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masonic program planning



Grand Lodge, F.A.A.M. of the District of Columbia

A successful Worshipful Master must begin his term of office with a well-developed and well-organized program, The program provides the officers and members of the Lodge with the information they need to plan their schedules and perform their duties and assignments throughout the year.

Program planning is not difficult, It is, however, the most important administrative duty of the Senior Warden. The Senior Warden? Yes, the Senior Warden. The program for his year as Worshipful Master should be finalized before he is installed in the Oriental Chair. Several aspects of Lodge operations are dependent on the development of the year’s program.

The program, for example, provides the basis for the development of the Lodge’s annual budget. The activities outlined in the program generally require the expenditure of funds for honoraria, refreshments, special supplies, etc.

The program also provides a basis for identifying the ad hoc committees, or manpower, needed to make the planned activities happen, Responsibilities can be assigned, interim or progress reports required and, most importantly, the work divided to insure that everyone is kept actively involved in the Lodge, To paraphrase a well-known expression, "The Lodge that works together, grows together" conveys the concept of program planning.

Where do I begin; how do I start? Easy. Start with the calendar for the upcoming year. Try to use a calendar that identifies both religious and secular holidays to avoid conflicts.

Step One: Identify the dates on which your Stated Communications will occur.

Step Two: Resolve the conflicts occurring between those dates and the religious or secular holidays which occur on them. There may be no alternative to calling off some of your Stated Communications. You should consider, however, scheduling a Special Communication to replace the canceled meeting if a Special Communication will serve the purpose.

Step Three: Identify what will occur at the remaining Stated Communications on your calendar and at any Special Communications which you decide to call because of the canceling of Stated Communications. How is this done? Not easily. But with a little imagination, some input from the officers and brethren, and cognizance of annual or traditional activities in your Lodge, it is not as difficult as you may anticipate.

A. Mandatory Activities

The Masonic Code and your Grand Lodge’s Bylaws and traditions may require that certain activities occur at specific Stated Communications of your Lodge (for example, elections, installation of officers, etc.) Enter these mandatory activities on the dates when they must occur. Evaluate the activity to determine if it will require the entire Communication to complete. Identify and schedule another activity if the mandatory activity does not require a large amount of time during the Communication.

Also include the dates of other activities and meetings at which the Lodge must be represented in addition to the dates of your Stated Communications on the calendar. Examples of such activities and meetings include the Veterans Administration Hospital Visitations; MESH Residents Program; Grand Lodge Communications and School of Instruction; Masonic Board of Relief, and St. John’s Mite Association meetings; MESH, Inc. meetings; your Lodge’s officers’ and committee meetings; rehearsals, etc. The inclusion of these meeting dates provides a reminder to both you and your representative regarding the responsibility to attend.

B. Optional Activities

Identifying and planning the optional activities of the Lodge is the most difficult and the most important aspect of Masonic program planning. Optional activities are the most important aspect of your program because they are the motivators which provide members with the incentive they need to attend and participate in the Lodge.

Feeling Perplexed? Relax. Use your imagination. Talk to your officers. And, more importantly, talk to your members and give them the opportunity to input into your plan. You may decide to include some or all of their suggestions. Their input makes your task easier and affords the suggestor reason to make the function a success.

Do not forget the wives! Spouses are probably the chief determinants of a Brother’s attendance and participation in Lodge activities. Visit or phone the ladies and request their input. Active, positive spouse-support and the involvement of the entire family, on appropriate occasions, can assure Lodge growth and development.

Put your imagination to work when you have enough information. Examine the suggestions you receive to assess their appeal to a significant number of members and, where applicable, to their families; their cost, to determine if they can be implemented within the Lodge budget and resources; and their feasibility.

Let us take a look at some of the activities you might consider. We will group them into four broad categories for discussion as follows:

1. Entertainment

Entertainment is a broad category which includes social and educational activities. Try to plan activities which afford maximum benefits and encourage greater participation. Consider scheduling entertainment and educational activities in which families and friends can and want to participate. For example, a trip to a Masonic or historic building or to a recreational center. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial; the International Eastern Star Temple; the House of the Temple of the A.A.S.R., S.J.; Mount Vernon; Atlantic City (for the beach); the U.S. Capitol Building; Monticello; the Gettysburg battlefield; and the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry in Baltimore are some of the places which members and families might enjoy. Make the trip one on which you can enjoy a pot luck picnic. Alternatively, include lunch at Lodge expense, if the budget will permit.

Inclusive entertainment and educational activities can make the Lodge an integral part of family life and, in turn, to Lodge growth. You are limited only by your imagination.

2. Civic Service

Civic Service by the Lodge and members of the Lodge is always in order. If well planned and organized, such services can be very beneficial to Masonry. Worthwhile civic activities can result in favorable publicity, esprit de corps, team building, spousal participation, and new members. Let the world know that your Lodge makes a difference in your community.

3. Athletics

Athletics? Why not? You may be surprised to learn that many of your members, their families, and friends would enjoy participating in organized athletic activities.

Ask to determine the types of athletic activities that are of interest to your members. Bowling, softball, volleyball, etc. are examples of team sports which may interest your members and their families.

Form Lodge teams when enough Brothers, family members, etc, desire to play. Challenge other Lodges or organizations. Athletic activities, in particular those between different fraternal organizations, can be used effectively to promote charitable objectives. The same type of benefits are realized by the Lodge in a planned athletic program as those that are gained in civic service activities.

4. Miscellaneous

Everything else! Fund-raising activities; special interest groups, such as a Fellowcraft Club; special commemorations, such as the chartering anniversary of the Lodge; the Solomon II Program; etc. All these types of events can be developed and included in your program.

Pick up your calendar. Identify the number of Stated Communications you have free for optional activities and the weekend days on which ladies and family activities will occur. Match the activities and the dates. End result -- your program for your term as Worshipful Master.

The program which you have just completed can now be used to plan your budget; to identify committees; to order special items needed for identified events, such as favors; etc. Publish your program as early as possible, preferably before your installation.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014