Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Masonic Blogs

RWB Doug,
The Grand Master requested that I contact you and request permission to publish a blog. I have been publishing an occasional blog for a couple of months. I did not even think about requesting permission. The Grand Master already has said he would sign off on it. Is this something that I will need to get renew with every new GM?
Thanks.

Hello Brother,
Blogging on Masonic topics is becoming increasingly popular as the tools to do so become easier to work with. I congratulate you on your enthusiasm for Freemasonry and your willingness to share your thoughts and idea. The Corporate Board of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota has adopted an Internet policy that includes, among many other items, a section on Blogs, It is excerpted below.

The entire policy statement is on our website at http://www.mn-masons.org/lodge-resources/computer-internet-policy.
So with the Grand Master already having approved of your blog, you will be in full compliance if you simply add the disclaimer, “Any views, opinions, or thoughts articulated in postings and/or comments from any contributors to this weblog do not in any way represent the views of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, its constituent lodges, officers, or employees.”

The policy statement is not meant to inhibit your discussion of Masonic topics, but rather to just make it clear that everyone can have their own opinions on things Masonic and if they choose to express them that they are speaking for themselves and not for their lodge or for Freemasonry at large.
Once approved of, as your blog is as soon as you can add the disclaimer, you are approved indefinitely; you need not get reapproved once each year when we elect new Grand Lodge officers. I say indefinitely because should any Minnesota Mason fall out of compliance the Grand Lodge would have the right to rescind the approval and require the blogger to stop publication of his blog. I don’t mean to sound heavy handed but this is not unlike a lodge publishing a newsletter. Should the publisher of such a newsletter decide to start including political rants or other things prohibited by our rules then the Grand Lodge also has the right to demand that the publication of such a newsletter in the name of the lodge be stopped.
Please just shoot me a note when you have updated your blog with the disclaimer and I will note the approval in our records for you and you will be all set.
Doug

Article II.
Weblogs, Blogging, Texting, Twitter and Other Forms of Electronic Communication
Section 2.01 The following policies regarding various forms of communication, electronic and otherwise are established in the Jurisdiction of Minnesota:
  • (a) Under no circumstances should the use of computers in any form including cell phones be allowed in the Lodge room during a tyled meeting with the possible exception of the Lodge Secretary and Treasurer and/or the use of a computer to present a slide show or video then only with the permission of the Master.
  • (b) Members who are required to be on call such as, but not limited to law enforcement, fire or medical professionals, cell phones or other types of communication instruments will be allowed but must be muted or in silent mode during a tyled lodge meeting. If a call comes in for the member, he should excuse himself from the meeting and take the call outside the Lodge room so as not to disturb the meeting.
  • (c) The disclaimer statement below must be included on every blog/forum hosted by a member of Minnesota Freemasonry that will discuss subjects related to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota or its constituent Lodges.
  • (d) Permission from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota must be obtained before matters of policy can be placed on or discussed on blog sites or communicated in any other form of communication.
  • (e) Despite disagreement, respect must always be shown to the Fraternity, its members and families.
  • (f) Blogging activity or any other form of communication must in no way be contrary to the obligations of Freemasonry. This includes, but is not limited to the prohibition on certain discussions about balloting or other matters that the Master would expect to be kept confidential.
  • (g) All the provisions of the “Computer Use Policy” which apply to the promoting of information over the internet also apply here.
  • (h) Masons are encouraged to follow the “Bloggers Code of Ethics” below.
Section 2.02 Disclaimer
(a) Any blog created by any member of Freemason under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota that will discuss any Masonic topic of any kind must include the following disclaimer.
(i) “Any views, opinions, or thoughts articulated in postings and/or comments from any contributors to this weblog do not in any way represent the views of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, its constituent lodges, officers, or employees.”

Section 2.03 Blogger Code of Ethics
(a) I will tell the truth.
(b) I will write deliberately and with accuracy.
(c) I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
(d) I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
(e) I will never delete a post.
(f) I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.
(g) I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.
(h) I will strive for high quality with every post – including basic spellchecking.
(i) I will stay on topic.
(j) I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
(k) I will link to online references and original source materials directly.
(l) I will disclose conflicts of interest.
(m) I will keep private issues and topics private.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lodge Meetings at the Minnesota Masonic Home?

Hello Brother Grand Secretary,
I am trying to get some preliminary information about Masons that are at the Masonic Home in Bloomington. Does the Grand Lodge have this information? I ask because I am planning on bringing forward the possibility of seeing if our Lodge is interested in having a lodge meeting at the home and invite the Masons that are residents there for a lodge night and a Masonic program. This is strictly in the idea stage only and I would like to try to get an idea of some information. I am working on the our lodge's history and this is something that had been done in the past and I thought that this would be a great thing to do for the Masons at the home.
If the Grand Lodge does not have this information, could you provide a point of contact at the home that I could direct this question to.
Thanks,
Brother Shawn

Hello Brother ,
Lodges do hold meetings here at the Minnesota Masonic Home from time to time and in fact, the Home has most of the necessary paraphernalia to allow you to set up a lodge room without needing to bring too much from your lodge. You would need to bring along your officer aprons and jewels and of course, the lodge charter. To move the charter to a temporary location would also require a dispensation from the Grand Master. Once you have a date picked and have cleared it with the folks who handle the scheduling here at the Home, then the lodge Secretary or Master should request the dispensation. The person to talk to about reserving the room and any refreshments would be Jaime Rennich, 952-948-7800, or e-mail jaime.rennich@mnmasonic.org.
Now, as to a list of Masons, no, we don't really have a formal list; privacy and HIPPA concerns place some restrictions on what we can ask and even what we can tell if we do know something. But we do informally know of several Masons who reside at the Masonic Home and they also often times put up little signs in the elevators and elsewhere to let the residents know of the upcoming lodge meeting. There is also a group that meets here, the Dan Patch Masonic Club, and if you get word to them they could help spread the word to their members and elsewhere around the Home.
When you get something set up as to date and time just have someone let me know so we can get the dispensation for you and also start spreading the word.
Doug

Just When Are Lodge Dues Due?

R. W. Brother Doug, 12/12/2009
The dues record and membership rolls at our Lodge seem to have been neglected over the years. This past year 5 brothers were stricken from the rolls who were paid up through 2004, 2005 and 2006. There were 11 total brothers in this category but 6 have agreed to pay or have settled up already. Next week is our annual installation and it was brought to my attention that three officers were paid only through 2008. 2 of the 3 brothers have stated that they will pay through 2010 before that night and I am waiting for a response from one other. This situation has brought to light that I am not fully aware of the rules on membership rights. My interpretation of the rules pertaining to dues are as follows:

There are 3 levels of Membership pertaining to dues:
  1. A member in Good Standing
  2. A member who is delinquent
  3. A member Suspended for non payment of dues
If a member has a dues card for 2008 then that member is a member in Good Standing until December 31, 2009 and is awarded the right to be installed on December 21, 2009. On January 1, 2010 that said member would then become delinquent of their dues and loose the right to serve as a member or attend meetings there after until they become current. Then after all the contact over the year and attempts to bring the member current at the annual meeting on the first meeting in December that member would be stricken for nonpayment of dues and loose all rights as a Master Mason until brought current with the books.
Could you please advice on the correct way to handle these dues situation so I can work this year to bring our rolls current with Grand Lodge standards?

Dear Brother Secretary,
Anyone who has a 2010 dues card can be admitted to lodge meetings during the year 2010. If I came to your meeting on 1/1/2010 and I could only show you a 2009 dues card then I should not be admitted. Lodge meetings are for Masons in good standing only. There are sections in the Minnesota Masonic Code dealing with members who are so delinquent that they are in danger of being suspended from membership (two years of dues past due), but they do not deal with a Brother who is past due but not yet in danger of being suspended for nonpayment of dues. And in particular, no member of the lodge not in good standing should ever be installed into an elective or appointed office. If this has been your personal practice or the practice of your lodge, then you should make arrangements to correct these errors as soon as possible.
Sorry, but in particular, your interpretation that a member with a 2008 dues card could be somehow installed into office in December of 2009 is completely wrong. The fact that he might be suspended a few days later should lead you to a different conclusion than you have drawn.
Doug



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Grand Lodge Roster Numbers

Where do we find the roster number or the Grand Lodge number for our new Master Masons? Does the Grand Lodge assign these numbers?
Another Secretary
The Grand Lodge numbers, also sometimes known as roster numbers, are actually supposed to be the line number for each new Master Mason as he signs the lodge bylaw book. This should be done immediately after the charge is read when they are raised to the Master Mason Degree. These numbers are used to assign a unique number to every member, in the format of lodge number hyphen roster number: LL-RRRR. Or in the case of the Grand Secretary who happens to be a member of Cataract Lodge No. 2: 2-3352.
A new member affiliating from another lodge would also sign the bylaws and that line number is again used to assign his roster number to him. A former member being restored to membership or reaffiliating does not re-sign the bylaws and as such, is not assigned a new number; he would retain his former roster number.
Doug

Grand Lodge Fees and Assessments

Can you tell me the fees that are due to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for our new Brothers?
A Secretary
There are three fees for each new Mason:
$5.00 for the George Washington Masonic Memorial
$12.50 for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Help Aid and Assist Fund and
$8.00 known as the raising fee, which is split 50% into the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Reserve Fund and 50% into the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Benevolence Fund. So you see that these fees total $25.50 for every new Mason.
But only the first two, the $5.00 and the $12.50 are due at the time of the Master Mason Degree. The last fee, the $8.00, is due with the year end annual report to the Grand Lodge.
So for four new members a lodge Secretary would send a check right after the Master Mason Degree for $70.00 and hold off on the other $32.00 until the lodge files the next annual report. You will see the line on the annual report to aggregate these fees for the entire year at one time.
Doug

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Petitions and a Petitioner's Age

RWB Doug – I have a question…well, another question.
One of our members has a son who will turn 18 on next March. He would like to petition the Lodge. Our Lodge has scheduled degrees to start in late March. Can a petition be read in Lodge if the candidate is not yet 18, but will be when the degrees begin?
We just want to make sure we play by the rules.
Thanks!

Our Minnesota Masonic Code is quite clear on this subject, a man must be 18 years old to petition the lodge:

ARTICLE XIV. Petitions

SECTION G14.01 A Lodge is authorized to receive five (5) types of petitions: For degrees; for affiliation; for plural membership; for reinstatement; for restoration.

A petition for degrees must be accompanied by an amount not less than one-third (1/3) of the whole fee for degrees, at the time of election, and must be the free and voluntary act of the petitioner, without improper solicitation. It shall clearly express a belief and trust in God, a favorable opinion of Masonry, a promise, if accepted, to conform to the usages and customs of the Fraternity and the Constitution and General Regulations of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota.

It shall state the place of his birth, the present residence, with street and number, if there is one, his present occupation and, if not self-employed, the name and business address of his employer and the specific nature of their business.

