Brethren                                                                                                                                                18.09.2020

On Saturday we enjoyed a unique experience when the majority of District and Provincial Grand Masters got together via zoom to meet up with each other and discuss a variety of topics. The feedback from the meeting has been good and it will become an annual feature of the Grand Lodge Calendar. A date is now being arranged to have a joint meeting between District Grand Masters and Proxy District Grand Masters.

Some of those who have put their names forward for the Register of Interests will soon receive an invitation to join several small Working Groups. We do not have many Brethren on the Register of Interests, but I would encourage you to do so if you feel that your skills and experience could benefit Scottish Freemasonry. Please contact Grand Secretary if you wish to be included.

I have received detailed information from Gordon Michie of Poppy Scotland about the Poppy Crosses which we will circulate next week but the good news is that we will have the Poppy Crosses this year – distribution will be a bit different from normal – they won’t go out to Lodges in boxes – there will be an on-line facility made available, details of which I’ll pass on as soon as it has been set up. The other good news is that we will be planting crosses in Princes Street.

For those Provinces and Districts who are due to put forward recommendations for new Provincial and District Grand Masters, the protocol for Proxy Voting in lieu of physical meetings, has been finalised and will be circulated to all Districts and Provinces who will be affected, by Grand Secretary.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last weekThis week
Members34583534
Posts415420
No of Members posting194196
Lodges mentioned224225
Provinces mentioned3030
Districts & Lodges abroad1414
Monetary Value£309,963£310,568

SCFS Overseas Report

  • The 900 Overseas Membership milestone has now been reached. We welcomed 49 Overseas Brethren this week, bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 938.
  • Congratulations is extended to Brother Mike Herbert, PM, Lodge East Rand Scots, No. 1093, in RSA, Central South Africa, on being our 900th Overseas Member.
  • It is heartening to note that, once again, we had an expansive geographical spread of new members this week …  from The Bahamas, Barbados, Central South Africa, East Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Far East, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malawi, Middle East, Newfoundland and Labrador, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia
  • The largest increase in membership was from the District of Central South Africa, followed by the District of Middle East and the District of the Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope. 
  • Lodge Piet Retief, No. 1501, Central South Africa, had the largest number of Brethren joining from an individual Lodge. 
  • An interesting route to membership was adopted by Brother Archie Dempster, Lodge Margate, No. 1420, Kwa-Zulu Natal, who made a video call to ensure that he had correctly provided the requested Masonic details. Welcome, Brother Dempster.
  • We would strongly encourage posts from our Overseas Lodges and Districts … sharing the support which they are providing. 

I am aware that over the past couple of weeks, there has been a tendency to express concern and nervousness about the future in general, Freemasonry in particular. I fully accept and acknowledge that times are hard for many Lodges and that things will not get much better in the foreseeable future. However, this is a time, especially for Provincial and District Grand Masters, to take the initiative and lead from the front. Over the past six months we have all witnessed many great examples of inventive and novel ways to try and keep things on an even keel financially and socially both at home and abroad. We have a number of Lodges who, for example, have simply asked the Brethren to sign up to a monthly standing order to put a sum of money equivalent to what they would have spent at the Lodge on a normal Lodge night into the Lodge account – things like collection / raffle / drinks – if the Brethren sign up to such a scheme with even £10 per member per month, it could make a significant difference to the Lodge finances and keep the Brethren in touch. Many Lodges are engaging their members and families in on-line quiz nights and they contribute a sum of money for entry to the quiz. Others have adopted programmes to keep members fit by indulging in exercise each day and in many cases getting that exercise sponsored with the sponsor money going into the Lodge coffers or to charity. Where Covid restrictions have allowed, Brethren have organised outdoor afternoon teas or coffee mornings all of which are designed to raise sufficient funds to cover the essential costs and at the same time keep members involved. Can I actively encourage Provincial and District Grand Masters with their Commissions to take the initiative and organise events to not only build up funds that can help the Lodges but initiatives that are going to keep the members in touch and active. Such programmes are only limited by imagination – in these difficult times, we must be as imaginative, innovative, and creative as we possibly can. Let’s all adopt a positive and upbeat outlook. We will, working together, overcome the present difficulties.

