The new law for England (but not Wales) sets out four Steps for the relaxation of restrictions. Once the law permits Masonic meetings again, they may take place but nobody should attend until they feel comfortable doing so. Steps 1 and 2 No Masonic Meetings can take place. Step 3 – no earlier than May 17th Masonic meetings of up to 6 people are permitted.
If a Masonic Centre has conducted a risk assessment, taken into account government guidance and taken all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid then it may host Covid-Secure Masonic meetings of more than 6 people, up to the lower of: a. the maximum capacity identified in the risk assessment; or b. 30 attendees. Please see Regulation 6 of statutory instrument 2021/364 for more details.
Dining is restricted to groups of up to 6 people.
You are advised to contact the Management group of your Masonic Hall or meeting place to see what restrictions they may have in place and what measures you may have to follow.
Lodges and Chapters are reminded that all dates in the Governments road map to recovery are dependent on four tests being met: vaccination targets, vaccine reducing hospitalisation and deaths, the pressure on the NHS and the number of different variants.
As we now have a date we can all work towards, some Lodges and Chapters will want to resume their meetings.
If you need to apply for a dispensation to have an Emergency Meeting (Craft) or any other reason please use the forms available on the website.
If the request is Covid related, then there will be no charge.
This information was extracted from the 29th March issue of First Rising which was accompanied by the following statements: The guidance in this area changes regularly but this note reflects our current understanding. When detailed guidance is published by the government, UGLE will issue further information. The timings of the Steps may change for some or all parts of England. This note is intended to help share knowledge and guidance but is not legal advice.
This set of Questions & Answers (Q&A’s) are the result of resumption queries from Craft, Royal Arch, Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Secretaries, Scribes and members. The answers are intended to give the best possible information and advice to Lodges and Chapters and may therefore be amended from time to time as further information becomes available.
Wherever possible the answer will address all Lodges and Chapters, however, as we operate under different Regulations and Constitutions it is inevitable that some guidance may vary. Where this is the case, the answer will be divided into relevant subsections and be denoted as either ‘Craft’, ‘Royal Arch’ or ‘Mark’, (please also note that where an answer applies to ‘Mark’ it encompasses all Orders administered by Mark Masons Hall). Yellow highlights denote amendments/additions to the previous published edition.
These Q&A’s will be added to and updated as new queries arise. All such queries should be directed to your Provincial Grand Secretary at their usual e-mail address. For these Q&A's, the term 'Lodge' refers to Craft, Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges. Rose Croix are taking a separate approach to resumption and information and guidance should be sought from your Chapter or District Recorder.
Immediate action to maintain regularity prior to a meeting.
Q1. HOWDOESALODGE/CHAPTER‘DECIDE’THATITISWILLINGTOMEET? A1.Craft/Royal Arch - Lodges/Chapters are governed by the requirement to fulfil the terms of their Warrant. The lifting of the Suspension means that they are again required to do so. It is not therefore the choice of the Lodge/Chapter about whether to meet in accordance with their Warrant and By laws and they must therefore make reasonable attempts to do so and therefore remain ‘regular’. It is, however, the personal choice of every member whether they wish to attend any meeting. Mark – Initial guidance states that “the ending of the General Suspension will provide all our Units with the option to begin meeting again when the conditions are right for them”. Further guidance has however indicated that in relation to administrative functions, Summons should be issued for all scheduled meetings as per Lodge By laws, irrespective of whether they may practically be able to meet or not; guidance for which is set out below. It is, however, the personal choice of every member whether they wish to attend any meeting.
Q2. DOES THE LIFTING OF THE SUSPENSION MEAN THAT THE LODGE IS ‘REQUIRED’ TO ‘ATTEMPT’ TO MEET? A2.Yes. Lodges/Chapters are necessarily required to make all reasonable attempts to carry out their usual tasks for their regular management. This includes issuing Summons with the intent to hold meetings. However, it is recognised that Lodges/Chapters may not practically be able to meet for a number of reasons. These scenarios are addressed in various questions below.