It shall further state the length of his consecutive residence in this State and in the Jurisdiction of the Lodge to which the petition is addressed; whether ever rejected by any other Masonic Lodge anywhere and, if so, when and by what Lodge or Lodges, and the post office address thereof.

It shall show the petitioner's age to be no less than eighteen (18) years.

It shall be signed with the full name of the petitioner and must be recommended by two Master Masons in good standing, at least one of which must be a member of the of the Lodge petitioned and the other may be a member in good standing of a Lodge recognized by this Grand Lodge. (4/99)

No petition can be legally received which does not contain all of the foregoing data.

In accordance with the basic principles and the Ancient Landmarks of Masonry, every petition for membership in a constituent Lodge of the Grand Lodge shall be received and acted on without regard to the race, color, creed or national origin of the petitioner.

The bold emphasis above is mine.
I suggest that you allow the young man to come to some open lodge events, encourage him to read about the fraternity and talk with Masons to give him a head start. But he must wait until he turns 18 to submit his petition.
Doug

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just what is the tax status of a lodge?

R.W. Brother Grand Secretary,
Some confusion. What is the tax status of the Grand Lodge? I know its not a 501c3, but is it tax exempt and are donations deductible? Are the local lodges covered under the Grand Lodge status?
Thanks,
Ken

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota and all of the constituent lodges under the Grand Lodge of Minnesota are tax exempt entities under section 501(c)(10) of the IRS code. Below you will find what the IRS website (http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch04.html#d0e7694) says about both 501(c)(8) and 501(c)(10) - Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Domestic Fraternal Societies. Disregard what it says about 501(c)(8), that is similar but not us, we do not provide an insurance benefit.
The bold under tax treatment is something that I call your attention to. A contribution to the lodge, under the IRS regulations, is probably tax deductible to the donor in most situations, as long as the contribution is used exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
So my interpretation of the rules is that while a tax deductible contribution cannot be used to pay the lodge property taxes, it can be used to provide a scholarship. Etc.
I trust this has answered your questions and if so, you are now an expert on this just as much as your Grand Secretary.
Doug

501(c)(8) and 501(c)(10) - Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Domestic Fraternal Societies
This section describes the information to be provided upon application for recognition of exemption by two types of fraternal societies: beneficiary and domestic. The major distinction is that fraternal beneficiary societies provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to their members or their dependents, while domestic fraternal societies do not provide these benefits but rather devote their earnings to fraternal, religious, charitable, etc., purposes. The procedures to follow in applying for recognition of exemption are described in chapter 1.
If your organization is controlled by a central organization, you should check with your controlling organization to determine whether your unit has been included in a group exemption letter or may be added. If so, your organization need not apply for individual recognition of exemption. For more information see Group Exemption Letter in chapter 1 of this publication.
Tax treatment of donations. Donations by an individual to a domestic fraternal beneficiary society or a domestic fraternal society operating under the lodge system are deductible as charitable contributions only if used exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Remember we are not (c-8), just similar to that status.
Fraternal Beneficiary Societies (501(c)(8))
A fraternal beneficiary society, order, or association should file an application for recognition of exemption from federal income tax on Form 1024. The application and accompanying statements should establish that the organization:
1. Is a fraternal organization,
2. Operates under the lodge system or for the exclusive benefit of the members of a fraternal organization itself operating under the lodge system, and
3. Provides for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to the members of the society, order, or association or their dependents.
Lodge system. Operating under the lodge system means carrying on activities under a form of organization that comprises local branches, chartered by a parent organization and largely self-governing, called lodges, chapters, or the like.
Payment of benefits. It is not essential that every member be covered by the society's program of sick, accident, or death benefits. An organization can qualify for exemption if most of its members are eligible for benefits, and the benefits are paid from contributions or dues paid by those members.
The benefits must be limited to members and their dependents. If members will have the ability to confer benefits to other than themselves and their dependents, exemption will not be recognized.
Whole-life insurance. Whole-life insurance constitutes a life benefit under section 501(c)(8) even though the policy may contain investment features such as a cash surrender value or a policy loan.
Reinsurance pool. Payments by a fraternal beneficiary society into a state-sponsored reinsurance pool that protects participating insurers against excessive losses on major medical health and accident insurance will not preclude exemption as a fraternal beneficiary society.


Domestic Fraternal Societies (501(c)(10))
A domestic fraternal society, order, or association may file an application for recognition of exemption from federal income tax on Form 1024. The application and accompanying statements should establish that the organization:

1. Is a domestic fraternal organization,
2. Operates under the lodge system,
3. Devotes its net earnings exclusively to religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, and fraternal purposes, and
4. Does not provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to its members.

The organization may arrange with insurance companies to provide optional insurance to its members without jeopardizing its exempt status.

Questions About the Ballot

An interested Brother writes: I have a few obscure ballotting questions:
What if a brother gets the box to vote and there are no black balls in it? Should he assume that they are all used? Can he refuse to vote, or demand that there be some made available?
What if a brother knows that there are black balls cast, but yet the ballot is declared clear? (suggested to me as being within the Master's power and legend has it that that is how Masters did it in the old days)
Once a ballot is closed can there be objections raised, and a re-ballot ordered?
Does the Sr. Deacon go without the door to get the Tyler's vote, or is he called in to vote?
If business is being conducted on the First Degree, can an Entered Apprentice vote?

