Interview With Most Worshipful Russell E. Charvonia, Past Grand Master Grand Lodge of California

Square & Compass Promotions
Operations Research Bit
5 min readMar 21, 2024


Dignity and Respect = Civility.
Dignity and Respect = Civility.

Dignity and Respect = Civility.

In 2021, Square & Compass Promotions welcomed Most Worshipful Russell E. Charvonia, Past Grand Master Grand Lodge of California to the Square & Compass Podcast, where we discussed his Masonic Family Civility Project and the importance of civility in modern society.

In 2024, it is arguable that civility is in even shorter supply than in 2021; making the Masonic Family Civility Project more important than ever.

For that reason, as well as the fact that M.W. Bro. Charvonia is a wealth of Masonic knowledge, we were so honoured to welcome the M.W. Brother back to Square & Compass, this time in written form!

On March 4th, the M.W. Brother presented at South Pasadena Masonic Lodge on “Civility and Freemasonry,” which was open to Masons, Non-Masons, adults, and youth. Check out the websites and resources listed below to keep up to date on upcoming presentations…or get in touch and request a presentation in your area or Masonic lodge?


Q: Let’s start with the basics, who are you and describe your work regarding civility and freemasonry?

— See my bio below:

  • Most Worshipful Russ Charvonia is a Past Master of Channel Islands Lodge №214 in Ventura. After serving as Master in 1996, he served eight years as lodge Treasurer and was presented the Hiram Award in 2002.
  • Brother Charvonia’s service to the Grand Lodge began in 1995 when he was appointed to the Grand Lodge Committee on Finance, which he served for ten years, including two terms as chairman. He has since served on the Committee on Investments and Audit Committee. He is currently chair of the Youth Orders Committee.
  • In 2006, Russ was appointed as a director of the Nob Hill Masonic Center, Inc. and served as its president. He also served on the boards of the California Masonic Foundation and Masonic Homes of California. In 2009, Russ served as the Grand Orator under Grand Master Larry Adamson and was inspector-at-large for Division V. In 2014/15, he served as the 149th Grand Master of Masons in California.
  • Brother Charvonia is a 33° Inspector General Honorary of the Valley of Ventura Scottish Rite Bodies. He is a member of Ventura Chapter №50 Royal Arch Masons and Ventura Council №15 Cryptic Masons. He is a member of Al Malaikah Shrine Temple in Los Angeles and the Southern California Past Masters Association. He is also a member of the Lodge of the Holy Land, №50 in Israel, Kona Lodge in Hawaii, and Tanana Lodge №3 in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is a Deputy Member of the DeMolay International Supreme Council, and is a Certified Adult Volunteer for all three Masonic Youth Orders, DeMolay, Job’s Daughters and Rainbow for Girls.
  • Brother Charvonia has been in the financial services industry since 1980. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 2003 and is a practicing attorney and founder of Channel Islands Law Group, where he specializes in estate planning. He also has a mediation practice.
  • Russ has been active in his community, volunteering his professional services with several non-profit organizations. Russ is active in Temple Beth Torah. He served as president of the board of the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation and was treasurer for the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement. He also volunteers for Channel Islands Restoration where he is helping to restore the Channel Islands back to their native condition.
  • His greatest passion is to help to restore civility in society using the Masonic values and teachings. He is doing this by leading the Masonic Family Civility Project and serving as the first president of the Worldwide Civility Council, a nonprofit organization dedicate to restoring civility to society.
  • Russ recently co-wrote: “The Civility Mosaic: How Anyone Can Use the Principles of Freemasonry to Repair Our World,” with Brother Michael Ashley. He also co-authored the children’s book “Ayisha for President.”
  • Brother Charvonia lives in Ventura with his wife of more than 30 years, Linda, a Past Honoured Queen and recipient of the Degree of Royal Purple of Bethel 89, Job’s Daughters International. Russ and Linda have a daughter, Alissa; son and daughter-in-law, Keith and Kendall; and grandsons, Tanner and Hudson. His father-in-law, Most Worshipful Harry L. Maynard, served as the 117th Grand Master of Masons in California and Hawaii in 1982–83

Q: How would you define civility? I think, for a lot of people, civility is defined as “being nice.” Is that how you would define it?

  • When we first set out on this journey to restore civility to society, we tried to define the word “civility.” We wrestled with it for four months before I finally Googled it. Lo and behold, Wikipedia had no definition for the word. Instead, it said “see incivility.” Since then, we have created a definition in Wikipedia. Check it out! That said, to me, civility is more than simply being polite, applying the rules of etiquette, and avoiding difficult conversations. It is treating others with a basic level of dignity and respect that allows us to be able to engage in those difficult, but necessary, conversations.

Q: Why do you think Freemasonry connects to civility…what is it about the craft that makes it such a good connection to/with civility?

  • We didn’t invent anything new with our civility effort. We simply identified an umbrella concept for all Masonic teachings: Civility. The concept of civility incorporates so many of our Masonic principles, symbols, and language. In short, Masonry teaches us how to treat others. Dignity and respect = civility.

Q: What types of events do you have coming up? Where can people learn more about your project?

  • Two sites: and Our biggest focus is training Masonic Civility Ambassadors at

Q: Is your project primarily focused on California Freemasonry, or Freemasonry broadly?

  • Freemasonry and our greater communities across the globe.

Q: Without getting to specific, when you look at the world, in many cases Civility seems to be in short supply. Is this what encouraged you to start your project?

  • When we started this effort in 2014, we looked around at society and were very concerned about the direction it seemed to be heading. Never did I imagine that it would deteriorate to the depths it has reached today. I don’t want to contemplate the situation worsening, for we are rapidly approaching the breaking point when society is in such disrepair that it is a world we don’t wish to leave to our children and grandchildren. That said, I am more convinced than ever that our efforts are necessary and can be effective to reverse the tide.

Q: To any Masonic lodge or body that is experiencing tension or conflict amongst its membership, what advice would you have?

  • Bring in an objective, outside facilitator. Meet in the lodge room in a circle where everyone is on the level. Everyone agrees to abide by certain guidelines — to treat one another with dignity and respect. Everybody in attendance is entitled to have their voices heard. While deeply rooted issues may not be able to be resolved in a 90-minute session, progress should be able to be made, and a plan for future productive conversations mapped out.

Dignity and Respect = Civility.

All opinions expressed are those of Square & Compass Promotions and the guest(s), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Windsor Masonic Temple and/or any Masonic group.



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