Together we make a profound difference

Engaging candidates

Tips for a close-knit lodge

Your December checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on

Question of the month


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Engaging candidates

It’s been a momentous year for Clarence F. Smith Daylight Lodge No. 866. The Van Nuys lodge just had its ceremony of constitution in November, which was attended by a mix of brothers, candidates, and friends who are deeply invested in the lodge’s success – and in their bonds to each other. “I don’t think there’s any group closer than ours,” says Master Steven Wolvek.

It’s a small, close-knit lodge – but it’s also growing, welcoming new candidates each day. Master Steven Wolvek explains how the lodge keeps candidates engaged, and how that, in turn, keeps brotherly love strong.

Get-togethers outside lodge

  • We go out of our way to make sure that each candidate feels welcome, and understands that we genuinely want to get to know him. This starts when he’s a prospect and carries throughout his degrees. For example, we make sure that three or four brothers schedule time for coffee and conversation with every applicant.

Introductions at lodge

  • Because we’re a daylight lodge, we always have breakfast before stated meeting. We encourage every applicant and candidate to be there, and we ask their top signers to make sure every member shakes their hand.
  • It shouldn’t be up to the new guy to insert himself into a lodge; it’s up to the lodge to welcome him in. It’s our lodge culture to reach out to the people we don’t recognize.

Shared identity

  • Because we’re a daylight lodge, we don’t wear suits and ties – we wear Hawaiian shirts. We give an official lodge shirt to all new Master Masons (and a bright blue tie, which stands out like a neon light at night), but we encourage candidates to wear their own Hawaiian shirts in the meantime. It helps them feel a sense of belonging right away.

Meaningful education

  • We make it mandatory for candidates to complete the free Candidate Learning Center courses.
  • When we started accepting applications in 2018, we knew that our lodge would be up for its charter in October. Annual Communication is only open to Master Masons, so we made a commitment to every candidate: If he wanted to become a Master Mason in time to attend Annual Communication and hear our lodge get its charter, we’d do everything in our power to make it happen. We wound up meeting every weekend to raise candidates. The Candidate Learning Center was invaluable for ensuring they understood the significance of each degree. It also enables each candidate to learn at his own pace.

Early involvement

  • As soon as he’s been initiated, we start teaching the candidate an officer’s chair. An Entered Apprentice may sit as steward for a first degree immediately after he’s been initiated. He knows what it feels like to be an officer for the day, which plants the seed for future leadership. The idea came from Grand Lodge: At Annual Communication, a few brothers are selected to wear courtesy jewels and sit in an officer’s chair. I was lucky enough to be selected once, and it left a huge impression.
  • Charitable activities are a great way to engage candidates. To coincide with our ceremony of constitution, we held a Stuff a Truck event to support the Midnight Mission, a homeless support agency in Los Angeles. Candidates who were on the sidelines for the ceremony enjoyed getting to actively participate in the fundraiser. It also reinforced our lodge’s commitment to charity.

The more you give and the more you demand right off the bat – that’s how you keep candidates engaged.

Contact: Steven Wolvek

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Tips for a close-knit lodge

A close-knit culture begins when a prospect makes first contact, and is cemented when he’s a candidate. Here are tips from the 2018 leadership retreats to use at your lodge.

Help prospects build a network of friends in the lodge.

  • Support naturally developing relationships by asking different brothers to serve as hosts, recommenders, and eventually coaches and mentors.
  • Reinforce a high level of participation and attendance across all membership levels.

Give a thoughtful introduction.

  • Before a prospect receives an application, he should thoroughly understand the lodge’s unique culture. Much of this can’t be explained; it must be understood over time. So wait as long as needed – ideally, at least five months – between a prospect’s first contact and providing an application. Be upfront with the prospect about the length of this process.
  • Appoint brothers to introduce prospects and candidates around at lodge and help them integrate into lodge dynamics. Have these brothers follow up between activities to encourage attendance at the next lodge event.

Offer meaningful coaching.

  • Ensure every candidate has a qualified coach who has enough time to spend with him, and who will focus on the lessons and meaning of the ritual. Use the Candidate Learning Center to support this experience.
  • Ask coaches to report on candidates’ advancement at each stated meeting and praise their progress.
  • Promote each degree as “John Smith’s Degree” rather than as a generic “degree ceremony” to promote camaraderie and attendance.

Give candidates concrete ways to contribute.

  • Find out what candidates’ skills and interests are before they submit an application. Match their skills and interests to needed lodge roles or jobs.
  • Ask candidates to weigh in on prospects even though they can’t vote.
  • Ask candidates to deliver papers or other work as part of their degree progression to show how the degrees have impacted their lives.

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Your December checklist

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

Executive Committee

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Present 2019 calendar and program plan to the lodge, or finalize it for presenting in January.
  • Prepare 2019 budget to present to the lodge in January.
  • Ensure that all committee assignments have been determined. After installation as master, confirm Audit, Charity, and Membership Retention Committee appointments.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.


  • Continue sending out dues notices and collecting member dues.
  • Begin preparing secretary’s annual report to present to the lodge in February.


  • Begin preparing treasurer’s annual report to present to the lodge in February.

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

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For your Trestleboard

As you prepare your holiday and New Year’s greetings to members, include this reminder about Masonic support. Many members – especially those who live out-of-state – may not be aware of the benefits they’re entitled to, or may need extra encouragement to reach out. Your reminder could change, or even save, their lives.

This month:
Masonic Support Reminder
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 ed – for members of all levels.
  • FREE!

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

Read how the Candidate Learning Center has benefited Clarence F. Smith Lodge.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked for your opinion on which factors most contribute to a close-knit lodge. Of those who responded:

  • 70% - Inclusion of family at lodge events
  • 61% - Willingness to help each other out
  • 43% - Frequency of gatherings
  • 39% - Quality time outside of lodge
  • 35% - Regular communication in between lodge meetings (ex. via the lodge app)
  • 30% - Unique lodge traditions
  • 22% - Ability to share new ideas
  • 17% - A shared, well-defined vision for the future
  • 17% - Opportunities for members to lead
  • 9% - Number of members in the lodge

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

p: (415) 776-7000