I don’t really think that most of your questions are answered in the Minnesota Masonic Code. But definitely, if a Brother is ready to vote and the color or shape that he needs cannot be found, then I think he should make that fact known immediately to the Master. One of the things that is said by the W. Master right before the ballot takes place, is “Brother Sr. Deacon, prepare the ballot box.” Preparing the ballot box must mean more that picking it up off of a table. He should check and be sure there are plenty of all choices available. If the Sr. Deacon does not do that then he should probably be talked to about it before a fresh ballot takes place.
So let me get this right, the second question assumes at least three of the three top officers of the lodge are lying to the lodge in performance of their official duties. I don’t really know how to respond to that. Perhaps
I would assume that a mistake was made but that I as the black balling voter must have made the mistake by putting in a white ball instead of a black ball?
I see no provision anyplace for objecting to a ballot after it has taken place. The sideliners only recourse would be then to object the candidate before or at the time of the Entered Apprentice Degree.
The correct place for the Tyler is outside of a tyled lodge room. But many lodges now make it a practice of inviting the Tyler into the room and then allow him to exit just before the closing. I have no big problem with this other than it is technically not correct and that it really leaves the lodge untyled. But if he is inside then he can vote, if he is a member in good standing of that lodge. The Tyler need not be a member of the lodge for which he is the Tyler. It would be incorrect for the Sr. Deacon to go to the Tyler’s door to have him vote. Members eligible to vote are those members in good standing who are inside the tyled lodge room at the time of the ballot.
And in response to the last question, only members of the lodge can vote. With a change to the Minnesota Masonic Code about ten years ago, we made it permissible for a lodge to open on the Entered Apprentice Degree or the Fellowcraft Degree so those Masons could attend meetings prior to being raised as Master Masons, but that did not change the definition of a member of the lodge:
ARTICLE XIII. Chartered Lodges
Composition - Degrees - Demits - Membership - SECTION G13.01 A Lodge shall be composed of its charter members who shall be petitioners for dispensation whose demits are filed with the Grand Secretary prior to the issuance of the charter and all Master Masons raised while under dispensation. The Grand Secretary shall keep a roll of such charter members. No demits need be filed for dispensation for an Educational Lodge. After receiving a charter, all Master Masons receiving degrees conferred, and all petitioners accepted for affiliation, reinstatement or restoration, by ballot, shall be members thereof. No Lodge shall be named for any living person and shall be numbered according to the dates of their respective charters.
Doug

Monday, October 26, 2009

One-Day-to-Masonry Petition Procedures

Hello Doug
Our lodge has a petition for the One-Day-to-Masonry and I do not know the proper way to handle this. Could you give the information?
Thanks,
Brother Dave


The One-Day-to-Masonry candidate needs to go through the normal process of petitioning your lodge, having the petition read at a stated meeting, investigation committee work and then being balloted on at a subsequent stated meeting. The candidate can use a regular petition or we also have a special One-Day-to-Masonry petition up on the Grand Lodge of Minnesota website, either one is just fine. Once all that has taken place, then the lodge mails a copy of the petition and the $250 One-Day-to-Masonry fee to the Grand Lodge office. This can be done anytime, sooner rather than later, with a deadline of ten days prior to the One-Day-to-Masonry event. So in the case of the next one taking place at the Minneapolis Scottish Rite Temple on January 19, 2013, we would need the petition copy and the fee no later than January 9, 2013. This ten day advance notice is to allow us time to send the candidate a letter containing the day’s itinerary, a map to help get him to the Minneapolis Scottish Rite Temple and other important information. We also send him a special version of the Quest booklet to help prepare him for the ceremonies taking place as part of the One-Day-to-Masonry.
Lastly, we want at least one Brother from the lodge to plan on coming down to the event so the candidate can know a familiar face or two when he goes to his first lodge meeting back in his home lodge. The lunch fee for the sideliner is $15.00 and can be paid at the door on checking in on January 19th. So please canvass your Brothers a bit and encourage them to plan to come to the One-Day-to-Masonry as your lodge initiates, passes and raises a new member that day.
Doug

Monday, October 19, 2009

Residency Requirements to Join a Lodge

Just what is the residency requirement for a petitioner?

There is a 90 day residency requirement for a man to be a resident of Minnesota when he petitions for the degrees. This can be found in the Minnesota Masonic Code in Section C9.10:
No Lodge shall initiate any person except upon his personal and voluntary petition, nor shall such petition be received unless the petitioner has therein fully answered all questions required to be contained in such petition by the laws of the Grand Lodge; nor unless such petitioner shall have been an actual resident in the jurisdiction of the Lodge for ninety (90) days immediately preceding the date of his petition. Petitions are part of the records and must not be destroyed after they have been acted upon.
All constituent lodges under the Grand Lodge of Minnesota share concurrent jurisdiction.
There is no residency requirement for a petition for dual membership, affiliation or restoration. In other words, a Mason who would like to affiliate with a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota doe not need to be a resident of Minnesota.
Doug

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lost Symbol a novel by Dan Brown, Revisited

As mentioned, the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol is generating a fair amount of buzz, both within and without the Masonic world. I have read the book. It is an entertaining page turner just like Dan Brown's earlier books. Does it portray Freemasonry accurately? If you are a Mason, you will need to judge that for yourself, but in my opinion, the essence of the Masonic fraternity comes through loud and clear. Right through the final paragraph as well as the final word in the book, "Hope."
Want to know more about the fraternity and the book? The Masonic Service Association of North America, The George Washington Masonic Memorial and the Masonic Society have co-sponsored a website, The Lost Symbol & Freemasonry, with plenty of information on the book and its Masonic references.
Doug

