Keeping Freemasonry in Mind
Keeping Freemasonry in one’s heart is important; keeping Freemasonry in one’s mind is more important.
Keeping Freemasonry in one’s mind means considering those simple yet practical (and important) things that enrich both a member’s masonic career and the lodge(s) to which he belongs.
These are often small things, making them easy to overlook.
As Vincent van Gogh stated: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Considering those things listed below makes a Masonic career better; it makes a Lodge better; and it demonstrates that Freemasonry is in a member’s heart and mind.
Question: When do you pay dues?
Let’s start with the perhaps most basic duty owed from a member to his Lodge(s): the payment of dues.
Paying dues on-time (or early) is a simple but effective way of demonstrating that Freemasonry is in that member’s mind. It is also vitally important to the betterment of that member’s Lodge.
Paying dues on-time or early ensures that a Lodge within its fiscal year can properly budget for activities, events, and associated costs. It also reduces the (already heavy) workload experienced by lodge administration.
For Consideration: Place in a calendar the date dues are owed…and pay them at least a week early.
Note: Do you know how your dues are apportioned, or for what they are paying? If not, ask your Lodge administration (either privately or in a lodge meeting).
Questions: Do you know where your dues card is? Is it in good condition? Is it up-to-date?
After paying dues, a member is entitled to that truly masonic ornament: the dues card.
A dues card is more than a piece of paper.
A dues card is the physical representation of a member’s good standing within his lodge. It is often the first piece of “sure” information requested when that member is visiting a new Lodge.
A dues card is important…as is its care. A damaged (or lost) dues card demonstrates a lack of interest in Freemasonry; it also increases the chance that a brother will not be allowed entrance within a lodge to which he is a visitor.
For Consideration: Make sure your dues card is in good condition and easily accessible.
Note: So long as you can ensure the copy is safe from compromise, making a digital copy of your dues card is a great way to ensure its information is protected should the physical card become lost.
Note: Expired dues cards make great Masonic mementos, & look great in a photo album!
Knowing Your Lodge’s Meeting Schedule
Question: Do you know when your next meeting is?
Paying dues and having a dues card allows members to attend Lodge…so long as he knows the date(s) and time(s) on which to attend.
Almost all Lodges have set dates (along with set times) for business meetings; almost all Lodges have traditional or set dates for emergent or special meetings.
When (or hopefully before) a member is initiated into a Lodge, his sponsor will tell him that Lodge’s meeting dates and times.
It is then up-to that initiated member to remember the dates and times; just as it is up to every member to remember them.
For Consideration: Mark on a calendar your Lodge’s regular and emergent or special meeting dates and times.
Note: It’s very easy with the business of life to forget about a lodge meeting, so mark these meeting dates on multiple calendars!
Summons or Trestle Board
Question: Did you read your Lodge’s most recent summons or trestle board?
Exigent circumstances will arise, resulting in the need for a Lodge to change its meeting date or time (or both).
If Lodge administration has sufficient time, it will notify membership of this change via its summons or trestle board.
The summons or trestle board is a vital member resource. It provides contact information for officers and committee members, updates on Lodge activities and special events, and notices regarding any last minute changes.
For Consideration: Read your Lodge’s most recent Summons or Trestle Board.
Note: Maybe you have a story or information you would like to see in your Lodge’s summons or trestle board…so why not suggest this story or information to Lodge administration? It is your summons or trestle board too.
Note: Have you checked to make sure you are receiving your summons or trestle board? Sometimes, e-mail addresses can get lost, or an e-mail distribution list can be altered on accident. Take a moment to think back over the last few months…did you receive any Lodge correspondence? If not, get in touch with your lodge administration!
Maintaining Contact Information
Question: Does your Lodge know how to contact you?
To read a Lodge summons or trestle board, a member must first receive it.
To receive it, that member’s lodge administration must have his up-to-date contact information.
In an age when people are regularly moving, it is easy for contact information to become out-of-date. It is even easier for contact information to become out-of-date in an age when so much contact is done electronically, reducing the need to know one’s physical address.
Even if a member communicates with his lodge administration electronically, it is still vitally important that the lodge has an up-to-date address and phone number.
Up-to-date addresses and phone numbers ensure that lodge administration can maintain contact with its membership, send to the membership any special correspondence or special initiatives (such as the delivery of holiday cookies), and advise the membership of last minute meeting changes.
