Going Forward in the Holy Royal Arch

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Dear Companions of Warwickshire,

It has certainly been a long time since we were last able to enjoy each other’s company in a Masonic setting and I certainly feel frustrated that there seems to be no clear end in sight to the ravages that this horrible virus has wrought on our lives and happiness.

There is much debate around the Province as to the best way that we can, or should, progress following the lifting of the suspension of masonic activity. Whether that was the best of decisions only time will tell, but the reality is that we can now meet, under very restricted circumstances, and practice, in some form, our masonic duties.

With respect to the Holy Royal Arch a significant number of compromises must be observed if a meeting is to be held in a Covid-secure manner. All of these have been shared to all by Supreme Grand Chapter but if further clarity is required please let the Provincial GSE David Graham know. I have expanded on some of these:-

  1. The exaltation ceremony is not allowed. This is such a special and memorable masonic moment for any brother and no compromise could be considered appropriate as it is likely to damage that shared experience.

  1. Chapters can, however, open and conduct installation ceremonies and administrative matters, if after careful consideration, they consider it desirable. I am very supportive of the decision many Chapters are intending to take in re-electing their Principals to serve for a second term. This seems very sensible and I applaud those Chapters for their pragmatic thinking. Those re-elected Principals should, with rare exception, reappoint all their officers for a further year. This minimises the need for any but a minimum quorum to attend Chapter to hold a simple formal meeting. If a virtual committee meeting can be held in advance so that any decisions can have been discussed and agreed in principle with a wider number of members, then all to the good.

  1. In the exceptional event that a Chapter intends to carry out either an Installation or an Induction of its Principals then the welfare of all attending, including those from the Province, must be a primary concern.

  1. With the continuing limits on attendance imposed either by government or by the sensible precautions of masonic rooms, then I am intending to ask only one Provincial Principal, with an escorting DC, to attend to support full installations only.

This will necessitate a greater involvement from the Chapter itself in terms of the ceremony and ritual. The Provincial GDC, E Comp Geoff Walker will be able to advise any Chapter of the new procedures that will be required. I imagine the consequent lack of ceremonial ‘pomp’ and the inability to hold a festive board will be discouragement enough for most to wish to do this.

You may wish to know that Warwickshire First Principals Chapter is going to follow these guidelines and is intending, subject to election, to re-appoint E Comp Philip Gough as MEZ, along with E Comp David Satchwell as 2nd Principal. E Comp David Driver was elected as 3rd Principal but was unable to attend the installation meeting last year. As this will be the next meeting held, we are constitutionally bound to induct him as 3rd Principal at its September meeting.

In addition, to meet with my obligations as Grand Superintendent I intend to convene a short meeting of Provincial Grand Chapter during the meeting of WFPC. The intention is to transact the necessary administrative matters of the Province and I will also obligate and invest the new Provincial Principals; E Comp John Starley as 2nd Provincial Grand Principal and E Comp Nigel Hawkins as 3rd Provincial Grand Principal. No member of the Province should feel obliged, nor indeed is encouraged, to attend as this will be a simple formal meeting to meet necessary obligations. The safety and welfare of all those who need to attend will, regrettably, be best served by the non-attendance of all others.

Companions, whilst we remain locked in this global pandemic we must continue to engage safely within freemasonry. A vaccine will come and we will be able to gather as Companions again. In the meantime we must do all we can to maintain our fraternal support. Virtual get togethers and telephone trees of communication for example can be a lifeline for many, and I encourage all Chapters and Companions to try and engage in these and other safe activities. Anything the Province can do to help, support and facilitate this will be done – you only have to ask.

Yours sincerely and fraternally,