Posts

Brethren                                                                                                                                          

As I mentioned in last week’s Update, we have received many requests as to how financial support can be sent to the Lebanon in the wake of the explosion. At long last we have been able to get the banking issues both here and in Lebanon sorted out. Grand Secretary sent out information this week but just to widen the scope let me repeat the information – Individuals, Lodges, Districts or Provinces who would wish to contribute to the Lebanon Appeal can now do so by Bank Transfer to the following account – The Bank of Scotland (The Mound, Edinburgh), Grand Lodge of Scotland Support Account : Account number – 10119866, Sort Code – 80-31-20 – the reference word LEBANON should be included for ease of identification and an email sent to glfinance@grandlodgescotland.org informing Grand Lodge that money has been sent. All monies paid into this account will be sent safely to a new “fresh money” account jointly operated by the three Grand Lodges in Lebanon – the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, Washington DC and the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF). A letter signed by the three Grand Masters will also be sent to all Regular Grand Lodges worldwide seeking their support. 

Last week I circulated detailed information from Brother Gordon Michie of Poppy Scotland regarding the procedure for Poppy crosses. This week Brother Michie had hoped to send additional information regarding Remembrance Parades but is still awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Government as to what will and will not happen. As soon as that information is to hand, I will ensure that it is circulated to all Lodges at home, but it would certainly appear that any form of large gathering will not be allowed

I mentioned some weeks back that the dates for all Lodges having rededication ceremonies and all Districts and Provinces having Installation Ceremonies for new District or Provincial Grand Masters had been rescheduled into 2021. I did intend to circulate the new dates but with the total uncertainty that we are currently experiencing thanks to Covid-19, I have decided to hold back as it looks like at least some of the re-scheduled dates will need to be re-scheduled once more. Once things settle down and there is a reasonable possibility of being able to conduct the ceremonies, I will issue a fresh schedule at the earliest opportunity to allow local planning to take place. But I can assure you all that a Grand Lodge Deputation will be there with you as soon as it is lawful and practical to do so.

Due to the impending cessation of the Furlough Scheme, Grand Lodge staff will be returning to the office on Monday 5th October. From Monday the switchboard will be open during normal business hours. Could I also ask that if any Lodge has a query regarding the database to address the query to Lyndsey on the email address – Rashell@grandlodgescotland.org

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
Members36253662
Post430438
No of Members Posting199200
Lodges Mentioned231233
Provinces mentioned3030
Districts & Lodges Abroad1515
Monetary Value£324,864£332,594

SCFS Overseas Report

  • We welcomed 20 Overseas Brethren this week. This means that the amazing milestone of an Overseas Membership of 1,000 has now been passed, with Overseas Membership now standing at 1019.
  • Many congratulations is extended to our 1000th. Overseas Member who is Brother Johann Swanepoel, Past Master, Lodge Oranje, No. 1603, Orange Free State and Country Lodges, Central South Africa. 
  • The geographical spread of new members this week saw Brethren joining from … Barbados, Central South Africa, Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Gibraltar, Lebanon, Newfoundland and Labrador, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada   
  • The largest increase in membership was from the District of Central South Africa.
  • Lodge Argyll, No. 1548, Roodepoort, The Reef, Central South Africa, had the largest number of Brethren joining from an individual Lodge.
  • A new category of Membership has been introduced … that of International Constitution Member (ICM). Membership is by invitation and is aimed at Brethren from other Constitutions which are in amity with the Grand Lodge of Scotland. This development will result in the examples of the excellent support being shared on the SCFS page reaching a much wider audience. 
  • We welcome Brother Paul Sefton, Past Master, Elwy Lodge, No. 4721, Province of North Wales, UGLE, as our first International Constitution Member.

As the Covid-19 situation worsens here in Scotland and in some but not all of our Districts, please stay safe, look after yourself and be constantly mindful of our Brethren and the families of our Brethren who are struggling physically, financially or mentally – let’s all be there for them.

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason

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

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

I hope and trust that this weekly update finds you and your families all keeping safe and staying well.

The Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page continues to grow.

Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports
Weekly Posts SummaryCurrent
 
Date04 May 202011 May 202018 May 202025 May 202003 June 2020
 
Members9681221146317781926
 
Posts2967104133157
 
No. Members Posting27558293106
 
Lodges Mentioned26587892105
 
Provinces Mentioned1624242626
 
Districts Etc. Mentioned01566
 
Identifiable Monetary£31,650£40,320£94,375£112,527£129,746

Brother Jim Ellis has informed me that the involvement of our District Grand Lodges on the Facebook page is continuing to grow and that has to be welcomed by all. I would encourage all Scottish Lodges irrespective of where they are to contribute to the SCFS page. Many thanks to you all for all your efforts.

