These days of isolation from being with our Brothers in person due to COVID-19 seem to test the limits of our principle tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Our lodge Wellness Committees are allowing the lodges to be in better touch with some of our Brothers than they have ever been with the calling efforts being done. The virtual social meetings are permitting some remote Brothers and others that do not travel, to converse with their Brothers for the first time in years for some. The virtual 9 p.m. toasts are allowing Brothers from all around the state, country and world to meet new Brothers and make new friends. I was involved with one at 3 p.m. in the afternoon that was originated in Scotland for their 9 p.m. toast.
Relief efforts are heightened as well due to our Wellness committee calls to the Brethren, ensuring they or our widows are not in need. Lodges are making deliveries or otherwise assisting where needs are uncovered. Lodges are helping their communities and assisting and making donations to food banks.
Our needs for and belief in truth are reinforced by our transparency of motives, working in collaboration with local governments during this crisis, putting our concerns for the welfare of our Brothers first, always understanding that the ultimate truths are found in our trestleboard for life, the sacred writings of the Supreme Architect.
Along with the original order to suspend Masonic meetings and events on March 13, our FAQ clarified that the three principal officers could approve expenditures budgeted by the lodge or deemed normal, since lodges are not meeting. With the recent stay-at-home order of our governor extended to May 26, there may indeed be light at the end of the tunnel for re-engaging the economy of our state and activities of our lodges. Government officials have discussed a phased re-engagement of the economy, and it only makes sense that the same would occur with re-engaging activities for our lodges. To assist now with expenses beyond those budgeted or ordinary, we have amended the suspension order to allow the three principal officers in collaboration with the lodge trustees to approve additional expenditures up to $1000, further to $2500 with additional approval of the District Deputy Grand Master, and above that point with approval of the Grand Master. Further re-engagement of certain Masonic activities is likely on May 26 within protocols defined by Grand Lodge within parameters defined by local government.
I’m looking forward until the time I can see many of you in something other than a virtual fashion. We just completed a virtual Grand Lodge staff meeting with the Zoom app, and seeing everyone in separate windows on the PC was great but nothing like being all together, having meetings, meals and hospitality together. Having a scaled back virtual Annual Communication will also be quite different for all of us. Be diligent to the stay at home directives. Keep up the efforts of your lodge Wellness Committees, which I hope will become a normal activity in the future.
I’m so proud to be a Freemason, especially in trying times like these, and I hope you are too. Be safe, be healthy, and look out for our Brothers and their families.