Freemasonry in the time of pandemic

Things are a’changing…again!

we all need to do everything we can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our country

 

 

‘Note: This article was prepared on 24th September, 2020.

United Grand Lodge of England is encouraging Craft and HRA Chapter meetings to take place under the ‘Rule of 6’.

Grand Lodge of Scotland suspended all Masonic meetings until 1 January 2021.

Grand Lodge of Ireland, unlikely that Lodges will meet (in Ireland) before January 2021.

 

NHS Track and Trace smartphone app launched through out the United Kingdom with a clear message:

Without a vaccine or treatment, we all need to do everything we can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our country.

The new app is an important part of the government’s programme.

By downloading and using the app, you’ll be helping to protect those around you – friends, family, colleagues and local communities.

In the past few months it seemed as if things were slowly returning to some semblance of normality.

However, now we have been hit with what appears to be a ‘second wave’ of not only the virus but also new restrictions.

In the main, lodges were cautiously beginning to make plans for socially distanced meetings and had gone to great lengths to become ‘Covid-19 secure’.

But with the new ‘Rule of Six’ within parts of the UK, and indications that there are to be more serious localised or even national lockdowns, members are beginning to consider, and hotly discuss, the future of the Organisation.

A member wrote in to The Square, saying that one lodge he attends had just received a large number of resignations.

Others are concerned by the ‘Rule of Six’ and how that can be applied fairly.

And of course, one of the pressing concerns is the payment of dues. But it’s not just members who are being hard hit.

As with any downturn in ‘business’, those who are connected are also affected – regalia suppliers, Masonic booksellers, and hospitality companies have all been hit.

Then there is the pressing issue of social isolation for those – the elderly, vulnerable or anyone not wishing to travel unnecessarily – who are unable to get to restricted lodge meetings or social gatherings.

Needless to say, on social media there are conflicted feelings, and as to be expected equally conflicting commentary.

So what’s the solution – or solutions?

Freemasonry has survived 300 plus years and it will survive COVID – we just need to learn to adapt.

In many parts of the world, the Fraternity was driven underground by various military dictators – and still is forbidden in some countries.

But these leaders are mortal, and eventually they die, then there is a peoples’ revolution, the country gets back in order, and Freemasonry finds green shoots and regenerates itself.

So, how do we keep Freemasonry alive in the shadow of the virus? Many lodges, appendant Orders and Masonic groups readily embraced technology and thrived during the lockdown, perhaps this will be the new normal for more than discussions but yield further to allow for part-physical, part-digital meetings.

Younger Masons engage almost exclusively online, preferring bite-size information in digital format to essays in print; we need to follow the trends, make learning and socialising accessible to all in ways that will allow us to keep connected and engaged across the world.

A few things to think about and put into practice:

 

  • What needs to change so that unlimited groups of people can meet and socialise again?
  • Do we, as some have suggested, learn to live with COVID as it will surely be with us for ever and a day? What does learning to live with COVID look like ?
  • Maybe we should consider re-categorising Freemasonry as an educational institution. That would get around the current (September 2020) rules for meeting in unlimited groups. Though that may sound ridiculous, it might just be what Freemasonry becomes. 
  • If you remove socialising from the equation, that also removes a considerable amount of the charity element for Freemasonry. What is left?
  • If we work on the basis that there will be no meaningful lodge meetings until 2023, that is to say there will be no meaningful lodge meetings during 2021 and 2022. We have two options:

 

1. maintain remote distance contact via internet apps, as we currently are doing.

 

2. work out how to include some remote lodge ritual that allows Candidates for Initiation, and Lodge Officers to progress.

We welcome your thoughts, ideas and suggestions – tell us what you are doing in your lodges across the world – email us editor@thesquaremagazine.com

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