For an attempt to be reasonable it must be practical, sensible and logical based on all the known factors available at the time. To do nothing or to ‘assume’ would not therefore be reasonable.
It is for individual Lodges/Chapters to determine if the steps they have taken are reasonable.
E.g., if their usual meeting place was not yet open but in the course of discussions with member the Lodge/Chapter ascertained that its members would not be willing to meet elsewhere, that would in all likelihood be regarded as a common sense and therefore reasonable attempt to organise a meeting, (in this case precluding the need to look for an alternative venue before following a similar course of action as set out in Q10).
In summary, Lodges/Chapters are required to ‘call’ meetings, (by issuing a Summons), but are not necessarily required to ‘hold’ meetings if circumstances prevent them.
Q3. ARE WE AS LODGES AND CHAPTERS NOW REQUIRED TO ISSUE SUMMONS’ FOR MEETINGS SCHEDULED AFTER 17TH MAY 2021? A3. Yes. See specific practical guidance below about how to comply with this requirement under different scenarios.
Q4. ARE WE ABLE TO ISSUE A SUMMONS FOR A MEETING SCHEDULED SHORTLY AFTER MASONIC BUSINESS IS RESUMED? A4.Yes, you must issue it as soon as you have sufficient details to enable you to do so. See Qs 5, 6, 7 & 10 below for specific guidance.
Q5. HOW MUCH NOTICE NEEDS TO BE GIVEN WHEN ISSUING A LODGE SUMMONS? A5.Craft/Royal Arch – There is no set or minimum period prescribed for this in the BoC, but the general advice is that Summons should be sent out at least 14 days before a meeting. However, this may be relaxed for the circumstances described above where, initially, Lodges may be scheduled to meet less than 14 days after the lifting of the Suspension or where a delay occurs if a Lodge has to secure an alternative meeting place. Mark – The Regulations states that Summons’ must be issued ‘7 clear days’ before a meeting, (134i). This period may be longer if so required by individual Lodge By laws. However, under the exceptional circumstances of the Suspension, for a limited period of 7 days immediately following the 17th July 2020, a Lodge may issue a Summons with less notice than stipulated.
Q6. WE HAVE A SCHEDULED REGULAR MEETING LESS THAN 2 WEEKS FOLLOWING THE 17TH MAY, BUT OUR HALL HAS STATED IT WILL NOT BE OPEN. DO WE STILL NEED TO ISSUE A SUMMONS?
A6.Yes. If practical, the Lodge/Chapter should make a reasonable attempt to find another appropriate venue, (for which a Dispensation will be required). However, the Summons cannot be issued until the alternative venue has been secured and the dispensation has been granted, unless no alternative venue can be found, (see Q10 below).
Finding a safe place to meet.
Q8. AS A LODGE/CHAPTER, HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN OUR USUAL MEETING PLACE/HALL IS SAFE TO RESUME MEETINGS? A8.The Lodge/Chapter should contact the Management of their usual meeting place, who will advise them accordingly. If the hall is available for meetings, Lodges/Chapters should ask the hall Management for evidence of the steps they have taken to ensure their premises are safe for meetings. They must also ask the hall Management what additional instructions might be required to be given to members prior to their arrival and what they might expect when they arrive, (e.g., are there reduce parking spaces, will they be asked to be temperature tested, will they be required to wash their hands immediately they arrive, are areas temporarily off limits, will they be asked to bring a face covering, etc.). A simple list of relevant adjustments and requirement for those attending will be more useful than a copy of, e.g., the hall Covid-secure Risk Assessment. Any limitation on numbers attending which is below the maximum specified by UGLE should be noted and adhered to.
Q9. OUR USUAL HALL HAS INDICATED THAT IT WILL NOT BE REOPENING, WHAT DOES THE LODGE/CHAPTER NEED TO DO?
A9.The Lodge/Chapter should make reasonable attempts to find another appropriate venue, (for which a Dispensation will be required).
Q10. DO WE NEED TO ISSUE A SUMMONS IF WE CAN'T FIND AN ALTERNATIVE VENUE?