Contacting Grand Lodge

The Grand Lodge telephone switchboard will open on a part time basis from next week – the proposed days/hours will be: –

                                Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 10am and 2.30pm

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren                                                                                                          11th September 2020

Further to my Update this morning, the following general advice has now been released from the Government which answers the question about allowing non-Masonic bodies to use Lodge premises. As can be seen below, this cannot now happen given the 6-person limit that becomes law from Monday. There is no likelihood of that being lifted soon albeit it will be reviewed on 5th October. The reference to public spaces would include Lodge premises where non-Masonic groups meet.

The following excerpt from the Government release states –

This deteriorating situation at home and abroad means that we have to take a very cautious approach to the further easing of restrictions. As set out below, we now need to delay further changes until it is safe to make them. We also need to make some changes that will reduce opportunities for the virus to spread. We have already put a range of extra measures in place to help keep the virus suppressed, our Test & Protect system and outbreak management approach have worked well, and we are today introducing our proximity app, Protect Scotland, which will support our Test and Protect system, but more measures are now required.

At this review point we will take the following steps to further reduce transmission of the virus: The limit on the number of people who can meet socially indoors or outdoors will be reduced to a maximum of six people, and they should come from no more than two households. This applies in people’s homes and gardens as well as in hospitality and public spaces such as parks. It is not required to count children under 12, from within the two households, within the 6-person limit. The regulations and guidance will be updated to reflect these changes.

  • Face coverings will be mandated for customers and staff in indoor hospitality. There will be an exemption for when customers are eating and drinking. Staff in non-public facing roles, such as kitchen staff, will also be exempt where face coverings may present health and safety issues due to the nature of roles. Exemptions for vulnerable groups/individuals will also apply to hospitality settings. Regulations will the take effect on Monday 14 September.

Given the developing status of the epidemic – both in Scotland and internationally – we will also continue to take a cautious approach to any further opening up of economic or social activity.

As was noted at the 20th August review when setting the 14th September indicative date. It must be stressed that this indicative date is conditional on continued progress in suppressing the virus.

If the epidemic in Scotland deteriorates before this date, then the expectation must be that the date will be delayed.

Consistent with this, given the deterioration in the status of the epidemic over the past three weeks, those changes that were previously given an indicative date of 14 September will now be assigned a new indicative date of 5 October.

The full release is available at – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-scotlands-route-map-update-10th-september-2020/  

Could I also suggest that you give some consideration to using the new proximity app on your phones – it is easy to download by going into the App Store on your phone and searching for – Protect Scotland – thereafter follow the instructions. Many thanks.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren                                                                                                                     04.09.2020

The joy of knowing that our two Masonic Homes have remained Covid-19 free thanks to the commitment and professionalism of the Homes Managers and their staff was tinged with sadness this week when we learned that the Marcus Humphrey Home in Bridge of Weir was the target of mindless vandals who, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to smash the garden ornaments and flower pots which give so much pleasure to our residents. Police Scotland have been informed and have issued a reference number in respect of the vandalism but as far as I understand will not make any enquiry. However, the good news is that Brethren and Lodges from far and wide have responded magnificently. My sincere thanks to you all for your kindness and generosity – I can assure you that the staff and residents greatly appreciate the response.

I was recently sent an article regarding prostate cancer testing for men which is taking place in Lodges in Wales. I copied the article to Grand Almoner and to Brother Marcus Humphrey, Chair of the Benevolence and Care Committee who has reminded me that now would be a good time to reiterate the availability in Scotland of a PSA test from their General Practitioner free of charge and the willingness of Adam Gaines from Prostate Cancer Scotland to speak to any forum about it. I’m sure Adam would be an ideal speaker on some of the Zoom platforms organised by our Lodges at home and abroad – this affects men throughout the world and I have no doubt that Adam’s advice would prove valuable irrespective of where you are in the world. One aspect that Adam frequently mentions is that an important part of the process is the relationship between the man and his GP and the requirement for the GP to properly assess and prepare the patient, talk through the potential results of the test (whether positive or negative), available support and the psychological effects on the man. This is based on Adam’s often repeated statement that more men die with prostate disease rather than die of prostate disease. While we have been and continue to be concentrating on Covid-19, let us not forget that advice. Prostate Cancer, like Covid-19, has not disappeared – it is still very much an issue for all men in our Provinces and Districts.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

We reached a milestone this week with our 400th post on the group.

We added another Province and another District.

There are now only 2 Provinces who have not had any Lodges posting.

