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Report of the Board of General Purposes – 10 September 2014

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

10 September 2014 
Report of the Board of General Purposes 

Minutes

The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held on 11 June 2014 were confirmed.

Board of General Purposes Meetings 2015 

The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2015 on 10 February, 17 March, 12 May, 21 July, 15 September and 10 November.

Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by brethren from other Grand Lodges

The Board considers it appropriate to draw attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Year Book, copies of which are sent to Secretaries of lodges.

Only Brethren who are members of lodges under recognised jurisdictions may visit English lodges. They must produce a certificate (i.e. a Grand Lodge certificate or other documentary  proof  of  masonic  identity  provided  by  their Grand Lodge), should be prepared to acknowledge that a personal belief in TGAOTU is an essential Landmark in Freemasonry, and should be able to produce evidence of their good standing in their Lodges. It is the Master’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of Rule 125 (b) are met.

It is particularly noted that the hazard of admitting a member of an unrecognised constitution arises not only in connection with overseas visitors (or individuals resident in this country who belong to an unrecognised constitution overseas). There are lodges of unrecognised constitutions meeting in England, and care must be taken that their members are not admitted to our meetings.

Attendance at Lodges Overseas

The continuing growth in overseas travel brings with it an increase in visits by our Brethren to lodges of other jurisdictions, and the Board welcomes this trend.

From time to time, however, Brethren become involved with masonic bodies which Grand Lodge does not recognise, e.g. in visiting a jurisdiction which, quite legitimately so far as it is concerned, accepts as visitors Brethren from Grand Lodges which are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. In this connection, Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.

To avoid this danger, and potential embarrassment to hosts, Brethren should not attempt to make any masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.

The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated:

a.  Verbally in open Lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and
b.  In print once a year in a Lodge’s summons.

Brethren should also be aware of the masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries. They should therefore not attempt without permission to make direct contact with the Grand Secretary of another Constitution. This does not preclude direct contact on a purely personal level between individual Brethren under different Grand Lodges.

Photography, Mobile Telephones and Social Media

Over the last twelve and a half years the Board has found it necessary to draw attention on three occasions to the misuse of cameras, mobile telephones and other electronic devices (e.g. tablets) during or in connection with masonic meetings. 

In 2009 the Grand Lodge approved a consolidated statement on the matter (which was modified slightly the following year). The Board regrets that it appears necessary to revert once more to the subject. The last few years have seen significant technological advances, with the result that the use of such devices is less obtrusive – and therefore less easily detected – than was previously the case. 

The Board, however, remains firmly of the view that any objection to the use of such devices is based on the impropriety of taking an electronic record of proceedings in open lodge at least as much as on any distraction that the process may afford to the individual and others in his vicinity. At the same time social media, such as Twitter, have evolved, enabling the almost instantaneous transmission of information to a wide range of recipients. The Board considers that relaying information by such means from within a meeting while that meeting is in progress falls within the scope of Rule 177 of the Book of Constitutions. 

Grand Lodge then approved the following new consolidated statement:

(a)    All mobile telephones must be switched off during meetings of the Grand Lodge, Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Lodges or private lodges. If an urgent call is expected, arrangements should be made for it to be received by the Tyler.

(b)    Whilst there is no objection to the taking of group photographs in a lodge room in connection with a special meeting after the lodge has been closed, the taking of photographs during meetings (including any procession immediately before or after a meeting of a private lodge) is prohibited. The prohibition extends to any purported reconstruction after a lodge has been closed of any part of the proceedings while the lodge was open, but does not, subject to compliance with (c) below, preclude the taking of a photograph of a procession into or out of a Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Lodge by the express permission and under the control of the Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Master.

(c)    Within Freemasons’ Hall such specially posed group photographs may, subject to the permission of the Grand Secretary, be taken in a lodge room, but photographs in or of other parts of the building, and in particular in or of the Grand Temple, must not be taken unless special permission has been given by or on behalf of the Board of General Purposes.

(d)    The transmission of any photograph or information (whether in the form of text, images or otherwise) by electronic means from within a lodge room relating to a meeting in progress there, whether transmission is to a single individual or to any group of individuals, is also prohibited.

(e)    Brethren are reminded that Rule 177 of the Book of Constitutions imposes a prohibition on the publication of the proceedings of any lodge (which includes the Grand Lodge and any Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Lodge) and that the taking of any photograph during a meeting is likely to lead to a breach of that Rule. The submission of any such photograph for inclusion in Freemasonry Today will be met with a curt rejection, and it is expected that those responsible for the publication and content of Provincial or District magazines or newsletters will adopt the same policy.

(f)     Disciplinary action is likely to be taken against the Brethren concerned in cases of failure to comply with the above policy in respect of photography or use of social media.

(g)    Whilst the taking of photographs during the after proceedings of a lodge (and, less importantly, during a reception between a meeting and dinner) is unlikely to offend against any Rule of the Book of Constitutions, it can nevertheless be intrusive and distracting. Accordingly Brethren are reminded that good manners dictate that the agreement of the individuals concerned should be obtained before they are photographed informally in such a context, and that such photographs be taken during the after proceedings only with the permission of the Master or whoever presides at the dinner.

Amalgamation

The Board has received a report that Mount Zion Lodge, No. 7664 has resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Lodge of Eternal Light, No. 6568 (London). A resolution that the lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation was agreed. 

Erasure of Lodges

The Board has received a report that sixteen lodges have closed and have voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are:

United Smithfield Lodge, No. 3176 (London); Lodge of Friendship, No. 4199 (West Lancashire); Grange Park Lodge, No. 4306 (London); Rectitude Lodge, No. 4727 (London); Bexley Heath Lodge, No. 4918 (West Kent); St Barbara Lodge, No. 5937 (West Kent); Wylam Lodge, No. 6922 (Northumberland); Royal Dental Hospital Lodge, No. 7099 (London); Moorside Lodge, No. 7120 (Northumberland); South-East Corner Lodge, No. 7284 (London); Bold Lodge, No. 7583 (West Lancashire); Harlington Lodge, No. 7935 (Middlesex); Frederick Hickton Griffiths Lodge, No. 8878 (Worcestershire); Heswall Lodge, No. 9106 (Cheshire); Clarendon Lodge, No. 9228 (Warwickshire) and Lux Beata Lodge, No. 9761 (Essex).

A resolution that they be erased was approved. 

Expulsions

As required by Rule 277 (a) (i) (B) and (D), Book of Constitutions, 10 Brethren were recently expelled from the Craft.

Report of Library and Museum Trust

The Board has received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust. 

Lifelites

Grand Lodge received a talk by VW Bro M. Woodcock, President of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, and Mrs Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites, entitled “Celebrating 15 Years of Freemasons, working in partnership, to create exciting opportunities for life-limited children.”

Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge

Future meetings of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge will be held on 10 December 2014, 11 March 2015, 29 April 2015 (Annual Investiture), 10 June 2015, 9 September 2015 and 9 December 2015.

Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter

Future meetings of Supreme Grand Chapter will be held on 12 November 2014, 30 April 2015 and 11 November 2015.