Starting the New Year Off Correctly
For Secretaries and Worshipful Masters dues hold an annual dual-sided promise:
- Resources. The annual swell of the coffers to last throughout the year, often a sigh of relief for Lodge purses getting all too thin, especially from fall,holiday,installation and new officer expenses.
- The Chase. For a very small number of Brothers, the start of a cycle of emails, requests, calls, formal letters, and on rare cases submission for suspension or expulsion.
As we approach the new year, I stopped to contemplate dues. That Freemasonry requires dues on its face is nothing different than any other organization: e.g., Ruritan, Lions. Rotary Clubs and professional organizations. The responsibility from a member to the organization, to be split between local and national/state organizations. The baseline financial resources to pay the bills and routine operations. Yet, on a higher level there is more to it.
- Personal Responsibility. One must be a Man of good character before becoming a Mason. Meeting personal obligations, including moral and financial ones, are the foundation of a strong moral temple.
- Penalties. While there are often civil penalties, late fees, and interest for failing to meet financial obligations, masonry makes extraordinary outreach to the Mason. Only in perseverent cases relying on suspension and expulsion. Remember your Lodge has paid your capitation by the end of February each year. Delaying is the same as taking a loan from the Lodge for the $38 annual capitation.
- Special Circumstances. Life events occur that may man a choice of food, medication, or basic needs or pay dues. For these special circumstances Brothers come to the assistance of their own--often without knowing the name of the recipient.
- Charity and Sharing. Charity goes beyond helping with dues. A Worshipful Master or Secretary collecting "for a brother in need" often results in a Mason emptying his wallet for the cause. The once empty hat on the Secretary's desk fills, even without need of a vote of the Lodge. Most Lodges have a sharing fund intended for helping Masons, their families widows and orphans...meeting the intent within our obligation of a sublime degree of a Master Mason.
Many Brothers choose to use Life Membership in Perpetuity, paying 16 year's dues into an annuity which pays the Grand Lodge of Virginia and your Lodge perpetually, as a means to ensure their masonic obligations are paid now and forever.
In summary, if you have the means I urge you to make your first check of the year to be your Masonic dues. Enjoy the new year with a clear conscience. If you are strapped where the dues (generally under $8 per month, varying by Lodge) would force hard choices in life then please have a candid talk with your Secretary, a trusted mentor or friend.