Newsletter No 4 from the Covid-19 District Emergency Committee 17/04/20    

Dear Brethren,

It is now day 23 of the lockdown and life has changed a great deal in New Zealand.  Not all of the changes have been negative; there have been some positive changes in our community with more conversations and more caring attitudes.  The good news is that Government is considering moving from a level 4 Alert to a level 3 Alert enabling more freedom of movement for all of us.  However, at level three alert Lodge meetings would still not be able to occur.

The District has been in touch with London and our Rulers very much wish their greeting to be passed to all brethren. They wish to be remembered to all brethren and their families hoping all are safe and well.  Grand Lodge is very aware of the difficulties Brethren thought-out the world are experiencing.   The United Kingdom is hurting at a level not felt in NZ with over 10,000 deaths and are looking at least another three weeks of full lockdown.

Grand Lodge has established an emergency structure plan, similar to the Districts Emergency plan.  Our rulers are all well and working from home, all using “zoom” for group conferencing and meetings.   See link for their plan: https://www.ugle.org.uk/coronavirus-member-update)

London has also provided answers to a large number of questions about delayed installation for both the craft and chapter. These are set out below.

Our South Island Brethren are also all well and the South Island District Grand Master also asks to be remembered to all.

Electronic / Zoom meetings continue to be used by lodges successfully with a number of visitors attending.   More about these meeting are also detailed below.

Some of the frustrations Lodge Almoners are experiencing in not being able to send out cards to brethren and widows has been picked up by the District Welfare team and measures put in place to assist Lodges. See below under electronic cards.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:  From Grand Lodge

 

1.       As Secretary of a Lodge, do I have to send a summons for every meeting that the by-laws require to be held during the time that all Lodge and Chapter meetings are suspended?

 

          No.  The suspension, so long as it continues in effect, overrides the dates prescribed in the by-laws.  When the general suspension comes to an end, as Secretary you should enter in the Minute Book words to the effect of “As a result of the suspension, owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, by the MW The Grand Master of all meetings from 17 March 2020 to [the date when the suspension is lifted] the Lodge was unable to meet.”

 

2.       As Secretary of a Lodge, what do I have to do once the suspension comes to an end?

 

          Having entered the words in the preceding answer in the Minute Book, you should start to send out summonses – but be prepared for such meetings to be abandoned if a quorum cannot be achieved.

 

3.       My Lodge has elected a Master for the ensuing year, but was not able to install him before the Grand Master suspended all meetings; can he be installed once the suspension is lifted?

 

          As the Rules stand, the provisions of Rule 108 mean that the current Master continues in office until the end of the period for which the Master Elect was elected.  (While the possibility cannot be ruled out that the Grand Lodge may enact some special measure to address the situation in which many Lodges will find themselves, it is far too early to tell.)

 

4.       As it has not been possible to hold the Installation meeting, do I need to submit an Installation Return?

 

          Rule 151 requires the Secretary to make the Return to the Grand Secretary immediately after the Installation of the Master.  If it has not been possible for an Installation to take place, no Return is necessary.

 

5.       It has not been, or will not be possible to elect my Lodge’s next Master in accordance with the Lodge’s by-laws, and the Installation is due to take place before the suspension ends.  Can a Master be elected and installed after the suspension is over?

 

          Subject to the possibility mentioned in answer 3, the provision in Rule 106 for the election of a Master in the case of a missed election cannot be implemented, and accordingly the current Master will continue in office.

 

6.       It has not been, or will not be possible to elect my Lodge’s next Master in accordance with the Lodge’s by-laws, but the Installation is due to take place after the suspension ends.  What can we do?

 

          Provided that the suspension will have ended, Rule 106 allows a Master to be elected either (a) on the regular date of Installation (which could be moved by not more than twenty-eight days to a later date), in which case the Master then elected must be installed at a further meeting held within five weeks of that date, or (b) at an emergency meeting held not less than three weeks before the date for the Installation.

