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Lodge Bulletins

CHAPTER viI

THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER'S HANDBOOK

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


To how many members of your Lodge is the bulletin your only contact? For most of our Lodges the figure is very high!

For this reason it is important that you, as Master, prepare the bulletin so that it provides that lifelink between the Lodge and its members. If you approach the bulletin with the attitude of "Well, itís time to get it out of the way," chances are that the intended readers will react the same way and it will be obvious that you are not sharing your best and most sincere effort with them.

By reaching out with a meaningful, stimulating and informative bulletin, you are taking the Lodge to your members and that means one hundred percent of them. What could be more constructive for the good of the entire Lodge?

After all, why should a Brother who rarely attends Lodge even look at a bulletin if it only lists officers, Past Masters and meeting dates? How carefully do you look at mail that is a schedule of events that you really have no intention of attending? Out it goes with the junk mail, probably unopened.

The undeniable fact remains that a good bulletin may well be a solution for the apathy that could be making the job of Worshipful Master seem so impossible.

To benefit fully from our discussions today, please clear your mind of thoughts like - finding time, lack of experience, the cost to the Lodge, thatís the way we always did it, the Secretary always handles our bulletin, my wife is going to kill me if I give any more time to the Lodge, etc. These are the excuses that have put your Lodge in the position it is in!

PURPOSES OF COMMUNICATION

The Goals of Your Bulletin

To report - to members about past events. Let Lodge members who were unable to attend an activity know what they missed out on. Let members who participated see their names in print.

To inform - members about coming events and activities (who, what, when, where & why). Events must sound fun and interesting.

To notify - members of Stated and Special Communications.

To educate - members about Masonry and the goals and purposes of the Lodge.

To sell - the programs of the Lodge. A lot of work went into the program, so why not sell the act?

To stimulate - an interest in Freemasonry, not only in the members, but their family and friends as well.

To direct - questions, comments, suggestions, criticism, through the appropriate channels in the Lodge.

To support - the Grand Lodge programs and activities as a Lodge.

To establish - a regular form of communication to the members of the Lodge.

The important consideration for a Lodge publication is its regularity, not its complexity. Would you be more inclined to visit a Lodge from which you received a fresh, current bulletin every month or would you visit a Lodge that, once every quarter, sent you a poorly photocopied list of officers, Past Masters, meeting dates and a few words from the Master thanking you for electing him to "this high office" and complaining about apathy in the Lodge?

Another important item to consider is cost. When referring to your Lodge bulletin, the word should not be "cost" but rather "investment". The fact that your Lodge may feel that it cannot afford to publish a meaningful, informative and complete bulletin could be the most important reason for your Lodge to make such an investment; it canít afford not to! It is an investment necessary for its very survival.

COMPOSITION

If you are just beginning, start with a simple format. The following are only some of the items that should be considered for your bulletin.

COVER - In some Lodges the cover is done only once and remains the same for every issue. Being consistently able to recognize the Lodge bulletin is fine, but if the list of officers is on the cover and one or more of them moves, or if the list of Past Masters is on the cover and one or more of them passes to the Celestial Lodge above, or, dare I say, that someoneís name is misspelled or some other typographical error occurs, the Lodge is stuck with these errors for the entire year.

The cover usually contains the Lodge name and number, full address and telephone number, meeting nights, charter date(s) and some kind of ornamental Masonic design or your Lodgeís logo or seal.

THE MASTERíS MESSAGE - The Masterís message should be positive, not a message of bewilderment or discouragement. Too many Masters beg for support in their messages. Support must be earned. The bulletin is not a place to put out a plea for support. If the Master can only think of a few words of substance to say, then share this space with something else.

MONTHLY FEATURE - The monthly feature can be philosophical or anything of a general Masonic interest. Some ideas for the feature article include a guest columnist, officers biographies, Lodge members activities in the community, etc. This article can be borrowed from another Masonic publication if you must. The key here is to look at it and if you donít like it, DONíT PRINT IT! Get an opinion or two on your ideas.

