Newsletter No 6 from the DISTRICT EMERGENCY COVID-19 COMMITTEE
19th May 2020
Welcome to the second week of level two. Most families will be dealing with issues around return to work and children / grandchildren restarting school. All of these areas are functioning under very different rules and processes to those which we left two months ago. Sanitising, tracing and spacing all now part of normal life.
Last weekend, the first weekend during level 2 rules, meant for most of us there was some degree of family / friends catch up. Zoom and Face Time are great but nothing beats having a family physically in one space. For Jan and I the chatter, laughter and singing of children was a pure delight to hear and be part of, in our group of 10 people.
This newsletter includes several important messages from London some of which are older messages that never reached the Districts. Operating from different spaces brings unforeseen difficulties to all organisations including ours. From the Pro Grand Master’s message you will see that our Lodges reopening is not straight forward and there is an expectation that UGLE will be involved in that process. At the moment we are in communication with London for some guidance and await their reply. This Thursday the DGM has also called a meeting of the District Executive to discuss this matter further. Following on from this discussion we will be able to update you on the next steps the District will take.
Meantime the work of your CV-19 Committee continues until we can resume normal lives. Take care and please continue to look after each other. There really is some fabulous work being done by your District Welfare team and Lodge Almoners.
Chairman of CV-19 Committee
Updates from London
May 2020 Message to all Brethren Brethren, for some years now, as part of our campaign to make Freemasonry more open and understandable for the general public, we have been stressing that we must be able to show its relevance in modern society. This argument has largely been based on the way we are expected to behave morally, our voluntary contribution to society and our colossal involvement to all aspects of charity.
These last few terrible weeks have shown all these in abundance and if anyone doubted our relevance, they have only got to look at what has been going on around this country and in our Districts overseas. If I tried to outline how brethren have been getting involved, this message would go on for page after page and would, therefore become counterproductive. Suffice it to say that from Northumberland to Cornwall, from Cumberland to Kent and from Wales to East Anglia in this country and all around the Globe through our Districts, Freemasons have been taking part in almost everything.
This has involved the manufacture of PPE, provision of meals, home visits and endless other things. Brethren through all this, I have been told to stay at home. Apparently, I am considered to be “at risk”. I have to say that I have not felt comfortable with this, but ever since I retired as Grand Director of Ceremonies, I have learned to do what I am told!! Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop me keeping in touch with what is going on and I have an enormous sense of pride in what is being done. What comes over loud and clear is that our brethren are doing all this work because they WANT to do it not just because they think that they should. In the past some of our detractors have accused us of only getting involved in something that will make us look good. The past few weeks have proved what a monstrous slur that is.
It has been said so many times that actions speak louder than words. Was this ever truer? It is quite clear that for all this to have happened, good organisation must be involved and there is no doubt that this has been magnificently carried out at local level, and, indeed, considerable funding has been made available locally. However, to give this added impetus, it was only right for the Masonic Charity Foundation (MCF) to become fully involved and they have responded splendidly as one would expect. To assist this, we formed the Covid-19 Group and asked one Provincial Grand Master from each Regional Communications Group to join the Grand Secretary and the CEO of the MCF in biweekly meetings – virtually, of course. Their main task is to decide on where the greatest emphasis should be placed and to make sure that the money given goes to the right place and as quickly as possible. Over the years, the MCF has rightly been praised for the speed with which it is able to react to disaster situations and this has again been amply illustrated. I hope that many of you will have read about many of our activities in the press and, in a large part thanks to our hard working Communications Department, much of this comment has been positive, as it most certainly deserves to be, although, as we know only too well, it has not always been so in the past. Just this last weekend the Sunday Telegraph carried a small piece regarding the 1000 Tablets that have been donated to Care Homes and Hospitals to enable patients to stay in touch with their families and friends.
Brethren, what of the future?. Did the Prime Minister give us hope for a quick resumption? I fear not, but, realistically, we couldn’t have expected it. The suspension imposed lasts until the end of July, but it is hard to imagine that it would be sensible, even if legal, for Lodges and Chapters to consider meeting shortly after that date. I know that many Lodges and Chapters have been meeting socially by means of Zoom and other similar sites. I have been involved in some myself and thoroughly enjoyable they were. I believe we all know how important it is to stay in touch with each other and, by so doing, we will be able to check on the wellbeing of all, particularly those who live alone.
We will be keeping a very close watch on events and will endeavour to consider ways that Lodges and Chapters can meet, even if we have to adapt some of our usual customs to fit the situation. Clearly, we must abide by the advice given by the Government, but, in addition, we will be very conscious of what it is sensible for our membership to be involved in. It is possible that, in some of our Districts, resumption could be considered before it can in this Country, and we will need to rely on our Brethren in those Districts to consult with us. In the meantime, Brethren keep proving to the world at large what a wonderful organisation we are and what a terrific membership we have. What we have contributed over the last few weeks goes so far beyond just money and I know that will continue for as long as is necessary.