 

7.       Our current Master is completing his second consecutive year in the chair, does the Lodge require a dispensation for him to serve for a third year?

 

          No.  The opening words of Rule 115 “Except when required to by Rule 107 or Rule 108” make it plain that events over which the Lodge has no control save the need for a dispensation.

 

8.       The Master Elect had invited me to be a Warden (for the first time), but if he is not installed, will I be eligible for election as Master if I am invested as a Warden later in the year?

 

          It is probably unlikely that the current Master Elect will wish to stand aside in your favour, but if you should be invested as a Warden during the year, a Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Master can grant a dispensation under Rule 109 to render you eligible for election.  (Note: (a) Such a dispensation can only be issued to qualify a Brother with short service as a Warden, not one with no service as a Warden.  (b) The practice in the Grand Secretary’s Office in relation to London Lodges, before the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London came into existence, was to grant a dispensation only if a Warden had served for at least half a year.)

 

9.       My Lodge’s by-laws permit the exclusion under Rule 181 of a Brother who is more than six months in arrears with his subscription, but it will not be possible to hold the necessary ballot because the subscription year ends before meetings can be resumed.  Can we ballot when meetings resume and backdate the exclusion to the end of the subscription year, so that the Lodge does not become liable for a further year’s dues and MCF contribution in respect of him?

 

          Subject to the possibility mentioned in answer 3, No.  But the Treasurer does have time to persuade him to meet his obligations and resign in good standing.  (And Rule 127 deals with the consequences to the Brother of being excluded.)

 

10.     A candidate for initiation was proposed and seconded at the last regular meeting before the suspension of meetings took effect.  Do we need to start the process all over again when meetings are resumed?

 

          No.  Rule 159 requires a candidate to be balloted for at the next regular meeting.  The natural meaning of “next regular meeting” is the next regular meeting to be held, not the next regular meeting due to be summoned.

 

11.     Can a Lodge make a donation to a charity, when it is unable to meet and vote on the matter in open Lodge?

 

          It is probably better that it does not do so, but if the matter is a case of emergency and the Lodge has a by-law in the form of that in the standard model, the Master has power to authorise a payment and report it to the Lodge at its next regular meeting.  (Even so a Master would be wise to consult fairly widely with the members before exercising his power.)

 

12.     My Chapter elected its Principals for the ensuing year, but was not able to install them before the First Grand Principal, in his capacity as Grand Master, suspended all meetings; can they be installed once the suspension is lifted?

 

          Yes.  The Royal Arch Regulations are much more flexible in this respect, and Regulation 48 provides that any Principal not installed on the regular date shall be installed at the next Convocation of the Chapter at which he may be present.  The next Convocation could be an emergency convocation (for which no dispensation is required provided that it is held at the Chapter’s regular place of meeting – Regulation 59).

 

13.     I am currently Third Principal Elect of my Chapter (for the first time).  If I cannot be installed on the regular date will I be eligible in a year’s time to progress to Second Principal.

 

          Yes, provided that a year will have elapsed since you were elected as Third Principal and have been installed before the next election is held.  Even if you cannot satisfy the latter condition, the Grand Superintendent has power under Regulation 50 to grant a dispensation.

 

14.     It has not been, or will not be possible to elect my Chapter’s Principals for next year in accordance with its by-laws, and the Installation is due to take place before the suspension ends.  Can Principals be elected and installed after the suspension is over?

          Yes.  The Royal Arch Regulations make no provision for failure to elect Principals and therefore under Regulation 73 the Book of Constitutions applies.  Rule 106 provides that the situation is dealt with in the same way as if the Master Elect had died etc., which in turn refers you back to Regulation 54, which allows Principals to be elected (of which notice must be given on the summons); and they can be installed forthwith.

 

15.       Will the suspension of meetings affect my Lodge or Chapter’s entitlement to a Centenary or Bi-Centenary in due course?

 

            No.  There are many precedents for an enforced break in continuity of working being disregarded by the Grand Master or Grand Chapter when deciding whether to grant a Warrant or Charter.

 

The District Facebook:    By Wor. Bro. Michael James

The District has an online presence with its website and Facebook page. They both provide information on English freemasonry in New Zealand however once a person finds Facebook page they can chose to follow it and every time there is a new post, it will be pushed out to their Facebook feed.  For English Freemasons in New Zealand it is an easy way to keep informed on what the District is doing. For men deciding if freemasonry is the right thing for them to join it is opportunity get to know the District and hopefully form a favourable opinion of us.

Men who have researched us well on the internet and then make contact can be considered warm leads because they already have some basic idea of what freemasonry is about and are just requiring some additional confirmation that joining is the right thing to do.

To help men form a favourable opinion of freemasonry the Facebook page needs to have regular posts of interesting and engaging information about our District and freemasonry.  The best performing posts have a small number of words with good quality photographs or a short video clip up to 3 minutes long. People like to look at what other people are doing so pictures of Lodge activities also work very well. Where a longer article is required a link can be provided to the district website which is more suitable location for detailed information.

I have had a look over the statistics for the last few years and we have made sporadic posts however every time there was a good post, the number of people following our page increased. At the moment there is plenty of scope to increase the number of people following our page and our influence in the community. A review of the number of people following our page and similar Facebook pages reveals:

  • District Facebook page has 300 followers

  • NZ Constitution has 16,000 followers

  • United Grand Lodge of England has 55,000 followers

  •  

As can be imagined every time the NZ Constitution or United Grand Lodge put a post on their Facebook page a large number of people will read what they have to say.

To increase our following we need your help with high quality pictures and short descriptions of the activities you are carrying out on behalf of the district and within your lodges. This will enable us to make regular posts on the District Facebook page.

E-Cards:        By Wor. Bro. Ron Pemberton,  District Grand Secretary

With the District Grand Almoner unable to send out ordinary cards to our brethren,  the Covid-19 Emergency Committee have made provision to be able to send out electronic versions. Two subscriptions to high quality animated     e-cards have been purchased by the Emergency Committee. These are for the use of both the District and all lodges.  

When a brother or partner is ill or maybe celebrating an anniversary, the District can send out an electronic e-card on behalf of a Lodge. They can be suited to any occasion and be worded with a personal message or best wishes from your Lodge or Chapter.  

Easy as   1, 2, 3 … 

The recipient’s name, their email address, and a simple message. 

You can ask the District Grand Almoner or the District Grand Secretary to send the card on your behalf.

If you want to see the kinds of card available go to this website:   https://www.jacquielawson.com. You can nominate the particular card you wish to have sent out on your behalf.  The District can send as many cards as you wish as the subscription is not limited by numbers sent.

THERE ARE NO MASONIC SECRETS EXCEPT THIS ONE:

By  Wor. Bro. Michael Chopping

Deputy Chairman Covid-19 Emergency Committee.

In October this year Zealandia’s meeting falls on OCTOBER THE 5TH which is also the date of W Bro Henry Drivers One Hundredth Birthday the Lodge will meet on this day and feature HENRY’S Birthday with a special celebration. We know Henry is the oldest living English Mason in the world and I am sure many of you will want to attend the celebration which will be held on October the 5th in the Kaikohe Lodge Rooms. I have spoken to the lodge secretary and he has asked that we make sure Henry is not to know about a pending arrival of a delegation from Auckland they want it to be a surprise for Henry.

I will organise accommodation for those staying overnight which will be at your cost, there will also be a charge for the refectory expenses, if you would like to attend the meeting please let me know as I have undertaken to advise the Lodge of those attending.

It will be a very special meeting during our Masonic careers and will be a special meeting for Henry who still takes part in ritual work in their ceremonies, its good news for us all to hear during this time of lockdown and an event to attend if you can make it.

Let me know if you would like a lift or you will have seats spare in your vehicle many thanks.

Remember keep it quiet so it’s a surprise for Henry.

Michael Chopping 021 946326 or mac@chopping.co.nz

Tessellated Tales:  By  Wor. Bro. Russell Chilton, Editor of Tessellated Tales

The next edition of the Tessellated Tales is due out on Wednesday 22nd April and, being close to ANZAC Day, will look at Lodge and masonic history from WWI up to today's fight against the current enemy.  We are looking to recognise our Brethren who are in this fight so ensure your Secretary has included you and your brethren in his reply to Ron.  All this will be inter-weaved with humour including a story about teddies in a window.  If you are also showing your support for this movement, send us your photos of your teddies in the window for your community russell1705@gmail.com  These photos will be in the May issue in which we will be celebrating the oldest living (and active) Mason in the world, who happens to be here in our District.  Send us any news and photos from your Lodges going forward, historical, social, lockdown!

Rentals for Masonic Buildings during the Covid-19 Lockdown:

By  Wor. Bro. Michael Chopping

 Alternative Chairman of Directors EMC Ltd

 

Q.  Can a Lodge, Chapter or Side Orders make a donation to a masonic hall in lieu of hall hire fees, when it is unable to meet and vote on the matter in open Chapter? 

A.  The District Emergency Committee is aware that some Lodges, Chapters or Side Orders pay an annual fee to masonic halls in order to meet there, while others pay on a meeting-by-meeting basis. In the latter case, many Masonic order are following the procedure adopted among some Craft Lodges of donating to their usual meeting places the hall hire fees for which members had already made provision, and which would have been paid had the suspension of activities not been imposed. This generosity of spirit is warmly encouraged and will help halls to survive so that they may continue to exist for the benefit of members after the suspension is lifted.

It is recommended that each Lodge Chapter or Side Order canvas their members to ensure they are aware of the buildings ongoing expenses so these expenses can be met and the building are ready for when the Lockdown is lifted and we can meet again in our masonic homes.

Thank you for your understanding.

 Stay Safe.

Electronic Lodge Meetings:   By Wor. Bro. Graham Wilson,

Remuera Lodge Secretary

Remuera Lodge No 1710 held its second Electronic Meeting for 14th April commencing at 7pm. Seventeen Brethren took part with visitors from Eden Lodge 1530 , Lodge Ponsonby No 54 N.Z.C , L:odge Waiheke o 367 N.Z.C

After the initial check-in from the brethren present, the Lodge was opened in the first degree and the WM welcomed the visitors listed above.    This was followed by an Exemplification of the Ceremony of Initiation, with brethren taking the various offices and charges.  All parts of the ceremony covered by our Obligations were omitted.

Risings:   The WM rose symbolically for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd times

Greetings were received from:  Lodge Waiheke No. 367 NZC; Lodge Ponsonby No. 54 NZC and St Patrick Lodge No. 517 IC

After Apologies were received the meeting was closed in Peace, Love and Harmony at 8-20pm

This was followed by the usual Toasts and the long version of the Tyler’s toast presented by Bro. Callum McCorquodale.

Our thanks once again to the WM, W. Bro.  Michael James, for the work that he put into making this a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

 

If you wish for your lodge to have a similar on line meeting and need assistance, please contact Wor. Bro Michael James  mike.j@originfire.co.nz

World Wide Brothers uniting together

Let’s continue the practice of raising a glass to all Brethren at 9pm and tea at 3pm each day as encouraged by our Pro Grand Master, in a symbol of worldwide unity and brotherhood. 

Several Lodges have also followed the practice of placing teddy bears in the window for passing children to count up while out walking and the Masonic centre is well decorated with ‘Care Bears”.

Wishing you continued good health. Stay safe.

Don’t forget to keep looking at the web site. It is constantly being updated.

Kind regards and best wishes,

Warren Weir

Chairman of the District Covid-19 Committee

wjweir@xtra.co.nz

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