Brethren

Following the latest announcements by the Government on the Coronavirus pandemic, I have no option but to inform you all that as and from today the Grand Lodge of Scotland Offices will be closed. 

However, we have been working hard to continue any essential business. Three key members of staff have been issued with mobile phones to enable Brethren to contact them if at all necessary. They in turn can put you in contact with me or any other senior Office-bearer if anyone needs to contact any of us urgently. The three numbers are:

Dawn Oliff                             07464 683630

Sue Williams                         07881 440272

Andrew Paterson                 07787 217772

Emails to Sue at pa@grandlodgescotland.org will also be picked up and forwarded to the correct person.

While all of our movements have now been severely restricted can I ask that we all do our utmost to keep in touch with Brethren, widows or relatives of Brethren who are vulnerable – especially those who are alone – loneliness can be terribly debilitating – a wee phone call or text message or email once a day might just make all the difference to them. Many Provinces and Districts have already put in place measures to assist in practical ways like collecting medicines or groceries for those unable to do so. I thank you all for the many initiatives that have materialised over the past few weeks. Truly Freemasonry at work.

The announcements last night have really hit home to us here in Scotland but Brethren, please remember those Scottish Brethren throughout the world in our Districts, under Superintendents and those who report directly to Grand Lodge. Many of them are already in lock down and are under the same pressure as we are experiencing here.

Our two Homes are still fully operational. The staff in both Homes are doing an exceptional job under very difficult conditions. Please keep the staff and the residents in your thoughts and prayers.

On a lighter note, now that we have time on our hands, if you haven’t already completed the Grand Lodge on-line survey, what better way to spend 15 minutes. The link onto the survey is – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/scottishmasonicsurvey2020 As of last night, we had over 5000 responses which is very heartening but I’m sure we can get a few more during our enforced isolation.

I will endeavour to keep you up to date with any changes that occur over the next few weeks and months – things are going to be difficult but working together, albeit in a virtual environment, I have every confidence that we can pull through and help others to do so in the process.

Please take care of yourselves – stay safe.

Kindest regards to you all.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

TO ALL PROVINCIAL, DISTRICT AND LODGE SECRETARIES

Brethren

Further to my email to you all yesterday, can I give you an update on all developments that have taken place today.

I have advised all Committee Chairmen to cancel all committee meetings but that they should maintain contact with the committees through email in order that any urgent business can be conducted.

Grand Lodge will be closed to all except staff. At a Staff Meeting this morning all members of staff agreed to carry on working so that you will still have points of contact. Every possible precaution has been taken to ensure their health and wellbeing in Grand Lodge and we will continue to look after their welfare, but they will be there for you if you need to contact them. But please be aware no one will be allowed to enter the building under any circumstances except the staff.

The contractors working on the new lift will be in the building but will be kept away from the Grand Lodge staff.

Can I re-emphasise that I have suspended all Masonic activity until further notice. I have intentionally not given a specific time frame so that we can resume activities as soon as it is felt safe to do so.

All Lodges who are due to celebrate milestones in their history this year and all Provinces and Districts who are due to have Installations this year should not abandon their plans. Grand Lodge will honour all commitments once it is safe to do – this may well mean carrying out three or four celebrations on the one day, but they will be done.

My sincere thanks to you all for your forbearance. I will ensure that you are all kept up to date with any fresh developments.

Stay safe and look after each other, especially the elderly, the lonely and the vulnerable. Give them a wee phone call every day or drop them an email.  Many thanks

Yours sincerely and fraternally

W Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Coronavirus – Latest Update

Brethren

As a result of the latest Government advice and guidance, I’m afraid that I have no option but to advise all Provinces, Districts and Lodges that all Masonic activity will be suspended forthwith until further notice.

The situation, as you are all well aware, is changing by the hour. We will monitor developments carefully in order to reduce the risk to our membership across the world.

To the many Lodges who, this year, have milestone events, please do not abandon your plans – we will work hard to carry out all the events later in the year when it is deemed safe to do so.

I will issue further information regarding points of contact later today.

Yours sincerely and fraternally

W Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

From today, daily press conferences will be hosted by the Prime Minister and Senior Ministers on the coronavirus pandemic, supported by scientific and medical experts including the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Adviser. The Grand Lodge of Scotland will abide fully with all recommendations emanating from the Government press conferences. Accordingly, Lodge Secretaries will receive updated advice immediately it becomes available.

Included in  their latest announcement, coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response, is the recommendation that arranging group events of 500 people or more should be discouraged.  For this very reason we have decided to postpone the Divine Service scheduled to take place in Glasgow on Sunday, 29th March 2020.

I have been asked why we are not following Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and other countries in having a total ban – my understanding is that they have only done so because of Government intervention. If our Government issue similar instructions, we will comply immediately for as long as is necessary albeit I am aware that many Lodges have significant milestone events during May, June, July and August and we will do our best to accommodate those meetings if at all possible to do so.

The safety of our members and their families remains paramount – the NHS and BBC Virus update pages remain very useful and can provide far more regular updates than any other source – please visit them regularly to keep yourselves safe and aware of the latest developments but let me emphasise that those aged 65 or over, especially with respiratory problems, diabetes or heart issues, should refrain from attending meetings.

