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THE LODGE SECRETARY
THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER'S HANDBOOK
Grand Lodge, F.A.A.M. of the District of Columbia
The Secretary of your Lodge has assumed a very important position, one that many Brothers consider to be second in rank only to that of the Worshipful Master. Certainly it is one which will afford enjoyment rendering essential service to Masonry in this Jurisdiction. It is to the Secretary that the majority of the members in your Lodge will turn when they need help. They will do so because he is the one who has or knows how to obtain the information they seek.
The Secretary should work closely with the Worshipful Master of a Lodge. It is strongly suggested that the Secretary provide the Master with an insight into the work that passes over his desk. This should be done as early as possible and, if possible, well before the election and installation. The Master’s appreciation of the Secretary’s many duties and responsibilities is essential to his conception and understanding of the totality of Lodge management.
It goes without saying that a Secretary should be fully conversant with the Masonic Code of the District of Columbia. Study it carefully and use it, when occasion demands, properly. With knowledge of the Code he will be able to efficiently cope with a host of questions, and you will do so from the perspective of established law and custom.
The Grand Secretary maintains Grand Lodge records which reflect the information that the Secretary of your Lodge has furnished him through your Monthly Reports. In these reports the Secretary is to list all changes impacting on the membership of your Lodge, and is asked to do so within two working days of the last communication of the month, Stated or Special. The information provided is then expeditiously entered into the Grand Lodge Data Base, which is as current and as accurate as the information provided.
The preparation of the Annual Return of the Lodge is now being effected in the Office of the Grand Secretary, from which it is sent to the Lodge for verification of the information therein contained. It is the duty of the Lodge Secretary to carefully review its contents, certify its accuracy, and return it to the Grand Secretary, along with final payment of dues and assessments owed Grand Lodge, within 30 days of the close of the Masonic Year. Failure to make such return and payments will deprive the Lodge of its vote in Grand Lodge.
Election and Installation Report
The election and installation report for your Lodge is to be submitted to the Grand Secretary not more than two working days after the installation. This report must be in the hands of the latter prior to the Third Stated Communication (Installation) of the Grand Lodge because it contains information essential to the identification of those eligible to vote in Grand Lodge. On the report form, supplied by the Grand Secretary, the names, addresses, and telephone of the stationed officers, the Secretary and Treasurer, and the representatives of the Lodge to the Masonic and Eastern Star Home Board, the Masonic Board of Relief, the St. John’s Mite Association, and the Masonic Foundation are listed, as are the names of those selected by the Lodge as proxies for the Worshipful Master and the Senior and Junior Wardens. It should be noted that if the Officers-elect have not been installed previous to the Annual Communication in December (second Saturday), the retiring Officers or their Proxies, are entitled to the vote in Grand Lodge.
Many Lodges are required to report salaries and withholding from salaries paid to their officers to the Federal Government (IRS) and, if the officers live in Washington, D.C., to the Government of the District of Columbia. These reports are filed quarterly.
Lodges having income in excess of $25,000 per year (principally from interest and dividends on investments) are required to file IRS tax form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. It is imperative that Form 990 be filed if your Lodge meets the criteria; the penalties for not filing can be severe, and ignorance of the tax code is not an acceptable excuse!
At his installation the Lodge Secretary is charged to observe all of the proceedings of the Lodge; to make a fair record of all things proper to be written; to receive all monies due the Lodge; and to turn those monies over to the Treasurer, taking his receipt for the same. In recording those things which should be written the Secretary has many options. Some will use the format that their predecessors used, but this is not mandatory, for substance always takes precedence over form in the compilation of Lodge minutes.
Never fail to appreciate that the Lodge minutes are really input into the history of your Lodge. Hence they should be prepared carefully, and they should be typed as soon as possible after the conclusion of each meeting. Furthermore, each set of minutes should be separately entered into the minute book, with each new addition preferably starting on a new page.
The minutes, of course, should reflect the work of the Lodge. They should contain the names and addresses of candidates applying for and receiving the degrees; the degrees conferred; and the members of the degree team that did the work. They should also contain the names of those Brethren whose Masonic records are modified by Lodge action concerning demits, suspensions for non-payment of dues, suspensions and/or expulsions for anti-Masonic conduct, affiliations and reaffiliations, and deaths (including date of death).
Deaths should be included in the minutes when the announcement is made in the Lodge, even if receipt of the information follows the death of the Brother by several months. This is preferable to including a list of deaths as an appendix to the year’s minutes.
To facilitate the finding of information in the minutes, include headings such as Deaths, Applications for Degrees (or Affiliation, Fellowcraft Degree, etc.). You will find that this will help you locate information when needed. Moreover, it will simplify review of your minutes by the Grand Secretary.
If the Secretary is new to the office and needs guidance in the preparation of minutes, consult with the Grand Secretary or the Secretary of another Lodge. They will be happy to review problems, share their experiences, and make such suggestions as they deem appropriate.
Petitions for the Degrees
When a petition for the degrees is handed to the Secretary, he is to check it to see that it is in proper form, i.e., in the handwriting of the applicant and complete in every detail. Particular attention should be given to the signatures. The petitioner must have signed the petition in the three places provided. It must also be signed by two sponsors who must be members of the petitioned Lodge.
Petitions for the degrees which are received from residents of nearby Virginia, i.e., Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax, may be processed in the same manner as petitions received from residents of the District of Columbia. The Grand Lodge of D.C. enjoys concurrent jurisdiction in these areas with the Grand Lodge of Virginia. To receive petitions from Virginians who live outside the area of concurrent jurisdiction, it is necessary to first obtain a waiver of jurisdiction.
Waivers of jurisdiction are also necessary prerequisites to the receipt of petitions for residents of Maryland and other jurisdictions. When the petitions of such non-D.C. residents are presented to the Secretary, he must forward them to the Grand Secretary and request that a waiver of jurisdiction be requested from the appropriate Grand Lodge. A petitioner seeking a waiver must submit a statement, in his own hand, explaining why he wishes to become a member of a Lodge in the District of Columbia.
It is suggested that before the process begins the Secretary call or visit the petitioner, or have the sponsors do so, for the purpose of explaining the procedures involved in obtaining waivers from other jurisdictions. It is essential that the petitioner understand that the process is time consuming and that it may take up to a year to accomplish (although in Maryland the process is usually completed in about three months.) The petitioner should also be advised that he may be visited by Masons who live near his residence and that they will undoubtedly talk to him about Masonry in that jurisdiction. Finally, he should be appraised of the fact that some applications for waiver are denied.
Receiving the Petition
Petitions, when submitted, are received by a majority vote of the Lodge. This action is reported to the Grand Secretary by the Secretary in his Monthly Report (Applications for Degrees). Care must be taken to insure that all entries, including the candidate’s full name, address, occupation, and date of birth are correct, as this information is used in preparing the monthly Grand Lodge Bulletin as well as the candidate’s "History Card." Following receipt by the Lodge, the petition must lay over for one lunar month before it can be balloted on. During this period the investigating committee must meet with the petitioner and render its reports to the Lodge Secretary. If a waiver of jurisdiction is required, no action may be taken by the Lodge until it is obtained.
In reviewing the petition prior to presenting it in the Lodge, the Secretary should be careful in noting statements pertaining to the physical condition of the petitioner. If the petitioner has physical problems that would prevent him from conforming to the forms and ceremonies of the ritual, the Master must discuss the problem with the Grand Master and receive the latter’s permission (i.e., a dispensation) to receive the petition.
Investigating the Petitioner
It is the duty of the Worshipful Master to appoint an investigating committee for every petitioner. It is the responsibility of the Secretary to send each member of the committee an investigation form (Committee on Investigation Report on Petitioner.) The Worshipful Master will supply the date on which the ballot will be taken. If the forms are not returned about a week before the ballot date, calls to the committeemen are in order. If all three report forms are not returned prior to the scheduled date of ballot, the ballot cannot be taken. In this event a new committee must be appointed, the petition readvertised to the members, and a new date of ballot set.
Balloting on a Petition
The ballot on a petition must be taken at a Stated Communication, previous to which the members of the Lodge must be notified bv sealed correspondence that a ballot will be taken on the petitioner. The notice must provide the name of the petitioner, his occupation, home address, place of business and the date of the ballot to be taken. The sending of a postal card or other unsealed correspondence is contrary to the provisions of the Masonic Code.
If a petitioner is balloted on for the degrees and is elected to receive the same, the Entered Apprentice Degree may be conferred upon him the same evening that he is elected. HOWEVER, it is preferred that arrangements be made for the conferral of the degree on some later date. A Lodge could be embarrassed if it schedules the degree on a night that the ballot is taken and the candidate is rejected.
When a ballot is taken and the applicant is elected to receive the degrees, the Secretary must report this in the Monthly Report. Likewise if the applicant is rejected, this too must be reported to the Grand Secretary via the Monthly Report.