For Consideration: Contact your Lodge administration, and ensure it has your up-to-date contact information.
Sick and Visitation
Question: Do you know if your Lodge has a sick and visitation committee or member?
Most Lodges have a sick and visitation committee or, if not a committee, at least a member responsible for checking-in on sick or distressed members (and often widows).
Lodges have this committee or member because they care about their membership and want to know: a) if any of their memberships is sick or distressed; and b) if any of their memberships requires visitation or assistance.
If a member (or his wife, or his child) becomes sick or distressed, contact through the sick and visitation committee or member allows a lodge to maintain its connection with that member during what could be a very challenging time. It will also allow a lodge to discuss how it can best assist that member, such as through benevolence or delivering groceries, medications, or other necessities.
Should a member become so sick he is incapacitated or otherwise unable make contact, hopefully the member has a family member or friend who can make contact in his place.
This contact is also important should the member who is sick or incapacitated also be in a position of authority/administration.
But, whether it is a member who is in a position of authority or administration or the newest Entered Apprentice…a Lodge needs to know if he is sick or distressed and how it can help him or his family.
For Consideration: Speak to a family or friend, and make arrangements to have him/her contact your lodge’s sick and visitation committee should you become sick, distressed, or incapacitated.
Note: Do you know any members who are sick or in distress…why not visit them (or even give them a call)? Sometimes a visit can make all the difference in to a sick or distressed member!
End of Life Considerations
Question: Does your next-of-kin or executor know of any Masonic wishes you may have upon you death?
It is easy to put-off discussions related to end-of-life considerations but yet so important.
One type of consideration which must be…considered…are masonic considerations.
Does a member wish for a masonic service and, more importantly, is his next-of-kin or executor aware of this wish? If the next-of-kin or executor is aware of this wish, does he/she know how to contact the masonic lodge to ensure the masonic service takes place.
Does a member have any masonic items or regalia that, upon his death, he would like returned to his Lodge? If he does have such items or regalia, does the next-of-kin or executor know how to contact the masonic lodge to ensure the items and regalia are returned.
As discussed above, it is so important for a member (or a member’s family/friends) to contact his lodge should he become sick, distressed, or incapacitated. It is just as important for that member’s family to contact his lodge upon his death (even if the member did not want a masonic service or have any special instructions).
For Consideration: Speak with your next-of-kin or executors about any wishes, upon your death, as it relates to a masonic funeral, masonic items, and masonic contact, and ensure they have the necessary lodge contact information
Note: extra consideration(s) must be given if the member in question is a member of Lodge administration, such as the secretary or treasurer. In such cases, it is important that instructions be provided as to the location of any important lodge documents or seals.
Note: many masonic items or regalia could have significant sentimental value to that member’s lodge, and should be returned upon a member’s death (unless other instructions are provided). It is also worth considering taking special insurance on masonic items of regalia, depending on their value (get them appraised)!
Note: always consult with a lawyer and seek legal counsel when considering end-of-life decisions.
Maintaining Contact with the Lodge
Question: When is the last time you had contact with your Lodge?
With the business of life, it is easy (too easy) to lose track of your Lodge. It is also far too easy to lose contact and not attend meetings.
While attending a meeting(s) may be a challenge, that doesn’t mean contact from a member to his lodge is also a challenge.
Contact means taking the time to send regrets should a member be about to miss a meeting.
Contact means sending a card at Christmas (or another holiday) to Lodge administration, wishing the Lodge a Happy Season.
Contact means attending Lodge social functions or even setting-up a coffee club or similar informal function or club (these are also excellent avenues through which a Lodge can meet with potential applicants or candidates).
Contact means having refreshment’s delivered or dropped-off (if a member wants to give his Junior Warden a break).
For Consideration: this Holiday Season, why not deliver a card to your Lodge Secretary, wishing every Lodge Member a Happy Holiday Season! If you deliver it in-person (at a meeting), great. If you deliver it by mail, great also!
The above-considerations are small things individually, but when combined they make a great impact upon both a masonic career and a Lodge’s betterment.
The author based the above-considerations on his observations as an active member (since 2007); however, these considerations are not exhaustive. Get in touch with us through Square & Compass Promotions and let us know how you keep Freemasonry in mind.
The author would like to leave you with a famous, if slightly modified quote, which sums-up what this story is meant to convey.
“Ask not what your Lodge can do for you…
Ask what you can do for your Lodge.”