Statement of Purposes for Anchor Bell
"Anchor Bells were beacons in the fog that helped neighboring ships find their way out without collision, and find the light."
"The Anchor is a symbol of hope, and we'd like to exemplify hope in diversity and variety in Masonry"
Anchor Bell is a tight knit group of brothers focused on philosophy, Masonic education, excellence in ritual, and the return of fine fraternal dining. We embody mindfulness and solemnity in the lodge, provide education at every stated meeting, followed by fraternalism and fellowship out of the lodge with traditional festive boards and philosophical discussion. High standards in all aspects are the cornerstone of our concept; from dress, to quality of presentations, and extending out to formal meals.
Exceptional Ritual Work
Ritual is everything in blue lodge. How can you expect people to come again and again if the work isn’t exceptional?
We amplify the work where we can, and push the boundaries (strictly within CMC).
Include as many brethren as possible. Make the experiential parts feel encompassing.
Keep it moving, no one wants to sit through a three hour degree.
Use high quality props and regalia.
Key to the masonic experience, this is where brotherhood happens.
Serve quality food and charge proportionately to provide it, so as to not tax the lodge.
Include a meal with every event.
Involve some “ritualistic” elements and or education with the meal, to give prospects some flavor of what being a member might be like, this is our best advertisement.
Singing, even if you cant sing, songs bring people together. There’s a reason every university, fraternity, prep school and society has their own “fight song.”
Make our regular meal as special as a table lodge. Consider doing something even more special once a year.
Include education at every stated meeting. Can be as simple as having someone read a short talk bulletin. But ideally we will invite speakers from our area. It creates interlodge fraternalism and freindship, and is usually free.
Occasional “French-style” discussion-based meetings. This can make a great change of pace, especially for a Lodge with attendance of 30 or fewer attendees, or even a Lodge’s complete programming tradition. Rather than a presentation, everyone discusses a topic.
The goal is to go gavel-to-gavel in around 90 minutes. It takes around 10 minutes to open the Lodge; 10 minutes to go through the customary business (apologies for absence, sickness & distress, etc.); 10-20 minutes to go through the statutory business (reading petitions, reading GL communications, reading bills, balloting on petitions, etc.), 5 minutes to read the minutes and 10 minutes to close the Lodge. That leaves 35 minutes for programming.
Education during stated meetings. Even if we can’t afford to fly out Art DeHoyos or Chris Hoddapp, we won’t have it on a separate night. We will create a culture where people WANT to come to our meetings.
The purpose of Lodge meetings (and perhaps Masonry overall) is to be educational. This should be the primary focus of any meeting that is not devoted to Degree conferrals.
This will be a big part of driving attendance to the Lodge’s meetings: A great talk discussion, exemplification, demonstration, etc.
Waive the reading of minutes and other business on nights with special guests.
Having talks in tiled meetings opens up the discussion and creates value for membership. Only Masons allowed, and only Masons get to hear this stuff.
Have an excellent and modern social media presence, and keep it updated.
Have a really, really big mailing list, and send out clean correspondence about events that are well branded and identified. Avoid clutter and scattered random symbology. Keep it classy. “The way to get 50 people at every meeting is to invite 700.”
Use our Lodge Notice/Trestleboard as a newsletter and an advertisement. Have a summary of the last month’s activities with pictures in the Lodge Notice is that we want the members who didn’t attend to think, “There was something really cool happening last month, and I missed it. I better make sure I attend this month!” This is also a good way to entice visitors to attend.
Be inspiring, and aspiring
Attend six months of meetings regularly before getting an affiliation petition. Part of this philosophy is that a Brother who likes us and enjoys our meetings can attend as often as he likes (see the last point under “Branding” above) and doesn’t have to pay dues, etc. There has to be a reason for someone to actually become a member, which generally speaking means that they will regularly attend & participate in the life and works of the Lodge.
Be fairly careful about taking affiliates who belong to area Lodges, and to take only where it’s clear that there is an irredeemable mismatch between the Brother and the Lodge such that the Brother is definitely leaving that Lodge no matter whether to Anchor Bell or elsewhere. Otherwise, our feeling is that he is welcome to attend our meetings as much as he likes, and that we hope he takes back any ideas he might get to his Mother Lodge to see if they might be adaptable into their customs and practices.
Politically, a strong Lodge doesn’t want to be seen to consolidate its strength by absorbing talent from other Lodges where it is needed. There has to be some consideration of the Masonic community at Large and the idea that a rising tide floats all boats.
Create Barriers for entry
There’s an inverse relationship to making something difficult to join. People want it more.
Perceived value is a real thing, Magazines could be given away for free, advertising is what drives their revenue. But people would rather own a thing that costs money. See also premium vodka, the higher priced and not necessarily better bottle sells more.
Make candidates wait. Keep them engaged but set a standard in our bylaws such as “candidates must attend 8 monthly dinners before even considering a petition”
Consider the same for affiliates.
Dues and fees
Charge appropriate dues, affiliation fees.
Back into our initiation fees based on consumables and materials for candidates
Clearly explain to candidates what is included in initiation fee and why it costs what it costs.
Ask charter members to donate additional cash to get our endowment built up, make sure there is something special like a jewel, pin, etc to mark their charter membership.
Consider subscription based dues to break up the cost across the year.
Write into our bylaws that per capita is a factor of dues that is automatically added onto the agreed upon dues. IE: dues cost X+per capita. That way when per capita is increased, you don’t need to vote to raise dues, brothers just get charged dues and whatever the current per capita is.
Consider formally connecting fees to dues rates. For example, make the petition/initiation fee be 150% of the amount of the appropriate dues rate at the time of petitioning, eliminating two separate votes.
Consider creating a mechanism whereby the dues are raised incrementally each year in response to the rate of inflation and increases in the regular and contemplated expenses of the Lodge.
Plan our budget in advance and have it approved
If allowed, budget for recurring and static fees, vote to have them audited by a committee and avoid the time suck of “I make a motion to pay the rent”
Give the master a discretionary fund, allow him room for spontaneity and creativity within due bounds. If he wants awesome pins, it comes out of that funds. Aprons looking tired? He can choose to replace them.
If possible have all other bills communicated in advance and approved by committee have secretary approve bills as communicated unless any discussion is proposed.
Travel, a lot, as a group and as a lodge. See what’s out there in our area and elsewhere.
Borrow and outright steal great ideas that you see elsewhere.
Don’t fear “being exclusive” just don’t be exclusionary.
Strike the balance between fraternalism and reverence. There’s a time and place for fun and a time and place for solemnity.
Keep dress standards high, even for guests. Tuxedos preferred for all.
Don’t have too many meetings. Burnout is real for both officers and guests.