Country Membership

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Country Membership

Postby colineglos » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:20 pm

A recent newbie to our Lodge brought my attention to one of our Lodge's By-Laws relating to "Country Membership".
Our lodge has an annual free of around £100, and all festive board meals etc are paid individually etc when brethren attend.

I am a bit confused what the Country membership actually represents, as it mentions in the By-laws that
Country Membership is for "Any member who for reasons acceptable to the lodge is not in a position to enjoy the privileges of the lodge regularly..."

I have spoken with other lodge officers, and they have no idea of what the by-law is in regards to.
Comments welcome,

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Re: Country Membership

Postby P471 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:57 pm

Country membership AFAIK is for members who move away but still wish to remain a member even though they won’t be able to attend.
We have had a member who had to move way for work and also those in the armed forces who work away who have used this. It serves as a way to keep them connected to the Lodge and also allows them to visit other Lodges without the restrictions of being unattached.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Trouillogan » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:11 pm

Country membership is normally for those who, for permanent reasons of great distance, are unable to attend but infrequently. Therefore they may be excused payment for the masonic hall facilities. I myself am a country member of my mother lodge and have been for many years. This enables me to retain full and voting membership of the lodge and province even though I live a couple of hundred miles away, attending perhaps once or twice a year out of our eight meetings. Have a look in the UGLE booklet Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft (given to you with the B of C), 'Decisions of the Board of General Purposes', 'Associate Members'. There is no mention in the UGLE Book of Constitutions however. If you look in the same booklet under 'Honorary Membership', this situation would not be permitted as grounds for Honorary status. I only mention this because it is a common error.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby colineglos » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:16 pm

Totally sorted. Many thanks for all the input.
I spoke to many brethren who like me had no idea of its real purpose.

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Re: Country Membership

Postby Trouillogan » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:31 pm

colineglos wrote:Totally sorted. Many thanks for all the input.
I spoke to many brethren who like me had no idea of its real purpose.

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Well, now you also know that brethren don't read what they've been given to read. They are produced for a purpose - 'your serious consideration' - ignore them at your peril!
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Mike Martin » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:52 am

In my Lodge we dropped the quite confusing term "Country Member" and replaced it with "non-Dining Member" some years ago.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby The Uninitiated » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:18 am

I am aware of a number of Lodges, whose Annual Dues includes dining fees for all meetings.

"Country Members" do not pay the dining fees, although can (of course) dine when they do attend.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Lazza21 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:42 pm

The term "Country Member" has been dropped from some Lodges By Laws altogether, one membership fee for everyone and dining payed for each individual meeting.
My W Kent Lodge gives a small discount if a years meals are paid for in advance with the annual subs.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Stevecoath » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:14 pm

My own Lodge bylaws need to be revised as it refers to a member requesting to go on the country list subject to a ballot.
The Country List is generally taken to mean that they pay their dues minus the dining fee but I have heard in the past where some have objected to paying for the temple hire and LOI hire etc on the basis they do not use the facilities but let us remember, a member who does not attend does not (except in rare circumstances) contribute to the alms or charity collection either.

This can lead to added pressure on the active membership when Province come looking for donations based on an amount per member.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Trouillogan » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:26 pm

Stevecoath wrote:My own Lodge bylaws need to be revised as it refers to a member requesting to go on the country list subject to a ballot.
The Country List is generally taken to mean that they pay their dues minus the dining fee but I have heard in the past where some have objected to paying for the temple hire and LOI hire etc on the basis they do not use the facilities but let us remember, a member who does not attend does not (except in rare circumstances) contribute to the alms or charity collection either.

This can lead to added pressure on the active membership when Province come looking for donations based on an amount per member.

There is a bit of danger in what I think you might be implying Steve. It is not permitted to include in a Lodge subscription a definite amount to be devoted to qualifying each member as a subscriber to Masonic Institutions. If you look at your booklet Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft, under 'Decisions by the Board of General Purposes' and in the section entitled 'Assessment upon Members', you will see the answer to that very question is given as: 'This is an enforced subscription to charity and could not be approved.' The item immediately following that: 'Associate Members', is also very relevant to this discussion.

So, as always, great care must be given to the drafting and amendment of lodge by-laws.

Grand Lodge neatly manages to skate around the charity issue by including a charity levy on the lodge (note, not the members) along with the dues, which must be paid from the lodge's general fund and not from its charity account. For the ruling on this aspect, see in the same booklet the section entitled: 'Grand Charity Contributions' which was adopted as an edict of Grand Lodge on 8 June 2005.

Charities and our taxation system are very complex areas, so we must follow the rules.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Stevecoath » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:37 am

Trouillogan wrote:[There is a bit of danger in what I think you might be implying Steve. It is not permitted to include in a Lodge subscription a definite amount to be devoted to qualifying each member as a subscriber to Masonic Institutions. If you look at your booklet Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft, under 'Decisions by the Board of General Purposes' and in the section entitled 'Assessment upon Members', you will see the answer to that very question is given as: 'This is an enforced subscription to charity and could not be approved.' The item immediately following that: 'Associate Members', is also very relevant to this discussion.

So, as always, great care must be given to the drafting and amendment of lodge by-laws.

