1. Rule 137, Book of Constitutions provides that there is no power to cancel a regular meeting of a Lodge. The Rule is made for normal conditions, and at some future date – which has not yet been reached – necessity may dictate that external events override it.
2. Lodges should therefore for the time being be summoned in the usual way. The quorum for a valid meeting of a Lodge is 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. If on the day of the meeting a quorum cannot be achieved, the meeting must be abandoned, and a note entered in the Minute Book. “The regular meeting of the Lodge on …..day …. March, 2020 was duly called in accordance with the attached summons. Owing to the incidence of the coronavirus the required number of Brethren to open the Lodge could not be assembled and the meeting was abandoned” is the wording suggested.
3. If the meeting abandoned is that for the election of the Master, the final paragraph of Rule 106 will govern the situation. If the meeting is that for the Installation Rule 108 will apply.
4. Consideration should also be given to moving the date of a meeting by not more than 28 days by dispensation under Rule 139(c). Care should, however, be exercised in such a situation that Rule 172 (which requires a minimum interval of 28 days between initiation and passing, and between passing and raising) is not inadvertently infringed.
5. Lodges should not be concerned that, if a meeting has to be abandoned in these circumstances, it may affect their entitlement to a Centenary or Bi-Centenary Warrant in the future; there are many precedents for an enforced break in continuity of working being disregarded by the Grand Master when deciding whether to grant such a Warrant.
6. Similar considerations will apply in relation to Chapters.
7. More detailed guidance on this matter and others that may arise can be found in the Deputy Grand Secretary’s book Masonic Etiquette Today.
8. Further guidance is likely to be issued in due course.