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Lost Symbol a novel by Dan Brown

We have received a few calls and comments about the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol. As no advance copies were to have been released, today on September 14th, I am like most of the rest of the world, I have not read the book yet. But having read all of Dan Brown's other novels, I plan on reading this one at my first opportunity. But even after I have a chance to read the latest work, I will not really be in a position to speak for the Minnesota Masonic Fraternity about the book or about Freemasonry in general because our chief spokesperson is always the Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota. Our current Grand Master is Most Worshipful Brother Thomas G. McCarthy and I am sure that he will have some comments on the book and Freemasonry in the coming days and weeks. Be sure to watch the Grand Lodge of Minnesota website for any official response to the book and in the meantime, if the new book is as entertaining as his past books, just enjoy the book.
Doug

Annual Election of Lodge Officers

Right Worshipful Doug
It’s coming to that time of the year again the Election of Officers. Could you point me to chapter and verse on the subject of Election of Officers? The question keeps coming up, do we nominate candidates or not?


The election of lodge officers is an annual event, specified in the lodge bylaws. The mechanics of the election are governed by a few sections of the Minnesota Masonic Code and quite a bit of lodge tradition. Tradition holds that the Master of the lodge appoint a committee of three (usually Past Masters) to serve as a Tellers Committee.

Below you will find the specific references from the Minnesota Masonic Code dealing with the election of lodge officers. The question about nominations being permitted is a perennial question and that change is one many members are uninformed about. About fifteen years ago the Minnesota Masonic Code was mended by the insertion of the words, “except that at the time of election of officers, formal nominations are permitted” into the UnMasonic Conduct section of the Code, so where it previously said it was unMasonic conduct: “To solicit votes for election of Lodge Officers, even outside the Lodge Hall, at any time or place.” And that effectively prohibited nominations. But with the change from several years ago it now expressly permitted nominations, but did not require them.

Section C9.06 ... In case a Lodge fails to hold its annual election at the regular time, the same may be held later upon a dispensation from the Grand Master and upon like notice to all its members.
SECTION C2.03 The following are enumerated from the Ancient Constitutions as having the force of Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity, having been generally received and acknowledged by Masons as such:
...
(14) That no one can be elected Master of a chartered Lodge, except at its first election, but a Master Mason who shall have served as a Warden.
SECTION G13.16 The three (3) recognized methods of voting are:
(a) The secret ballot - upon all petitions for degrees, affiliation, reinstatement or restoration.
(b) The written ballot - for election of officers.
...
SECTION G6.03 Beside violation of Section C8.01, of the Constitution, the following specific acts shall be deemed unmasonic conduct and shall render the offender subject to discipline.
...
(o) To solicit votes for election of Lodge Officers, even outside the Lodge Hall, at any time or place, except that at the time of election of officers, formal nominations are permitted.
SECTION G13.28 Blank ballots and those cast for other than eligible members of the Lodge in good standing are void and must not be considered or counted in announcing the result either of an election or otherwise.

So the short answer is absolutely yes, nominations are permitted at the time of the annual election of officers.
Doug

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ancients and Moderns Today?

My older son is thinking of joining a lodge and going through the degrees in California, which, I understand, is a "Free and Accepted Mason" state, not an AF and AM state. Can you explain the difference? Would his degrees be recognized in Minnesota, for instance? Would there be a problem, if I wanted to participate in his raising? Are F and AM masons "clandestine"?

Historically, I think this goes back to the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England when there was a schism for about fifty years and one group called itself the "Ancients" and the other group the "Moderns." This was about the time that Masonry came to the colonies and some came as Ancients and some as Moderns. They merged back together to form the United Grand Lodge of England and that was pretty much the end of the distinction. But by then some Grand Lodges over here had started using the A. F. & A. M. designation and some using the F. & A. M. designation. Michigan is F. &. A. M. as is Wisconsin, California, New York, Ohio and several other states. Minnesota is A. F. & A. M. as is Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and several other states. For us out here west of the colonies, I think it had to do with where the first masons came from and what they had back at home.
Today, there really is no distinction between the two other than the historical designation difference and the rituals of the two are largely interchangeable. So as long as your son is joining a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California, F. & A. M., with their Grand Lodge office located in San Francisco, then you would be welcome at the degrees and any of their lodge meetings. They are a recognized sister jurisdiction and not considered to be clandestine to those of us under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. But there are many clandestine Grand Lodges operating in California so you would want to be sure that your son joins a lodge listed in the List of Lodges Masonic, a book published annually by Pantagraph Press. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota mails a copy to every Minnesota lodge once a year so your lodge secretary should have the book.
By the way, congratulations on your son starting his Masonic journey, a proud day for any Mason.
Doug

Friday, August 21, 2009

Restoration of a Member Previously Suspended for Nonpayment of Dues

How does a former member who was dropped for nonpayment of dues get reinstated as a member in good standing?

The general procedure for restoration is that the Brother completes a petition for restoration in his former lodge (Petition form for Affiliation, Dual Membership or Restoration, http://www.mn-masons.org/sites/mn-masons.org/files/Petition%20for%20Affiliation.pdf) and attaches his check for the current year’s dues and the total of the dues that caused him to be dropped for NPD. So if a man was dropped in 1980, he would probably owe two or three years from 1978-1980 and the current year’s dues. He does not need to pay for all intervening years while he was suspended. Then the petition follows the normal course, being read at one stated meeting for the first time and balloted on at a subsequent stated meeting. The decision as to whether or not to have the petition investigated is up to the lodge.
Should a Brother wish to be restored just so that he can affiliate with a different lodge than the one from which he was suspended, then the process can be simplified by the use of a certificate of nonaffiliation. The certificate of nonaffiliation can be obtained by the brother upon payment of the dues which caused him to be dropped from the lodge. Then with that certificate in hand, he is free to petition a new lodge for affiliation, just as any member currently in good standing would do.
Doug

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Per capita? Raising fees?

