"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Masonic Information Center Mark Twain Award Winners 2010

Four years ago, the Masonic Information Center created the Mark Twain Award, to "recognize Lodge leadership for asserting a uniquely Masonic identity both within the Lodge and throughout the community that is consistent with the Fraternity's historic focus on education, self-improvement, good works, and fellowship." It's the only national Masonic award of its kind, and it represents achievement at the local lodge level. Lodges that win the Twain award are working hard to make their individual lodge just that—individual. These lodges have found ways to make their lodge unique, distinctive, educational, vital to their members, and a part of the community in which they reside.

The Masonic Information Center is a committee recognized by the Conference of Grand Masters in North America, and the Twain Award winners were announced at the Conference in Arlington, Virginia last month. The MIC was originally funded in 1993 by John J. Robinson, author of Born In Blood, who was not a Mason at the time. Robinson gave a grant to start the Center in order to provide information to both Masons and non-Masons, and to respond to critics of the fraternity. The Center operates as part of the Masonic Service Association of North America. For more about the Twain Award, see here. Congratulations to the 2010 winners:

Helion Lodge #1, Huntsville, Alabama

Oasis Lodge #52, Tucson, Arizona

Henri Lodge #190, Tonganoxie, Kansas

Bay View Lodge #196, E. Boothbay, Maine

John T. Heard Lodge, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Helios Lodge #273, Cambridge, Minnesota

Boulder City Lodge #37, Boulder City, Nevada

Benevolent Lodge #7, Milford, New Hampshire

Atlas Pythagoras Lodge #10, Westfield, New Jersey

Temple Lodge #6, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sandia Mountain Lodge #72, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Harmonie Lodge #699, Amherst, New York

Statesville Lodge #27, Statesville, North Carolina

Tippecanoe Lodge #174, Tipp City, Ohio

Sand Springs Lodge #475, Sand Springs, Oklahoma

South McAlester Lodge #96, McAlester, Oklahoma

Daylight Lodge #232, Seattle, Washington

The criteria for the Twain Award is designed to motivate lodges to plan its future and improve itself with meaningful activities that serve the needs of its own members. There's no checklist, no defined roadmap of specific items that get crossed off when completed. The goal is to motivate lodges to act for their own good, and the good of their community, and to do it in a thought out manner. The website has much information on it, but it does list suggested activities and ideas that every lodge ought to be considering, regardless of whether they are trying for an award or not.

Frustrated lodge officers are frequently hunting the silver bullet, the Big Fix that will fill their lodges and make them active and relevant to their members. The truth is, it's different for every lodge. This list is one place to start. If you've heard me speak at a lodge or grand lodge, you've heard me say over and over. Try everything, and when that doesn't work, try something else. But start by making your lodge a place YOU can't wait to come to every month, every week.

The MIC has a list of suggestions for lodges to use as a starting place to rejuvenate themselves, and while I don't want to reprint their whole website here, their suggestions are thoughtful ones:

- Apply concepts of education and self-improvements to current print and non-print communications tools of individual lodges, Grand Lodges, and national Masonic organizations and societies.

- Improve the environment of lodge-based fellowship; refresh the look of the lodge; welcome new members; improve presentation skills; provide mentoring to study degrees; strengthen communications skills.

- Organize group activities based on education and self-improvement that can enrich lodge-centered fellowship such as: welcoming committees, lodge renovation and clean up campaigns, leadership development conferences, mentor meetings, workshops on such things as Masonic ritual, history, symbolism, architectural works, art, and cultural works.

- Initiate workshops on Masonic personal growth topics such as leadership, stewardship, ethics, philosophy, and spirituality.

- Call on local educational faculty to present on topics that enrich the body, mind, and spirit of the brothers.

- Tap the talents of individual members and build a community of experts to help facilitate Masons to improve themselves and their community.

- Improve community accessibility to Masonry through public outreach activities and program or group hosting, tutoring, and mentoring.

- Offer Masonic recognition and incentive programs for educational initiatives, visitor programs and Chamber of Commerce presentations.

- Honor the Mason within yourself.

- Communicate regularly with neighboring lodges.

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