The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

Ascending to the Oriental Chair, Building Effective Committees, and Increasing Member Retention

Masonic Cake by Rothrock CakesI was recently installed as Worshipful Master of my lodge. Wow – what an exciting day that was! Wow – what a lot of work I have ahead of me! I get to write the monthly trestleboard; take phone calls from our brethren who have various issues such as illness, death, lack of transportation, and need of personal and fraternal advice; visit other lodges for various important events; improve our mentorship program; continue to teach a weekly ritual school; and arrange programs for 21 meetings this year, not to mention preside over many degree nights, at least ten of which I have already outlined as wanting to do before July. That’s a lot to bite off. Have you ever scheduled degrees? That’s a lot of work by itself!

Thank goodness I don’t have to do all this on my own. Our Junior Warden is scheduling degrees, our deacons are helping me teach the catechisms, our immediate Past Master is running the mentorship program and the secretary is going to take care of a lot of stuff I either don’t know what to do with or don’t have time for. And he will stay on my butt about writing the trestleboard. He hounded me until I wrote a brief bio for the website and is on top of stuff enough to not let me forget to do anything. Then what am I doing? I am hoping to have things farmed out enough that I mostly just have to answer the phone and show up to meetings.

I am able to do this by forming committees. We have a culture in my lodge of not liking committees, but that’s what we have. Everyone groans when someone mentions a committee, so what I have done is asked certain brothers to take on certain responsibilities and most have been willing to do so. Leadership established! Then I invited these brothers to pull in one or two extra guys to help them get the work done. Committee established! And look – I didn’t use the word committee in my requests at all. Instead of asking for committee reports, I just ask Bro. Bob how our widows are doing and what he has planned for them.

That’s what I am doing in my lodge. Whatever you are doing in yours, be sure not to do it all yourself. Bring in other brothers to help you out and give them something to do. Not only will this reduce your workload, but you will find that you have better member retention if you ask someone to take on a task or lead a committee. It gives a sense of ownership and also allows the bonds of brotherly love to grow organically as that brother finds others to work with him. Everybody wins and the Master just has to show up and be the overseer. In theory, anyway. We will see how it all works out.

Charity: The Bond of Peace and the Perfection of Every Virtue

My lodge is doing something interesting this weekend. Not only is it our annual Grand Lodge meeting in Richmond, to which a number of us are going, we are also raising money and shaving our heads. Well, not the whole lodge. Two of us are, anyway – Bro. Drew and me. The charity we are raising money for is the Children’s National Medical Center’s cancer research. Check it out! What is your lodge doing to support charitable organizations?

Scheduling Degrees

Masonic Jewels laid out before installation IMGP0015

One of my roles as the junior warden  is to schedule degrees. If you have never had this task, you are in for a treat someday. I get to call the local Masonic elite and ask them to help me out by delivering lectures and playing some sort of part in these ceremonies. The degree nights are likely some of the most memorable the candidates will have in their whole adult life and it takes a lot of guys to put them on.

So far I have found that the process of arranging everything is kind of a pain in the butt but when it all comes together it is worth it. The step-limiting factor in arranging degrees is getting a lecturer. These members are few and far between due to the difficulty of memorizing such long speeches. It’s a tough prospect to learn a lecture but one that every lodge should aspire to foster in the members, as the lecture is something that cannot be dispensed with.

Once the lecturer is booked, I feel pretty good scheduling the date. Everything else seems to fall into place pretty easily. Our members are well-versed enough in the ritual that we can pull together a good team to confer the degrees.

At Cherrydale Lodge I just scheduled two degree nights (FC & MM) coming up next month and hope to have a third one (EA) stuck in there somewhere as well. Traveling through Arlington, VA? Let me know. We would love to have you visit, either for a stated communication (1st and 3rd Thursdays) or for a called communication (7 & 27 April, so far).

District Leadership Conference

I went to a district leadership conference on Saturday sponsored by the Grand Lodge. It was a good time. The line officers met with their corresponding Grand Lodge officers, so as a junior warden, I met with the grand senior warden, who will be the grand master the year I am master of my lodge, if everything goes as planned. It was a good time and I came away with some really good ideas about how to get the brethren more interested in returning to the lodge.

Of course, the Grand Lodge didn’t just set up the training, but they bribed us to come. For one thing, the only way to get MW Hodges’ pin is to shake his hand. So if you want a pin, you have to go wherever he is and be good enough to introduce yourself. Also, they were giving out this commemorative coin to the brethren who attended. (The grand master’s pin looks like the obverse on the coin below.)

Discovering Our Potential IMGP4458 copy
and back:
Discovering Our Potential IMGP4460 copy

Yes, I called it a bribe. I have to admit that it seems to work. Even those of us who would go to these events regardless still love to collect the pins and coins and such!

Masonic Watermelon

We have a brother at Cherrydale Lodge who is really good at carving things. He made an incredible wood plaque for our lodge and recently has been carving fruit for us as well. I will have to get a photo of the plaque to share.

Masonic Watermelon

This watermelon was done in celebration of the 60th Masonic anniversary of Admiral Wm. Gene Sizemore, one of our past masters and a great supporter of our lodge. Bro. Baisis, the resident fruit artist, asked me before the dinner if we had enough carved watermelons or if he should do another one. There were two out already and I assured him that it was enough. Apparently it would not take much for him to do a third like this. He also did one for our installation of officers at the end of last year:

Watermelon - Cherrydale #42 Officer Installation

Official Visit from DDGM at Cherrydale Lodge

We recently had the honor and privilege of receiving our district deputy grand master, Rt. Wor. Roger Peak for his official visit. Our steward, Bro. Paul, prepard a fine repast for us and we had some wonderful dignitaries join us. A photo of the DDGM with our own Wor. Clair:

DDGM Visit at Cherrydale Lodge

Rt. Wor. Peak spoke to us about the Grand Master’s program for the year and encouraged all of us to be as involved as we can be in the workings of our lodge.

%d bloggers like this: