Preparing For The East
Preparing for the East is best accomplished
by beginning early.
If you truly wish to create a memorable year during
your reign as Worshipful Master, at a minimum, you should begin preparing
yourself during your year as Junior Warden.
lodges appoint instructors to teach Masonic ritual. Very few Masters,
however, receive training in how to conduct lodge meetings, how to set up an
Audit Committee nor how to schedule their year.
As a result, many Masters
feel over burdened. With proper pre-planning, you can overcome these
obstacles and make your year into one which subsequent Masters may look to for
Very little is available to assure that the
incoming Master has a grasp of the history, philosophy and the symbolism of the
Craft. The fundamentals of' lodge management and ongoing lodge programs and
events are rarely talked about in detail. Therefore, lodge operations and
lodge administration are areas which few lodge officers are completely
comfortable with when left to educate themselves. Many never do. Others begin
Preparing For The East: Accumulating
Masonic Reading: Prior to
setting his designs on the trestleboard, the future Master would do well to
spend at least two years becoming a knowledgeable Freemason as he begins
preparing for the East. This is not to
suggest that he must become a Masonic scholar, only that he become familiar with
the writings of learned brethren such as the following.
Joseph Fort Newton, Thomas Sherrod Roy, H. L.
Haywood, Albert Mackey, Robert Gould, Roscoe Pound, Dwight Smith, Alphonse Cerza,
Harry Carr, Conrad Hahn, and Carl Claudy and others.
The Grand Lodge library is an excellent
source for material, as is the Masonic Service Association. Your lodge library
and even your public library may also be good resources. In addition,
there are many outstanding Masonic publications in the United States.
Quatuor Coronati Research Lodge:
Membership in the Correspondence Circle of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076,
London, England, the premier Masonic research lodge in the world, is also very
enlightening and recommended. Membership is also inexpensive.
The Master who acquires a background in the
history, philosophy, and symbolism of the Craft better understands the mission
of Freemasonry and his own duties within the lodge.
Placing Your Designs Upon Your
Many newly elected Masters err by attempting
to set the craft to work before they have placed their own designs upon their
Trestleboard...believing that they will simply follow the previous Master's
footsteps. However a "special" year is best produced by having a
pre-thought-out and special plan as you begin preparing for the East.
Preparing For the East: Setting the Craft to Work
Setting the Craft to work is more than the
ritual work of initiating, passing, and raising candidates. The
Master should encourage each member to take part in the activity best suited to
his character and abilities and to make sure there is an activity in which each
member can participate.
Preparing For the East: Delegation
Preparing for the East requires
delegation/request of duties. This lightens the load and creates teamwork
which both strengthens the lodge and creates a noticeable improvement in its
smooth operation and overall enjoyment by its members..
in tasks they like to do value their membership and return more frequently.
Requesting members who possess the correct skill set to help with these tasks
makes everyone's job, lighter, easier and more enjoyable.
This takes a bit of pre-planning on the part
of the Senior Warden, as he looks to the East, several months before becoming
the Master. The easiest way to accomplish this is to sit down and
make a list of the different committees (or begin new ones) and then match each
member's skill set with an appropriate committee.
Don't forget your new
members. Ask them about their special interests and request that they
serve on a committee which fits their interests.
Audit and Budget Committee: Ask
the brethren who among them work as a Certified Public Accountant or bookkeeper
or simply has a "head" for numbers. Perhaps they would enjoy working on
the lodge's Audit Committee or Budget Committee.
Refreshment Committee: For those
who like to cook, help is always needed on the Refreshment Committee. Ask
your members which of them might like to cook for the other members.
Trestleboard Newsletter: For
those with writing and computer skills, writing the Trestleboard can be an
enjoyable task. Ask who among your members might enjoy composing a couple
pages every month, quarterly or however often your trestleboard comes out.
Fund Raising: If possible,
choose at least one member with experience in fund raising to help with the
lodge Charity Fund or Masonic Home appeal.
Charitable Event Committee: This
committee could include Adopt a Family, Masonic scholarship,
Send-A-Child-To-Camp or any other of the numerous charitable programs.
Education Officer: Ask a
knowledgeable member to begin mentoring new members and hold classes.
There are also many pages on this website which the Education Officer can simply
print, distribute and discuss, such as my Entered Apprentice quiz, Fellowcraft
quiz, Master Mason quiz and Masonic symbol quiz. Feel free to print and
use them as you begin preparing for the East. The answers are below the quizzes.
Masonic Mentors Club: Some
members may not feel totally comfortable in the Education Officer role, but
would still like to actively participate in helping new members learn. This is
an excellent role for Past Masters who may contribute their knowledge to the
candidate from initiation through their Master Mason degree.
As you begin preparing for the East, many Masters simply continue with ongoing
lodge programs, however if you would like your year to be special, not only to
you, but to your brethren, take an hour or so and place all the existing and
newly conceived programs onto a calendar before you begin your year in the East.
Each lodge around the world has a composition
and character which is all its own. Your determining factor in the
selection of lodge programs will center on this composition. Programs
should be developed which keep in mind the aim for common objectives even for
men of dissimilar backgrounds.
The Master who creates Masonic programs
which are of interest to the brethren creates an ongoing foundation of
fellowship and establishes a bond of continued and open communication necessary
to sustain interest and induce attendance.
Social, Cultural and Intellectual Stimuli:
When the Master blends the social aspects of lodge programs onto his
calendar with ongoing cultural and learning experiences such as Masonic
education, Masonic book reviews or a talk about one of Freemasonry's many
symbols each lodge night, members reap the rewards, several-fold.
This all begins with the Master as he sets
his designs upon his trestleboard.
