Dear Brother Secretaries and Scribes

I have today received the promised further guidance from the Grand Secretary in a letter dated 23rd March, and the salient points are as follows, and supersede the provisions in his letter of the 13th regarding Postponements and Dispensations.  I will also comment on the impact of the Suspension as affecting our own Province.

  1. Any Lodge due to meet during the period of Suspension does not need to issue a Summons but should place a copy of the general Suspension Order ( his letter of the 17th March ) into the Minute Book.
  1. When the Suspension ends a further Letter will be issued informing the Brethren that meetings may Resume, and a copy of this letter should also be placed into the Minute Book.
  1. If following Resumption a Lodge feels that there is enough of a backlog of work to require an additional meeting then this may be done by an Emergency Meeting ( Regulation 124 ) which should be advised to me with a copy of that Summons, but no Dispensation is necessary.
  1. Should a meeting to Elect the Officers or Install a Master have fallen due during the Suspension then this may be conducted at the next Regular Meeting, or by a intervening Emergency Meeting called for that purpose.
  1. A Lodge may alternatively Elect and then Install a Master at the same meeting subject to Dispensation from Grand Lodge – no fee will be charged, and please submit such a request via me as usual and  in good time.
  1. As already advised these delays will have no detriment on an Officers standing and he will have been deemed to have served a full year at the next Installation meeting, the period of “a year” being from one Installation to the next, not 12 months.

Turning now to our own Province, we have 34 Installation meetings falling due during the period mid-March to mid-July, none in August and 6 in September. 

Clearly it necessary to spread out these 34 deferred Installations, and if your Lodge has had to delay its Installation then please do consider your Lodge’s situation, the dates of your next regular meeting, and the Officers who are progressing. 

In the case of a Proclamation it may be that a representative from the Province doesn’t attend, but does so at a later date.

Likewise a Brother being Installed may need to take precedence over a Past Master as far as attendance by the Provincial Executive is concerned, where a deputy for the Provincial Ruler may need to attend. You may indeed decide not to hold an Installation this summer, and allow the Master to continue for a second year – if you chose this route and have already undertaken the Elections at a previous meeting then a Proposition to declare them void and continue will be required on your Summons.

I would ask those Secretaries and Scribes so affected to let me have their intentions as soon as is practically possible please. To those that have already done so, could I ask you please to consider them again in the light of this formal guidance and advise me accordingly.

A number of you are in touch with me about the forthcoming celebration of some Golden Jubilees for our member and perhaps you could update me on any revised dates in those respects too.

I am conscious of the amount of correspondence in circulation at present. It is our attention to communicate news and stories via the News Letter ( due shortly ) and on the Website – please ask your members who are able to keep looking at the website.

Finally, the question has been raised as to virtual meetings and I can do no better than to repeat the comments of the Grand Secretary of the Craft on the 20th as circulated by my Brother the Provincial Grand Secretary of the Craft

“While we will all be required to make adjustments during this period of suspension, I would also ask that members fully acquaint themselves with whether certain adjustments can co-exist with the Obligation that we all took when initiated.  It is the opinion of the Grand Registrar that it is an “Antient Landmark of the Order” that Lodge meetings and the related ceremonies can only take place with all Brethren physically present in a properly Tyled Lodge Room; however, it is acceptable for members to practise such ceremonies, most particularly those aspects which make up the spoken parts of the ritual, over the internet.   The security implications and pitfalls (for example the ability to record on a number of software platforms) unfortunately do not square with our Obligation to assure privacy and confidentiality of proceedings - and we therefore ask members to refrain from any demonstrations of those elements of the ceremonies covered in the Obligation, or any attempt to reproduce the ‘choreography’ online.  We have no doubt that our Directors of Ceremonies will have no difficulty in putting our Brethren right on such things when we are happily able to meet again.  For these reasons please do not try to hold a genuine Lodge or Lodge of Instruction in a virtual form, but feel free to practise those elements outlined above.”

As ever I will be pleased to try to answer any questions you have have – these are uncharted waters for all of us

with fraternal regards,

Chris Elliott