{This is an edited excerpt from chapter 14 of “Webmastering the Craft” by the author, which also contains additional commentary and alternate methods.}


In 2014, then Deputy Grand Master Jeffrey M. Williamson called a town hall meeting for my Masonic district. The most pressing issue was schedule conflicts. Events were constantly scheduled at the same time for various Lodges and concordant and appendant bodies. I created and set up an “Aggregated Calendar System” that solved the problem.

A few years later, the company that manages our membership data rolled out its own system. Lodges jumped on board, many abandoning their existing calendars. The new system was for Lodges only — it did not include appendant and concordant bodies. There was no easy way for anyone who was not a Lodge Brother to see what was going on in the district at a glance. Lastly, their system lacks basic features and can’t be aggregated into any other calendar system. We were back to square one. This breakdown underlined the importance of understanding and meeting our needs — and a return to the model outlined here.

The Setup

There are three features essential for any Lodge or body to have a public digital calendar: It can be checked by members or interested parties for changes as they are made; it can be made visible to people who wouldn’t otherwise know about events, such as visitors from other places; it can be seamlessly added to a regional calendar and requires no effort once set up. In other words, a calendar isn’t just for members who know what is going on by word of mouth. It is for visitors, and more importantly, being aware of potential conflicts between Lodges and bodies in any given area.

In 2014, I created a model for a collective district calendar that distributed its management among the individual Lodges and bodies. They each had a calendar (or were given one) they could use for their members and website, AND it was aggregated into a master calendar for the district, visible on the district website. Here is an explanation of the process, done using Google Calendar.

If a Lodge (or chapter, body, etc.) didn’t have a dedicated Google account, we helped them create one or gave them a “sub-calendar” of the district they could control. If they wanted someone to be able to add events to the calendar without giving them access to the account itself, they added their email (associated with their own Google account, which they can create if they don’t have one) on the “Share this calendar” page.  This is also useful for the webmaster to manage it from their own account instead of logging in.

Hint: if you add an event while in your own account and it doesn’t appear on the Lodge’s calendar, you probably didn’t specify which calendar it belonged to so by default it was put in your own. You can change that at any time by clicking on event details and using the drop-down setting for “Calendar”. 

If there are private events the organization wants to track (such as hall rentals) using this account, they can set individual events to private, or use a private sub-calendar.

Instructions Regarding Events

Events can be added (or updated) by anyone given such access and responsibility. It could be the Master, Secretary, or someone delegated. If you don’t have details of an event yet, setting it as a general “all-day” event is helpful for internal and external coordination. But once the details are available, whatever is known and necessary should be included:

  • Name of Lodge or Body – Preface the event with the Lodge name so it will be distinguishable from events from other calendars when combined with others (at the district level)
  • Location – Do not assume people know where it is, such as potential guests, and a clear address will automatically translate to a phone’s GPS.
  • Cost, if any
  • Attire – Don’t make assumptions, as visitors will not know local customs
  • Who is allowed to attend (i.e. Master Masons, wives, children, EAs and FCs)
  • Contact information or other means to RSVP if required

Hint: If an event is canceled, DO NOT DELETE IT. Mark it as “CANCELED” in the event name. This is so people will not assume it was omitted by mistake or wonder what is going on.

Central Management

A district webmaster (or communications officer by any other name) should maintain a spreadsheet of Lodges and bodies that have (or should have) calendars to be integrated into the composite calendar, including a current contact for each. As many Lodges may not be on board yet with this system, hand-holding and prodding by the DDGM may be necessary. In the end, communication is key to having everyone understand what they have to do to “exist” on the public regional calendar.

In the county’s dedicated Google account, all the necessary calendars should be listed under “My calendars” (if they are actively shared with the account) or “Other calendars” (subscribed by adding the respective account’s email address in the “Add a friend’s calendar” box and hitting enter). To make a composite calendar, select any calendar’s “Calendar settings” and click on the “Customize the color, size, and other options” link above the embed code. This will open a new page where you must check-box all the calendars you want to combine to generate the appropriate code. Be sure that if you choose to display the calendar name (checked box by default) that it does not have a sub-calendar’s name — you can change it to however you want it to appear.

Hint: If an individual calendar’s name is off-kilter (all lowercase or the email address instead of the name in plain English), you can change it under “Calendar settings” for that calendar, even if you do not own or control it. This determines how it will look on the aggregated calendar. You can add or remove Lodge numbers, but you want them to be consistent.