A Message from R.W. Bro M.A. Shilan
Provincial Grand Master of Valencia
STATE OF ALARM
On Tuesday 5th May the Provincial Executive Committee met, by video conferencing to discuss what form of guidance could be given to Lodges as the current State of Emergency Lock-down restrictions start to ease. Uppermost in our thoughts was the need to safeguard the health of our Brethren whilst also bearing in mind the requirement not to create any greater risk for their partners or their families.
We have a requirement to comply with Government regulations and Grand Lodge instructions. The committee acknowledged that Government guidance is changing but central to all requirements is social distancing and this makes the carrying out of our ceremonies very difficult. The restrictions placed on the number of people who could meet in a group greatly hinders our larger Provincial events.
IMPORTANT DATES IN THE CALENDAR
The Provincial Executive Committee, therefore, decided at this early stage, to cancel the Provincial Golf Tournament and the Provincial Ladies Night planned for 2 July and 17 October respectively. Both events would expect to have a considerable number of people attending thus adding to health and safety problems and possible confliction with Government regulations.
Making these decisions now will reduce any concern about risk to our members and their partners. Unnecessary work and planning for the events will be avoided should circumstances not allow our events to proceed due to Government restrictions. At this moment in time there are limits on how many can play golf at any one time and hotels are not yet open thus adding to our concerns about both of these events.
A decision will be taken later with regard to the holding of the Provincial Lodge of Instruction scheduled for 21st November 2020.
We are currently restricted by Grand Lodge in holding any Lodge Meetings until the end of May. The Provincial Executive Committee strongly recommend to all Lodges that they hold no regular Lodge meetings during June, July and August which would require members to convene in a building.
As the majority of Lodges do not hold meetings during the months of June, July and August the curtailment of meetings should have minimal impact.
LODGE OF INSTRUCTION MEETINGS
The same Government restrictions and the safety of our members, that was uppermost in our decision to recommend no regular Lodge meetings in June, July and August, applies to Lodges of Instruction. However, in this instance, Lodges may choose to be creative about how they continue to ensure the enthusiasm of our members by developing their knowledge by holding Zoom Lodge of Instructions. Some are already doing this; however, they should not be used for practicing ritual and parts of ceremonies.
There is little doubt that our members have risen to the challenge of Lock down and many have been introduced to many methods of social media and, in particular, the ability to hold video conferences. There is a great advantage in holding video conferences in that they keep us all closer and we can see that all are well. Please don’t forget absent brethren – they may be absent because they are not well and need help.
We have skilled brethren who can help to organise Zoom meetings so if you need help just ask the Provincial Secretary.
At some time in the future we may create a calendar on the website to register dates and times for important Lodge Zoom meetings. Any organiser should ensure that all entrants to the group are personally known. It is safest to issue invites and issue a meeting number and password.
At the start of each video conference meeting Lodge Secretaries should be given the authority to record the meeting for assistance in producing minutes but no other recordings should be allowed and the secretary should destroy the recording after the minutes have been circulated and agreed. No part of any recording should ever be sent to a third party.
SAFETY OF OUR CENTRES
Discussions will take place with the Management Committees of both of our major masonic centres in Quesada and Costa Nova to ensure that before any meetings are held that we are all satisfied with the health and safety standards.
Where Lodges meet in venues other than Quesada and Costa Nova the Lodge will be required to ensure that the health and safety standards are being complied with.
A small number of Lodges have already had to cancel their Installation Meetings. Once the Masonic Season gets underway these can be held. The majority of Installation Meetings start from September. Hopefully by then we will be in a less dangerous environment.
The current masonic year has been drastically foreshortened and some current WM’s may be unhappy that they will not be able to preside over the usual number of Lodge meetings and events. Lodges will have to consider whether to extend the period of the current Master by delaying the Installation meeting or allowing the current Master to rule for another year after his current part year or indeed do nothing. These are just some options, but it is for individual Lodges, through their GP committees, to decide how they are going to resolve this problem. However, remember that the current Master cannot serve more than two year’s consecutively.
If the Lodge’s decision requires a change to the Installation date, then this must be approved by a Dispensation from the Provincial Grand Master. No charge will be made for any Dispensation related to the current crisis.
The usual procedure for the election of the M.E., Treasurer, Tyler, Auditors (and Orador) at a meeting prior to the Installation meeting may not be possible now. There is no objection on this occasion for Lodges to have such elections at the Installation meeting as one of the first items on the Order of the Day provided that the Lodge Summons clearly states this will be happening. The Summons must be sent to the Provincial Secretary as normal.
Some Lodges use a ballot system to elect their Master Elect and some declare him if there is only one candidate. Any Ballots and Elections must be carried out at the Lodge meeting and not by Video Conference voting. Any changes in elections procedures which do not conform to the Bye Laws of the Lodge should request a Dispensation from the P.G.M. Again, this will be granted without charge on this occasion.
EXTENDED WORKINGS for the INSTALLATION CEREMONIES
The Grand Master has removed the Dispensation for English Speaking Lodges not to use Extended Workings for the Installation Ceremonies. This change was due to be implemented from September of this year. Due to the lack of opportunity to practise the longer ceremony, Lodges who find it difficult to comply with the change may invite another Master to do the Installation or choose to continue with the shorter version for this year.
Sincerely and fraternally