By: Ed Mortensen, Secretary
Some of the best fellowship is to be had at meals. There are formal meals and informal meals in Masonry. Some require you to be a Mason; some are for everyone.
The Steward’s Dinner
Every month, before the Lodge business meeting, the Lodge (especially the Stewards) hosts a dinner. For $10, you join members and those investigating the fraternity in a meal usually prepared by a Lodge member.
This is an opportunity for fellowship and finding out more about the fraternity and the brothers.
The Table Lodge
Just for members of the fraternity, this formalized dinner is a combination meal and business meeting.
The format of the meal and meeting differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but is a tiled affair. This means that the event is formally opened under one of Masonry’s degrees and is only attended by members of the fraternity.
Some business is typically conducted, and there are formal toasts as part of the program.
The Festive Board
Not necessarily for just members (although typically so), the Festive Board is another formalized dinner, this time scripted (in Utah) and is a celebration of the craft.
There are typically seven toasts throughout the meal, and these can be with alcohol or other beverage. (It is up to the Junior Warden to remind the Brothers of temperance.)
This meal can be catered or prepared locally, but it is a big deal and should be a feast.
The meal is served in courses and often has an educational feature.
Meals in the fraternity are a big deal and should be a feast to celebrate the craft.
Damascus Lodge prefers to make these meals ourselves (but we do occasionally cater).
It is tough to really go all out on a budget, but frugal Brothers have often outdone themselves and served a really great meal.
The menu can be as simple as a salad, spaghetti, garlic bread, or as fancy as a crab boil. We have had chicken tikka masala, stir fry, curry, fajitas, Dutch oven fare, and J Dawg style premium hot dogs.
As a Fundraiser
Typically, fraternity meals are zero-sum affairs, but occasionally we go all out with the meal, host a big-name speaker, and charge double to benefit a charity.
There are a few Masonic charities (sponsored by the Grand Lodge Almoner’s Fund, Scottish Rite, Shriner’s, and York Rite) or an “outside” charity.
This can be a Burn’s Supper or other annual events to benefit a tax-exempt community charity.