Lastly Brethren, thank you all you are doing, you are a wonderful advertisement for the Institution we hold so dear. MW Bro Peter Lowndes Pro Grand Master 11 April 2020 from the Private Secretary to HRH The Duke of Kent, the following message: The Duke of Kent has asked me to convey to you, your colleagues at the United Grand Lodge of England, all Provinces, Lodges and Brethren his best wishes during this extraordinarily challenging crisis. His Royal Highness is acutely aware of the burden this is placing on all Freemasons and their families and that, despite these difficulties, the core values of Freemasonry are being expressed by so many giving help and support in their local communities. The Duke remains keen to hear your news but, more importantly, looks forward to meeting you again once the crisis has eased.
19th March 2020 An earlier Communication from the Pro Grand Master
Dear Brethren and Companions,
These are difficult and testing times for us all. First, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your patience and understanding during this challenging and worrying period.
Coronavirus is going to be with us for some considerable time, and I am certain you are as disappointed as I am that we have, reluctantly, suspended all Masonic activity. I trust that you will agree that it was the right course of action at the right time.
I appreciate the enormous disruption that this will cause all of us, and also the hole left in our lives by the withdrawal of something we hold enormously dear. To those of you who have been Masons for but a few months, this may seem a little strange, but to those like me, who have been ‘bitten by the bug’, we cannot help but feel bewilderment and sadness at how quickly something so important has been taken away from us, albeit temporarily.
For the next few months we may not see as much of each other as we have recently; we may be spread throughout the country, or indeed the world and we may have things asked of us which sit outside the ordinary compass of our experience. From a personal point of view, being over 70 and diabetic I am taking the "lock down" seriously, as I am sure all brethren in the same situation will. There are, of course, a great many in this position and it is not easy with no, even vague, end date in sight. My real sympathies are with those who live alone. I am lucky, I have a wife, as well as our children all of whom are most supportive and our daughter is arranging our shopping needs, where they can't be delivered. I do hope that many of our brethren are in the same boat and over and above that, we all have our large and active masonic community to rely on. We are luckier than most.
My youngest son is adamant that the best way forward is to try to have some form of structure in our day, as that is what we have been used to most of our lives, albeit in a very different format. I suspect that, in the current times, the structure will take on a rather strange appearance. We live in a reasonably isolated area and can walk for over an hour without seeing anyone, therefore I think the dog is going to get a great deal fitter (and could even become a better ritualist!); my office might become and stay tidy and I can catch up with all those things I have been putting off for far too long. This won't take up 3 months or whatever time is required, but I am sure other activities will develop as time goes by. Anything to keep mind and body active. Of course, at some point in the future, life will return again to normal.
I have already mentioned trying to keep a structure in our lives. Freemasonry is a very wellstructured institution. Currently that structure has been disturbed, but rest assured that, whilst The Book of Constitutions is pretty rigid on some subjects, ways will be found to ensure that we get Lodges and Chapters back onto the right format as quickly as possible after the resumption. This difficult period will run its course, and move into history and our Lodges and Chapters will begin to meet again. Candidates will experience the wonder of the initiation ceremony, Bro Treasurers will again chase their profligate Brethren for dues, Grand Officers will, more’s the pity, sit ‘tutting’ on the back rows over some ceremonial sleight, imagined or actual, and the rhythm of our masonic lives will once again return to normal.
Over the last few years we have been trying to stress that Freemasonry must remain relevant to society and I have never been in doubt that this has been the case in many ways. However, it has never been more relevant than it is right now. What we do in the next few months, will be written into our Lodge and Chapter histories and will test us, as an organisation and as people perhaps more than anything in our lifetimes. I think it is fair to say that I cannot remember a more testing time for the organisation, for society and for the country. We need to step up and do our part, as we have in difficult times past, to help those, our less fortunate Brethren, their families and the communities from which we are drawn.
That is why, we have, today, released a joint statement with the MCF, the Freemasons’ Charity, committing to help those in need. Up and down the country, in Provinces large and small, Freemasons are coming together to commit to help those who find themselves at life’s lowest ebb. I encourage those of you who feel able to safely commit both time and effort to think on how you might play a very small part in this worthy National effort. There are many great ideas already out there, and we will be sharing these and how successful they are as things develop
We will need your dedication, flexibility and patience over the coming weeks and months to help each other through these turbulent times. Freemasonry has weathered many storms in its centuries-long history. It will weather this one too, and we will emerge ready for the challenges of, I suspect, a very different world.
Look after yourselves, brethren, and I trust we can get back to normality in the not too distant future. I wish you and your families good health and happiness, and more than your fair share of luck.