 Last weekThis week
Members33323387
Posts386400
No of Members posting186191
Lodges mentioned218221
Provinces mentioned2930
Districts & Lodges abroad1314
Monetary Value£287,661£294,466

SCFS Overseas Report

  • We had 26 Overseas Brethren recorded this week, bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 866.
  • We had an expansive geographical spread of new members this week …  from The Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Central South Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Fiji, Jordan, Lebanon, Kwazulu Natal, Middle East, Namibia, New Zealand South, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada, Western Australia Goldfields District.
  • The largest increase was seen from Fiji through a Lodge under the Supervision of Grand Lodge … Lodge Polynesia, No. 562. 
  • The first posts from Fiji were also published on the page.
  • The attraction to become part of the SCFS membership was exemplified by our first member to join by providing the required Masonic details via a voice message whilst driving (safely) home from work. Well done, Brother Dennis Flor Cruz, Lodge Cargill Kilwinning, No. 632, in New Zealand South. 

The support of the SCFS Group continues to be extended to our Brethren in the District of Lebanon. Those Brethren, and their loved ones, remain in all of our prayers.

(Details of the online contribution page, incorporating a link to facilitate donations, have been published.)

Brethren, as I compile this update, I’m listening to the morning news on Radio Scotland and the news is not good. Following an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire, additional restrictions will be introduced for people living in these areas for an initial two-week period. We have another spike in the Highlands in Grantown on Spey. Many of our Districts are still very much affected by the virus and we are seeing an increase in travel restrictions. This virus is still very much in our midst – please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Finally, I am repeatedly asked if I have had any response to my letters to the Scottish Government – the answer is no. Given that the Heads of Orders have agreed that no meetings will take place this year, the first part of the letter regarding the opening of Lodges is no longer urgent but I will continue to chase up the second issue – the need for definitive guidance for many of our Lodge buildings throughout the country that are effectively community hubs housing a vast array of non-Masonic organisations.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren                                                                                                                     28.08.2020

It’s hard to believe that this is the 31st weekly update. It has been a difficult and at times frustrating six months for us all but how heartening it has been to learn week on week about the tremendous amount of good works being carried out by Scottish Freemasons here at home and in all our Lodges scattered over more than 40 countries world-wide. The effort of Brethren in so many communities has done much to promote all that is good in Freemasonry and I thank you all in the sincerest of terms for all that you have done, for all that you are doing and, there is no doubt, that we’ll need to keep doing in the weeks and months ahead. As we enter September I appeal to you all to keep the flame of Masonry burning brightly by continuing your Zoom meetings, your lecture nights, your quiz nights and all the other initiatives that have materialised over the months. Please make a special effort to contact those who have no way of accessing zoom, email or any other platform – just a wee two-minute phone call to those on their own will make a world of difference to them. We will get back to our meetings and we all look forward to that albeit for those of us in Scotland, that’s going to be a wee while yet. I was speaking to Brother Kalpesh Shah in Nairobi last night and he tells me that subject to Government approval, they hope to have an outdoor meeting in the expansive grounds of Lodge Mount Longonot in Naivasha during September – another excellent initiative to keep that flame burning. I’d be delighted to hear of any other initiatives taking place.

On Saturday 5th September we will be holding our first ever joint PGM / DGM meeting. Full details will be circulated to all PGM’s and DGM’s next week.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last weekThis week
Members32783332
Posts371386
No of Members posting179186
Lodges mentioned209218
Provinces mentioned2929
Districts & Lodges abroad1213
Monetary Value£268,733£287,661

SCFS Overseas Report

  • We had 30 Overseas Brethren recorded this week, bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 840.
  • We had new members from Barbados, Central South Africa, Lebanon, Malta, Mauritius, Middle East, Namibia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Togo, Western Australia.
  • The largest increase was seen from thDistrict of Namibia (Brethren joined from 4/5 of the Lodges … Lodge Dunedin Star, Lodge Zun Kreuz des Sudens, Lodge Benguela and Lodge Zur Hoffnung) and Togo (Lodge of Togo)
  • Now that all District Grand Lodges, Lodges under Grand Superintendents and Lodges under the Supervision of Grand Lodge are represented in the SCFS Group, the SCFS Team looks forward to receiving a large and wide variety of posts showing the excellent support which is undoubtedly being provided by our Overseas Brethren.
  • The SCFS Team has introduced a series of ‘Spotlight Videos’ which will concentrate on posts which have appeared on the group page, fall within a particular category and have a common theme or connection, beginning this week with a video entitled, “Spotlight on the District Grand Lodges.”

