The COGMMNA is targeted to all Grand Masters, Grand Secretaries, Deputy Grand Masters, and Senior and Junior Wardens throughout North America. There were seats around the table for US, Canadian, and Mexican Grand Masters - all of whom are the only voting members of the Conference. The primary purpose of the three-day event is to share best practices, exchange ideas, discuss the many challenges facing Freemasonry, and to develop contacts throughout the world that enable our Grand Jurisdiction in Washington, DC to be better positioned to serve our Lodges.
There is also much business conducted, and the Grand Secretaries conduct their own separate, simultaneous conference. The business of the conference includes a Commission on Recognition that receives information from international Grand Lodges who seek recognition. This committee reviews the required information and then offers guidance on whether the requesting Grand Lodge meets the standards for Recognition. Whether or not individual Grand Jurisdictions decide to act on offering recognition is up to the respective Grand Lodges, and the Commission acts in an advisory capacity only.
There are also national meetings for the Masonic Renewal Committee, the National Sojourners, Scottish Rite (Northern and Southern Jurisdictions) Masonic Chip International, the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, and the National Masonic Foundation for Children (NMFC). There are also separate programs for the Ladies and Significant Others that deal with the challenges of providing leadership and support during their time as part of the Grand Lodge. Additionally, they had their own Keynote Speaker at a luncheon.
There are numerous separate break-out sessions that group the officers by position. The Deputy Grand Masters, for example, had multiple sessions on leadership topics. The Wardens did the same thing, but with different topics. Each year, the Conference planners respond to surveys from the previous year's conference, and set up the sessions accordingly. Recent topics include:
- Leadership challenges for Deputy Grand Masters
- Prepare for the East NOW (for Wardens)
- Retention challenges for Masonic Lodges
- Physical security of Lodge buildings
- "Guarding the West Gate" best practices
- The development and practices of Traditional Observance Lodges
- Best practices for dealing with transgender issues
- Training and mentoring ideas for new Freemasons
- How do deal with real estate and building issues
- Charitable foundations and best practices
There is also a Keynote Speaker. This year it was Sergeant First Class (retired) and Brother Sammy L. Davis, 33d Degree, who received two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, and the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. His testimony and video were very moving, and his comparison about the love which binds both military service and Freemasonry was particularly riveting.
As part of the experience, the Masons of South Dakota arranged a bus tour on the day before the start of the conference. For those who arrived early, they took us to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. They did an excellent job. On the Birthday of George Washington, they also hosted a dinner at the base of Mount Rushmore. Even though it was -3 (!!!) degrees outside, the company and speaker (General Washington himself) was very warm.
Our delegation to the 2019 COGMMNA included PGMs Leonard Proden, Akram Elias, and Richard Bautista, who were there for some of the business and committee meetings.
The 2020 COGMMNA will be held in Louisville, KY next February.