For the avoidance of doubt, can I make it abundantly clear that contrary to recent press coverage, neither I nor the Grand Lodge of Scotland has ever banned the use of Zoom or any similar platform. Indeed, we have been promoting its use in order that Lodge members can meet with each other, discuss any urgent business and most importantly, give those Brethren living on their own some much needed company with those whom they know.  In the past week alone, I have been privileged to attend various Zoom meetings every single day. What Grand Committee agreed was that Enquiry Committees could not use electronic interviews and that decision was endorsed by Grand Lodge at the Regular Communication of Grand Lodge on Thursday 31st October 2019. If any Brother has any queries about articles that appear in the weekly updates, please feel free to contact me and I’ll happily discuss them with you personally.

You will all be aware of the controversy surrounding Care Homes at the present time. I would like to put on record through the weekly update, and I’m sure you will all join with me in recording a tremendous vote of thanks to Mrs Dawn Oliff and the Managers of our two Homes, Wilma and Gillian and all members of staff at the Homes for the outstanding level of care, attention and dedication they have given to all our Residents during the lockdown. It has been a very difficult time but each and every member of staff has displayed tremendous commitment and devotion to duty. Thank you.

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

Brethren

Despite the lockdown, the past week has been a busy one behind the scenes. The Information and Communications Committee issued new guidelines for the use of Zoom and similar platforms. Information has been circulated by the Benevolence and Care Committee regarding the Covid-19 Challenge Appeal and on Wednesday I chaired the annual Tripartite Meeting via Zoom.

The Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Supports Facebook page continues to grow. Between the page and the Covid-19 Challenge Appeal, we are beginning to see a picture emerging that shows magnificent support being given to local communities by Scottish Freemasons around the world. My sincere thanks to all for your commitment, consideration and care toward those who are struggling at this time.

Members                                                            1778

Individual Posts                                                 133

Members who have posted                             93

Lodges Mentioned in posts                               92

Provinces represented                                       26

Districts/Superintendence’s etc.                       6

Total Identifiable Monetary                              £112,527

The success of this group would not have been possible without the efforts of those Brethren who contributed in developing the group and continue to promote and manage its membership and content.

Our thanks are extended to the team which is made up of the following Brethren:

Administrators: Bro. Jim Ellis PGM Linlithgowshire, Bro. Dougie Fergie PGM East Lothian

Moderators: Bro. Alex Craib PM Old Inverness Kilwinning St John’s No. 6, Bro. David Campbell Treasurer, the Lodge of Dunbar Castle No. 75, Bro. Kevin Taggart PM Lodge Buchan St. John No. 636

and Findlay Ross PM Lodge Wemyss No.777.

The direct link is- https://www.facebook.com/groups/Scottish.Constitution.Freemasonry.Supports/

Over the past number of weeks, I have received many enquiries from home and abroad regarding several issues. I hope that the following will clarify matters for everyone.

Can we use Zoom to nominate and elect Office-bearers?

The answer is no. The main reason is that not all members can communicate through technology. The nomination and election of Office-bearers is an important event in the life of any Lodge and will be done, in open Lodge, as and when we can get back. If necessary, I will look favourably on granting dispensation to hold the nomination and election of Office-bearers on the same day as the Installation.

If our National Government allow meetings can we go ahead, or do we need permission from Grand Lodge?

At the outset of Covid-19, Grand Lodge suspended all Masonic activity until further notice – we did not use a specific date. If your national Government allows meetings to take place, please start to do so provided you remain within the Government guidelines

Can we ballot for candidates who have gone through the Enquiry Committee on the night of their Initiation?

If there are extenuating circumstances, I would consider dispensation, but I’d much prefer if, when we do get back, that all Lodges consider starting with a business meeting rather than the conferring of degrees. This will allow a catch up with all the issues that will have accumulated. Any Ballots can therefore be carried out at such a Regular meeting.

Will Grand Lodge give all Lodges a year without paying annual fees?

The answer is no. First, that would require a motion to be placed in front of Grand Lodge and it is becoming less likely that there will be a meeting of Grand lodge this year. We would ask that the Brethren continue to pay their Test Fees as normal. Each Lodge pays an annual Capitation Fee of £33 per member to Grand Lodge. In the majority of Lodges but not all, that amount is included in the annual Test Fee. It is important therefore that Brethren continue to pay their Test Fee in order that the Lodge receives its portion and that Provincial or District Lodges receive their portion. We do acknowledge and appreciate that there may be individual Brethren who, as a result of Covid-19 are experiencing extreme hardship. It is expected that the Lodge, the Province or District and Grand Lodge would all pull together to assist Brethren and their families who experience such hardship but for the vast majority we would ask that they support their Lodge in particular, Freemasonry in general by paying their annual dues.

Can we interview Candidates using Zoom or similar?

The answer is no. It is imperative that candidates are able to meet, in person, with the Enquiry Committee. Indeed, almost a year ago the Administration Committee agreed that Enquiry Committees could not use electronic interviews and that decision was endorsed by Grand Lodge at the regular Communication of Grand Lodge on Thursday 31st October 2019.

I hope that will help with your decision making.  I will include other questions in future Updates.

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