The support of the SCFS Group continues to be extended to our Brethren in the District of Lebanon. Those Brethren, and their loved ones, remain in all of our prayers.

(Details of the online contribution page, incorporating a link to facilitate donations, have been published.)

I am delighted to report that Brother William Semple will commence duty as our new Grand Secretary on Monday 14th September 2020. I look forward to working with Brother Semple and I’m sure that you would wish me to convey the best wishes of all Brethren as he takes up his new post.

Brethren, in the figures published by the Scottish Government yesterday, 68 new cases of Covid-19 were reported and, as I reported last week, the numbers have been rising at an alarming rate in many of our District Grand Lodges. This virus is still very much in our midst – please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren                                                                                                                                                                21.08.2020

While we won’t be having any meetings soon, I’m delighted to tell you that we had an outdoor sports event last Sunday. The Grand Lodge of Scotland Clay Shooting Championship was held at the National Shooting Centre with 22 guns participating. I was impressed by the organisation and the adherence to all the social distancing protocols. Congratulations to the winner, Brother Iain Cochrane from Lodge the Bruce No 593 and the runner up, Brother Stephen Cochrane, Lodge of Glammis No 99.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last weekThis week
Members32143278
Posts364371
No of Members posting178179
Lodges mentioned207209
Provinces mentioned2929
Districts & Lodges abroad1212
Monetary Value£262,766£268,733

The seven days under report has once again seen an extremely encouraging increase in the number of Overseas Brethren who have become members of the SCFS Group. In addition to Brethren independently joining via the published link, a number of existing Members have been extremely proactive in extending invitations to fellow Brethren and following these through. Their support is greatly appreciated. Significant Membership milestones have been reached.

  • We welcomed our first Member from Guyana … from Lodge Irenaeus, No. 1791. This means that every District Grand Lodge under the Scottish Constitution is now represented in the SCFS Group.
  • From the Overseas Lodges under the Supervision of Grand Lodge, we welcomed our first member from Togo (Lodge of Togo, No. 1677). We also welcomed our first members from West Indies Islands (Lodge Mount Olive, No. 336) and Malta (Lodge St. Andrew, No. 966). This means that all geographical areas with Lodges under Grand Superintendents or under the Supervision of Grand Lodge are now represented in the SCFS Group.
  • Congratulations is extended to Brother Remond Safi from Lodge Trinity, No. 1846, in Lebanon, who was invited by Brother Dany Hajjar, Lodge Al Mizab, No. 1130, Lebanon, and is our 800th. Overseas Member.
  • We had 50 Overseas Brethren join this week, bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 810.
  • We had new members from Bahamas, Bermuda, Central South Africa, East Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Far East, Guyana, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Kwazuku Natal, Malta, Mauritius, Middle East, Newfoundland and Labrador, North Island New Zealand, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada, Western Australia, West Indies Islands.
  • The largest increase was seen in thDistricts of Lebanon (19) and Jordan (6)

The support of the SCFS Group continues to be extended to our Brethren in the District of Lebanon and details of an online contribution page will soon be published. Those Brethren, and their loved ones, remain in all of our prayers.

Although there has been wide-spread agreement with only a few dissenting voices about having no meetings this year, there is, understandably, much confusion about opening Lodge Social Clubs. Given that there are so many individual scenarios, it is difficult to clarify the situation with a one size fits all explanation. Basically, Lodge Social Clubs are “Licensed Premises” in terms of the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act and are entitled to open provided they adhere to all the licensing conditions. However, some clubs meet in Lodge premises where the management committee have determined that the building is not opening given the stringent conditions they have to meet. If that is the case, then the club cannot open. If you have any doubts about the situation facing your own Lodge/Club let me know and I’ll do what I can to clarify matters for you – that apart, let common sense prevail and adhere to the guidelines.

The historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore is writing a book about the Arctic convoys of WW2. I have attached his appeal for information and would urge any Brethren who can proffer any information to do so.

‘Historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore who is writing a book about the Arctic convoys of WW2, commissioned by the British publisher Harper Collins, would like to find out if any of our members know of any:

 1. living veterans who participated in the Arctic convoys, or their relatives in case these relatives hold the veterans’ memoirs.

 2. detailed written or recorded personal accounts of what was witnessed by the participants during these convoys, or in Russia when the convoys reached Murmansk and Archangel.

