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

Brethren

Further to today’s update, I have received a number of queries about opening up of Masonic Clubs.

The fact is that it is still unclear as to what measures will be required within pubs or clubs. What we do know is that from 15 July, indoor areas of pubs and restaurants will be permitted (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice). These moves depend on safety measures being put in place, and hospitality businesses (not sure if this will include pubs and clubs) will have to retain contact details for customers for four weeks.

We know that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Government intends that pubs and restaurants will open indoors from 15 July – but on a limited basis initially and subject to a number of conditions and that detailed guidance will be issued as soon as possible.

And that is the issue – we still have not received official Government detailed guidelines as to what the conditions will be. It is further confused by the fact that the Scottish Government appear to be taking a more cautious approach than England so there could be significant differences.

Yesterday, the First Minister indicated that social distancing measures will be reduced for the hospitality industry on the understanding that additional practices are introduced by businesses from 15 July when industry can fully reopen. Again, we do not have the specific details, but my understanding is that outdoor areas will need to maintain 2m social distancing for the present.

As soon as detailed guidelines become available, I will have them circulated but general guidance can be found at – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

Last weekend I participated in two Zoom meetings – one with the District Grand Lodge of Central South Africa and one with the District Grand Lodges in the Caribbean. Both were well attended, and both were positive in looking at the way ahead. A pleasing aspect of the meetings was that several Proxy Masters also participated. Zoom is a tool that should enable all Proxy Masters to keep in close contact with their respective lodges. Please get in touch with your Proxy Lodge if you haven’t already done so and find out if they are having Zoom meetings and join in. The Lodges will be delighted to put a face to the name and you will be able to do likewise with the members.

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                                  2394                                         2584                            

Posts                                        219                                           246                                          

No of Members posting             132                                           143                              

Lodges mentioned                     127                                           148                                          

Provinces mentioned                 29                                            29                                           

Districts & Lodges abroad         8                                              8                                             

Monetary Value                        £166,870                                  £182,933

The SCFS Group now has Overseas Members from:

Bahamas, Barbados, 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.

Within the past week: Namibia and New Zealand South have joined us 

There were 113 Overseas Brethren approved this week

There has been a notable increase in membership from East Africa, Middle East, and North Island New Zealand. Middle East membership has now hit 100 members

There are now over 450 Overseas Brethren.

 

 

Indoor Gatherings

Over the past week I have received queries about allowing groups who use Lodge premises back into the premises and I was also asked – “can bingo sessions restart”. The basic answer is no on both accounts.

The Scottish Government guidelines for gatherings are quite plain and straight forward albeit they do not yet allude to indoor gatherings. Regarding mass gatherings outside, their response, while aimed at households, is nevertheless quite specific that it is recommended the maximum number should not exceed eight people.

As far as indoor activity is concerned, all we can do is look at specific areas such as church buildings which are as close to Lodge buildings as we can find in the guidance notes.

Places of worship will be able to reopen for individual prayer or contemplation from 22 June under physical distancing rules and hygiene safeguards. This means that individuals can go to their place of worship on their own or in their household group to pray or take part in religious or spiritual contemplation.

It follows therefore that neither Masonic meetings nor meetings of other groups who use Masonic premises, can take place for the foreseeable future. There may be some movement when Phase 3 is announced but it is more likely that we will not see any significant movement until Phase 4. In general terms you should still adhere to the general guidelines –

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • only go outside for limited purposes
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands regularly and as soon as you get home
  • wear a face covering on public transport and enclosed public spaces
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms and book a test

Just for avoidance of doubt we moved to Phase 2 on 19th June. It is expected that Phase 3 will be announced next Thursday 9th July.

Please remember for any urgent issues whether at home or abroad – you can contact Grand Lodge on the following numbers – Dawn Oliff – 07464 683630, Sue Williams 07881 440272 and Andrew Paterson 07787 217772. Emails to Sue at pa@grandlodgescotland.org will also be picked up and forwarded to the correct person.

Even although some of the restrictions are easing, please take care of yourselves and each other – stay safe.