A10. Yes. As above, the Lodge must be seen to fulfil the administrative requirements of their Warrant. As meetings cannot be ‘pre-abandoned’ efforts must be made to attempt to meet before the meeting can be legitimately abandoned. If an alternative venue cannot be found the Summons should state the usual meeting place as set out in the Lodge/Chapter By laws. As soon as it is known that a meeting will not take place, (which may therefore be immediately the Summons is issued, if neither the usual or alternative venues are available), the Lodge/Chapter should take all reasonable and practical steps to inform their members that the venue is not however open and there will therefore be no point making an unnecessary journey. If so informed, members must not therefore attend or enter a hall in the hope that a meeting might be able to proceed. This will potentially and unnecessarily cause the hall avoidable, recording, cleaning and disinfecting tasks and associated costs.
NB. Only at the date and time set for that meeting, (and not earlier), can the Lodge/Chapter Secretary/Scribe conclude and declare the meeting as formally ‘abandoned’, (see Q16 for a suitable Minute entry).
Q11. OUR USUAL HALL HAS INDICATED THAT IT WILL NOT BE OPEN UNTIL AFTER OUR NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING. IF ONE CAN BE IDENTIFIED AND IS AVAILABLE, CAN WE MEET AT ANOTHER VENUE?
A11.Yes, but a Dispensation will be required to allow the change of venue and the Lodge/Chapter must satisfy themselves that the alternative venue complies with the requirements outlined in Q8 above.
Q12. OUR WARRANT IS NOT ACCESSIBLE FROM OUR USUAL HALL, BUT WE HAVE FOUND ANOTHER VENUE FOR OUR NEXT MEETING, CAN WE MEET IN THE ABSENCE OF OUR WARRANT?
A12.No. Warrants are the property of each Lodge/Chapter and no hall Management can therefore reasonably refuse to provide it to the Lodge/Chapter when so requested. If a Lodge/Chapter is able to retrieve their Warrant, they should. However, many Warrants are contained in large, elaborate or heavy frames that are often affixed to Temple walls, (rather than just being ‘hung’), and may themselves be fragile items and it is therefore appreciated that it may not be either practical or wise to retrieve or move them. Under these circumstances;
Craft – A temporary Warrant of Confirmation, in the form of a letter of authority, should immediately be sought from the Grand Secretary, via the Provincial Grand Secretary. (And see also Rules 101 and 103.)
Royal Arch - A temporary Charter of Confirmation, in the form of a letter of authority, should immediately be sought from the Grand Scribe E, via the Provincial Grand Scribe E. (Regulation 47.)
Mark - a Dispensation to meet when the Warrant is not present may be issued. Dispensations are not however automatic and are at the discretion of the Prov.G.M. based on the circumstances of each request.
Q13. DO WE NEED THE ACTUAL ORIGINAL WARRANT TO MEET OR CAN A COPY/PHOTOGRAPH BE SUBSTITUTED?
A13. The original must be present. A substitute of whatever form cannot be used to replace it. However, see Q12 above for circumstances where a Dispensation or A temporary Warrant of Confirmation, in the form of a letter of authority may be applied for.
Q14. IF THERE ARE TWO LODGES MEETING IN THE BUILDING ON THE SAME EVENING, IS IT 30 IN TOTAL, OR 30 MAXIMUM TO EACH MEETING?
A14. it is the remit and legal responsibility of hall Managements to ensure they comply with Government regulations and limits.
Q15. HAVING BEEN ASSURED BY OUR HALL THAT IT HAS MADE ITSELF COVID-SECURE, WHAT DO WE DO IF WE ARRIVE AT A HALL FOR A MEETING AND IT APPEARS THAT NO OR INSUFFICIENT PROVISIONS HAVE BEEN OR ARE BEING MADE TO COMPLY WITH COVID REGULATIONS?
A15. Members should not under any circumstances do anything they feel may compromise their personal safety. If as a result, insufficient members are willing to enter the building or specific room/meeting room to form the necessary quorum, the meeting can be abandoned. After any such incident the Lodge/Chapter are strongly advised to communicate their concerns and experience in writing to the relevant hall Management.