 3. relevant photos or little-known books

 4. associations, groups, clubs or local archives that he might have missed.

He stresses that he is only using personal accounts written or recorded by a witness. And he is only using accounts which describe battles or attacks by the Germans which resulted in ships being badly damaged or sunk, rescued, attacking German ships/aircraft or accounts of what happened in Murmansk and Archangel, and the surrounding ports, when the convoy crews landed there.

If anyone in your organisation thinks they can help, please email him at sebags@hsmontefiore.com; they should only ring 44-20-7-435-1035 if Hugh has not replied to an email within 48 hours, or if they don’t use email.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland Autumn golf outing was due to take place at Auchterarder Golf Club at the beginning of September. Due to the current situation with Covid, the competition has been postponed. However, planning is well underway regarding the competitions in 2021 and the ‘golfers’ will be notified of the future dates and venues soon.  

We have had several enquiries about the 2000 Club, and this was discussed on Wednesday when the Benevolence and Care Committee met by Zoom video conference. So that we can complete the 3 draws for the current year, the final draw, which was missed in June, will be held at the first possible opportunity.   We appreciate that many payments for the coming year have already been made, therefore, going forward, we hope to issue the membership letters shortly which, unfortunately couldn’t be sent earlier due to the lockdown restrictions and the furlough of most Staff in Freemasons’ Hall.   We shall then programme in the 3 draws (due in October 2020, February 2021 and June 2021) as near to timetable as possible.   The Committee thanks you for your patience and understanding and trusts that you will continue to support this fund-raising initiative.

The total funding given to Prostate Scotland by Scottish Freemasons now stands at £583,000

Brethren, in the figures published by the Scottish Government at the beginning of the week, 26 new cases of Covid-19 were reported. In many of our District Grand Lodges the numbers have been rising at an alarming rate. This virus is still very much in our midst – please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

On Monday morning, 10th August, a meeting of the Heads of Orders took place to discuss a united approach to reopening Lodge buildings and the commencement of meetings in all Orders. It has been unanimously agreed that no meetings will take place in Scotland during the remainder of this year and that the position will be reviewed early in January 2021. The position of Lodges abroad remains as it was – Lodges can open in accordance with the Laws and Guidelines of their respective countries.

Should matters change significantly in the interim period all Lodges will be notified

I would be obliged if Lodge secretaries could assist in ensuring this Update is circulated as widely as possible among Brethren in all Orders.

Over the past week, while there has been much support for the above decision, I have been asked if Lodge buildings can be used for other purposes. In my correspondence with the Scottish Government, I have made the point that many of our Lodge buildings are community hubs and used by various groups, Masonic and non-Masonic and have asked for guidance on the use of the buildings – to date I have had no response.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last WeekThis Week
Members31273214
Post358264
No of Members posting177178
Lodges mentioned204207
Provinces mentioned2929
Districts & Lodges abroad1212
Monetary Value£258,230£262,766

There is a small video on the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lothian Facebook page highlighting what we have been up to on the charitable front during the current crisis. The SCFS video moving forward will be in a similar format.

SCFS Overseas Report

A number of firm relationships are being established between our Overseas Districts/Lodges/Brethren and the SCFS Group which is proving to be of significant mutual benefit. Overseas support continues to strengthen week upon week, evidenced by recent memberships of Brethren from Lodges and a District which, hitherto, had no representation within the Group. 

  • We had 51 Overseas Brethren join this week, bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 760. It will be interesting to see which Lodge the 800th. member will be from.
  • We had new members join from Bahamas, Belgium, Central South Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Far East, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malawi, Middle East, North Island New Zealand, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Western Australia, Western Australia Goldfield District
  • The largest increase was seen in thDistricts of Lebanon (10) and Sierra Leone and The Gambia (9).
  • We welcomed our first Members from the Western Australia Goldfields District with Brethren joining from Lodge Golden Feather, No. 855, and Lodge Sir William Wallace, No. 868. 
  • One of our newest Overseas Lodges … Lodge Al Arz, No. 1853, (6th. February, 2020), now has representation in the Group.
  • The District of the Far East has joined the District of the Middle East in the 100+ Overseas Members Club … well done.
  • The SCFS Group received recognition in an article in “The Cable Tow” which is the official publication of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.
  • We would strongly encourage our Overseas Members to summit posts sharing the excellent aid which is undoubtedly being provided by them. 
  • The support of the SCFS Group continues to be extended to our Brethren in the District of Lebanon and details of an online contribution page will soon be published. Those Brethren, and their loved ones, remain in all of our prayers. 

