by Tony Miller, Provincial Grand Secretary
Although we closed the Provincial office on March 24th, its work has never stopped. In fact, it’s fair to say we’re doing even more; it’s just happening in my home office rather than the Provincial HQ in Cambridge Road at Grimsby. I am in constant contact with the Provincial Grand Master and we hold video meetings with all of the Provincial Executive on a regular basis, it was weekly now going to fortnightly.
There is a rhythm to a normal masonic year, steered by tradition, custom, practice, and the Book of Constitutions, 2020 is like no other year. Our normal routines have been disrupted, and changes have had to be made to suit the unique circumstances in which we find ourselves.
The result has been a great many protracted conversations over the phone and via email, as we have sought to steer a course through uncharted waters. Those conversations have involved considerable repetition, as Lodges secretaries, faced with the same difficulties, have been in touch to seek clarification. Sadly, many of the questions don’t have definitive answers. Even the Book of Constitutions, normally such a reliable guide, hasn’t planned for this eventuality.
Thankfully, we have technology to fall back on – though I acknowledge not all of our members have access to it. Nevertheless, I dread to think of where we would be if we were not able to communicate electronically. The Province’s first live online Q&A session was a great opportunity to capitalise on the technology, and for the Provincial team to provide answers which were clearly on the mind of many members. It’s just a shame that more didn’t take the opportunity offered. Feedback from the session, created by our Provincial Communications Officer Stuart Pearcey and Chris Watkin of Doric Lodge, has been universally positive, and members have been reassured by what they heard. As a result we shall probably organise a similar session at such time as we have significant changes to report.
We have reduced the cost of running the office as much we can. Lorraine Miller – no relation – who works alongside me in the Provincial Office, has been furloughed, but other costs remain. The same is true of fees payable to UGLE. That’s why I would echo the comments made by my colleague Steve Hallberg the Provincial Grand Treasurer when asked about a subscription holiday during the live Q&A. At this stage, he said, fees still have to be paid. As he pointed out, his lodge was more than 130 years old, and he would hate to be one who put it into financial difficulties at such a time.
At this stage we are not aware of significant financial impact of the pandemic on individuals, but rest assured that help is available. Furthermore, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has produced a very helpful fact sheet about redundancy, if it should come to that. It’s on our web site –https://www.lincolnshirefreemasons.org/news/but I hope no one ever needs to use it.
With gradual signs of a cautious re-awakening of the economy, and non-essential shops preparing to open next week, and gatherings of a maximum of six now allowed, we are moving a little closer to resumption of our meetings. I’m looking forward to the re-opening of the Provincial Office, as it will be the first sign that normality, in some form or another, can’t be far away.
The coming months would normally be the quiet recess time when Lodge Secretaries would take a well-earned break from their masonic duties. However, I feel during the current lockdown restrictions it is important that all lodges keep in touch with their members and prospective candidates.
As ever I will be available for advice throughout the current restrictions on my home telephone and email should the need arise. Stay safe, and lets all keep our spirits up and keep looking forward to a resumption of lodge meetings.