From a new lodge Secretary:
What is the amount per brother raised for the per capita we owe Grand Lodge?

We may be talking about two different things. The per capita for every lodge member is $29.00 per year regardless of when the member was raised. The per capita is calculated on the annual report form, due next January 15th. A new member shows up on the annual report one year and then the following year is the first time the per capita is paid on him.
But there are also two one time only special assessments for every new member, $5.00 for the support of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia and $12.50 for the Help, Aid and Assist Fund, part of our Grand Lodge Benevolence Fund. These two fees, totaling $17.50 are generally referred to as the "raising fees" and are due in the Grand Lodge office two weeks after the new member is raised to the Master Mason Degree.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Minnesota Mason Newspaper Schedule

As the Minnesota Mason Newspaper is published through the Grand Lodge office, we get quite a few inquiries about the paper's schedule and the deadlines to get a story or photo into the paper.
The Minnesota Mason Newspaper is published six times a year:
January - February
March - April
May - June
July - August
September - October
November - December
The deadlines for submitting stories and photos do not change from one issue to the next but rather they always follow this general schedule:
The general deadline for a given issue is the 1st of the odd numbered months and the absolute drop dead date is the tenth of the odd month. If the paper is full with the material submitted by the first, then it gets ready to go to the printer. If it is not full then we go looking for articles and photos to get it completed by the tenth. Then with editing time and getting it ready to go to the printer, we should have it on the press between the 20th and the 25th, thereby having the finished paper in your mailbox no later than the last day of the odd numbered months.
If you have a story or photo that you would like to submit, please send it to the Grand Lodge office via e-mail and we will do our best to get it into an upcoming issue.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ancient Landmarks

Dear Brother Grand Secretary,
I am doing some research on the the Ancient Landmarks adopted in the United States and England and I could not find when the 26 Landmarks of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota were established. Please, could you give me a little history on their origin in Minnesota.

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota was formed in February 1853. Our constitution published as an addendum to the Proceedings of the convention establishing the Grand Lodge of Minnesota enumerated 26 ancient landmarks, each of which is substantially the same as the 26 ancient landmarks contained in our constitution today. So while I cannot tell you definitively where our ancient landmarks originated, I can tell you that they are as old as the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. As the Grand Lodge of Minnesota was formed by three lodges in 1853, one from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, one from the Grand Lodge of Illinois and one from the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, one might assume that our 26 landmarks might have come from one of these three grand jurisdictions. But a quick reading of the publication published by the Masonic Service Association in Silver Springs, Maryland, “Ancient Landmark of Freemasonry, as adopted followed or undecided by the fifty-one Grand Lodges of the the United States” does not seem to indicate any similarity between our 26 ancient landmarks and the ancient landmarks of those three grand jurisdictions today. It would take more research by an interested party to know whether one or all those three grand jurisdictions have substantially changed their enumeration of the landmarks over the past 156 years, but I can tell you that ours have not changed substantially in that same time frame. Every one of the subjects of the 26 landmarks in 1853 is still the same subject of that landmark today, although in some cases their have been word changes to them.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the Masonic Service Association publication that I refer to above, but if you are a student of this subject then you really should have a copy. It was originally published in 1932 and updated several times over the years, most recently in 1983.
I thank you for your interest. Below you will find the 26 ancient landmarks of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota as they exist today.
Doug Campbell,
Grand Secretary
SECTION C2.02 The Ancient Landmarks are those principles of Masonic government and policy which are among the parts of Masonic law or rules of government that may never be altered or disturbed, as, for instance, the universal language of Masons, and those peculiar marks of distinction by which they are separated from the profane, and by which they are enabled to prove themselves as the "Sons of Light."

SECTION C2.03 The following are enumerated from the Ancient Constitutions as having the force of Ancient Landmarks of the Fraternity, having been generally received and acknowledged by Masons as such:

  1. That belief in the Supreme Being, "The Great Architect of the Universe," who will punish vice and reward virtue, is an indispensable prerequisite to admission to Masonry.
  2. That the moral law which inculcates charity and probity, industry and sobriety, and obedience to law and civil government, is the rule and guide of every Mason, to which strict conformity is required.
  3. That obedience to Masonic law and authority, being voluntarily assumed, is of perpetual obligation.
  4. That the rites and ceremonies (which include the unwritten language) of the true system of the Ancient York Rite, and which constitute a part of the body of Masonry, are immutable, and that it is not in the power of any man to make innovations therein, except when in Grand Lodge convened.
  5. That contentions and lawsuits between Brethren are contrary to the laws and regulations of Masonry.
  6. That charity is the right of a Mason, his widow and orphans, when poor and destitute, to demand, and the duty of his prosperous brother to bestow.
  7. That Masonic instruction is, like charity, a reciprocal right and duty of Masons.
  8. That to visit Masonicly is an inherent right of Masons, but no visitor shall be received into a Lodge if any member present objects.
  9. That a candidate for Masonry must be a man of mature age, free born, of good report, hale and sound, having no maim or defect in his body that may render him incapable of learning the art and physically able to conform substantially to what the several degrees of Masonry respectively require of him. If a candidate is unable to so comply with the physical requirements, he shall nevertheless be eligible to receive the degrees of Masonry, if, after favorable action by the Constituent Lodge, his petition for degrees, accompanied by a detailed report of the nature and extent of his disabilities, is approved by the Grand Master.
  10. That the Grand Master may make Masons at sight, and may grant a dispensation to a Lodge for the same purpose, but in all other cases a candidate must be proposed in open Lodge, at a Stated Communication and can only be accepted at a Stated Communication following, by the scrutiny of a secret ballot, and a unanimous vote, and must pay a fixed price before admission.
  11. That it is the duty of every Mason to be a contributing member of some Lodge.
  12. That a Mason who is not a member of a Lodge is still subject to the disciplinary power of Masonry.
  13. That the Master and Wardens of every chartered Lodge are of right and inalienably representatives in, and members of, the Grand Lodge.
  14. That no one can be elected Master of a chartered Lodge, except at its first election, but a Master Mason who shall have served as a Warden.
  15. That every Mason must be tried by his peers; hence, the Master cannot be tried by his Lodge.
  16. That no appeal to the Lodge can be taken from the decision of the Master, or the Warden occupying the chair in his absence.
  17. That Masonic intercourse with a clandestine, suspended or expelled Mason is a breach of duty and an offense against Masonic law.
  18. That a restoration of the privileges of Masonry by the Grand Lodge does not restore to membership in a Constituent Lodge.
  19. That the failure of a Lodge to meet for one (1) year is cause for the forfeiture of its charter.
  20. That it is the duty as well as the right of every chartered Lodge to be represented in the Grand Lodge at its communications.
  21. That this Grand Lodge has supreme and exclusive jurisdiction, as exercised, within its territorial limits, over all matters of Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry, and accepts the right of the Grand Lodge of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Minnesota as having supreme and exclusive jurisdiction over matters pertaining to that Grand Lodge.
  22. That no appeal lies from the decision of the Grand Master in the chair, or the Deputy Grand Master or Grand Warden, occupying the chair in his absence.
  23. That the office of the Grand Master is always elective, and should be filled annually by the Grand Lodge.
  24. That the Grand Lodge, composed of its officers and representatives, must meet at least once in each year, to consult and act concerning the interests of the Fraternity in its jurisdiction.
  25. That all officers of the Grand Lodge or Constituent Lodge must be Master Masons.
  26. That no subject of sectarian or political character can be discussed in a Lodge, and any Mason proposing such a subject renders himself liable to the disciplinary action of the Lodge.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Items for the Grand Lodge Website Calendar?


Hello Grand Lodge,
How can we get our lodge's events on the Grand Lodge website calendar?

Thanks,
A Brother.

We welcome postings of lodge special events such as degree work, table lodge events, anniversary celebration, just about any event other than stated communications. Other Masonic related bodies are also welcome to post their special events too. Any lodge or other Masonic body can add items to the Grand Lodge calendar anytime, just go to the calendar page, http://www.mn-masons.org/calendar and in the upper right corner you will see a link “Submit your event.” Follow that link and you get a few brief instructions on a page where you simply fill in the information for your event. Each event must be approved before it is posted and that process takes place behind the scenes, automatically, usually within 24 hours.

Please pay particular attention to the date and time formats; the date must be entered in exactly this format mm/dd/yyyy and if you use anything else it won’t take it. Same on the time formats, they must look like this: 06:00PM or 09:30AM
Doug

Special Dispensation for Summer Degree Work?

Good morning R. W. Brother Doug,
Since our Lodge has gone dark for the summer months, do we need special Dispensation from the Grand Master to hold a First Degree later this summer? If so can you get us the dispensation?
Thanks in advance.


Hello W. Brother Secretary,
Even though a lodge traditionally goes dark for the summer months (or in some cases in the winter months), you do not need a special dispensation from the Grand Master to do degree work. Degree work is one of the defined purposes for which a special communication of the lodge may be called by the W. Master at any time, with the exception of Sundays. So presumably the Master wants to call this particular special communication for the purpose of putting on the Entered Apprentice Degree and no further permission from the Grand Master is needed.
Doug

Thursday, May 28, 2009

By-law Changes

RWB Doug,
As a follow up to a conversation we had about a month ago about us possibly changing our by-laws to raise the application and degree fees, we have the following questions:
  1. Does this require approval from the Grand Lodge.
  2. If so, what is the protocol (i,e, between the first reading and second or before ever officially presented) and is there a specific format to use?
Thanks,
L.P.


Dear W. Brother L. P.
Once you have the bylaw changes ready to submit, it must be proposed in writing at a stated meeting of your lodge. If it is approved at that time by the majority of those present, then it is sent to the Grand Lodge office. We get it approved by a member of the Jurisprudence committee and send it back back to the lodge, with a cover letter containing some additional instructions. The lodge then reads it at the subsequent stated meeting and takes no action. Then the lodge publishes a copy to all of the members telling them that a final vote will be taken at the third of this three stated meeting process. At that time, if the change is approved by 2/3 majority then it is sent back to the Grand Lodge office for the Grand Master’s final approval.
The actual Minnesota Masonic Code language is below.
So the short answer is yes, the change does need to be approved by Grand Lodge, using the procedure outlined here.
Doug

Here is the section from the Minnesota Masonic Code dealing with bylaw changes:
SECTION G13.32 Neither by-laws of Constituent Lodges nor amendments thereto shall be effective unless approved by the Grand Master and should follow the suggested form in the Masonic Handbook for "Forms and Petitions." They, or any part of them, may be amended at any Stated Communication, but only in the following manner:

(a) Any proposed change must be in writing, by Article and Section, and read to the Lodge a first time. If the Lodge favors the change, it must be by a majority vote of those present.

(b) After it has been read and a majority vote favors the change, the Lodge Secretary will send it to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge for transmission to the Grand Master and one of the members of the Committee on Jurisprudence for approval as to form only, or correction. The Grand Secretary shall divide the submissions between the members of the Committee on Jurisprudence.

(c) Upon its return by the Grand Secretary with the Grand Master's approval, it shall be read to the Lodge a second time at the next Stated Communication, but no action should be taken at this communication other than to lay it over until a subsequent Stated Communication.
(d) At least five (5) days before the subsequent Stated Communication when action is to be taken, notice by mail to every member at his last known address shall be given, with a sufficient summary of the change to enable him to understand the proposed action.

(e) At the Stated Communication when action is to be taken, the proposed change is to be read a third time; and upon receiving a two-thirds (2/3) vote in favor by those members present, the change shall be declared adopted.

(f) The Lodge Secretary will attach one (1) copy each of the original and the amended Article(s) and one (1) copy of the notice of proposed action sent to the members of the Lodge, and mail these to the Grand Secretary, together with a copy of Certifying By-Laws For Approval, as found in the Handbook For Forms And Petitions.

(g) If a member of the Jurisprudence Committee, when requested, finds the proposed amendment(s) to be correct and proper for final approval, he shall so certify to the Grand Master. A quarterly report shall be made to the Grand Master by a member of the Jurisprudence Committee of all proposed by-law amendments which have been found incorrect and improper for final approval.

(h) When a new set of by-laws is proposed for adoption, the foregoing procedure as to amendments shall apply.

(i) This section may be suspended by any constituent Lodge for the purpose of amending their by-laws for:
1) changing the annual dues to pay increased per capita to the Grand Lodge for its operations and its assessment to the Minnesota Masonic Foundation, Inc. or
2) amending the Lodge by-laws to change isolated single words or numbers, or
3) to act upon a motion made from the floor to change isolated single words or numbers following the third reading of an amendment insofar as receiving approval as to form only from the Jurisprudence Committee of the Grand Lodge and the Grand Master.
All other provisions of this section must be strictly complied with regarding notice and voting, and upon completion of the amendment, a certified copy thereof shall be filed with the Grand Secretary to become effective.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mentor Program

A Past Grand Master informed me that if we contacted Grand Lodge with a list of candidates and their respective mentors, there was a package of things that would be sent to the candidate. We will make sure this occurs before initiation with our next candidate (who we are voting on at our next stated meeting). We are assigning mentors to each of our four raised brothers. Is it too late for them to get the material?

Fraternally,
W. Master


As our Most Worshipful Brother mentioned, the way the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Mentor Program works is for the lodge to let us know in advance as to who the candidates are, who the mentors are and when they will receive the Entered Apprentice Degree. We then pend them until a day or two after the Entered Apprentice Degree and we send them a welcome letter from the Grand Master and a copy of Freemasons for Dummies. If you can assure me that these four will all be mentored for at least the next several months, getting them to attend meetings and participating in lodge activities, then I can go ahead and send them each the welcome letter and the book. But I would still need all of the information for the database (full names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, dates of birth, employment, spouse and earlier degree dates)? The lodge secretary should send us all of this information for the database when the petition is balloted on and then we add them to the database as they take their Entered Apprentice Degree. The complete information for the database is part of the deal to receive the package.
Doug

Masonic Meeting Do's & Don'ts?

RWB Doug,

Is there a Manual, link to our Web Page, or somewhere where I can educate myself on some Information on Meetings?


Here is where I'm going with this. Are there certain things that can only be done on the Master Mason Degree . We read a petition a couple of weeks ago and we were open on the Fellowcraft Degree . Someone leaned over to me and said we can't do that on this degree, it has to be done on the Master Degree.

I elected not to interrupt the meeting as I wasn't sure that was the case. Can you read petitions, vote, etc. on any degree as long as only Master Masons discuss and vote?

Other things have come up over the years that escape me right now, but I'm looking for information to educate myself so that I can speak confidently on it when it comes up and better serve our Lodge.

Thanks


Hello W. Brother,
There is a book called the Minnesota Masonic Manual, which has a chapter on opening and closing the lodge includes sections on stated communications and special communications for degree work. We made the change about 10 years ago to allow for business on any degree at the Master’s discretion, so many of the brothers who are more involved with the running of the meeting prior to that time probably remember how it was when they ran their meetings, and of course everything was done the Master Mason Degree. So that may be why they are telling you that you couldn’t do that a couple of weeks ago. But we do now allow business to be conducted on any degree and if you’re open on the Entered Apprentice Degree you can read petitions, ballot on petitions and any other type of business you might normally do on the Master Mason Degree. Should you have other Masons present who are only of the Entered Apprentice Degree or the Fellowcraft Degree, they would not be allowed to vote but they would be allowed to be present, they do not have to leave the meeting.
The complete Minnesota Masonic Manual is on our Grand Lodge website as well as a printed version being available from the Grand Lodge office for $10. Here is a link to the website http://www.mn-masons.org/lodge-resources/secretarys-resources/documents-manuals-forms and if you desire a bound copy in a little book the same size as the cipher just let me know and I’ll get one to you.
There is a lot of good information in the Minnesota Masonic Manual so if you do not have one, you should probably get one, or read it on line.
Doug