The Grand Lodge of Scotland Clay Shooting Championship will be held this Sunday,16th August, at the National Shooting Centre. I have been assured that every possible safety precaution has been put in place but would remind all those taking part that they have a personal duty to adhere to all the Covid-19 guidelines. While the organisers are confident that this local competition can take place safely, they have decided to postpone the Second International Clay Shooting Championship due to be held at the National Shooting Centre on Saturday 3rd October. This decision is regretted but is fully in line with recent decisions taken elsewhere regarding International shooting competitions in Scotland in 2020.

I am delighted to announce that Grand Committee has agreed to extend the exemption from Law 126 for a further year until February 2022.

Brethren, please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

On top of all the Covid-19 issues, the spikes in Aberdeen and in Inverclyde we were horrified to learn of the explosion in Beirut. I have been in touch with our District Grand Master in Lebanon, Brother Rabih Jarmakani who initially was able to inform me that many of our Brethren had been injured and a number of close relatives of Brethren had been killed. In the past hour I have received the following update from Brother Jarmakani.

Good Morning Brethren – a quick update from Beirut: burial for relatives of our brethren who tragically lost their lives are underway and we are taking account of the damages for our own membership and temples.

We are liaising with each other to ensure provision is made for medicines for our brethren as we have fully covered accommodation for those whose homes are not viable.

In the next 48 hours, we will be launching a contribution page for anyone wishing to assist along with the two other jurisdictions in amity with our Grand Lodge, Grand Lodge of Washington DC, and Grand Lodge National de France. This is becoming critical as the government has not done anything to assist and the situation is getting more difficult for many by the day.

On Lodge level, many of our Lodges have started various initiatives to support their own communities in the areas they meet, from providing hundreds of meals for the medical teams who are practically living in the hospitals to provision of soup kitchens, blood donation and volunteer work for repairs.

Our Cypriot brothers have organized a shipment of food which will be making its way to the port of Tripoli in the Northern region of Lebanon.

May the Great Architect of the Universe continue to protect us all. 🌿

Grand Lodge will be assisting the Brethren of the District and I will ensure that details of the contribution page will be circulated widely. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Brethren and their families in Beirut at this exceedingly difficult time for them.

Next Monday I will be chairing a meeting of the Heads of Orders to work on a strategy to ensure that we are all in agreement as to the way forward in respect of Covid-19. It is important that we all work together at this difficult time. On Thursday we are having our second Grand Committee Zoom meeting to take forward several issues that have accrued since we last met.

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last WeekThis Week
Members30063127
Posts332358
No of Members posting172177
Lodges Mentioned180204
Provinces mentioned2929
Districts & Lodges abroad1112
Monetary Value£237,470£258,230

Another milestone in the membership of our Overseas Brethren has been reached. Last week, the 600 barrier was broken. This week, because of previous weeks’ recruitment efforts and the support of several extremely proactive Overseas Brethren, whose endeavours are greatly appreciated, the 700 barrier has now been broken. 

  • We had 85 Overseas Brethren join this week (with another 10 just one click away from being Members) bringing our Overseas Membership of the SCFS Group to 709.
  • We had new members join from Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Central South Africa, East Africa, Far East, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, KwaZulu Natal, Mauritius, Middle East, Namibia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Zealand South, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada, Zimbabwe. 
  • The largest increase was seen in the Districts of Sierra Leone and The Gambia (18), Lebanon (14) and Central South Africa (10) and we welcomed our first Members from a significant number of our Overseas Lodges.
  • We would strongly encourage our Overseas Members to maintain the excellent frequency and quality of their submissions to the group. 

Following the tragic loss of life, homes and multiple injuries sustained in the dreadful explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, the support of the SCFS Group to our Brethren in the District of Lebanon has been expressed by making personal contact with the District Grand Master and our Lebanese members, in addition to a prominent visual being placed on the SCFS page. They are in all our prayers. 

Brethren, please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

The Grand Lodge of Scotland Clay Shooting Championship will be held a week on Sunday,16th August at the National Shooting Centre to participate, please contact the organising committee on either gloscsa@gmail.com or gloscsa@aol.com.  Alternatively, you can make contact through the Scottish Masonic Clay Championships Facebook page.

