Coronavirus Information and Communications (updated 20/04/2020)
We are in difficult and challenging times and I do hope you, your families and loved ones are staying safe and keeping well. Please follow the published guidelines and maintain best practice to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
It is vitally important, whilst employing these safe practices, that we keep in contact with each other from our potential candidates, through new and junior brethren right up to the more experienced and, dare I say it, older brethren. Being confined to Barracks is as challenging for fit young people as it is for older, less mobile and infirm brethren. We have lost our usual contact with mankind. I am pleased to see many initiatives within lodges to start WhatsApp groups, regular phone calls, video groups and the “nine o’ clock” toasts and the like. Some have asked brethren to use this time to learn a new piece of ritual and then run through it with them online.
There are many activities we can be engaging into keep us stimulated and happy whilst we wait for the all clear to resume normal Masonic duties.
Brethren, please stay safe and well and I look forward to seeing you all in the not too distant future.
W.Bro. Peter G Vosser PSGD
Assistant Provincial Grand Master
The Masonic Province Hampshire and Isle of Wight
DONATING TO THE MASONIC COVID-19 APPEAL
Online: Visit www.mcf.org.uk/covid19appeal
Click on “Donate” and fill in the simple online donation form.
Relief Chest: USE A GREEN RELIEF CHEST FORM
Write MASONIC COVID19 APPEAL as the Charity name.
Write the Appeal’s Relief Chest no. COVID19 as the registered no. Send the Green voucher to the Relief Chest team.
By Text: To donate £5 text COVID19 to 70500
Follow the link in the text reply and complete your details and the Lodge/Chapter to be credited. (Donors will receive a follow up text asking them to follow a process to allow gift aid to be applied to their donation. Members are encouraged to respond to this text as this will also allow for the donation to be credited to the individual, Lodge and Province)
Post: Credit Card Form: Download the Credit/Debit Card Donation Form at www.mcf.org.uk/covid19appeal and send it to the Relief Chest team.
By Cheque: Complete a Single Donation Form available at www.mcf.org.uk/covid19appeal . Make your cheque payable to “Relief Chest Scheme”. Tick the Gift Aid declaration if applicable and date the form. Send form and cheque to the Relief Chest team.
Telephone: To make a donation call the MCF dedicated line on 020 3146 3352 (open Monday-Thursday 9.30am-4.30pm, Friday 9.30am-3.30pm).
Fundraise: Visit http://www.mcf.org.uk/covid19appeal
Click on “Start Fundraising” and create an account. Follow the instructions and fill in details of your sponsored event and your goal amount, save the page, share with friends and family and start fundraising. You can log in and make updates and changes to your page, upload progress photos and your donors can Gift Aid any donation they make.
Coronavirus Lodge Resources
There are a number of key services or resources that Lodges and their Brethren can pull upon during this difficult time. The information below is provided to highlight what can be achieved to ensure that Lodges are able to communicate and encourage membership, work with the local community, and request guidance from the North East Area teams.
- Masonic meetings and social gatherings are suspended until further notice
- Lodge Meetings cannot be completed online
- Lodge of Instruction cannot be completed online, only specific piece of ritual that do not contain:
- Obligations, words and visual signs
- Due to online services recording communications, this is in violation of our obligations
- Questions should be directed to the Visiting Officer, who will be able to pull upon the resources of the North East Area and Province
- Secretaries should ensure that all members of a Lodge are kept aware of any initiatives for learning, charity and future planning
This section covers the various communication platforms that are freely available and widely in use.
WhatsApp is a highly popular and free messaging platform originally design to provide a common messaging platform between various mobile device manufacturers. The limitation of WhatsApp is that it must be used with a mobile telephone. Communication between WhatsApp users is encrypted.
There are two key ways to use WhatsApp:
- One to One – Communications using Video, voice or text messages between two individuals
- Group Chat – Communications using voice or text between multiple members of the same group. This is a very popular use of WhatsApp and Lodges are encourage to create and publicise a group for members to join.
As a minimum, a Lodge should considered creating a WhatsApp group for members to ensure consistent and timely distribution of information.
Zoom Video Conferencing
Zoom is a robust industry standard communications platform providing free accounts during the COVID-19 outbreak. Zoom can be used on PC, Tablet and Mobile devices, making it very flexible and inclusive of most members in a Lodge.
The service is available for sign up at https://zoom.us, with applications that can be downloaded for tablets and mobile telephones from the related AppStore. Software for PC and Mac that can be downloaded from the website.
Please note that multiple members can use the same conference session to make the experience very interactive. It should be noted that each session will last for a maximum of 45 minutes, before needing to restart the conference call. Please reach out to the Facebook Chat Group for assistance if needed.
The North East Area will be making information and updates available via the following key services:
Also, please make use of the North East Area Facebook Chat Group to ask the Masonic community for advice and information. Help is freely available, and will be willingly provided. The Group is a closed area, in that you will need to apply to be accepted. Please answer the simple questions, and wait for an administrator to add you.
- Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/866614550122297/
Email and Telephone
Your Lodges Secretary is likely using email already to stay in touch with members and communicate news. Make sure to pay attention to your inbox to ensure that information being communicated is viewed in a timely manner.
Also, please drop an email to a Brother that might be self-isolating asking if you can arrange a telephone call. It is good to talk and helps to remove personal anxiety and stress. A friendly voice is always welcome.
Solomon and Online Learning
United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) have provided an on-line resource that provides a wealth of information designed not only to explain Freemasonry, but also to aims to provide in-depth information for many questions Brethren may have. These nuggets of information have now been enhanced with sound files to improve the learning experience. Information pertaining to each Craft Degree, the Royal Arch, Masonic History and Lodge matters is freely available to be accessed.
Social Media is also being used by Solomon to promote specific articles and nuggets, and this can be used to provide a daily advancement in Masonic Knowledge:
Also, Brethren with a deeper understand of Masonry might want to review information provided by the Museum of Freemasonry, including the history of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Lodges, at the following links:
Masonic learning is an important part of our members experience, and it furthers understanding and engagement. Please reach out to your Lodge Mentor, or the North East Area Mentor, for recommendations in regards to articles your Lodge members could review and discuss using the communication methods presented in the previous section.
While it might be tempting to hold a Lodge of Instruction online, these types of activity should be restricted to specific pieces of ritual. Obligations, words, password, signs and token should be avoided given that online platforms have the potential to record information.
However, Lodges might want to consider holding regular update meetings using video conferencing services to maintain engagement and interest. This is a great chance for members to discuss the five year plans, recruitment opportunities and any changes that might help the Lodge build a secure future.
Charity and Helping the community
As the distinguishing characteristic of a Masons heart is to provide Charity and Relief, it will be strongly impressed upon all our minds at this time. It is encouraged that Lodges try to maintain Charitable submissions to allow the Lodge to engage in Charity giving in the future.
However, we are sure you are aware that a number of activities in local communities are in progress to help and support those at risk (elderly and infirmed). It is a brothers decision if they want to volunteer to support these efforts, but it should not be at the detriment of the health of the individual.
Update: Her Majesties Government has now implemented a plan to support those with life debilitating conditions. Please ensure that we don’t undermine their organised efforts in trying to provide assistance.
Plan for a Celebration return meeting
In time there will be the opportunity for all of us to celebrate the return to our Masonic Centres and enjoy the harmony of meeting together. This meeting will be an unprecedented event for most Lodges, returning after such a period of inactivity. Consideration should be made for making either the returning meeting a celebration. It might be that Lodges in a specific centre or group of centres, pick a certain meeting to formally hold a celebration. Either way, we should be ready to mark the return to our beautiful Craft, and ensure that our new and younger members are very much involved.
Communications from the North East Area Executive in regards to this subject will follow in due course.
North East Area Contact Points
Whilst Lodges VO are considered the first port of call for assistance, the North East Area officers are also available for guidance. Please utilise these resources for help and information:
- Area Charity Steward – Stephan Russell
- Lodge Charity maintenance
- How to provide financial assistance without Lodge meetings
- Area Mentor – Mark Graham
- Guidance on ritual learning
- Recommended articles from Solomon
- Area Membership Office – Gary Green
- Maintaining interest for new and prospective members
- Area Almoner – Brian Lawrence
- Looking after Lodge members that might be at risk
- Maintaining support networks and communications
Provincial Information Sources
Please review the latest Provincial Bulletins here:
Bulletin 1 – 25th March 2020
Bulletin 2 – 3rd April 2020
Bulletin 3 – 10th April 2020
Bulletin 4 – 23rd April 2020
Bulletin 5 – 03rd May 2020
Bulletin 6 – 15th May 2020
Bulletin 7 – 29th May 2020
Please review the Provincial Information Q&A at the following link:
Provincial Information Q&A at the following link:
Q&A Revision 2
Grand Secretaries address
Provincial Question and Answer Document
Coronavirus Lodge Guidelines
Communication from the North East Area Executive (21/03/2020)
Message from the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the North East Area W.Bro. Peter G. Vosser
Dear Brethren and Families,
On Tuesday 17th March 2020 the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, announced that all Lodge & Chapter meetings will be suspended for a period of four months due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
We will have much to concern ourselves with over the coming months. Keeping ourselves, families and loved ones safe and out of harm’s way must be paramount.
Let us look at ways to keep in touch and maintain contact with new and old brethren alike and provide support as necessary.
Over the coming days we will issue further information and details of initiatives so please check back regularly and follow the NEA Social Media.
Brethren, please stay well and look after your families. Please let us or your Lodge Almoner know if you have any difficulty.
W.Bro. Peter G Vosser PSGD
Assistant Provincial Grand Master
The Masonic Province Hampshire and Isle of Wight