Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we learnt on 17 March that the Most Worshipful Grand Master has suspended all Masonic activity for four months, effectively bringing the Masonic season to an end. Our COBRA team has undertaken a considerable amount of planning over recent weeks and we have been in regular contact with you all regarding
(i) procedural matters for meetings that have been abandoned and
(ii) information on the number of scheduled events during 2020, which will now have to be rearranged.
In addition to my ongoing concern over your personal welfare, I have also given a great deal of thought to those who – as a consequence of this period of suspension – will be adversely affected by the loss of income from our inability to meet regularly during this period, namely:-
- Masonic Centres – which are now closed to Masonic and Non-Masonic business,
- Bar, Catering and Cleaning staff – who rely on the income arising from these meetings, and
- Tylers, Janitors and Organists – where this income supplements their pension revenue.
In particular, our Masonic Centres now face fixed operating costs without the commensurate income which they would have enjoyed, had we been able to continue our Lodge or Chapter meetings. As a consequence, I would like to you all to consider the following proposals to assist them during this period of revenue shortfall, whilst regular meetings cannot be held.
Our annual Lodge / Chapter subscriptions are paid in advance at the beginning of each Masonic season and include your contribution toward Capitation fees for Temple rents, LOI rents, and Tyler / Janitor and Organist fees. Your contributions toward these costs from your subscriptions now sit in the General Account of our Lodges and Chapters, for distribution once our meetings take place.
Proposals – during the suspension of your regular meetings.
1. During the suspension period, Lodges and Chapters pay for Temple & LOI rents, Tyler, Janitor and Organist costs for meetings which would have taken place, so that the Centre continues to receive these payments during the suspension period,
2. Lodges / Chapters do not request a refund for Temple / LOI rents already paid to our Centres for meetings which have been abandoned, and
3. Should the Lodges / Chapter desire, it might wish to make appropriate donations to their Centre, to assist with cash-flow shortfall to the Centre and its staff during this period.
- Under proposals 1 and 2, members would incur NO additional costs.
- I would envisage that – if a meeting for which a Temple rent had been paid, had been abandoned – the Centres would not make a further demand for Temple rent costs, should an equivalent emergency meeting be convened as a consequence of the suspension.
- I will ensure that no dispensation costs are levied for emergency meetings required as a consequence of this suspension.
The affected parties are YOUR Masonic Centres, their staff, Tylers / Janitors and Organists and we must ensure that they all receive our care and consideration during this difficult time – a benevolent gesture which dovetails perfectly with the 3rd of our Five Provincial R’s – that of Relief.
I am sure that you will wish to express your views on these proposals to your Secretaries and Scribes E but we simply cannot wait until we reconvene our regular meetings to debate them – therefore, I formally request that you revert to your Secretary / Scribe E by return, so that we ensure that we maintain cash-flow to this vital part of our Provincial infrastructure.
I know that our Centre Chairmen and, in particular, their staff that depend on our revenue, will be extremely grateful for any financial support which we will show our Centres and their staff during this challenging time.
My most grateful thanks for your consideration to these proposals and you are most welcome to revert to me at PGM@westkentmasons.org.uk
, should you have any further queries.
Yours sincerely and fraternally