Lodges/Chapters should also notify Province when reporting and recording the abandonment of their meeting.
Q16. IF A MEETING IS ABANDONED, WHAT SHOULD BE RECORDED IN THE LODGE/CHAPTER MINUTE BOOK?
A16. The following or similar entry should be made in the Lodge/Chapter Minute Book; “The regular meeting of the Lodge on …..day …. Month, 2021 was duly called in accordance with the attached Summons. Owing to the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic the required number of Brethren/Companions to open the Lodge/Chapter could not be assembled and/or the Lodge/Chapter Premises not being available, the meeting was abandoned”
Who is able to attend?
Q17. HOW MANY WILL BE ABLE TO ATTEND OUR NEXT MEETING?
A17. The Covid-secure capacity of your usual, (or alternative), meeting place will be communicated to you by the relevant hall Management. If this capacity is less that your membership, then the Lodge/Chapter may be required to select those who can attend.
Q18. HOW DO WE SELECT WHO SHOULD AND WHO SHOULDN'T ATTEND OUR MEETINGS?
A18. There is no set methodology for this and Lodges/Chapters may wish to discuss amongst themselves how they might best achieve the most equitable way of doing in relation to their particular circumstances. However you should not rely on assumptions about whether any particular member wishes to decline attendance (see Q20 below).
Q19. ARE ANY ROLE-SPECIFIC OFFICERS REQUIRED TO ATTEND MEETING IN PREFERENCE TO OTHER OFFICERS OR ORDINARY MEMBERS? A19. The WM/MEZ/Cmdr, Wardens and co-Principals would seem to be logical and preferred attendees, if they are able to attend. Apart from set minimum numbers of attendees to form a quorum, there are no other officers that hold precedence over others under these circumstances. However, all necessary Lodge functions and operations must still be covered, e.g., if the Lodge/Chapter Secretary/Scribe is not selected to attend, their duties must be covered by another.
Q20. DUE TO THEIR VULNERABILITY SHOULD WE DISCOUNT THOSE 70 AND OVER AND OTHERS WITH DECLARED MEDICAL CONDITIONS FROM BEING SELECTED TO ATTEND MEETINGS?
A20.No. Whilst this might appear to be a logical position to adopt, to do so would in all likelihood constitute a breach of Age Discrimination legislation. Such brethren must therefore be included in equitable selection procedures, after which, if they indicate they will not attend, it is acceptable to seek alternates.
Q21. ARE WE REQUIRED TO ADVISE THOSE AGED 70 AND OVER OR THOSE WITH DECLARED MEDICAL CONDITIONS ABOUT THEIR ATTENDANCE?
A21. No. Members who find themselves categorised in these groups will be advised directly by Government and their medical practitioners about their personal vulnerability and any steps they are advised to take to protect themselves. Any decisions they subsequently take are ultimately their own personal choice and responsibility. UGLE/SGC and GLMMM have all stated that “nobody should feel coerced into attending meetings - irrespective of their office” and that “those who are unwell or have recently been unwell and those who are under advice to self-isolate must not attend meetings.”
Q22. WHAT HAPPENS IF BRETHREN NOT SELECTED TO ATTEND TURN UP AND THERE ARE THEREFORE MORE THAN THE PERMITTED MAXIMUM IN ATTENDANCE?
A22.Having been made aware of the need for limits and the Lodge/Chapter selection process and outcome for that meeting, such an occurrence is likely to be rare. However, if an individual not selected does attend, they should be reminded of the need for limits and politely asked to withdraw. If they refuse to, another member or members should withdraw. If no-one is willing to withdraw and the number present exceeds the permitted maximum the meeting should be abandoned and the full circumstances must be reported to the Province where advice can be sought about a suitable Minute entry and other related matters, e.g., whether disciplinary issues require to be addressed.
