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A Senior Wardenís Planning Guide
by Bro Wayne T. Adams
This is a great tool for upcoming Master to lay out their year and communicate it to the brethren
My name is Hiram Drummond. Iím Senior Warden of Boaz Lodge, No. 59 in Centerville, Maine. Iíve been in line six years now. Next year, if all goes well, Iíll be Master of Boaz Lodge.
As I went through the chairs, I was fairly punctual in my attendance, tried to do what was expected of me and paid attention to the advice given me. I also tried to learn from the not entirely complimentary observations made by a few of the older members about the performance of some of the Masters in line ahead of me.
I want to do a good job as Master of Boaz Lodge. I have put too much time into it just to slide through and pick up my past masterís jewel at the end. Sliding through, of course, is the easy way. Donít stick your neck out. Donít rock the boat. Donít ruffle any feathers. Do everything just the way it has always has been done in the past. Well, Iím not that kind of person. Even if I were, that way of doing things has not brought Boaz Lodge very much success in recent years. No, my name isnít Hiram for nothing. Iím going to do the job as best I see it, and as best I can. It is going to be square, level and plumb.
One thing I know for sure. I wonít get anything done unless I set some goals and have a plan. Everyone needs a personal trestleboard. This is mine.
The first thing I need to get a handle on is the lodge budget. I havenít paid much attention to that in the past. Iíve noticed that no one else has either. Dues notices go out, money comes in, and everyone hopes there will be enough to pay the bills. I donít want to hope. I donít want to be surprised. I want to know. This is what Iím doing: I have put together an income statement showing how much I expect the lodge will take in during the coming year in dues, fees and other sources of income. Then I will itemize the projected expenses for the year. If the income doesnít equal the expenses, Iíve got a problem. If so, I want to know about it before my installation and not after. Then, if I or someone else comes up with an idea that costs money, I'll know if we have the money to do it. The outline of my budget is Item A attached to this trestleboard.
My main goal is to leave Boaz Lodge better than I found it. A few years ago the Grand Lodge Education Committee prepared a short paper called ďThe Lodge Leadership ProgramĒ. It wasnít really a program. It was a planning tool. The most useful part is the five pages at the end that gives indicators of lodge activity in the areas of ritual, masonic education, fellowship activities, building maintenance and care and share activities. The Lodge Leadership Program is Item B attached to this trestle board. I am going to check off the things that Boaz Lodge does already, and then write down here the things I would like to do next year in each of the five areas. I know that the District Deputy and the District Education Representative will want to go over them with me. I want to be able to show them that I understand the areas which need work in order to keep Boaz Lodge a living Lodge.
Many Masters have used a document called the Hallmarks of a Living Lodge which offers some standards for measuring the of success of a Lodge. These standards are found in Item C attached to this Trestleboard. I plan to review these standards carefully because I know that several Masters in my District found them useful in planning their year.
In addition to leaving Boaz Lodge better than I found it, I want to make sure it has a good reputation in the community. One of the things I will be able to do is apply for a matching grant to the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The application form and directions are attached as Item D. I need to think about a community betterment project which would involve members of the Lodge and which we could accomplish. Last year the Foundation matched Lodge funds dollar for dollar up to $500. This year they plan to do at least that much and maybe more. These are a few of the community betterment ideas I will discuss with my officers.
Iím going to start early to setup my line officers. I have seen others wait until the last minute. Then they twist arms and tell each prospect thereís nothing much to the job, no major commitment. Well, those are the guys that drop out of line when they find out there is a commitment. I am going to try to leave behind me a strong line of committed officers. Iím going to start my list of officers right now. Master Hiram Drummond
While Iím about it, I need to line up some other people. Our rehearsals can get a little irregular and disorganized. During our Degrees two or three sideliners will often speak out every time someone hesitates. I want to smooth that operation out. I need a man who knows the ritual, who is willing to help out at rehearsals and who is willing to act as prompter. My choice for Ritual Instructor is:_____________________________telephone:_______________
I have seen too many candidates go through the three degrees learning little or nothing about Masonry. I suppose they end up thinking this is fun night with a little hocus-pocus thrown in. They donít learn any of the valuable lessons of Masonry. They never learn what itís all about. Itís no surprise that many of them donít come back.