Grand Lodge neatly manages to skate around the charity issue by including a charity levy on the lodge (note, not the members) along with the dues, which must be paid from the lodge's general fund and not from its charity account. For the ruling on this aspect, see in the same booklet the section entitled: 'Grand Charity Contributions' which was adopted as an edict of Grand Lodge on 8 June 2005.

Charities and our taxation system are very complex areas, so we must follow the rules.


Thank you for that I think I need to investigate further.
One point of what I was getting at however if there is confusion between non-dining and Country membership in my Lodge, where a member suddenly announces they are going on the country list retrospectively as they haven't attended this year and someone points out that it is subject to ballot.

On a slightly different point there could also be more transparency regarding dues and better explaining by some treasurers as to what it actually pays for .

I attended a KT Preceptory recently as a member of the Provincial Bodyguard, There were 14 Bodyguard members plus 8 escorts from the Provincial team.
The actual attending membership was about 8 so the visitors outnumbered the members.

While the majority of the members exclaimed that it was great we were all there to support the unit, one member remarked that he wished we hadn't attended as it meant the Preceptory was now out of pocket because although we all pay our own dining fees, the centre charges the Preceptory for the amount of bums on seats regardless of where they come from.

So say the unit had 10 members and the charge was £5 per, for that meeting the Preceptory had to pay £160 or £16 per member as opposed to £5 per member if there were no visitors.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Richard George » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:11 am

That's unusual - in my experience, the levy is not based on the number of people attending meetings, rather on the number of members a lodge (or unit) has; thus a small lodge pays less than one with a large number of members.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Trouillogan » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:29 pm

That does seem a bit unusual Steve. I'm with Richard George on this one and I would suggest renegotiating your deal with the hall company.

As to 'retrospective' country/non-dining, I would respectfully suggest they pay the full whack up to when the change of status takes effect, which would surely be the start of the new subscription year.

And I agree that some treasurers could be a little less reticent about how things work out. There's no reason not to be absolutely clear, is there?
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Stevecoath » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:50 pm

Completely agree about paying up to change of status.
The reason I mention about having to re-look at the Lodge bylaws is that as it stands if a member is unable to attend or even if they are able to attend but never dine and therefore wishes to pay the dining fee only when they dine, they can request to go on the country list.
The Lodge then ballots and if it is not passed for any reason then that member would have to pay the dining fee for the whole year without dining.
This has not happened to my knowledge but could happen.
Also Country members are not allowed to hold office.
That is why I believe the term Country member should be removed and replaced with non-dining.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby wayne cowley » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:50 pm

Richard George wrote:That's unusual - in my experience, the levy is not based on the number of people attending meetings, rather on the number of members a lodge (or unit) has; thus a small lodge pays less than one with a large number of members.


I am aware of one Hall locally that puts a surcharge on the number of diners towards the upkeep of the Hall

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Re: Country Membership

Postby eric384 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:44 pm

wayne cowley wrote:
Richard George wrote:That's unusual - in my experience, the levy is not based on the number of people attending meetings, rather on the number of members a lodge (or unit) has; thus a small lodge pays less than one with a large number of members.


I am aware of one Hall locally that puts a surcharge on the number of diners towards the upkeep of the Hall

Wayne


Whould that not be included in the dining fee rather than on the hall hire?
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Re: Country Membership

Postby wayne cowley » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:50 pm

eric384 wrote:Whould that not be included in the dining fee rather than on the hall hire?


Yes - it is added to the cost of the dining fee over and above the cost of the meal

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Re: Country Membership

Postby Richard George » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:04 pm

There are 2 common levies; one is on the number of members and should go to hall maintenance, the other is a dining levy (commonly £1 per head) towards the cost of serving staff.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby Trouillogan » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:37 pm

Stevecoath wrote:Completely agree about paying up to change of status.
The reason I mention about having to re-look at the Lodge bylaws is that as it stands if a member is unable to attend or even if they are able to attend but never dine and therefore wishes to pay the dining fee only when they dine, they can request to go on the country list.
The Lodge then ballots and if it is not passed for any reason then that member would have to pay the dining fee for the whole year without dining.
This has not happened to my knowledge but could happen.
Also Country members are not allowed to hold office.
That is why I believe the term Country member should be removed and replaced with non-dining.

As used in the UGLE Guidance booklet the terms 'country' and 'non-dining' appear to be used interchangeably. I think that's OK as it allows for lodges to phrase their by-laws in the way they want to. The only mention in the B of C is in rule 153(e) in relation to the separation of accounting. Many lodges maintain a 'permanent diners list' for convenience but those who are not on that list are not necessarily country members living at a distance and who seldom attend. Sometimes country members are defined in by-laws as those who live over a certain distance away or in the next province but one - but they may be regular attenders who may or may not be regular diners. So I think it is right to retain the use of the two terms.
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Re: Country Membership

Postby colineglos » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:44 pm

Stevecoath wrote:.... That is why I believe the term Country member should be removed and replaced with non-dining.


Im more confused than ever...

Surely Country Membership is nothing to do with "Non-dining" (its to do with attendances).
In our lodge we seem to have had three different types of membership operating.

1. Membership + Dining (fees inclusive)
2. Membership only + "Pay as You Go" Dining
3. Country Membership - reduced membership rate for those unable to attend due to other commitments.

Item 1 has now been totally phased out, (and replaced with item 2). Yet item 3 remains in-situ.

Are you now saying Country Membership is REALLY another name non-dining?
As this just does not fit the equation.

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