Q23. AS A LODGE/CHAPTER WE HAVE DECIDED TO RESUME AND OUR HALL IS COVID-SECURE. HOWEVER, HAVING ISSUED A SUMMONS AS REQUIRED, THE SECRETARY HAS RECEIVED SO MANY APOLOGIES THAT IT IS CLEAR THAT NOT ENOUGH BRETHREN/COMPANIONS WILL ATTEND TO FORM THE MINIMUM NECESSARY QUORUM. WHAT DOES THE LODGE SECRETARY/SCRIBE NEED TO DO?
A23.If once a Summons has been issued it becomes clear to the Secretary/Scribe that the number of apologies is such that a quorum will be unattainable, there are two practical steps that must be taken immediately;
The Secretary/Scribe must inform all Lodge/Chapter members that the meeting will not be quorate and that there will therefore be no point in Brethren/Companions making an unnecessary journey.
The Secretary/Scribe must inform the meeting place that the meeting will not go ahead.
However, as meetings cannot be ‘pre-abandoned’, the requirements set out in Q10 above must be adhered to. See also Q16 for a suitable Minute entry.
Q24. CAN A LODGE/CHAPTER ABANDON A MEETING IN ADVANCE?
A24. No. At present the circumstances that address where the abandonment of a meeting may be appropriate are dealt with in Qs 7, 10, 15, 16 & 23 above.
Q25. IF WE ABANDON A MEETING FOR WHATEVER REASON, DO WE HAVE TO PRODUCE A SUMMONS?
A25. On the basis that a meeting cannot be ‘pre-abandoned’ or abandoned ‘in advance’, (see Q24), a Summons must first be issued for any and all meetings required by the Lodge/Chapter By laws, (see Qs 3 to 7 & 10 above).
Q26. IS VISITING PERMITTED AT THE PRESENT TIME?
A26. From May 17th to June 21st, and perhaps beyond, there may be some restrictions on the number of people who can attend a Lodge or Chapter meeting and priority should be given to Lodge members.
Until such time as numbers restrictions are removed we would strongly advise that any Brother/Companion wishing to visit a Lodge or Chapter should first check with the Lodge Secretary/Scribe E as whether this is possible and should comply with the wishes expressed on behalf of the Lodge or Chapter.
Lodges and Chapters have the right to refuse entry to visitors if their attendance would prevent any subscribing or Honorary Member from attending due to restrictions on numbers.
Q27. WILL PROVINCIAL OFFICERS ACTING IN THEIR VARIOUS CAPACITIES BE ATTENDING LODGE/CHAPTER MEETINGS/INSTALLATIONS? A27. Not until September at the earliest. The restriction on Provincial support for events would not preclude Lodge Liaison Officers attending meetings of Lodges to which they have been assigned once restrictions on Lodges are lifted and Lodges decide to meet. There would however be no expectation of attendance in the short term and no Liaison Officer should feel obligated to attend if they have concerns for their wellbeing.
Q28. WITH A VIEW TO AVOIDING UNNECESSARY ‘TOUCH-POINTS’ AND TO LIMIT THE POTENTIAL FOR CROSS CONTAMINATION, WHAT EQUIPMENT IS A LODGE/CHAPTER REQUIRED TO USE DURING A MEETING AND WHAT CAN BE OMITTED AT THE PRESENT TIME?
A28. A list has been drawn up of those items that are essential to be present or used during meetings and those that are not. The list includes advice about each item where appropriate. This is available at the following link ‘CLICK HERE’.
Q29. WILL A LODGE/CHAPTER BE ABLE TO HAVE A FESTIVE BOARD FOLLOWING A MEETING?
A29. Yes but at the time of writing this it is limited to groups of 6. There may be further restrictions imposed by the meeting place.
What is able to take place during a meeting?
Q30. WHAT DO WE DO IF A BROTHER/COMPANION WISHES TO WEAR RUBBER GLOVES?
A30. Specific advice from UGLE/MMH states; “Disposable/medical gloves should not be worn. They are far more likely to spread the virus (if any is present) unless used correctly as they are in medical circumstances by trained professionals. Regular handwashing and avoiding touching your face are far more effective”.