Kindest regards

Brethren

The Grand Lodge of Scotland has over recent years developed a very positive two-way relationship with Prostate Scotland. In the light of the current pandemic, Prostate Scotland are keen to better serve their client group and gain a better understanding of the challenges that have arisen for men with prostate cancer due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Prostate Scotland have just launched a survey to garner the information needed and have asked for our help to publicise and reach as many men as possible, the survey which can be found by following the link below:-

https://www.prostatescotland.org.uk/research/prostate-scotland-covid-19-and-prostate-cancer-survey

From the link the survey can be either downloaded and e-mailed back to Prostate Scotland or completed using the SurveyMonkey version online. Scottish Freemasonry has supported Prostate Scotland well financially over past years, on this occasion the request is for some of your time to complete the survey. If you are personally affected by prostate cancer please complete the survey, if you know of another man with prostate cancer please send him a copy of the link and ask him to complete the survey. The closing date for all surveys to be returned is 24th July. Please help if you can, the information could help improve services for others!

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

 Last weekThis week
Members27072863
Posts276299
No of Members posting150161
Lodges mentioned163176
Provinces mentioned2929
Districts & Lodges abroad811
Monetary Value£207,753£214,170

Scottish Freemasonry continues to support the communities in which they belong throughout the world. An increase in giving this week of almost £6500 – fantastic achievement. In Barbados, our DGM, Trevor Campbell, gave an excellent interview on the national television – Scottish Freemasonry was given a very positive two-minute slot on the national news programme – congratulations to our Brethren in Barbados.

There has been a commendable amount of positive and encouraging activity on the SCFS page with reference to our Overseas Brethren and interest in the page remains at a very high level as more and more of our Brethren in our Districts become aware of it and subscribe into its current raison d’être. 

  • We had 51 Brethren added this week bringing our Overseas Membership of SCFS to 558
  • We had new members join from Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Botswana, East Africa, Far East, Fiji, Jamaica, Malawi, Middle East, North Island New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Western Province of the Cape of Good Hope and Zambia. 
  • We now have our first members from Japan in the District of the Far East, from Kuala Lumpur in the District of the Middle East and from Fiji, through Lodge Polynesia, No. 562, which is under the supervision of Grand Lodge. 
  • The largest increase was seen in the District of the Far East with 22 new members. 
  • A notable number of Brethren have joined from Lodge Perla del Oriente, No. 1034, from the Philippines in the Far East and from Lodge Api-Api, No. 1826, from Malaysia in the Middle East. 
  • The posts being submitted from our Overseas Members have been of an extremely high quality, varied, interesting and, most importantly, inspiring. 

Over the past week, given the easing of restrictions, I have received a significant number of messages and phone calls regarding Masonic Clubs reopening and the possibility of Lodges reopening. The Masonic Club queries have been easy to respond to, not so the questions regarding Lodges reopening. Very valid points have been made regarding churches being able to reopen, so why can’t we?

Brethren, I have gone through the guidelines carefully and while there is reasonably clear guidance regarding churches and indoor live events to name but two, I am uncertain as to whether we as Masonic Lodges fall into either of those two categories. In fact, there is no specific guidance relating to the opening of public halls or for similar organisations to ours such as Probus Clubs, Rotary Clubs and others.

Accordingly, I have written to the Scottish Government seeking specific advice for Masonic meetings. I have also asked for guidance in respect of the many Lodges whose buildings are used as a community hub for all sorts of other organisations as to when those organisations can be allowed to use the premises. Until I get a response from the Government, I would recommend that we continue with our zoom meetings and other electronic means of communicating. We cannot lose sight of the fact that despite there being no Covid-19 deaths in the past week, the virus is still very much with us. That coupled with the age profile of our members should remind us that we need to proceed with caution.

Brethren, as we enjoy the easing of restrictions, please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

The past week has brought about quite a few changes with some of the restrictions easing, allowing some of our Masonic Clubs to prepare to reopen but not in the way we are accustomed to – the Government guidelines are in place and all Clubs who decide to open will require to adhere strictly to the guidelines – we don’t want any adverse publicity about Masonic Clubs ignoring the rules. In some of our Districts things are changing too with meetings starting or about to start again but unfortunately, we have some Districts where the pandemic seems to be taking hold again and the number of coronavirus cases are rising.