CONDOLENCES TO - Express the sympathy of the Lodge to members and friends of the Lodge on the loss of loved ones.

GET WELL WISHES TO - Express get well wishes from the Lodge to those members and friends of the Lodge who are under the weather. This should not replace mailing cards or making personal visits.

CONGRATULATIONS TO - This category is unlimited. It can include awards, promotions, bar mitzvahs, election to office, new home, retirement, childís graduation, being raised as a Master Mason, birth of a child or grandchild, weddings, etc.

GREETINGS TO ALL FROM - Here is listed the name and full address of any Brother in a Masonic Home, convalescent home, V.A. Hospital, a Brother transferred from the area, a Lodge member who lives in another jurisdiction, etc., who has asked, or who you may ask, to prepare a note to the Brethren.

GOOD LUCK TO - A note sending the best wishes of the Lodge to a Brother moving away, job relocation or promotion, etc.

SPECIAL THANKS TO - Special effort for the Lodge by a Brother or wife, visiting Degree Team, guest speaker, etc. If your committees do the conscientious job that this section requires, a Lodge should have many names published in this section every month. For this, donít be afraid to include members from other Lodges or Grand Lodges. The more names, the better. Donít leave any out.

MASONIC MEMENTO - A one-line Masonic quip or quote. - "Masonry - No Deposit - No Return."

TRESTLEBOARD (Calendar of Events) - This is where some selling is done. The events should not be merely listed, but written in a way that makes those participating feel privileged and those who arenít involved feel like they are missing something special. Promote not only the program held at your Lodge but also the activities of other Lodges and of Grand Lodge that your members would be interested in attending if they know about them.

The lists of officers, committees and Past Masters are typically on the back cover of a bulletin. However, this information can easily be eliminated or relocated occasionally. This valuable space can be put to much more beneficial use for Masonic messages, or can be used as a billboard to promote special programs.

Wherever and whenever these lists are used, it is important that the names are spelled correctly and that the addresses and phone numbers are accurate to maintain direct communication with the officers and committee members.

OFFICERS - Give complete name, office, address and phone number of every officer. Make it easy for them to be contacted.

COMMITTEES - List all committee members and phone numbers. It is very difficult for committees to call meetings if the members cannot contact each other.

PAST MASTERS - It is normally the custom to list the Past Masters in the bulletin, including the year they were Master. This list in older or consolidated Lodges has become very lengthy and it is a good idea to limit the space allocated for this purpose. As the list increases over the years, decrease the size of print.

PRODUCTION

LAYOUT - After gathering up all of the articles and other items of interest from your various sources, it is time to create a layout of what you want the bulletin to look like. This can be accomplished in a couple very different ways.

The CUT & PASTE method uses blank pages cut and folded to the appropriate size for your bulletin. Keep in place all items that are constant throughout the year such as the cover, list of officers, committees, Past Masters, page numbers, etc. If the bulletin is printed by a professional printing company, then you should have all of the text typeset by the company so that the sizing is correct. After setting the type, they will return the articles to you so you may cut them into sections and columns and place them on your blank pages where you desire them to be printed. When you have finished placing all items and you are genuinely pleased with the appearance, send it back to the printer and the layout job is complete.

The DESKTOP PUBLISHING method is by far the easiest way of putting together a newsletter. Of course, this requires that either your Lodge have a computer with these capabilities, or that you have access to one. This process eliminates the need to send your articles to the printer to have them typeset, which saves time. It also gives you more flexibility in the placement of items and breaking them down into columns. An advantage to using a desktop publisher is being able to place items on the screen and rearranging them until you like it before printing hardcopy. (The Grand Secretary calls this "playing".) If you have a laser printer or other high quality output device, your final printout should be "photo-ready" with the exception of photos which can be half-toned by professionals for about $15 each.

PRINTING

OFFSET PRINTING - By far the highest quality method of reproducing your Lodge bulletin is offset printing. This is also the most expensive way. (Remember, itís an investment!) After the printing company receives your final version of the bulletin, a picture is taken of it. The negative is used to make a metal plate which transfers ink to a rubber roller and then to the paper.

MIMEOGRAPH - A reasonable quality print can be achieved with a mimeograph machine. This process uses stencils on which you type the text. The stencil is wrapped around an ink-filled drum which rolls the impression onto the paper as it passes through the machine. Artwork must be drawn onto the stencil and photos are practically unthinkable unless you have access to a laser stencil cutter. This piece of apparatus, from my experience with mimeographing, is an essential component to maintaining your sanity and producing a quality mimeograph.

PHOTOCOPY - Depending on the size, number of pages, and number of copies required, photocopying is a viable means of reproducing your Lodge bulletin. Photocopying results in a fair quality copy for a nominal price.

DISTRIBUTION

Have copies of the bulletin available at Lodge Communications.

Mail copies to ALL members. Remember, if they arenít attending Lodge regularly, then it is up to you to take the Lodge to them. A copy should also be mailed to the Grand Lodge Officers or at least to the Grand Master and Grand Secretary. They can be helpful by supporting Lodge events, but they have to be aware of them.

1st Class Mail - is delivered in a somewhat timely manner, but is expensive and due to increase again.

3rd Class Non-Profit Permit - provides for reduced mailing expense; encourages increased circulation because 200 or more pieces are required; special procedures are also required (i.e. sorting by zip codes); delivery is SLOW! If this is your chosen mailing method, deadlines must be set well in advance to allow for extra mailing time.

ADVANCED ITEMS

Once you have a well-established bulletin, try to branch out and improve your publication with some "extras." Consider some of these:

COLORED PAPER; COLORED INK; ARTWORK;
HEADLINES - Other than typed; PHOTOGRAPHS;
ARTISTIC LAYOUT, PLUS MANY MORE!

Bulletin Pointers

∂ Our bulletin was here before I was and it will be here when I step down. Therefore, I will be publishing my Lodgeís bulletin, not my bulletin.

∂ The size of the bulletin will not limit my ideas. My ideas will determine the size of the bulletin.

∂ I should not try to be a one-man band but rather share the load.

∂ I will get the bulletin mailed in plenty of time. How many notices have you received that promoted programs that were held yesterday? What a sorry waste of energy and talent.

∂ I will write about others -- not about ME.

∂ If I have not much to say, I will not be afraid to ask other members for an article.

∂ When we have a special program followed by refreshments, I will describe the program as well as the refreshments. I will make them both sound appetizing.

∂ I will use the largest type possible so our older Brothers can read it. I will try not to write too much in a single issue. I will keep our bulletin easy and quick to read.

∂ I will be realistic in describing our programs. I wonít over-sell. I want our members and visitors to return.

∂ I wonít guess at name spelling. I will find out the correct spelling.

∂ I will constantly remind our members "THAT YOU NEVER HAVE TO WORK YOUR WAY INTO YOUR OWN LODGE." How many times have you encountered a Brother who has not visited his Lodge in many years who quietly remarked, "I would like to visit my Lodge, but I would never be able to work my way in."

∂ What I write will be down to earth and easily understood. I will be on the level.

∂ I will write the best I can and leave the heavy philosophizing to the Masonic scholars, even if I think I am one. I will just be myself.

∂ Names of members are quick attention getters. I will also write about people our members know and only things to which they can easily relate.

∂ On special programs where visitors are expected to attend, I will give simple directions how to get to our Lodge, where to park and where not to park.

∂ I will try very hard to publish a monthly bulletin.

∂ I might not have time to develop the bulletin of my dreams during my year as Master, but I can sure get it started. I will make available to our other officers any and all ideas so the continuity will not be broken.

∂ I will economize on every other operation of the Lodge if I must, except our bulletin. I would not want to restrict the main artery to our entire membership.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014