Here is a step by step procedure that you can use to help you put together a program for your lodge. This procedure can be used for any program. For the purposes of the example a Mason of the Year program has been used. Be sure to contact the various Grand for help with any programs that you might want to put on Lodge Committees (Constitution,
Observance, Public Schools, Youth Orders, Laymans Night, widows –
to just name a few). Many of them also have planning procedures that they tailored for their program.
A.. Select a committee for the program night. The committee may already exist. For example – the Fellowship Committee – could handle a Sweethearts Night program while the Care and Share Committee could handle the planning for a Veterans
Night program during the month of June or September. For the purposes of this example, it is assumed that the Mason of the Year Committee has already selected the candidate and that a separate committee has been selected to plan and execute the program.
B. Give the committee some specific tasks that you want accomplished.
For example, you might want the Fellowship Committee to plan a program for a specific date that would bring in the widows of the lodge, recognize them and provide some entertainment that would interest all the members of the lodge.
C. Let the committee plan the event and report back to you with their plans. Their plans should be competed within 60 – 90 days prior to the event and should include the following:
1. LOCATION. If your lodge dining room is too small for the anticipated crowd, dont hesitate to find a larger place. However, one of the advantages of having the program in the lodge is to bring in and acquaint outsiders with Freemasonry and particularly with your lodge. This gives you an excellent opportunity to show off your lodge to non-Masonic guests.
2. MENU. The menu for a special event, like a Mason of the Year presentation, should be special, but dont lose sight of the cost. If the dinner is too expensive, you may have some members who would like to attend but cant because of the expense.
3. PUBLICITY. Articles should be inserted in the trestleboard for at least two months prior to the event. In addition, particularly for a large event, your committee should plan an having one article submitted to the local newspaper. (Check with your Grand Lodge Public Relations Committeefor sample articles and help with this publicity). For any activity honoring a member of your lodge,
whether its a Mason of the Year Award, a 50 year medal or other, you should take into account any contacts that the recipient has outside of Masonry and be sure to inform them of the event with an invitation to attend.
4. PHOTOGRAPHER. An experienced photographer should be selected for the program. He should take photographs of the activities taking place in the dining room as well as during the presentation itself Copies of the photos should be given or made available to the recipient. Good contrast black and white prints can be sent to your local newspaper and to the Maine Mason magazine for inclusion with a small article telling about the recipient and his award.
5. ENTERTAINMENT. The main event for a Mason of the Year is the presentation of the award to the recipient. However, you should prearrange with several members of the Lodge and some of his friends to be present to talk about him. You might even roast him. Depending upon how long he has been in the community and a member of the lodge you might separate the speakers into different time periods, his early high school days, recollections of his first days as a Master Mason, his involvement with his work, his activities on behalf of youth orders, his church or synagogue activities and of course what he has been doing for the Lodge. Unless you know the speakers personally, and whether or not they will be entertaining, you should ask them to speak five minutes each. There is nothing more boring than having to listen to someone drone on and on about past events. Sometimes, of course, you want more if the speaker is dynamic and funny. But it is always better to leave the audience wanting more than wishing they had never come.
6. MASTER OF CEREMONIES. The Master of Ceremonies should be dynamic and entertaining and someone that the lodge members look up to. If possible, he should know the recipient personally so that he can relate to the stories being told by the speakers.
7. DECORATIONS. The dining room as well as the lodge room should be decorated for the event. This presents another opportunity to involve additional members and their wives in the program. (If you have divided the speakers into different time periods, you might-use decorations that suggest these different periods in the recipients life.)
8. SET UP AND CLEAN UP. The Stewards Committee should be used to set up and then after the program is over to clean up all of the tables and the dining room. This will reinforce the members with the feeling of helping the lodge and again give another committee something to do.
10. RESERVATIONS. It is suggested that reservations be taken for the dinner with a cut-off date one week prior to the event. In this way you will be able to correctly plan for the number of dinners required for the evening and the members will be making a commitment to attend the program. If you leave the cut-off date until the night of the program, you wont know how many dinners to prepare for. Worse than that, if something better comes along, TV show or football game,
etc , your members wont feel committed to corning to the lodge program and will probably stay home or go to the game. The reservations should probably be handled by the Senior Steward.
12. AGENDA. The committee should put together an agenda for the evening. outlining the events that will take place, from the entrance of the lodge officers prior to the dinner, to the presentation of the Award. A sample agenda follows:
a) 6:30 PM – Entrance of Lodge Officers into the dining room.
b) 6:35 PM – The Worshipful Master raps the audience up and asks the Chaplain to give an invocation.
c) 6:40 PM – Dinner is served (head table is sewed first. It should be made up of the recipient, the Worshipful Master, the Master of Ceremonies, any visiting dignitaries and the Chaplain and their guests. The Wardens and any other officers can be added as room permits.)
d) 7:30 PM – The Worshipful Master introduces the head table and the Lodge Officers. (This should be done in the dinning room coincident with the members and guests finishing their desserts. Just prior to the introduction of the lodge officers, he could introduce the Past Masters of the lodge, if he so desires.)
e) 7:40 PM – The Worshipful Master invites everyone to adjourn to the lodge room where the rest of the program will take place.
f) 8:00 PM – The Master of Ceremonies introduces the Worshipful Master who gives a short welcome to the members and their friends. (If you have a public address system, make sure that it is in good working order.)
g) 8:05 PM – The Master of Ceremonies asks for the American Flag to be presented at the altar. This is another good place to use one of our Masonic Affiliated Youth Groups. The Flag is then placed in its proper place in the East.
h) 8:10 PM – The Master of Ceremonies individually introduces each of the speakers for the evening and, as they are introduced invites them to come to the podium to speak. (You should have no more than six or seven speakers for this part of the program. Too many will drag the evening out.)
i) 8:30 PM – The Master of Ceremonies introduces the Grand Lodge representatives (with a brief summary of fraternal background where appropriate).
j) 9:00 PM – The Grand Lodge representative hands the framed certificate to the Worshipful Master who makes the presentation to the recipient. After the Master has presented the certificate to the recipient, he requests all previous recipients who are present to rise and be recognized.
k) 9:10 PM – The Master then asks the recipient if he has any remarks that he would like to make.
1) 9:30 PM – After the remarks of the recipient, the Master thanks all the committees that made the evening possible and everyone for coming and then asks the Chaplain to give a benediction which closes the program.
This procedure can be modified to accommodate any other programs that you want to put on.
In place of the speakers for the evening substitute your entertainment. To make the evening less formal leave out the introduction of your Lodge Officers and the presentation of the flag or have a pot-luck in place of the special meal for the evening.
Whatever you do remember the five Ps of planning:
** PRIOR PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE **