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Masonic lodges propose merger

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NC Times - Serving San Diego and Riverside Counties

Masonic lodges propose merger

June 8, 2005

By: CRAIG SHULTZ - Staff Writer

Like many benevolent groups, the Masons are seeing a decline in membership. To adjust for that, two local clubs may soon become one.

The Perris and Elsinore Masonic lodges have proposed consolidating and a vote on the measure will soon be sent to their general memberships, according to Harold Whitford, the worshipful master of the Perris group.

The Masons are said to date back to the Middle Ages with the first known lodges formed in London in 1717. According to the Masonic Service Association of North America Web site, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy.

Whitford said his group, whose lodge is in Sun City, and the Lake Elsinore group do not individually have enough officers for 2006. The Perris group has 260 members and there are 81 in Lake Elsinore, Whitford said.

The groups have been talking about consolidating since early this year, Whitford said, and both decided within the last week to send the decision on for a vote.

"This is not uncommon among other lodges," Whitford said. "Sometimes four or five clubs come together."

Whitford said members will have until Aug. 15 to return their ballot. If 75 percent of members are in favor, the merger will go through. If not all ballots are returned, but more than 50 percent approve the consolidation, the state's grand master for Masons can declare the merger accepted.

If approved, the two groups will become the Menifee Valley Masonic Center sometime around Sept. 1. They will keep the number 289 from the Lake Elsinore Lodge and likely get a new charter, Whitford said. The Sun City location will become the home lodge and the Lake Elsinore property will be sold.

Whitford said the Perris Club was chartered in 1910 and moved to its facility in Sun City in 1978. The Lake Elsinore Masons were chartered in 1889 and have been in their current location since the 1920s, he said.

Funds from the clubs will be combined and the individual building associations will merge. Interim board members will serve until a new board is elected in November, Whitford said.

In recent years, benevolent and service clubs have seen their membership age. The median age of the Perris and Lake Elsinore lodges is in the mid-70s, Whitford said.

"In our society nowadays, younger people are not into fraternal groups," Whitford said. "They have young families, and many of them commute a long way. It's not like the old days when it was a big deal to go to the lodge on a certain night each week."

Things aren't all gloomy, however. Whitford says his lodge has added four members in the past year and just Monday night reviewed the applications of a pair on potential members who are in their 30s.

"It looks like it's picking up again," he said. "Maybe it's 9-11. People are banding together more."

The Masons and affiliates, the Shriners, Scottish Rite Masons and Eastern Star, donate $2 million a day to charity, Whitford said.

They do not recruit members, as many other groups do. Potential members must come to the club and ask to be invited, Whitford said.

"Our goal is to take good men and make them better," he said.

The Perris Lodge will have a Masonic Information Night at 7 p.m. Monday at its lodge, 27221 McCall Blvd. in Sun City.

For information, call the lodge at 679-9493.

How to become a Mason

Those who are interested in learning more about joining the Masons are invivited to a Masonic Information Night at 7 p.m. Monday at the Perris Lodge, 27221 McCall Blvd. in Sun City.

For information, call the lodge at 679-9493.

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