Kindest regards to you all.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

It has been quite a week with news, first and foremost that the barbers will be able to open next month. I think for many of us, that will be one of the first ports of call! However, despite the slackening of quite a number of the restrictions I still haven’t seen any indication that we will be able to have indoor meetings with large numbers. That coupled with the warnings from the Royal College of Surgeons and others about the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus keeps me cautious about meetings happening this year in Scotland although I am delighted that our Lodges in a number of countries are opening again.

Over the past week I have received calls from some of the Lodges who were due to have celebrations during the past four months but which we rescheduled to take place from September onwards. Unless things change soon regarding indoor meetings, it looks like we will have to reschedule once again. However, the Phase 3 announcements from the Scottish Government are due to be made fairly soon and I would ask you to wait until then before definitive decisions are made. I will undertake to contact each Lodge personally to discuss with you the options. Grand Lodge is keen to ensure that all Lodges who have missed out on celebrations will be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so.

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                                           2243                                                   2394

Posts                                                  200                                                     219

No of Members posting                129                                                     132

Lodges mentioned                         118                                                     127

Provinces mentioned                     29                                                        29

Districts & Lodges abroad             7                                                          8

Monetary Value                                             £148,365                                           £166,870

Overseas Brethren membership position on SCFS during the last week is:

  • 31 represented in total
  • Within the past week: Sri Lanka has joined us and there has been a notable increase in membership from Malaysia and Gibraltar 
  • 72 new members this week
  • There are now over 350 Overseas Brethren.

Grand Almoner, Tom Davidson has informed me that he has been in touch with Archie McGown, Past Depute Grand Master, who has been in hospital.  Grand Almoner reports that Brother McGown is feeling good and much better than he was before going into hospital. He was asking how things were going at the two masonic homes and was delighted to hear that they were still virus-free and that the staff were doing a great job for the residents. Brother McGown sends his best wish to all at Grand Lodge and hopefully he will see everyone as soon as possible and safe.

Through recent Zoom meetings and thanks to Lodge Secretaries sending reports into Grand Lodge, I can sadly report, that to date we have lost over thirty Brethren from the Scottish Craft to the deadly Coronavirus. As we all enjoy this spell of glorious weather and the lifting of some of the restrictions, let us remember those who have passed to the Grand Lodge above and keep in our thoughts and prayers the families of those who have lost those nearest and dearest to them. I know and appreciate the amount of love and care that our Brethren have shown to those families – please continue to give that support. At the first opportunity, we will have a special In Memoriam service in Grand Lodge for those who have died as a result of the virus and the many others who have died during the lockdown and for whom families have been unable to hold proper funeral services. I would ask that all Lodge Secretaries at home and abroad, if you haven’t already done so, to pass the names and Lodge names of all Brethren whom you wish to be remembered to Sue Williams in Grand Lodge. Thank you.

Bro Tom Smith, Depute Grand Master and Proxy District Grand Master of the Middle East and I were on night shift last weekend when we attended a Zoom meeting of the District Grand Lodge of the Middle East. It started at 09.00 Kuala Lumpur time which was 02.00 our time, but we both agreed that it was worth being there. The District is in good heart and the Masters of all 21 Lodges gave reports as to the state of their respective Lodges. The meeting was very well organised, and everyone stuck to the proper protocols. The Malaysian Government have indicated that no large meetings will be allowed before the end of the year, but Singapore and Thailand may well resume before that.

This weekend I am looking forward to two Zoom meetings – one with the District Grand Lodge of Central South Africa and one with the District Grand Lodges in the Caribbean

The Grand Lodge History and Heritage Group series of lectures are attracting weekly audiences of between 70 and 80 Brethren. So far, we have received presentations on the history of Lodge Mother Kilwinning No 0, the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No 1 and the Lodge of Melrose St John No 1(2). Next Thursday it is the turn of the Lodge of Aberdeen No 1(3) at 7.00 pm.

Please remember for any urgent issues whether at home or abroad – you can contact Grand Lodge on the following numbers – Dawn Oliff – 07464 683630, Sue Williams 07881 440272 and Andrew Paterson 07787 217772. Emails to Sue at pa@grandlodgescotland.org will also be picked up and forwarded to the correct person.

Even although some of the restrictions are easing, please take care of yourselves and each other – stay safe.

