At the Grand Lodge session in October, 2000, the M*W* Grand Lodge of Georgia adopted "Perpetual Membership" in the Blue Lodges within Georgia. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which appeared in the October, 2000 Masonic Messenger:
Q: What is Perpetual Membership?
A: Perpetual Membership allows a Brother to voluntarily give to his Particular Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Georgia an amount of money equal to his annual dues times 21. He is no longer required to pay annual dues.
Q: Why is the cost of a Perpetual Membership fee set at 21 times Lodge dues?
A: The multiplier of 21 creates an amount that, if invested at 5%, will return interest income to your Lodge equal to the same amount of money it would have received in annual dues from you.
Q: Is this beneficial to my Lodge?
A: Yes. The income from the Perpetual Membership Fund is available for use by your Lodge and the Grand Lodge every year, even after your death.
Q: Why should a portion of the income continue to be paid to Grand Lodge after my death?
A: Every Mason comes under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge. The operation of the Grand Lodge is important to each of us. The Grand Lodge programs, the operation of the Masonic Home, and the operation of every Lodge depend on the operation of the Grand Lodge.
Q: Why do we need Perpetual Memberships?
A: Unfortunately, we have experienced losses in membership for the past decade. These losses have had adverse effects on the finances of Particular Lodges. If that Lodge owns its building, the fixed costs of upkeep and operation are spread among a decreasing number of members. Like the Masonic Home Endowment Fund, the money from Perpetual Memberships will be used as an endowment fund for your Particular Lodge. Only the earned income will be used to support your Lodge and the Grand Lodge. A Perpetual Membership is a way to contribute an endowment fund for your Lodge, insuring future financial security.
Q: What is the difference between a Perpetual Membership and a Life Membership?
A: By Masonic Regulation, a Subordinate Lodge may grant life membership to only one of every 50 members. There is no requirement that the member pay for the life membership. However, life members are still subject to Grand Lodge dues. All members of a Subordinate Lodge are eligible to obtain a Perpetual Membership. After the death of a Perpetual Member, your Lodge and Grand Lodge will continue to receive the earnings from your perpetual membership fee forever.
Q: When will the Lodge receive the earnings on the Perpetual Membership fees?
A: On December 1, of each year.
Q: If the Grand Lodge per capita tax ever increases, will it affect me?
A: No. A Perpetual Member will no longer be subject to the per capita tax.
Q: Why can't I just make a donation to my Lodge and let it use the money to pay my dues?
A: There is nothing to prohibit this, but consider the advantages of Perpetual Membership. First, there are no regulations compelling a Lodge to place money in a trust fund in your name. Second, the Perpetual Membership is relying on professional investment advisors to achieve a higher rate of return.
Q: What if I want to donate more than the minimum amount?
A: The Regulations only set a minimum amount for a Perpetual Membership Fee. There is no limit to the amount a Brother may voluntarily contribute to increase his Perpetual Membership.
Q: Is there a reduced rate for older members?
A: No. The program is not really designed as a membership program. Its' intent is to create a trust fund for each Particular Lodge. The primary funding of this account is from Perpetual and Memorial Perpetual Memberships. It is a way for a Brother to make a voluntary contribution to his Lodge and Grand Lodge. By making a donation of his dues times 21, he is relieved of paying future dues.
Q: If a particular Lodge levies a special assessment on its members, is a Perpetual Member exempt?
A: No. A Perpetual Member IS NOT exempt from special assessments made by his particular Lodge, but he IS exempt from special assessments made by the Grand Lodge. It is not the intent of the Regulations to interfere with the finances of any Particular Lodge. The exemption from Grand Lodge assessments is for the protection of the Particular Lodge.
Q: What about Honorary Perpetual Memberships?
A: Honorary Perpetual Memberships can be donated in the honor of any living or deceased Georgia mason who is, or was at the time of his death, in good standing. The fee for this type of membership is a minimum of $200.00.
Q: What if I transfer my membership to another Lodge?
A: If you affiliate with another Georgia Lodge, your Perpetual Membership moves with you to your new Lodge. If you affiliate with a Lodge outside Georgia, the Perpetual Membership Fee remains with that Georgia Lodge. If you did affiliate with a Lodge outside Georgia and later returned to a Georgia Lodge, your Perpetual Membership will be moved to your new Georgia Lodge.
Q: What happens if a Perpetual member is suspended or expelled for unmasonic conduct?
A: The application form for Perpetual Membership states that the applicant understands the Perpetual Membership Fee is Non-refundable. So, although a Brother may be suspended or expelled and may not have a dues card, the money remains in the Perpetual Membership Fund and his particular lodge will continue to receive income from his fee.
Q: I hold dual membership in two Lodges. Does my Perpetual Membership Fee cover the dues in both Lodges?
A: No. The perpetual membership payment (21 times) is applicable only for the lodge within which it is paid. To become a perpetual member of both Lodges, or each different Lodge you may be a member of, you would have to make the payment (21 times dues) to each of those lodges.
Q: How can I become a Perpetual Member?
A: An application form is available from your Lodge Secretary. It must be processed through your Lodge.
If you have more questions contact:
A. Charles Knowles, PGM, Chairman
General Welfare Committee
Telephone: (706) 561-7748
Fax: (706) 565-9239