Before the official business began the waiting period was full of conversation and fun as attendees expressed their delight at being able to see and speak to one another.
One Hundred and twenty four brethren attended the online meeting in these strange times of being unable to hold our usual meetings in Lodges or even the Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting in Torquay. It was noted that the usually glorious weather we have been blessed with on previous Provincial Grand Lodge meetings was this year lacking, the stormy clouds and winds enveloping most of the Province.
The meeting was declared open and the Dispensation to hold a Virtual Business Meeting was read by W.Bro. Chris Elliott, Provincial Secretary. The calling of the roll of both Mark Master Masons Lodges and Royal Ark Mariners Lodges indicated a full representation of the Province. The minutes of last years meeting, as circulated, were put for confirmation and accepted.
R.W.Bro. Peter Balsom then went on to speak of those well beloved Brethren of the Province who had now been called to higher service. A silence was held in respect of Departed Merit.
The reports of the Secretary, Treasurer, DMCA, Finance Committee and General Purposes Committee were then put for confirmation with the thanks of the Provincial Grand Master for all the Brethren who were involved in supporting these areas of Provincial administration. The reports were all accepted.
The election of the Provincial Grand Treasurer took place, the nomination of W.Bro. Norman Yarde was uncontested and he was duly elected. The Auditors and members of the Finance Committee were also confirmed.
The next item of business, the appointments and promotions, which usually is a main part of our Provincial Meetings, was sadly short as R.W.Bro. Peter Balsom was unable to personally congratulate each appointment and offer words of congratulation and encouragement to each individual. Nevertheless, the appointments were confirmed with sincerity and the hope that we could be meeting again as soon as it is safe.
In his address, the Provincial Grand Master emphasised his thanks to all of the officers who had held posts in the last year and for the work they had done, curtailed though it was, and his hope for their continued commitment in the times to come. He again congratulated those who were taking on the mantles for the next year in the hope that they would be able to get some enjoyment out of the offices in the future.
R.W.Bro. Peter then went on to emphasise the importance of keeping in touch with brethren, the use of virtual meetings as much as possible to keep Lodge business going, the upcoming Virtual Lecture by V.W.Bro. Tony Harvey on 28th October and the use of virtual lectures and talks by the DMST members if requested.
With sadness R.W.Bro. Peter announced that the Provincial Ball in 2021 would not be taking place sue to difficulties with Covid regulations and the Hotel not being able to offer us the same 'deal' as before. He also commented that it was to have been the last one organised by Ken and Maureen Keast. It is hoped that we will be on track again for 2022 and also the Celebration of the DMCA One Hundred Years in 2022.
Charity, close to all our hearts as a core principle in freemasonry, especially Mark Masonry, was the next topic. R.W.Bro. Peter emphasised the work and donations of the DMCA, the 150 Club and the hope that brethren would continue to donate to Charity. He said that the Provincial Charity Steward, W.Bro. Paul Howard-Baker, had recently sent out a note to Lodges about charitable giving via Bank Transfer and hoped that many brethren would take up this option or se up regular payments via their banks. R.W.Bro. Peter said that, despite our current circumstances for meetings the Province had been able to give £50,000 to the MBF.
In concluding, the Provincial Grand Master said... ‘Mark in Devonshire we have kept the lights on, keep progressing with that light’.
He again gave his thanks to all brethren for their support.
Hopefully next year we will be back at Torquay.