Does this sound forbiddingly difficult?
It really isn't.
Possible Programs Throughout the Year:
Past Master's Night
Founder's Day Observance
Father and Son Banquet - Short Speech: "What I Receive By
Being a Member of This Lodge"
Mother's Day Breakfast - with a special card given and signed by
several or all of the lodge's members
Scholarship Award Dinner
Widow's Support Program
Preparing For The East: Masonic Education
It has been said many times over the last century that the prime reason for poor
attendance in the average lodge is the ongoing lack of Masonic education.
Masonic Education: Masonic
education is an educational meeting for enlightenment and fellowship.
Lodge business is not discussed. Allow plenty of time for those present to
ask questions and make comments. Meetings of this type usually last one hour and
often the discussion continues in the dining room at refreshment.
Ask your Grand Lodge what Masonic education
program media, such as films, videos and slide presentations that are available.
You can also simply print one of the pages from this website about one of
Freemasonry's many symbols to discuss with the brethren.
Worshipful Master's Duty:
Masonic education shouldn't be dull or boring. There are many fascinating
aspects and topics within Freemasonry's history which your members are hungry to
learn. Your prime duty as Worshipful Master is to feed them.
Preparing For the East:
Minimizing Your Anxiety
Control the Meeting: The Master
who is ill-prepared looks ill-prepared. If a Past Master must whisper each
and every move to the Master, the Master does not have control of the meeting.
If the Master does not have a planned agenda each meeting, how can he
carry it out?
A lodge senses devotion and understanding
from the Master. The Master who has studied his work and outlined
his plan for each meeting can relax, smile and enjoy the proceedings.
Conversely, the opposite is also true.
Ask The Secretary To Summarize
Correspondence: Meetings can quickly become unraveled when
correspondence and Grand Lodge communications are read word for word.
Kindly speaking to the Secretary to request a short summarization creates a
tighter, more positive meeting and one which is easier to control.
likes to stay late because the Secretary had an hour's worth of mail to read to
the lodge. In the interests of a positive experience and increased peace
and harmony, seriously consider asking your Secretary for short summarizations.
Some lodges guard against lengthy meetings by
convening two stated meetings each month...the first is held to conduct lodge
business and the second for a program. Of course, this depends upon the
amount of degree work needing to be performed.
Degree work should
also be placed onto the Master's calendar for all to be informed. One easy
way to create and utilize the lodge calendar of events for members to be able to
check at the last minute (without calling other members) is to create a public
calendar as part of a Yahoo! (or other) e-mail address.
Set up a Yahoo! (or other) e-mail address as
"ABC_Lodge_No_123@yahoo.com" The contents of the e-mail address is only
viewable by those who need to use it to disperse group e-mails to members.
The calendar, however, can be made public for all members who have internet
This reduces wasted time on the part of certain members who
receive excessive calls from other members attempting to ascertain the details
of scheduled meetings, degrees, etc.
Lodges which have a website may also choose
to create such a calendar on their site for quick and easy access. This is
also helpful for family members who can check the calendar and integrate event
dates and times into their own personal calendars. This helps to increase
attendance at open meeting events, as well as keeps family members "in the loop"
as to schedule planning.
Preparing For The East: From Planning to Execution of Duties
Well thought out preparation and planning
result in good execution and control.
Good execution results in stimulated interest
in lodge affairs.
Good attendance is the natural result of
stimulated interest...all of which begin with Preparation and Planning.
Good Execution and control do not just
"happen". They are pre-planned. You can choose to run your meeting
or can choose to let the meeting run you.
Preparing for the East does not mean
"iron fist" control. It means by planning each meeting intelligently,
choosing topics diligently, being conscious and ever vigilant of time-wasting
activities and communicating effectively with each committee that is in charge
of segments of the necessary lodge duties, each member feels and exerts a
responsibility for the overall well being of the lodge.
Organization: Once this
organizational aspect is put into place, it reduces the pressure on the Master
to be responsible for each and every facet of the lodge's functioning.
Masonic Education: Once ongoing
Masonic education is put into place, the lodge becomes a dynamically empowered
"beehive" of activity with each member knowing, understanding and seamlessly
executing their functions within it.
What About Next Year? Continuity
among line officers is required to sustain an increase in attendance. Nothing
kills the momentum of a great year quicker than the failure to follow up with
another up-tempo year and then another. This is where the inception of a
Warden's Club can be very beneficial. More on it in a moment.
This regenerated enthusiasm from year to year
becomes contagious. Word spreads about the positive experiences enjoyed in
lodge. This results in increased attendance which feeds on itself.
The Masonic light of Freemasonry burns ever brighter because the Master spent
his time wisely preparing for the East.
Keep the Momentum Flowing: How
can you, as Master, help your line officers begin preparing for the East
and keep the momentum which you started, snowballing forward into the next
year...and the next?
Here is a suggestion to help lodge officers begin preparing for the East.
Preparing for the East...The Warden's
- To help and assist Junior and Senior
Wardens in learning the ritual associated with the higher chairs.
- Develop and improve relationships
between lodges by facilitating knowledge and communication between
officers sharing the same duties.
- Provide the Senior Warden with the
necessary knowledge (ritual & charge) for ruling efficiently on Day 1.
- Develop interest and participation
within the district.
All Senior and Junior Wardens within a district
and all Past Masters who would be willing to share their experiences.
A small group of Wardens with at least one Past
Master or ritualist assembled around a table or close by each other, cipher
book in hand. Each Warden assumes a role in a play of “Ping Pong
By hearing and repeating ritual back and forth, (ping-pong)
over and over, ritual can be learned more quickly by everyone who
participates...and everyone benefits.