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