I need three Brothers on my Candidate Education Committee who can help the candidates with their lessons and who are willing to meet with them and explain their degrees using the materials provided in the candidate Instructors Manual. I would the five members to divide up the responsibilities so that each one covers one segment: Accepted Candidate, Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Master Mason and Fourth Night. These are my choices for members of my Education Committee.
The truth of the matter is that our building looks a little seedy. Nothing major. A good cleaning, some fresh paint and a little routine maintenance would help. Some of the guys think these jobs just get done by themselves. I donít know whether they think their motherís are going to do it or what. I do know things donít get done unless you tend to them. I need three men who are handy and have some time - perhaps some retired brethren - who are willing to make the building a personal project so the place will be more presentable to the public and especially to prospective candidates. I donít expect them to do all the work, just to organize it. These are my choices:
There always seems to be some confusion at the beginning of each year about who is doing what lecture. Our Master almost never assigns lectures. Some men drift into one lecture and hold on to it for five years. Thatís not the way to do it. Each officer should progress through the chairs learning a little more at each step. There are basically six lectures: three in the EA degree, on in the FC degree and the two parts of the Master Mason lecture. This is the plan of lectures that I would like to set up:
The custom in my lodge has been to appoint the same members to the Committee on Inquiry year after year. Thatís not necessarily bad if they are doing their job. I want to make sure my committee does its job and checks out each petitioner before recommending him. If thereís any doubt in my mind, I will ask someone else to serve on this committee. These are my choices:
Iím going to tell my Committee of Inquiry that I donít want them to just rubber stamp applications. I want them to meet with prospective candidates. We try to improve ourselves in Masonry. There are several ways we do this: We do it through the lessons of our degrees, for sure. But the most important way we learn Masonry is from each other. A Mason should be able to sit in his lodge and look to the man on his right hand or to the man on his left and feel confident he can learn something from the way those men live their lives. The Committee of Inquiry has the job of making the initial determination about the applicant. I need to make it clear that I want this committee to do its job. The fact that they may be older or have more credentials than I will not keep me from making this clear.
I will have ten stated communications during my year. One of those will be the annual meeting. That leaves nine to plan for. Degree work is hard to anticipate because I donít know how many candidates I will have or when I will get them or how fast they will progress. In any event, I would like to do degree work on specials. For my stated meetings I would like to have programs. I would like three or four Masonic programs and three or four non-Masonic programs.
For my Masonic programs I will talk to the District Deputy and the District Rep for suggestions. Here are some subjects that would interest members of Boaz Lodge.
For non-Masonic programs I am going to look first to our own members. If we have a fire chief or a police chief or the chairman of a budget board, he will have something he knows about and would like to talk about. Any of our members who are involved in businesses or professions or community activities will have interesting topics. Here are the three Brothers I am going to ask to present short programs:
I want to have some non-Masons as well. The head of our local rescue squad is not a Mason but could give an interesting talk. A local stock broker is not a Mason but would be very willing to describe what he does in hopes of getting some new customers. Here are three non-Masons that I would like to invite to speak.
It is always a little awkward having non-Masons as speakers because they cannot come into our meeting. One way that I can handle this is to open the lodge early, recess, have the speaker, break for refreshments, and then have a short business meeting after he or she has left. Iíll have to check my by-laws to be sure theyíll let me do this.
I need to set up my pocket calendar for next year showing my stated meetings and enter as soon as I can the programs I have for those meetings. I need to note regularly scheduled suppers, Special Ladies Night and any other special events, such as Past Masters nights or District Meeting. I need to keep this calendar up to date so that I can make plans and keep track of inspections, district meetings and schools of instruction. The first date I have to plan is my installation, and that brings up my next subject. Installation. I need to start planning now. This is the date I have selected _____________________.This is the time ______________________. There are some people I need to line up early:
In addition, I would like to involve the following Brothers in the installation because of their close relationship with one or more of the officers being installed:
The person helping me with the refreshments is:____________
The person helping me put the program together is:__________
The person helping me set up is:_______________
I plan to give little mementos to my installing suite. This is what I plan to get:_________________________________
Frankly I get bored with business meetings. Most people get bored with them. Ours seem to last forever. That is going to change. I am going to use the recommended agenda attached as Item D to this trestleboard to keep me on track.