If a petitioner is rejected for the Degrees by a vote of the Lodge, he must wait a minimum of six months before he may reapply. A petitioner rejected for affiliation may reapply immediately.
When an application for affiliation is received, care must be taken to obtain full knowledge of the applicant. The application must be modified to indicate the petitioner’s purpose, i.e., to obtain dual membership, a transfer of membership, or the reinstatement of membership because of being dropped for non-payment of dues or suspension. If the application involves a transfer of membership, it must be accompanied by either a Transfer Certificate from the Lodge of the petitioner or a dimit from the same. Applications for and election to affiliated membership are also to be reported on the Monthly Report of the Lodge to the Grand Secretary. It is important, particularly in the affiliation of dual members, that degree dates be included in the report, in as much as these are entered upon the brother’s History Card.
Conferral of the Degrees
After a candidate is duly elected to receive the Degrees, the Master of the Lodge should develop his plan to confer them. Before the conferral of any degree the members of the Lodge must be notified of the candidate’s name and the date of the proposed conferral by sealed correspondence. Conferrals must be done in accordance with the Masonic Code, i.e., with a minimum interval of one lunar month (28 days) between degrees to permit the Brother to become proficient in the degree received. In extenuating circumstances appeals may be made to the Grand Master for a dispensation to shorten the interval. Degrees may be conferred at Stated or at Special Communications called for that purpose, and all degree conferrals must be recorded on the Monthly Report of the Lodge.
It is preferable to confer the degrees upon a candidate in his own Lodge, but it is sometimes necessary to rely on another Lodge in this or another jurisdiction to do the work. To facilitate this process the Lodge of the candidate must first vote to request assistance from another Lodge, to which a written request (if the Lodge is in this jurisdiction) is directed. A vote of approval by the Lodge receiving the request is also necessary. Should a dispensation be needed to set aside the statutory period between degrees for the candidate receiving the courtesy work, the Lodge of the candidate is responsible for obtaining it. Once a courtesy degree has been conferred, the requesting Lodge is so informed in writing, and this information is to be included in the Monthly Report of the candidate’s Lodge.
If the conferral of the degree(s) and/or instruction on the degree(s) is to be accomplished in another jurisdiction, arrangements must be made through the office of the Grand Secretary. The Lodge Secretary should apprise the Grand Secretary of what is to be requested of whom, and ask him to make the arrangements through his counterpart in the appropriate jurisdiction. In no case should a Secretary of a Constituent Lodge take it upon himself to correspond with the Grand Secretary of another jurisdiction or with a Lodge in another jurisdiction without first contacting the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
Requests for courtesy work by other Jurisdictions are similarly handled through the office of the Grand Secretary. When a request is received he will contact the designated Lodge, and if none is designated, he will solicit a Lodge that is able to respond in full. After the conferral of each degree, the responsible Lodge will record that fact on its Monthly Report, noting the degree conferred and the Lodge for which it was conferred. Following the conferral of the degrees and/or the completion of the instruction requested, the Lodge Secretary should so inform the Grand Secretary, and he, in turn, will communicate that fact to the Grand Secretary of the requesting jurisdiction.
Non-Payment of Dues
The Masonic Code states that no Lodge shall expel a member for non-payment of dues but by a vote of the lodge. One month after notice that he is delinquent, a member may be dropped from the roll, but he shall be reinstated by payment of the arrearages if paid within one year from the time he was dropped.
It is recommended that notice of delinquency be delivered in writing and, if possible, by either registered or certified mail and with a return receipt requested.
Because of cost, certified mail is presently suggested. Every effort should be made to contact the delinquent brother, either by telephone or personal for the purpose of impressing upon him the consequences of being dropped for non-payment of dues. If a Brother is a dual member, loss of membership in either Lodge causes the loss of membership in both, as well as in any of the Appendant Bodies to which he may belong. He also loses his right of admission to the Masonic and Eastern Star Home and to Masonic burial. Once dropped for N.P.D., a delinquent Brother immediately becomes an unaffiliated Mason. The Lodge Secretary is to list all Brothers dropped for N.P.D. on the Monthly Report to the Grand Secretary.
When a Brother pays his arrearage dues within one calendar year from the time he was dropped for N.P.D., he is automatically reinstated and suffers no loss of membership time. Reinstatements of this type are to be recorded on the Monthly Report of the Lodge Secretary under the heading "Reinstatements." In recording reinstatements it is essential that the full name, address, and birth date of those reinstated be included so that a new entry may be made in the membership Data File. Please note that names removed from the Lodge roll through the year are removed from the Computer Data Base at the end of the year. If a Brother fails to pay his arrearage within one calendar year from the date he was dropped, he must petition the Lodge for reaffiliation.