Kindest regards to you all.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

Brethren

It has been brought to my attention that the Covid-19 Business Grant is taxable. I have asked Grand Treasurer to check out the implications and he has given me the following helpful advice.

Business Support Grant

I am aware that many Lodges have claimed the £10,000 Business Support Grant from their local authority to assist their finances during the current pandemic. Please be aware that, in common with all business recipients, this grant is taxable. At the current rate of Corporation Tax this will result in a liability of £1,900. Currently a large number of Home Lodges will not require to complete a Company Tax Return as any income will be treated under the “mutuality of trading” doctrine – that income is derived from members and that those members have a right to share equally in any surplus. The receipt of the Grant falls out with this doctrine and is therefore taxable. Those Lodges who currently submit Company Tax Returns should ensure that whoever is responsible for completing the Return is aware of the receipt of the grant. Lodges not currently required to lodge a Company Tax Return have an obligation to contact HM Revenue & Customs (telephone number 0300 200 3410) and advise accordingly.

It is important that we all keep well within the law, so please take heed of the above advice.

I have previously mentioned that our Lodges in Hong Kong and Western Australia are beginning to open their doors again – yesterday I got the following news from Brother James Ironside our District Grand Master of New Zealand South –

 It is agreed that meetings will resume as of July 2020. The first meeting will be a District Grand Lodge committee meeting to be held on Wednesday 1st July 2020 at the Masonic Centre Dunedin.

It is then proposed that the Lodges will resume their meetings from Wednesday 15th July 2020. All meetings will be in accordance with the current published guidelines, with strict contact tracing in force by a separate signing in sheet (other than the attendance register) to include contact phone numbers, or by use of the Government NZ COVID Tracer application by way of scanning the ‘QR’ code on the official registered poster.

The District Grand Master will provide dispensations to Lodge Peninsula Kilwinning 696, Lodge St. John 461 Milton and Lodge Cargill Kilwinning 632 to allow them to alter their respective meeting dates to a suitable and agreed time with their Brethren should they so desire.

It has been stipulated that all July 2020 meetings will be strictly of a business nature, with the option of a lecture of masonic interest only which will enable the Lodges to conduct any necessary ballots before degree work will be able to resume in August 2020.

This is good news and gives us all a boost to know that each week more of our Scottish Brethren are able to get back to meetings albeit within fairly strict guidelines. The strict contact tracing put in place by the New Zealand Government is of particular interest.

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

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

Members                                           2243

Posts                                                  200

No of Members posting                129

Lodges mentioned                         118

Provinces mentioned                     29

Districts & Lodges abroad             7

Monetary Value                                             £148,365 an increase of over £2,300 since last week

Overseas Brethren membership position on SCFS during the last week is:

* 91 new members

* 2 New Districts … Peru and Nigeria

* 30 Districts/Under Grand Superintendency/Under Supervision.

I have now had three Zoom meetings with our District Grand Masters all of which have been very informative and encouraging. On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of hosting a first Zoom conference with our Provincial Grand Masters – we had 29 out of 32 PGM’s present which was excellent. I was delighted to get up to date reports from everyone on the tremendous amount of assistance being given to communities as reflected above but equally delighted to receive the very upbeat messages from everyone – my sincere thanks to all our Lodges throughout the world who are continuing to operate via “What’s App”, “Zoom” and other platforms and who are doing great work in all the communities where they live, work and operate. The help and assistance being given to communities, hospitals, hospices, care homes and to individuals should make us all extremely proud to be Freemasons.

Grand Lodge has undergone a full deep clean this week with a view to start getting some staff back into Grand Lodge. Offices have been rearranged to ensure that social distancing will be observed. It will be a step by step process to ensure that staff are going to be safe. Once the process starts, I will keep you all up to date with progress but, in the meantime, please continue to use the contact details below.

Please remember for any urgent issues whether at home or abroad – you can contact Grand Lodge on the following numbers – Dawn Oliff – 07464 683630, Sue Williams 07881 440272 and Andrew Paterson 07787 217772. Emails to Sue at pa@grandlodgescotland.org will also be picked up and forwarded to the correct person.

Please take care of yourselves and each other – stay safe.

Kindest regards to you all.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason