprisingly easy to plan. Here are tips for hosting your own.

Decide on an approach

  • How many speaker events will you plan for the year (i.e. monthly, quarterly)?
  • Do you have a budget for speaker expenses (i.e. travel reimbursement)? If not, focus on speakers who are local to your area.
  • Is it important for events to be open to non-Masons, such as spouses, friends, and community members? Keep this in mind when you consider possible topics.
  • Is it important for each the year’s speakers/topics to have a unifying theme?

With the above in mind, research speakers
  • Consult the Masonic Education Speaker List for the contact information of more than 20 fraternal speakers, including notes on their availability and topics of interest.
  • Survey lodge members and fraternal contacts. Do any brothers have professional experience in teaching or public speaking? Do any have expertise in a relevant topic?

Make a wish list of speakers, and reach out
  • Share a little bit about your goals for the speaker series, and why you think their topic of interest is a great fit.
  • Ask about their willingness and availability to present a 45-minute lecture, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session (unless they prefer another format).
  • Ask about their requirements, such as any fees, travel expenses, accommodations, or special technology set-up.

Once your speakers say yes
  • Schedule speaker events: Hold one event per speaker, spaced throughout the year and ordered thoughtfully, especially if topics are related.
  • Establish a timeline for confirming each speaker’s exact lecture title, topic details, and bio (important for advertising the event).
  • Establish a timeline for confirming speaker logistics such as travel arrangements, technology needs, and timing for the day of the event.
  • Consider procuring small thank-you gifts for speakers, such as an item with the lodge’s logo.
  • If a speaker is traveling into town especially for the event, consider assigning a lodge liaison who can show them around.

  • Add speaker events to the lodge calendar and create events on Facebook or other social media sites, if desired. Include lecture titles, topic descriptions, and brief speaker bios.
  • Create and schedule Trestleboard ads for each speaker event.
  • Have attendees RSVP on the lodge app and/or via an event website, so you know how many people to expect. Schedule an automated reminder several days before the event.

Encourage more Masonic education
  • Solicit members to write brief Trestleboard articles or present 10-minute stated meeting talks on topics related to the upcoming speaker theme.
  • Ask speakers for recommended reading, and share with the lodge in advance of their event.

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Your April checklist

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

Executive Committee

Senior Warden

  • Begin preparing 2019 program plan
  • Begin preparing 2019 budget, remembering to set aside funds for retreat attendance
  • Begin preparing 2019 officer appointments
  • Begin preparing 2019 installation of officers
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement

Junior Warden

  • Begin 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


  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due by January 1)
  • Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee
  • Send any suspension notices
  • Ensure Charity Committee considers remissions


  • 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
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15 (unless your lodge has previously agreed to have Grand Lodge prepare these forms).

Audit Committee

  • Audit lodge books, to be completed by end of month.

Hall Association

  • Prepare form 200, due to Grand Lodge by May 15.
  • Prepare IRS form 990 and FTB form 199, both due by May 15.
  • Prepare insurance premium payment, due in May.

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

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For your Trestleboard

The fraternity’s signature event for Masonic education is just two months away! Make sure your members don’t miss it. Download this ad for the Symposium, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
Symposium: California’s Masonic Pioneers
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on

Are your candidates getting enough Masonic education? The free Candidate Learning Center offers in-depth lessons, whenever and wherever they like.

  • Access on any laptop, tablet, or phone
  • Convenient way to meet CMC requirements for the Basic Masonic Education Course
  • Articles, photos, and archives give rich historical context
  • Inspiring videos show how Masonry benefits modern brothers
  • Coaches can track candidate progress
  • A great resource for continuing Masonic education – for members of all levels
  • FREE!

Log into and click on My Candidate Learning Center at the top of the Member Center.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked where your lodge finds its speakers for Masonic education. Of those that responded:

About 25 percent said their lodge holds more than six presentations per year. Here's your next question.



View past issues

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