Whilst we have not yet imposed a blanket suspension on all Lodge activity throughout the Grand Lodge of Scotland, we do urge our Provincial and District Grand Masters to use their judgement at a local level and take such local decisions as are necessary and I have no hesitation in giving dispensation so to do.

We will constantly be in touch as and when significant updates are available – simply to ensure that you all have access to the best possible guidance and advice.

As a quick guide, the following recommendations are made for the safety of our Brethren and their families.

  • Members who fall into the “higher risk” category (those over 65 or with underlying health issues) should not attend meetings.
  • Almoners should try to contact higher risk members (not in person) to check on their welfare.
  • Members should refrain from any physical contact at meetings. (including handshakes)
  • Members who have had close contact with anyone who has had a cough, fever or breathing difficulties within the last 14 days should not attend meetings unless that person has subsequently tested negative for coronavirus or if anyone living in the same house as a member is diagnosed with coronavirus then that member’s Lodge(s) should cancel all meetings for the next 14 days.

Members have a duty of care to all other Lodge Members and should immediately report a positive coronavirus diagnosis to their Lodge Secretary. Likewise, Members also have a duty to report any symptoms (cough, fever or breathing difficulty) or any close contact with someone else who has symptoms. Failure to do so puts other members at risk. Upon receiving such notice, the Lodge should consider cancelling all meetings for the next 14 days, or longer as may be deemed appropriate.

Yours sincerely and fraternally

W Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Grand Lodge of Scotland

Divine Service – 29th March 2020 2pm

Glasgow Cathedral

Please note that due to the COVID-19 situation, the Grand Master Mason has made the difficult decision to cancel this event.

Hopefully the event will be rescheduled later this year.

Many thanks for supporting this event

Grand Master Mason

A memo from Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I have received several queries about cancelling Lodge meetings as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus situation.

At the time of writing, a total of 7,690 people have been tested in the UK, of which 7,675 were confirmed negative and 15 positives. None of those cases have been in Scotland but it is almost inevitable that it will appear in Scotland at some point – the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.

The Department of Health and Social Care will be publishing updated data every day at 2pm until further notice so we can keep abreast of developments.  The NHS Inform link also has the latest advice https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19.

In the meantime, I would urge everyone to take the precautionary measures outlined by the Health Boards at all Masonic meetings and whilst on Masonic business

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze –
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately –
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available –
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell –
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If anyone in any Lodge is diagnosed with the virus, I would advise that the Lodge should immediately cancel all meetings until such time as the local health officials have indicated that it is safe to do so.

Common sense should prevail at all times – take no chances – observe the precautionary measures at all times.

If in any doubt, please contact Grand Lodge for further advice.

W RAMSAY MCGHEE

Installation of a Lift @ The Grand Lodge of Scotland – Tours of Grand Lodge

We are pleased to announce that we have the go-ahead to install a Lift at the Grand Lodge of Scotland at Freemasons’ Hall, Edinburgh.

The works are scheduled to begin on the 30th March, which will mean that our Guided Tours of Freemasons’ Hall will be suspended until after The Festivals.

We look forward to welcoming back our Tour Guides and Visitors in September 2020.

Brethren,

It is my great pleasure at this Christmas time not only to wish each one of you and your families a very happy Christmas but it is also an opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone and to celebrate all that we have collectively achieved in this past year.

First, my thanks for the tremendous effort we have witnessed throughout the Scottish Craft in aid of Prostate Cancer Scotland. To date we have gifted the magnificent sum of £551,000 to the Charity thanks to your endeavour, enthusiasm and support. In addition, the effort for local charities in each of your Districts, Provinces and Lodges has been incredible. Thank you.

During the past year I have been privileged to travel the length and breadth of Scotland and to visit our own Lodges in Hong Kong, Manila, Yokohama, Kobe, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kuching and Brussels. Everywhere I have been I have been enthused and encouraged by the passion and zeal displayed by the Brethren and by the support being received from our wives and families in all that we do. Indeed, during the past year that enthusiasm has resulted in over 1600 new entrants into our beloved Craft.

We have witnessed improvements to the administrative systems for Lodge Secretaries, we have enjoyed concerts in Grand Lodge by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Phoenix Choir and an unforgettable presentation by Brother Moises Gomez. We have celebrated all over the world with Lodge Centenaries, Bi-centenaries and greater, we have welcomed new Lodges into the fold, and we have enjoyed welcoming Grand Masters and representatives from Europe and America to Grand Lodge.

2019 has seen much success and I have no doubt whatsoever that in the year ahead by working together, by supporting each other, by assisting each other we can achieve much.

May you all have the spirit of Christmas which is Peace, the gladness of Christmas which is Hope, and the heart of Christmas which is Love and that 2020 will, through the values of Freemasonry, see that Peace, Hope, and Love make the world a happier and healthier place.

With kindest regards to you and your families.

W Ramsay McGhee
Grand Master Mason

We shall very shortly integrate our social media presence (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with this web site. It may take a short for us to master the intricacies of so doing. Please bear with us meantime.

The purpose in doing so are several:

1. To create a ‘one stop shop’ for all our social media posts.
2. To establish an online ‘library’ of such posts.
3. To promote the GLoS’s internet presence

Once successfully achieved (note the optimism!) it will should mean that there will be a ‘one stop shop’ for all who are interested in Scottish Freemasonry.

Please keep checking back for new posts.

The GLoS Facebook Team