Iím not getting bogged down in meetings. Iím going to avoid getting bogged down by doing two things: First, when I want to present something at the meeting, Iím going to make sure that my officers know about it and that one of them makes a motion to get it on the floor for discussion. Second, whenever it looks like weíre not going to make a decision easily, I am going to appoint a committee and ask them to report back with a recommendation at our next stated meeting. I want a reputation for short, crisp, business meetings.
Past Masters Night
This is a tradition in Boaz Lodge and probably in most lodges. I plan to do what many presiding Masters do: I will ask my predecessor, the most junior Past Master, to organize the evening. The way most people go about this is to start with the oldest Past Master and come forward asking each in turn his choice of Chair for Past Masters Night. If noone takes the Masters Chair, the junior Past Master does it. It he is clever he can fill all the chairs before it gets to him. I donít know exactly what I will have for candidates, but I would like to have Past Masterís night on _________________________________
My District Deputy will pick the date for the Annual Inspection. I have the procedure for receiving the District Deputy in HIRAMíS HANDBOOK. Some District Deputies like to come around a week early or on rehearsal night to check the secretaryís records and the treasurerís books. I will offer to do that. I will remember to tell the ticket taker that our custom is to give supper tickets to the District Deputy and his Marshal. I would like to schedule my inspection for ____________________
Special Ladies Night
This has become a tradition at Boaz Lodge and most other lodges in Maine. Some lodges schedule this event in the evening and some prefer luncheon meetings, on a Saturday in May for example. Luncheons are popular because some widows donít like to go out after dark or when it is icy. We always invite the widow and a guest. This is important because a few of them like to have someone bring them, a friend or a daughter. Musical programs are good. Sing-a-longs are especially popular. This is my plan for the special ladies:
I have seen many Masters work very hard at the Special Ladies event - but they spend all their time in the kitchen. I know that it is important for me to speak to each one of the ladies individually. They are guests of my lodge, and this year I am the host.
We need to give better recognition to our Brothers who mark Masonic milestones. My grandfather received his 50 year medal several years ago. My grandmother found it in his drawer after he died. It was the first time she had ever seen it. I plan to invite family members to be present when we recognize Brothers for long years of service to our lodge and to the fraternity. Also, I want pictures for the local papers.
Every Lodge needs new members. Boaz Lodge is no exception. I have attended a couple of Fellowship Nights and notice that over half of the guests submitted applications. Fellowship nights have proven themselves to be a good way to introduce Masonry to a prospective member and his wife. The steps for setting up a Fellowship night is found in Section 17 of HIRAMíS HANDBOOK. I am going to talk to the District Deputy about holding a District-wide Fellowship Night. If others are not interested, I will hold one right here for Boaz Lodge.
My goal is to have a number of candidates equal to five percent of my total membership. That is what the figures say we must have each year to maintain our membership. I am not going to wait and see if any petitions come in. I am going to speak to two or three of my own friends about Masonry. I am going to give them information about Masonry and point out that our tradition is that a man must ask for an application. There are several reasons for this: First, if we stick to this rule it prevents, or should prevent, arm twisting. A man should not submit an application under pressure. Second, it puts the pressure on us where it should be. If we are good Masons, do what Masons should do, and have a reputation for being good men, then non-Masons will be eager to submit applications.
I need to talk to my District Deputy about a Fellowship Night. This is a tried and true formula. Men and their families learn a great deal about Masonry at Fellowship Nights. A significant percentage of them submit applications. The yield is good, and Iíll want to take advantage of this way of introducing some prospective candidates to Masonry.
Just to get it straight, I am going to write this whole process down. After I have read a petition, the proper motion is ďto receive the petition and refer it to the Committee of Inquiry.Ē I am going to make sure that someone makes this motion correctly.
When it is time to ballot on a petition, I am going to read it and say, ďWe are now going to ballot on the petition of John Doe to receive the degrees of Masonry. Brother Senior Deacon, you will prepare the ballot.Ē I will then take it to the Junior Warden, the Senior Warden and back to me.
Each of us will take the drawer out of the box, turn it upside down and put it back in. I will then say, ďWe are now going to ballot on the petition of John Doe to receive the degrees of Masonry. Remember, white balls elect, black cubes reject. Vote wisely and vote for the good of the Order.Ē I will then vote.
The Senior Deacon will take the ballot box to the Senior Warden, the Junior Warden, the Chaplain and then clockwise around the lodge. The Senior Deacon will vote last and then appear before me. I will say, ďHave all voted who are entitled to do so?Ē If there is no objection, I will say, ďI now declare the ballot closed. Brother Senior Deacon you will present the ballot South, West and East for EXAMINATION.Ē That being done, I will ask,Ē Brother Junior Warden, how find you the ballot in the South?Ē and then ask the same question to the Senior Warden in the West. If both report that the ballot is clear and I, too, find the ballot clear, I will say, ďFinding the ballot clear in the East, you have elected John Doe to receive the degrees of MasonryĒ.
If there is one black cube the ballot should be called ďcloudyĒ. On the basis that there may have been a mistake, I will destroy the ballot and repeat the procedure. If the cube appears a second time I will announce, ďFinding the ballot again cloudy in the East, you have voted to deny John Doe the degrees of Masonry.Ē If there are two black cubes , the ballot will be called ďdarkĒ and I will announce, ďFinding the ballot dark in the East, you have voted to deny John Doe the degrees of Masonry.Ē
I will not forget to see that my Tyler has an opportunity to vote. If he wishes to vote, I will have the Junior Deacon step outside the tiled door while the Tyler comes in to vote.
This is the custom in our Lodge. I understand in some Lodges the ballot is not sent South and West for examination because a Master has to declare a ballot dark if an absent Brother has previously made his objection known to the Master. If that happens to me, I will drop a black cube myself.
First impressions are important. It is important to give the prospective candidate information about Masonry. It is important for the investigating committee to speak positively about Masonry. It is important for the man who proposes him tell him about the ballot. It is important for the Secretary to send him a letter announcing a favorable vote in the form found in Section 9 of the HANDBOOK. It is important for the Chairman of the Education Committee and his proposer to meet with the prospect prior to his first degree. The information to be covered in such a meeting is listed in the Instructorís Manual. All of these things are designed to make a candidate comfortable in a new and potentially awkward situation. I need to talk to the proposers, the Secretary and the Chairman of the Education Committee about these things.
I know that if a candidate is to complete his three degrees and feel comfortable about it, comfortable enough to come back and comfortable enough to visit another lodge, he needs to know some of the basics. These basics are listed on the candidate progress chart, which I am attaching as Item F.
This chart will be useful to the Chairman of the Education Committee to mark each candidateís progress. More directly, it will be useful to me. My most important job as Master is to make sure that a basic knowledge of the craft is passed on to each new Mason. I am going to have that chart in front of me when I ask the Chairman of the Educational Committee if the candidate is ready to go on to his next degree.
Iíve seen a lot of Masters stumble on the simple matter of changing from one degree to another. This is my note so that I will do it correctly. To change from Master Mason to Entered Apprentice, for example, I will say, ďWaiving the usual signs and ceremonies, I declare labor suspended in a Lodge of Master Masons a Lodge of Entered Apprentices opened for work. Brother Senior Deacon will arrange the lights, Brother Junior Deacon will inform the Tyler.Ē
After the work is completed in the lower degree I will say, ďI declare work concluded in a Lodge of Entered Apprentices and labor resumed in a Lodge of Master Masons. Brother Senior Deacon will rearrange the lights, Brother Junior Deacon will inform the TylerĒ.
After a candidate has been initiated as an Entered Apprentice, I am going to send a letter to his wife to ease any concerns she may have. The form letter I will use is in Section 9 of the HANDBOOK.
Once a candidate takes his first degree, I want to start right in making him feel a part of Boaz Lodge, involving him in the life of the lodge. There is a list of simple things I can do as presiding Master to arrange a simple apprenticeship. That list is in Section 7 of the HANDBOOK. If I donít get him involved right away I may lose him. I am going to try to involve each candidate in all 12 of the activities on that list.
I hope I donít have any memorial services during my year, but the odds are that Iíll have several. There are some things that I must remember to do:
First, I need to remember to read the text through several times before each service. Just reading it over will make it go more smoothly.
Second, I need to remember it is important for me, as Master, to go speak to the widow/or family after the service. This is always a difficult situation, but itís not necessary to say a lot: it is only necessary to say (1) that we appreciate being asked to do the service; (2) that Brother Doe was a good Mason and will be greatly missed; and (3) if there is anything we can do to help, please let us know. There is not much more that can be said. If I need to say more, I will say those same things again in a slightly different way and leave the family to speak with the others that are present.
Third, after the service I will send a letter to the new widow in the form found if Section 9 of the HANDBOOK.
Unfortunately, we have a few members who are chronically late in the payment of their dues. Our rules call for formal notification by Certified Mail followed by a vote on suspension. Before all that happens I would like to send a less formal letter to the delinquent brother to see if we can help the brother out and to see if we can avoid a suspension. The form letter found in Section 9 of the HANDBOOK.
I will have two tasks at the Annual Meeting. I need to get all the reports approved and I need to get a new slate of officers elected. First are the reports: The Secretary and the Treasurer will read their annual reports. After each report the Motion should be ĎTo lay the report on the table pending the report of the Finance Committee.Ē After the report of the Finance Committee, the motion should be ďto approve the report of the Finance Committee, report of the Secretary and the report of the Treasurer.Ē
Balloting for a new slate of officers is tricky, since everyone advances one chair with a few newer men being added as Stewards. Simple enough. But the rule is that each officer is to be voted on individually by secret ballot, yes or no. There is a good reason for this. If it appears that a man is deemed to be inappropriate to advance to a new office the members have an opportunity to prevent it. Some lodges follow this rule scrupulously. In the past we have taken some short cuts at Boaz Lodge. That works as long as no one objects. If any one objects I will be in hot water. I will keep my eyes open prior to the May Annual meeting. If there is even the hint of dissatisfaction, I will conduct the balloting strictly by the rules and not follow any past short cuts. Sometimes, the hard way is the best.
There are two awards that each lodge is eligible for. The first is the Raymond Rideout Award for Masonic Education. The criteria for that award is attached as Item G.
The second award is the Grand Lecturerís Award for excellence in ritual. I owe it to my Lodge to do whatever I can to put Boaz in competition for these two awards. Itís a year long process to do the things necessary to qualify. I will start planning now.
Starting now and continuing right through to my successorís installation as Worshipful Master, I have to remember that for one year I will be the voice of Boaz Lodge. One of the most important parts of my job, if not the most important, is communication. There are several groups that I must reach out to.
I need to communicate to my officers. I need to tell them what I expect of them, what lectures I would like them to be responsible for and what committees they will serve on.
I need to communicate with the Brethren. I need to speak individually with each brother who attends a Lodge meeting to let him know that I notice him and I appreciate the fact that he is there. I need to remember that my trestleboard is the only way I have to communicate with 90 per cent of my members. I need to make it informative, telling the brethren what is going on. I need to mention names and give credit. My trestleboard is a way to let absent Brethren know there is activity at Boaz Lodge and that they are missing it.
I need to communicate with my Past Masters and make them part of my team. I know they are the backbone of Boaz Lodge. They have invested a lot of time over the years and I know they will be willing to help if they see that others are making an effort.
I need to communicate appreciation on behalf of the lodge to everyone who helps out on a project, from the chief cook to the bottle washer. They are all important. I need to thank them in public and give them credit in my trestleboard. Everyone likes to know that his effort is recognized. One of my most important tasks is to offer that recognition on behalf of the whole lodge.
I need to communicate with the elder Brethren and the widows. A visit is important. A telephone call is almost as good. I have to remember that I communicate not only my personal concern but the concern of the whole lodge.
I need to recognize and chat with each wife that comes to a lodge event. I know that today both husband and wife usually work. Their time is valuable. It is important for wives to feel that their husbandís membership is important. I want to make sure that any fellowship activities or recognition evenings include wives so that lodge membership offers an opportunity to participate.
This is my trestleboard. It is a tall order. It wonít be easy. It wonít be simple, but it can be done. My name isnít Hiram for nothing.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014