Pro Grand Master
Sanitiser- Phase two
By VW Bro Farouk Khan
Being at alert level 2 allows more personal freedom of movement and association but this exposes us to a greater risk of contact with Covid-19. Consequently, the District has commenced the second stage of distributing sanitisers to our more vulnerable brethren. Lodges are now asked to provide details of their members who are aged 75 or other Lodge brethren who would be considered to fall into the category of being particularly at risk. The District will then supply each Lodge with sufficient additional dispensers for their use.
Lodges are asked not include any Brother who would not be in a position to use the sanitiser such as those in rest homes or the like.
Details should be forwarded VW Bro. Farouk Khan at the email below as soon as possible:
or Phone 0210545642
By W Bro Russell Chilton
Round two begins this Wednesday at 7pm. The three teams to fight it out in the finals are Remuera, Aorangi and Alexandra Lodges. The only difference this time is that teams are encouraged to also include partners. They not only complete us and make us better people, but also probably also make us and teams smarter!
Any brother wishing to drop in and spectate please log in at:
Meeting ID: 795 3635 5543
ELLERSLIE MASONIC CENTRE BUILDING UPDATE 18/05/2020.
By W Bro Michael Chopping
During the Covid 19 Lockdown we have been able to review the Centres long term maintenance plan and consider some of the most urgent of items indicated with a view to improve our Masonic home.
Presently, we are in a better financial position than in past years due to the establishment a few years ago of a designated long term maintenance fund and very prudent management. These funds have built up and together with a recent bequest some urgent maintenance can be undertaken.
The refectory walls where the chairs are stacked have been lined to protect the wall linings and enhance the ambience. Thank you Warren and Graeme for your help in the refectory and to Farouk for machining our top moulding to the exact size required.
The District Board of General Purposes have also installed a 65” TV screen to allow ZOOM Meetings to be conducted with Board members so they don’t have to travel to Auckland for a meetings. These meetings may well become more frequent in the future. Lodges may also have the use of the screen during refectories.
Back in 2004 there were a few issues with the exterior walls on the NW side of the building where the panels had settled but these were sealed and painted and the leaks all fixed by May 2005. Thermal imaging of the building completed in the last month shows this repair work continues to keep the building dry. The only water issue currently is in the gutter above the district office which W Bro Graeme Martin has under control.
Currently the exterior of the building has been washed in preparation for a total repaint first time in 27 years. The NW walls of the Centre however have large panels as part of their exterior cladding. The joints between those panels will be resealed before the painting is completed. Once the joints are re sealed two special coats of paint are applied over each joint before two final top coats paint are applied to the whole building.
We currently still waiting for final pricing on the joint repairs, before final approvals for the painting process can be made. It is however hoped to have it completed during June.
At the rear of the Centre site there are some very large Pohutukawa trees from the church property behind which have formed a canopy over the rear carpark and are touching our building. These need urgent trimming and can only be done by professional staff. We have obtained pricing for this and consider it as an urgent maintenance issue for the well-being of the building.
There are also a number of trees that have grown too big, too untidy around the front right of the building that will need a tidy up. If finances and pricing is suitable these also will be looked at together with the Pohutukawa trees quotes.
We hope to have our Masonic Centre looking much tidier, brighter and more weather tight before we are able to meet again.
Over 600 brethren have been phoned by our District Grand Almoner and the District Welfare team to date. What amazing record! The feedback continues to be wonderful.
Donate your Meeting
$680 has been donated for the District Almoner and his team to use for welfare and benevolence purposes to assist our brethren. Over $400 has already been spent to date in food parcels and benevolence related matters. More food parcels will be going out this week. This has ranged from sending flowers to a Brother and his family dealing with a death of a much loved mother under Covid 19 funeral limitations to assisting a number of Brethren dealing major health issues but in isolation.
While most English lodges throughout the world are unfortunately closed due Covid 19 at least one lodge remains open. Isn’t it great!
Note; There has been no cases of Covid 19 in Vanuatu to date.
LODGE OF DISCOVERY
Date of Warrant: 10.11.1976
Date of Consecration: 26.02.1977
Worshipful Master: W. Bro J. Patterson
Senior Warden: W. Bro. M. Mausino
Junior Warden: Bro. G. Walton
"From ancient times, no master or fellow could be absent from his lodge, especially when warned to appear at it, without incurring a severe censure, unless it appeared to the master and wardens that pure necessity hindered him. "Ancient Charge”.
Dear Sir and Brother,
You are hereby invited / summoned to attend the duties of the Lodge at the 511th Regular Meeting to be held at the Masonic Temple, Mele Road, Port Vila on Tuesday 12th MAY 2020 at 1830 hours. Brethren are requested to assemble at 1815 hours.
W. Bro. J. Warmington Secretary P. O. Box 235 Port Vila, VANUATU