Q31. IF A HALL OR MEETING PLACE DECIDE THAT FACE COVERINGS SHOULD BE WORN BY ALL, CAN THAT BE ENFORCED?
A31. Face Coverings are permitted to be worn by members during meetings.
In addition, Face Coverings must be worn in places and at times stipulated by prevailing Government advice.
If the wearing of Face Coverings is stipulated as a condition set by a hall or meeting place as a result of their Covid-secure Risk Assessment, then it must be complied with as a condition of the hire and safe use of their facility.
Q32. DO WE HAVE TO COMPLY WITH THE RITUAL CHANGES?
A32. If you wish to carry out ceremonies, then the various advice from UGLE, SGC and MMH must be followed.
However, Lodges and Chapters may of course wish to reflect and consider the primary function of Ritual and Ceremony and the key impacts and lessons they are designed to have on candidates and participants. Lodges/Chapters may therefore resolve to wait until restrictions on Ritual have been sufficiently relaxed before scheduling their ceremonies.
Should Lodges/Chapters opt to take this course of action, they should of course consider and factor in the wishes and circumstances of candidates.
Q33. CAN I VISIT OTHER LODGES/CHAPTERS OR OTHER ORDERS?
A33.See Q26 above. This is an area where the ‘judicious use of common sense’ must be considered and applied.
Q34. WILL IT BE NECESSARY TO HAVE A COVID-19 TEST EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER ATTENDANCE AT A MASONIC MEETING?
A34. At the present time there is no requirement for anyone to be tested before they resume their attendance at Masonic meetings but it may form part of the conditions of use for the meeting place.
Q35. IF WE HAVE TO ABANDON A MEETING BECAUSE THE HALL IS NOT OPEN OR WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH BRETHREN ATTENDING, DOES THAT EFFECT CONTINUITY FOR JUBILEE ANNIVERSARIES, E.G., BI-CENTENARY, SESQUICENTENARIES, (FOR MMH ADMINISTERED ORDERS), OR CENTENARIES?
A35.No. If carried out under the correct procedures and for legitimate reasons, Lodge/Chapter/Unit meetings may be abandoned within the Constitutions and Regulations. Any such abandoned meetings will not therefore affect the continuity of a Lodge, Chapter or Unit.
Q36. WHAT CAN WE DO AND HOW CAN WE DO IT AND WHAT EQUIPMENT/REGALIA CAN WE USE
A.36 There are 2 documents that explain this. The first is "Covid Adaptations" and be downloaded HERE and the second details items essential for a meeting in Craft and Royal Arch and can be downloaded HERE.
Q37. WHAT DOES A LODGE DO IF THE CURRENT MASTER/MEZ/CMDR DOES NOT WANT TO REMAIN IN THE CHAIR FOR ANOTHER YEAR?
A37.Craft - If, following the application of Rule 108 the WM does not want to remain in the chair the following applies. The Master Elect in his obligation undertakes to fulfil his duties as Master “until the next regular period of election within this Lodge AND until a successor shall have been duly elected and installed in my stead”. The only way that a Master can therefore vacate the chair before his Mastership runs out is by resigning from the Lodge. In the present circumstances it is highly undesirable that he should take such a drastic step (particularly when the duties are less likely to be onerous in the short term), and it is to be hoped that the Past Masters will take most of the burden of Mastership off his shoulders. The Master may invite any duly qualified Brother to occupy the Chair and carry out the work of the Lodge (and if he fails to do so, Rule 119 lays down who is to preside in the Lodge). The Emergency Measures may apply;
The Worshipful Master going into his Third year (Craft Only) In very many cases Lodges will either not have been able to change their Master during the period since 1 March 2020, or will have chosen not to do so. To address a general concern that stagnation may result if Lodges are forced to continue for a third year with the same Master, these measures have been introduced. What this means in practice… If your installation is before 1st March 2021 and you are unable to meet, then these measures do not apply and the current guidance still applies.
If your Installation date it is after 1st March and you are still unable to meet and the Master is going into his second year as WM then the current guidance still applies.