Death is the greatest cause of membership decline in this jurisdiction. In order to maintain the record of your Lodge on a current basis in the office of the Grand Secretary, the Secretary must report all deaths on the Monthly Report. If the deceased Brother is a Past Master of the Lodge, please indicate on the report the year that he served in the East.
A Transfer Certificate shall be issued to a Brother in good standing (his dues having been paid three months in advance and he having no charges preferred or about to be preferred against him) upon his written request when he wishes to move his membership from one Lodge to another in this jurisdiction. The Transfer Certificate is issued at the direction of the Worshipful Master at the Stated Communication at which the request is presented. It is valid for three months from the date of issue. If no action is taken within this time by the petitioned Lodge or if the Brother is rejected for membership therein, he retains membership in his original Lodge. If he is elected to membership, the lower portion of the Transfer Certificate must be completed by the Secretary of the new Lodge and returned to the Grand Secretary for transmittal to the Secretary of the original Lodge. Upon receipt the Secretary of the old Lodge reports the transfer on his Monthly Report; likewise. the Secretary of the new Lodge reports the election of the Brother therein on his Monthly Report.
A Transfer Certificate issued by a Lodge in another jurisdiction having a similar law may be accepted in the same manner.
There are occasions when a Brother will request a dimit from the Lodge. This request cannot be denied and the dimit must be furnished the Brother, providing he is clear on the books and no Masonic charges are or are about to be placed against him. The dimit form should be completed, signed by the Secretary and the Worshipful Master, under the seal of the Lodge, and then forwarded to the Grand Secretary for his signature and the seal of the Grand Lodge.
It is helpful and saves time if an envelope addressed to the Brother receiving the dimit is sent to the Grand Secretary along with the dimit and any other correspondence that is to be forwarded. The Grand Secretary can then transmit the dimit directly, eliminating the delay that would be incurred by return of the dimit to the Lodge Secretary. The issuance of dimits is to be reported on the Monthly Report of the Lodge.
Dimits are not issued to dual members. A dual member wishing to withdraw is issued a certificate stating only that he has voluntarily terminated his dual membership.
Change of Address
One of the most formidable tasks confronting the Grand Lodge is the maintenance of a mailing list of members in the jurisdiction. The Lodge Secretary should make every effort to keep his Lodge mailing list up to date and to report changes of address promptly on his Monthly Report.
It is suggested that envelopes with an "Address Correction Requested" message printed thereon be used to transmit Lodge correspondence, at least periodically. Returned bulk mail will be at a cost to the Lodge, but the Lodge will be enabled to maintain contact with Brethren whose whereabouts might otherwise become unknown.
Release of Jurisdiction
Release of jurisdiction over petitioners is covered in the Grand Lodge and in Decisions that have been rendered on Sections of the Code by a number of Grand Masters. These sources make it clear that requests for waivers of jurisdiction must be made by the petitioner, or in cases when the petitioner has been previously rejected, by the Lodge in which he currently seeks admission. When a release of jurisdiction is granted, this action is to be recorded on the Monthly Report of the Lodge granting the release.
Certificate of Non-Indebtedness
After one year, on payment of arrearages to the time that a Brother was dropped, the Lodge shall, on written application of the Brother, give that Brother a certificate stating that he has paid all indebtedness to the Lodge. This certificate shall be signed by the Worshipful Master and attested to by the Secretary under the seal of the Lodge. The Brother receiving the Certificate of Non-Indebtedness becomes an unaffiliated Mason. This action is to be reported on the Monthly Report of the Lodge.
When a Brother has been tried and, as a result of trial, is suspended or expelled, this action is to be recorded in the Monthly Report.
A Brother who is a member in good standing in a Lodge in this jurisdiction, or in another jurisdiction where dual membership is not forbidden by its law, may become a dual member in this jurisdiction without the submission of a dimit or equivalent certificate. A Master Mason is permitted to become a member of more than two Lodges in this jurisdiction at one and the same time. An application for affiliation must be on the customary form, suitably modified to meet the particular conditions, and after its receipt by a majority vote of the Lodge, it must follow the course prescribed in Section 118 of the Masonic Code. Upon election, the Brother shall, except for the privilege of receiving a dimit, be entitled to all the privileges, including the holding of office, accorded to any other member of the Lodge and he shall likewise be subject to all the responsibilities attaching to Lodge membership. Involuntary loss of membership for any cause other than non-payment of dues of a dual member in a Lodge in another jurisdiction shall work a loss of membership in all Lodges in this jurisdiction. Loss of membership for non-payment of dues of a dual member in another jurisdiction shall not affect his membership in his primary Lodge in his jurisdiction. Loss of membership for any cause in either Lodge9primary or secondary) in this jurisdiction of a dual member shall work a loss of membership in all Lodges in this jurisdiction. A Brother residing in another jurisdiction who is a member in good standing of a Lodge in this Jurisdiction may become an affiliated member of a Lodge in such other jurisdiction, under conditions and restrictions as indicated above, if the laws of that jurisdiction permit dual membership.
Whenever a dual member applies in writing, he shall, if he is clear on the books and no charges have been or are about to be preferred against him, receive a certificate from the Lodge stating only that he has voluntarily terminated (withdrawn) his dual membership in a Lodge in the District of Columbia. This action should be reported to the Grand Secretary via the Monthly Report.
With the implementation of the computerized membership record system, the method of reporting Lodge membership actions was changed, as of October 1, 1985. The use of individual "action cards" is a thing of the past.
A monthly reporting form is now used to notify the Grand Secretary of membership changes which occur in your Lodge. Your Secretary will be provided 26 sets (four pages each) of the Monthly Report forms each year, two for each month (so he can make a carbon copy for your Lodge records) and two extras in case he should need them. It is important that the Secretary use these forms. If the Secretary prefers not to type the entries, please write or print legibly and be careful to spell names correctly. All categories of Lodge membership activities are included in the forms. The history card for the permanent file will be completed in the office of the Grand Secretary as the candidate receives his degrees.
Your assistance and cooperation is absolutely necessary if the system is to work. Thus you are asked to submit all four pages of the Monthly Report to the Grand Secretary within two working days of the last communication of your Lodge each month, including July and August, whether you have anything to report or not. If there is no activity in a given category, indicate that by ‘none’ or ‘N/A.’
Preparation of the Annual Return
The Masonic Code (Sections 87 and 88) requires that each Lodge of the District of Columbia shall close its books and accounts on September 30 of each year and shall, within thirty days thereafter make a just and true return to the Grand Lodge of its members on September 30, giving one given name and initial or initials, etc. for each member.
The failure to make a proper return and to pay Grand Lodge dues shall deprive the Lodge of its vote in Grand Lodge; if a Lodge fails to make such a return for two years, its charter shall be forfeited and immediately recalled by the Grand Master.
The Annual Return is now being prepared in the office of the Grand Secretary as follows. As near September 15 as possible each Secretary will be furnished two copies of a printout of the roster of his Lodge, along with the address of each member. The Secretary must then verify the correctness of data appearing on the printout, making such corrections as are necessary, and return a corrected copy to the Grand Secretary not later than September 30. The Grand Secretary, on receipt of your September Monthly Report, will enter information contained therein into the Membership Data Base, together with any corrections you may have made on the roster printout. He will then prepare your computerized Annual Return and furnish you with two copies. Your Grand Lodge dues and assessments for the Masonic Year ending September 30 will be based on the information contained in the Annual Return.
When your copies of the Annual Return have been received and the Secretary has determined that they are correct, return one copy to the Grand Secretary, along with a Lodge check in the amount shown on the recapitulation sheet. Make certain that the recapitulation sheet is signed by the Worshipful Master, and the Lodge Secretary and affix the Lodge seal. This indicates to the Grand Secretary that you accept the computerized record as correct. The second copy of the Annual Return is to be kept as a permanent record by your Lodge as it is a summary of all the activities of your Lodge for the year.
The Lodge Secretary is required to submit his Lodge minutes for the year to the Grand Secretary for review at least 10 days before the scheduled Grand Visitation to his Lodge. The Lodge Treasurer is also required, within the same time frame, to submit his ledger, along with his report, to the Grand Treasurer for his review.
Report on the Installation of Officers
The installation report should be submitted immediately after the installation of officers in your Lodge. By no means should it be submitted later than December 27. Be sure to complete the reverse side of the report by listing those members who have been elected or appointed to represent your Lodge on the Masonic Board of Relief (two members), the Board of Directors of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home, the St. John’s Mite Association, and the Masonic Foundation, All Lodges are required by the Masonic Code to have representation, as indicated, with the exception of the Masonic Foundation, and that is also encouraged by the Grand Lodge.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014