Richard H. Ryder, 2017
This article describes the importance of creating an effective schedule months in advance of the upcoming Masonic year, thus ensuring a success term for the new master.
The Importance of Scheduling
The Masonic year should not be viewed as a series of unconnected events, but rather, a well thought out sequence of events, actions, and activities that support the Master’s vision statement.
Each Master is different, with different strengths and interests. Although there are rules around much of what a Master can or should do, the Master has some flexibility to place his personal stamp on his term. He is only limited by the extent of his creativity.
With that said, the Master should take a bird’s eye view of the year, consider all the required events, consider his strategy, goals, and objectives, and then lay them out on a calendar for all to see, including himself. Doing so will not only help with planning and organization, but will also identify, early, potential conflicts with other lodge and district activities.
Lastly, it cannot be overemphasized that scheduling should start WELL BEFORE the new Master’s installation. Waiting until the summer months before a Masonic year will result in problems. The earlier you plan the more flexibility you will have regarding dates, especially if more than one lodge shares a building; and the more chance key people will have open calendars. The more advanced notice people have the greater chance they will attend and event or meeting.
To help you get started on creating a workable schedule, ask yourself some questions. For example:
- What dates are fixed? (ex. lodge meeting nights, LOI, etc)
- What meeting nights have special, non-degree events? (ex. Installation, holiday party)
- How will you schedule degrees so that they flow smoothly and are meaningful, without jeopardizing other planned events? Will you need more than one set of degree nights during your term?
- What other events or meetings should you consider?
There are many types of effective calendars that are available, both electronic and hard copy. Choose whatever works best for you.
Generally, a “year at a glance” calendar is useful during initial planning, since it gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire year, thus easily showing potential conflicts and extended busy periods. These are easily obtained at any office supply store.
In conjunction with a “year at a glance” calendar a personal, monthly calendar is useful for quick reference and to allow more details. These are also easily obtained at an office supply store. Calendar booklets are easy and convenient. Some people prefer electronic devices such as Smartphones or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s). Whatever you prefer, be sure to use it, and carry it with you at all Masonic events.
Everyone approaches scheduling in a different way. No method is better than others. The important point is to develop steps that work for you. The following are sequential steps you might consider:
- Create draft strategy, as explained above. Doing so will allow you to be creative, without prematurely ruling anything out due to a perceived scheduling conflict.
- Before the summer preceding your term as Master, meet with the outgoing Master, incoming Wardens, and any other key lodge members to schedule the upcoming year. The current Master and other key members will provide insight as to scheduling ideas, approach, and challenges.
- During the meeting, start by recording the monthly meetings, indicating which ones are traditionally fixed events. Next, record other fixed meetings throughout the year, including lodge events, district events, grand lodge events, and regular meeting/rehearsal nights (if possible) for other lodges that meet in your building.
- Also at the meeting, as well as possible, predict when new candidates will be taking their degrees. As hard as this may be, it is critical to try. Doing this early will allow you to make changes well in advance, when the chances of doing so are greater. This will allow you to reassess your goals and objectives and how best to achieve them with as little disruption to degree work as possible. Maybe you will need to request dispensation for an extra meeting. Although not recommended, maybe you will need to arrange for a courtesy degree from another lodge. Waiting until April to figure out how to squeeze in three degrees for those new applicants may prove to be an effort in futility.
- After the meeting, take the time to take a second look at your strategy and schedule in anticipation of presenting a final version to lodge officers and key members.
- In late summer, meet with lodge officers and key members to present your final schedule and accompanying strategy.
- Publish your schedule for all members to view. This way they will block off their calendars, which increases your chances for well attended events, meetings, etc.
- Regularly maintain and publish the schedule so all members are aware of modifications. Consider delegating this responsibility to a non-officer or better yet, a new member, thus promoting a sense of commitment to the lodge.