If it is after 1st March and you are still unable to meet and the Master is going into his third year then if he and the Lodge wish to do that then simply continue and no dispensation is required but If he or the Lodge wish to elect and Install a new Master (after meetings have resumed but your regular Installation date has passed), the Provincial Grand Master will (up to 31st December 2021) grant the Lodge a dispensation, which shall be free of charge, to elect and install a new Master at the same regular meeting or at an emergency meeting.
N.B. No matter what the date, the Master and Wardens elected at that meeting shall at the next regular Installation meeting be deemed to have served the equivalent of a full masonic year in the office
Royal Arch – The Regulations for Royal Arch differ here and the above situation should not arise. Election of Principals/Installation: The Royal Arch regulations are very forgiving and the answer is not as complex as you might encounter in Craft. An election was held before suspension, but installation did not take place: Regulation 48 provides that any Principal not installed on the regular date shall be installed at the next Convocation of the Chapter at which he may be present. The next Convocation could be an emergency convocation (for which no dispensation is required provided that it is held at the Chapter’s regular place of meeting – Regulation 59). Should you wish to meet at another venue then you must apply for the usual dispensation. If you have missed a full year there is no need to re-elect the Principals as the first meeting after the suspension is lifted is the ‘next convocation of the Chapter’ for the purposes of Regulation 48. An election could not take place because of suspension: In simple terms the Principals can be elected and installed at the next regular meeting (but notice of the election and installation must be given on the summons) [For the technically minded the Royal Arch Regulations make no provision for failure to elect Principals and therefore under Regulation 73 the Book of Constitutions applies. Rule 106 provides that the situation is dealt with in the same way as if the Master Elect had died etc., which in turn refers you back to Regulation 54, which allows Principals to be elected (of which notice must be given on the summons); and they can be installed forthwith.] Mark – All Mark and RAM Lodges have been advised to roll-forward. If however there are particular or specific reasons or circumstances where this is neither possible or desirable, this may be able to be accommodated as an exception and the Lodge should contact the Provincial Secretary for advice.
Q38. WHAT DOES A LODGE DO IF THE CURRENT MASTER, IS ADAMANT AND DOES RESIGN FROM THE LODGE?
A38.Craft - The Lodge cannot elect another Brother as Master and Rule 119 applies. The Lodge will be summoned by the authority of the Senior Warden until the next Installation of Master. (It is a common misconception that if the Master dies etc. the IPM resumes the Chair as Master. He does not.) Once again, Rule 119 lays down who is to preside in the Lodge. Royal Arch/Mark– This situation should not arise as provisions allow for a MEZ/Master/Cmdr to be succeeded as and if necessary.
Q39. THE LODGE WISHES TO RE-ELECT THE CURRENT MASTER/MEZ/CMDR, BUT HE IS CURRENTLY ALSO THE MASTER/MEZ/CMDR OF ANOTHER LODGE; IS A DISPENSATION REQUIRED TO ENABLE HIM TO SERVE FOR A SECOND YEAR?
A39.A dispensation from the appropriate Grand Body is required in order to install a Brother/Companion to serve simultaneously as Master/MEZ/Cmdr of a second Lodge/Chapter. Such a dispensation will have been granted previously, and no further dispensation will be required.
Q40. WHAT IS THE QUORUM FOR A VALID LODGE MEETING?
A40. Craft - Five (excluding the Tyler and any candidate), of whom one must be an Installed Master, and two must be members of the Lodge concerned; it is not a requirement that the Installed Master be a member of the Lodge.
Royal Arch - Five (excluding the Janitor), of whom two must be members of the Chapter, and three must be qualified to occupy the respective Principals’ chairs, though it is not a requirement that any of the latter be members of the Chapter concerned. In order, however, for the ceremony of Exaltation to be worked the minimum number is seven (excluding the Janitor and any candidate).
Mark – Three (excluding the Tyler/Warder and any candidate), of whom one must be an Installed Master/Cmdr. No business can be conducted unless three members of that Lodge are present, (Rule 125).
