Page 6 - May 2015 A
P. 6

Page 6                                          No. 478

                     Making the Transition
        Consolidation or Surrender the Charter

Several lodges presently are considering what to do with their few members: Do we try to hang on for a few
more years, or should we try to find a new home while we can still do so?

   If your lodge is struggling, waiting until you have too few members able to make a decision or who are able
to dispose of the building is not a good idea. Lodges making these decisions for themselves, while they can, is
preferred. Think of this as considering a Living Will, and the lodge entering assisted living versus hospice
care.

   Article III of the Constitution and Code of Statutes deals with Consolidations and Surrender of Charter of a
lodge. Merging with another lodge - consolidation - or affiliating with another lodge after ending your own -
surrending the charter - are the two main routes lodges choose to take in handling this issue. There is a third
class of options, where a lodge has the choice made for them: the Grand Master may suspend a charter, or
the Grand Lodge may revoke a charter (and uphold a Grand Master’s suspension with a permanent
revocation).

Why should lodges consider any of these options?
• Lodges with under 25 members are “at risk,” but certainly not expected, to pass away. A quorum is 5

     Masons, 20% of a 25 member lodge would need to be present to hit that number. For most lodges,
     regardless of size, 10-20% of their total membership showing up is about average. So, if your lodge is
     “smallish,” you may want to factor that.
• Lodges further have to consider how many members live in-state or reasonably close (within an hour
     drive). If 11 of your members live “in the area,” you severely limit the potential to hit a quorum
     regularly.
• How old is your membership? If 18 out of 25 of your members are past the age of 70, this may restrict
     your possible quorum, as many older members can’t drive at night or be away from home for long
     distances, or are taking care of family at home.
• Is your lodge in a town with 1000 or less people? Many young families find it to be a struggle to
     support themselves in smaller communities where industries have left, and so they move. This means
     you may only have one or two “younger” members presently to network with other younger men and
     present joining as something interesting to them.

   None of these items on their own should mean that a lodge is dying; however, taken together, several signs
on this list may suggest that a lodge will not be here in a few years. Here is why that should matter to you:
would your lodge like to have input into how and when it closes?

   Section 22010 of the Constitution and Code on “Consolidation” spells out the many (there are a lot!) of
steps necessary. In summation, both lodges merging need to have meetings to agree upon this, with conditions
to be met. The Grand Master must receive the proceedings of this and he or his designee be present at the
installation of officers. This option usually sounds the most appealing to lodges seeking to find a new home,
and is often the most difficult in practice. It is not a quick process (the consolidation, once complete, does not
take effect until January 1 of the following year, for example). Furthermore, both parties have to agree on how
to handle assets AND liabilities. The lodge that members wish to merge (consolidate) with will almost always
view the issue with reservation: your building will almost always be a “liability” in this sense to merging. The
lodge that you may wish to join will, naturally, wonder what they gain if they accept your problems. You have
a lot of 50 Year Members (who are exempt from dues) and one or two Pre-Paid Life members and only one
dues paying member?And a building with deferred maintenance that will sell for far less than it should, if it
sells? This is just simple terms.
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