It has been a busy month and a busy year for the lodge and the pace looks like it will continue. Having initiated four Entered Apprentices and raised one brother, we will be passing a brother to Fellow Craft on April 25th and are planning on raising two brothers to the sublime degree of Master Mason on May 20th and 23rd. As announced last month we have selected Otis Simonson as our Hiram Award awardee. In order to accommodate some of Otis’s Guests, the Hiram Award Celebration has been moved to August 12th from the May 13th date previously announced.
The continuous improvement we have seen in our lodge over recent years has many fathers, but a consistent pressure has come from Grand Lodge through the Masters and Wardens and Secretary and Treasurers’ retreats held early in the year. After several years of M&W retreats beating the somewhat introspective drum of “relevance”, this year saw a move to the more positive theme of “engagement”. In truth we, in Acalanes Fellowship, have recognized this as the true issue for a number of years and it is no coincidence that we are “the friendly lodge” for this is our engagement between brothers. Our focus on improving the quality of our brotherhood through excellent Stated Meeting Dinners, strong friendships outside of the lodge, a whole host of coffee mornings between different groups all underpin this progress.
We have come away from the latest M&W retreat with a toolkit of methods to improve engagement which I hope we will have time to make a start on this year. Our Secretary and Treasurer came from their retreat with reinforced tools for efficient management, notably Intacct (now fully implemented both in the Lodge and Hall Association) for managing finances. In addition, Grand Lodge has implemented an improved management of investigations through IMember, reducing the Secretary’s and Master’s burdens.
Grand Lodge is encouraging the formation of new lodges, (there were 12 opened last year) explicitly noting that lodges in California are too large to properly engage all their members. It was pointed out that Anderson’s constitutions of 1723 state that “No Master shall take on an apprentice except he shall have work for him”. Masonry in California (population 36 million) was compared with Masonry in Metropolitan London (population 8 million). Both Grand Lodges have the same number of members (55,000). California has fewer than 400 lodges, whereas London has over 1500. Just a thought to ponder as we move into the next century of Masonry.