Q41. WHAT IS THE QUORUM REQUIRED TO CONSTITUTE A BOARD OF INSTALLED MASTERS/PRINCIPALS/COMMANDERS?
A41. Craft - Three Installed Masters (of whom the Tyler may be one – but if so, a Master Mason must act temporarily as Tyler).
Royal Arch - Three Installed Principals, but no Conclave of Installed First or Second Principals may be opened unless there are at least two such Principals present (excluding the particular Principal Elect). If necessary the Janitor (if qualified) may act as one of the Installed First or Second Principals – but if so, another Companion must act temporarily as Janitor.
Mark - Three (excluding the Tyler/Warder) of whom two must be Installed Masters/Cmdrs. No business can be conducted unless three members of that Lodge are present, (Rule 125).
Q42. WHAT HAPPENS IF A HALL COULD NOT REOPEN IMMEDIATELY AND SO MEETINGS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELD HAD TO BE ABANDONED; IS THERE A DUTY TO HOLD THE MEETING THAT COULD NOT PROCEED AT SOME OTHER TIME?
A42. Craft - An abandoned meeting cannot (by definition) be rescheduled, but necessary business can be transacted at an emergency meeting (provided it is not business that may only be done at a regular meeting) or at the next regular meeting. If it was an Installation meeting that had to be abandoned, and the Master could not be installed within five weeks, the outgoing Master will continue in office as in Q37 above.
Royal Arch - An abandoned convocation cannot (by definition) be rescheduled, but necessary business can be transacted at an emergency convocation (provided it is not business that may only be done at a regular convocation) or at the next regular convocation. If it was the Installation convocation that had to be abandoned, see Q37 above.
Mark - An abandoned meeting cannot (by definition) be rescheduled, but necessary business can be transacted at an emergency meeting, (provided it is not business that may only be done at a regular meeting), or at the next regular meeting. If the meeting was for the election or installation of a Master/Cmdr, a special report must be made to the Provincial Grand Master and his direction taken as to the course of action to be followed.
Q43. THE LODGE/CHAPTER REACHES ITS CENTENARY IN THREE MONTHS’ TIME, BUT MANY OF THE MEMBERS ARE SHOWING A RELUCTANCE TO ATTEND IN THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES; CAN THE CELEBRATION BE POSTPONED?
A43. There is no rule that requires a Centenary or any other Jubilee event to be celebrated on or near to the anniversary itself, and therefore the celebration can be postponed until the situation improves.
Q44. HOW SHOULD BALLOTS BE HELD?
A44.In most circumstances where Ballots are indicated, they are ‘required’ to be used and cannot be substituted by a show of hands. No doubt Lodges/Chapters will find their own solutions. One way would be to have the balls in a small dish of diluted washing up liquid, so that they are submerged. That will stop any cross contamination. Whatever method is devised, members must ensure that any balls or other tokens used are handled correctly to prevent contamination and are cleaned appropriately both before and after use. Great care will need to be exercised in the handling of the ballot box.
Q45. HOW SHOULD A LODGE BE CLOSED IN FULL IN THE THIRD DEGREE IF THE LODGE WANTS TO CLOSE IN FULL?
A45. Craft - A full closing should be avoided for the time being. Royal Arch/ Mark – Not directly applicable. However, any and all opening or closing ceremonial that requires close or actual contact should be avoided for the time being.
Q46. CAN INDIVIDUAL LODGE/CHAPTER MEMBERS BE PREVENTED FROM DINING TOGETHER AFTER A MEETING?
A46. It would be an individual choice, and there is no Rule by which they can be prevented from doing so, provided that there is no breach of government guidance.
Q47. LATEST GUIDANCE STATES THERE SHOULD BE NO SINGING AT MEETINGS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. WHY IS THIS?
A47. The World Health Organisation recently confirmed the results of its research which suggest that coronavirus is transmitted through airborne droplets. Placing a ban on singing for the time being reduces the risk of infection in confined spaces such as Lodge/Chapter Rooms.