Also published in the past week has been the United Grand Lodge of England’s “Operation Kick Start” in which it has been announced that the cessation of Masonic activity will not be extended after 17th July, therefore Lodges in England (but not in Wales) can start meeting again but with significant restrictions. I have received a few enquiries since the announcement asking if this decision includes Scotland. The short answer is no – it does not include Scotland. The Scottish Government and the UK Government are beginning to move in different ways on several issues and this is one of them. In Scotland we still cannot hold indoor meetings with any significant number of people. The first minister announced yesterday that during Phase 3 we will start to resume and re-open many activities and settings such as opening indoor pubs and restaurants, allowing more indoor meetings between households, and re-opening places of worship. Having ploughed through the changes, my understanding is that the indoor meetings alluded to will be restricted to no more than eight people at present.

 The “Operation Kick Start” document contains a lot of extremely useful information. Grand Lodge of Scotland will issue a similar document as and when the time is right but, for the foreseeable future it is unlikely that we will be able to have what we would regard as normal meetings. The First Minister emphasised the fact that eliminating the virus as far as possible now – ahead of the almost inevitable challenges we will face come winter – remains the objective and that the five principles behind the FACTS campaign – face coverings; avoiding crowded spaces; cleaning hands and surfaces; two metre distancing; and self-isolation if you have symptoms – are more important than they have ever been.

We are planning for the return of Staff to Freemasons’ Hall based on Scottish Government guidance and an assessment of business needs. Basically, what they are saying is that non-essential offices and call centres can re-open following implementation of relevant guidance but not before 31st July. We are now compliant with the guidance and I look forward to seeing all staff back in the building before too long.

On the Masonic Homes front, I am delighted to report that after putting all of the necessary protocols in place and having our risk  assessments approved by Public Health Scotland, we have been able, in line with Scottish Government guidelines, to resume visits (outdoor only) from family members to Residents  in the Masonic Homes. 

Latest news from the Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page is as follows –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

                                                            Last week                                           This week

Members                                           2584                                                   2707

Posts                                                   246                                                     276

No of Members posting                   143                                                     150

Lodges mentioned                             148                                                     163       

Provinces mentioned                        29                                                        29

Districts & Lodges abroad 8                                                          8

Monetary Value                                £182,933                                            £207,753

Congratulations Brethren on breaking through the £200k mark – tremendous effort but we also acknowledge the tremendous “in kind” contributions that have also been made. Please keep up the good work – as the furlough scheme ends and redundancies increase there will be an even greater need for our help and assistance.

Once again, there has been an increase in the number of Overseas Members in SCFS. Another milestone has been reached on the back of the Middle East hitting the 100 members last week. This week has seen the Overseas Memberships pass through the 500. 

This coming week a targeting exercise will be carried out on identified Districts etc. who have no representation in our group. There is normally a delay following an exercise such as this before results begin to be seen. 

The SCFS Group now has Overseas Members from:

Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Botswana, Central South Africa, Chile, East Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Far East, Gibraltar, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Kwazulu Natal, Malawi, Mauritius, Middle East, Namibia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Zealand South, North Island New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago and Granada, Western Australia, Western Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Zambia, Zimbabwe (33 in total)

Within the past week: Belgium has been added

There were 43 Overseas Brethren approved this week

There has been a notable increase in membership from Botswana and East Africa this week 

There are now over 500 Overseas Brethren in the group … the total standing at 507

Brethren, as we enjoy the easing of restrictions, we have also witnessed Covid-19 spikes appearing in some areas so please stay alert, look after yourselves, your families and the Brethren who are in any of the vulnerable categories.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

More information regarding the opening up of Masonic Clubs.

Whether you are planning opening outdoor facilities as and from the 6th or opening indoors as and from 15th July, it is imperative that you and your staff take cognisance of the updated information issued today by the Scottish Government. The last thing we need is adverse publicity about Masonic Clubs breaking the law in terms of the Covid-19 Regulations.

While it makes sense to read the entire document, and I would urge you to do so, you will find, down the left-hand column, eight different headings. Please ensure that you are totally familiar with the information contained under the heading – Collecting and storing contact details – and the section marked – Operational Guide and Checklist.

These regulations and guidelines are changing in an almost daily basis so please check them regularly. If you are a member of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, they are putting out regular updates which are easier to read and understand than some of the Government directives.

If you are in any doubt as to what you should or should not be doing, please do not hesitate to contact your LSO and he/she will keep you on the right tracks.

I will continue to monitor the situation and issue updated guidelines as they appear. The link to the Government guidelines is –

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/pages/

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason