So, what's the pandemic done to your lodge ?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Bloke, Feb 7, 2021.

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  1. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I guess for many of us, it might be a bit early to answer this question... but we can take stock as at now..

    Firstly, we have have a build up of applicants. One of my friends lodges here has 11 applications. We only get a few per year normally. Both my lodges have at least 4. Many have 4 to 8 - which is a busy year for a lodge here - we meet monthly and try to focus on qualify over quantity. One of my lodges has a joining member, the other has two; both reaffilating after having resigned years ago from other lodges, one interstate. We've had no resignations in either lodge. My mother Lodge reduced our dues from $250 to $70 (to cover the meetings we expected early this year). At the end of the day, we only collect dues to meet expenses and we've had very few (no rent, no catering). 62% of members are paid in full. 2 of them on payment plans. We've got 42 members. (I'm the Sec). That payment rate is slightly below average for this point in the year - I'd expect it to be around 70%. Last year we closed with 81% with zero balances, 2018/19 was 85% paid at 30 June (our year end).

    We've stayed connected via ZOOM on the regular night we meet each month. Attendance has varied. The objectors were not the old, but technophobes and also men who spend all day on ZOOM for work. Our oldest ZOOMIE was 87 years of age, but he is cluey. We had applicants attend. Some were reluctant to do so, but after the first, they embraced it. They have been talk fests with drinks and snacks and meals. The latest one I was at (a Sat) finished at 4 am with the usual hanger-on-ers. Starting at 8 pm, many have gone past midnight. They were more akin to a virtual pub social than a virtual South.

    GL and lodges have facilitated a lot of masonic education via ZOOM. It became the rage. It developed a Virtual Ritual (no signs) but gave the option of using it or not. No lodges I am a member of used it, and no lodges I "visited" via ZOOM used it, but I hear some lodges did employ it. The words were changed slightly and we should it would confuse newer Brothers.

    Restrictions here have eased (we've been in two hard and long lockdowns with only essential workers able to go to work). We have WhatsApp Groups which have been busy. In Dec 2020, restrictions eased and my mother lodge went to the pub, had a BBQ with families and in Jan a working bee to ready out building. GL has encouraged all these things, but banned use of Masonic Buildings until Feb (with working bees allowed in Jan).

    Feb has seen a return to meetings at the option of the lodges. Some have come back, some have not. On Sat my second Lodge meet, balloted and did business (We cannot work degrees until March, no thirds).

    Members have done a lot of work via phone to keep connected. Members have dropped food into the needy/old/inform. We have distributed $6K to feed the needy during the Pandemic.

    One of the best things we did, was at our second virtual meeting in April, passed a motion that decisions in ZOOM meetings would bind the lodge if properly summoned. That has allowed us to keep operating.

    I am also in Chapter. They did a roll call every second month via email with reply all. (We meet every Second Month). In August and Oct we ran ZOOM meetings. Issue with my Chapter is it is full of older men, and some say they will not come back until after a vaccine.

    How about your Craft Lodge or Other Order ?
     
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  2. TheThumbPuppy

    TheThumbPuppy Registered User

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    Vaccinations started a month ago, but at this rate we won't be done before next year. Hopefully they'll pick up the pace. I hear informally from some brothers that they will not come back to lodge until vaccinations are fully done.

    The lodge is in a beautiful old building, but as is often the case with old buildings, ventilation was not properly done. In my knowledge no measure has been taken to improve that, probably because it would be a rather expensive project to do properly.

    Personally I get a skin rash every time zoom is mentioned. Probably it's from sitting at too many zoom meetings every week. Ok, we don't have a choice, but it's hardly the same as meeting in person. I'm sure some are checking their emails or facebook feed during a zoom meeting.

    Measures have only slightly eased up in the last week. However lodges are still closed, and so are cafés and restaurants. Hotels are empty and travel restrictions are still in place (although I hear that they are not being enforced properly).

    I wonder what will happen after the pandemic. There will probably be a long period where it's over, but it's not over yet. And I bet that people won't just jump back to their pre-pandemic lifestyle.
     
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  3. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    Cleaning cost have gone down dramatically. And the officers will do another year in their chair .
     
  4. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    My GL has imposed severe covid constraints and when lodges are permitted to reopen there will be no festive boards. Most brethren will not bother to attend.

    My lodge was in terminal decline a year ago. Now it has already ceased and only lacks a scheduled meeting to prove that.

    Still there are some valuable lodge properties of which the GL is the part or full owner. A list of sale proposals has been circulated.
     
  5. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    The pandemic has provided a good opportunity for Lodges to do an honest self evaluation of their health. What does it cost to keep a building operational for extended periods of time when you aren't allowed to use it? Donwe honestly need a building of our own? Are we looking for ways to make the best use of modern technology while holding true to the traditions that are important to us?

    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
     
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  6. David612

    David612 Registered User

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    It was exactly one year between meetings for my lodge, TBH the master was looking to step away at the end of last year but as there is no suitable successor that cannot happen.
    During the year off I had little communication other than that which I initiated,with any of my brethren- left me quite cold honestly and I’m still trying to decide what, if anything, I can do about that.
    had me thinking that perhaps we just have too many lodges when several of them are unable to form a line of succession that isn’t primarily past masters and the pandemic hasn’t helped this as we have had several brethren not be able to return.
    We have however initiated 4 new, young men since our return and I’m doing what I can to keep in contact with them through a WhatsApp group and just generally reach ing out to help them with their work.
    I’ve also taken on delivering the first tracing board for next month which is quite a lengthy charge in my jurisdiction, roughly 15-20 min.
     
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  7. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Culture change takes time. That was probably true of my lodge 20 years ago, but now, most members I call mentioned they have spoken to another member in the last couple of weeks. A membership list with phone numbers is a good place to start. Asking one member to check on another member is a good strategy, and over time they just do it.. the check on each other. It takes time but keep pushing, but some guys are so busy a monthly call or less if all they want.

    Every success with that Brother. If you only get half way, get someone to do the other half. It's the longest non-compulsory charge, but also one not heard enough - we do it every could of years and never on a Degree night. When we started, there was men who had been Freemasons for decades and never heard it.
     
  8. David612

    David612 Registered User

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    I’m making good progress. Apparently the version we do is longer than most, I’m up to the last couple of paragraphs and practice obsessively
     
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  9. Keith C

    Keith C Registered User

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    It has been frustrating to say the least!

    We have been on again / off again with two seperate shutdowns of Masonic Actvity since last March.

    Initially we were shut down the day after our Stated Meeting for March, so I was able to be in the East for 3 meetings and sadly missed the District Visitation for our Lodge which was to be in April. In fact we had NO District visitations in 2020.

    We were able to pay the bills and pass some spending motions electronically and we had a few Zoom Meetings but they were poorly attended with "just the usual subjects" who regularly talked often with each other anyway, so they fell by the wayside.

    As fate would have it we had coferred the Entered Apprentice Mason degree on 3 new Brethren at a Special Meeting in February and it was planned to Pass these 3 Brethren in April. The shut down prevented that.

    We were permitted to return to meeting in September with a restriction of no more than 25 Members to be present and no meal to be served. We were advised that revisions to the 3 Degree Rituals would be forthcomming to make the ritual "COVID safe." These guidelines were released for the EA nd FC Degree in October and we were able to confer the FC Degree to the 3 EAs that Month. The guidelines for the MM Degree came out in Late October but we did not have sufficient time to learn the new work to confer the Degree on the FCs befor we were shut down again a few days after our Nevember Stated Meeting. We plan to do the MM Degrees for these three in 2 weeks. We also have 2 petitions we just started taking action on that were recieved last March!

    We were permitted to meet agin beginning Feb 1st. We had our February Stated Meeting last Night where we held elections and Installed a Junior Warden all the other Elected Officers remained in place. Our SW is still recouperating from COVID he caught just before Christmas, he was Hospitalized for 2 weeks at a rehab facility for 2 weeks and is now recuperating at home. Attendance was very sparse. We have had several resignations, mostly Brethren who we have to chase down to pay their dues every year and never come to meetings, Sad really, if they just asked we would have remitted their dues. Overall our % of paid dues is actually higher this year than past years and we have a shorter list than last year and last year we just remmitted all the outstanding dues memebrs due to the COVID situation.

    As far a the Appendant Bodies I belong to:

    Chapter, we had meetings in January and February and had our March through September Meeting cancelled due to Covid. The Grand Chapter changed things such that there is no opening or closing ritual, to avoid close contact, the Meeting is just opened and closed by Declaration of the MEHP. We Did meet in October and again were cancelled for November through February. Our next Meeting is Next Thursday where I will Be Installed as King, the new MEHP is the same individual as my SW in Blue Lodge, so he will not be installed until March. Luckily the DDGHP is from our Chapter (And also PM and Treasurer of my Blue Lodge) so he will do the Installation then as our current MEHP will be out of town. We have had a few virtual get togethers but our MEHP is not a fan of virtual meetings so they were just the minimum.

    AASR - Our Spring Reunion was cancelled due to the GL Masonic shut down. We were shceduled to have a scaled down Fall Reunion in November, but several staff of the Valley tested COVID Positive just before so that was cancelled. Throughout the Pandemic the NMJ has beed doing virtual Degrees on and off with their program "Thursday Night at the Rite." This has been AWESOME! There is quite the library of Degrees on video that the NMJ has originally intended for Valleys that do not have the resourses to put on some of the more elaborate Degrees. The NMJ has been providing the opportunity to view the degrees online, accessed through your Membership Log in. Credit is given in the database for the Degrees to be entered into you Passport once your Valley is able to stamp Passports, they have the electronic record and can confirm that you viewed it. Last month I was accepted in to the NMJ Hautes Grades Academy, a program for the Study of the AASR NMJ Degrees and Masonic Scholorship relating to the Priciples of the AASR NMJ. I have 5 More Degrees to review and answer tests on and then I will move on the the Degree related Essay section. I am very excited about this program and am hopeful I will get through it sucessfully and gain more insight into the Degrees, their history, meaning and the Principles of the AASR NMJ.

    AMD - We had one virtual Meeting in December, no ritual can be done, so we still have a Member to install that was scheduled for last March. Fingers crossed that we meet next Month!

    That about sums it up. So far we have no District Visitations planned for this year, still up in the air if we have a Grand Communication in June, we did have one virtually in December. This is a Grand Election year, I am hoping things are open by December for the bid shindig we usually have for Election and Installation in December in Philly, but not too confident that will happen. I feel bad for our GM, he is an amazing guy from my area and I know how dissapointed I am at all of my plans for my "year" in the East being cast aside, the usual activities for a Grand Master make my plans sem very trivial indeed.

    Hang in there Brethren!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  10. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Thanks for sharing. One of the great things we did at our second ZOOM meeting in April 2020 was pass a motion saying ZOOM meeitngs were binding on the lodge if properly summoned. We got back to our first phyisical meeting last night - only to have a snap lockdown declared the next day starting at 11:59 pm.

    Wise words !
    More than not being able to hold meetings, not being able to plan the work in the lodge is especially frustrating, and without our ceremonial, we are just a dining group of moral men with mutual obligations. While we can do Masonic Education, progressing that by opening the door of conferring a degree is an important part - missing that and keen to see it start again..
     
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  11. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    I guess we'll have to go back to the 1770's and do it on the down low. Better if you know someone with a large garage or basement.
     
  12. Keith C

    Keith C Registered User

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    I suppose some could do that. Myself, I am not prepared to have any meetings in violation of an Edict by the Grand Master.
     
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  13. Number4

    Number4 Registered User

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    We're not even that in my jurisdiction as dining - even our regular get togethers outside of the Lodge in restaurants - was one of the first things to become verboten.

    As it stands now we have no dining on or off Lodge premises, no ritual, no degree work and a strict limit of ten persons who can meet, effectively precluding stated communications unless some urgent business needs to be dealt with by a quorum of officers.
    No petitions are to be read or voted on, so the only activities are officer meetings, limited ritual practice and catechism work for anyone still stuck in the loop. My Lodge has lost five (5) members who were in various stages of the journey to Masonic light and who have decided not to continue.
     
  14. Thomas Stright

    Thomas Stright Premium Member

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    Sounds as if they were never serious about the craft.
     
  15. Baron Camilo of Fulwood

    Baron Camilo of Fulwood Premium Member

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    MMQQII:. Meus Queridos Irmãos [My Beloved Brothers in Portuguese]
    It is amazing the our brothers that were interns and suffering in concentrations Camps held meeting under the most extreme circumstances, and here we are meeting via zoom and etc... I believe that there should be a safer and proper manner of meeting even under this circumstances we find ourselves. A Zoom meeting will never be a proper Masonic Meeting. In my humble opinion. A great articles link below:

    https://www.pglglasgow.org.uk/index.php/about-the-province/79-freemasonry-and-the-holocaust
     
  16. Baron Camilo of Fulwood

    Baron Camilo of Fulwood Premium Member

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    [​IMG] I learned from an A dear B:. That Forget-me-not flower was used as a secret emblem of Freemasonry, so that Freemasons could identify themselves during the persecutions of Masonic lodges in Germany
     
  17. acjohnson53

    acjohnson53 Registered User

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    as the Treasurer of my Lodge, it has been a blessing to say that our Lodge is not in the red. It's giving our Past Masters to get used to stated zoom meeting.
     
  18. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    A charming myth but the WWII history of the forget me not pins has zero evidence to back it up and ample evidence to disprove it. But despite the manufactured significance during the war, it has become today an excellent symbol of charity.

    We should never get used to these distance meetings. Regardless of the debate on their necessity (why have some jurisdictions continued to meet through the pandemic with no issues?) the video meeting are anathema to Freemasonry and our core principals of Brothers coming together in harmony and fellowship. The next step after we get used to meeting electronically is to allow the zooms to continue after this pandemic. which would be a horrible idea.
     
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  19. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    We have gone back to in person meetings, with mandatory precautions in place. No mask, you dont get to stay. Our lodge room can accommodate 50 people sitting. So every 2nd and 3rd chair is blocked so on and so on. In the dinning area 3 people to a table. This has worked so far. And hopefully until this over.
     

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