With the ongoing restrictions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic the Provincial Grand Master met recently with his Deputy and Assistant to review the situation going forward.
Having listened to various representations from around the Province the Provincial Grand Master is pleased to announce that there will be no charge for Provincial Dues becoming payable for a full year from 1 st September 2020 to 31 st August 2021 – a saving of £3.75 per Member. Those Lodges who have already submitted their payments will be reimbursed or their account credited as they wish. Grand Lodge Annual Dues are of course unaffected by this decision. It is the decision of individual Lodges how to allocate this “windfall”. It can be returned to members, retained in Lodge funds or donated to charity – the decision is entirely yours.
Turning to issues surrounding physical meetings both in respect of venue availability and health considerations, the Provincial Grand Master is very keen to encourage Lodge Members to maintain regular contact with each other by holding a virtual meeting if a Regular Meeting would otherwise be abandoned. To that end I will be establishing a Provincial base on the Zoom platform upon which my Team will be happy to assist Lodges to host meetings. Should Lodges so wish we can also offer mentoring in the use of the platform.
Those Lodges who, following the guidance of Grand Lodge, are planning to hold a quorate, physical Regular Meeting may wish to consider the effect of this arrangement on those of their members who are thereby not able to attend. The Grand Secretary has confirmed that it is acceptable for Lodges to opt for a virtual meeting in lieu of a physical meeting if that is the wish of the membership, even if a quorate, physical meeting could be called. Whatever the choice, the health and wellbeing of the Brethren must be the prime concern.
Resulting from the regular circulars by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master it has been suggested that Province-wide, virtual social events should be arranged, which could involve members, their families, friends and potential candidates. The first of these will be a quiz, which is currently in preparation. The Provincial Zoom platform will allow 100 log-ins but without the typical 40 minute time limit of the free Zoom version already used by many of you. On that basis if everyone logging on had a ‘team’ of 6 (assuming that to be within the prevailing Government guidelines) then the event could reach an audience of 600 – an excellent result.
During this period of relative inactivity in freemasonry it can be very difficult for Lodge Almoners to be aware of the health and well-being of those whom they represent. The Provincial Grand Master is anxious to ensure that the Province is well informed where hardship exists and he wishes to encourage every member of the Province to assist Lodge Almoners in their important task.
With fraternal regards and best wishes