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Guidance from UGLE

The United Grand Lodge of England has issued the following set of frequently asked questions to all Lodge secretaries. These guidelines may be of interest to all Brethren.

Question: As Secretary of a Lodge, do I have to send a summons for every meeting that the bylaws require to be held during the time that all Lodge and Chapter meetings are suspended?

Answer: No. The suspension, so long as it continues in effect, overrides the dates prescribed in the by-laws. When the general suspension comes to an end, as Secretary you should enter in the Minute Book words to the effect of “As a result of the suspension, owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, by the MW The Grand Master of all meetings from 17 March 2020 to [the date when the suspension is lifted] the Lodge was unable to meet.”

Question: As Secretary of a Lodge, what do I have to do once the suspension comes to an end?

Answer: Having entered the words in the preceding answer in the Minute Book, you should start to send out summonses – but be prepared for such meetings to be abandoned if a quorum cannot be achieved.

Question: As it has not been possible to hold the Installation meeting, do I need to submit an Installation Return?

Answer: Rule 151 requires the Secretary to make the Return to the Grand Secretary immediately after the Installation of the Master. If it has not been possible for an Installation to take place, no Return is necessary.

Question: My Lodge has elected a Master for the ensuing year, but was not able to install him before the Grand Master suspended all meetings; can he be installed once the suspension is lifted?

Answer: As the Rules stand, the provisions of Rule 108 mean that the current Master continues in office until the end of the period for which the Master Elect was elected. (While the possibility cannot be ruled out that the Grand Lodge may enact some special measure to address the situation in which many Lodges will find themselves, it is far too early to tell.)

Question: It has not been or will not be possible to elect my Lodge’s next Master in accordance with the Lodge’s by-laws, and the Installation is due to take place before the suspension ends. Can a Master be elected and installed after the suspension is over?

Answer: Subject to the possibility mentioned in answer 4, the provision in Rule 106 for the election of a Master in the case of a missed election cannot be implemented, and accordingly the current Master will continue in office.

Question: Our current Master is completing his second consecutive year in the chair, does the Lodge require a dispensation for him to serve for a third year?

Answer: No. The opening words of Rule 115 “Except when required to by Rule 107 or Rule 108” make it plain that events over which the Lodge has no control save the need for a dispensation.

Question: The Master Elect had invited me to be a Warden (for the first time), but if he is not installed, will I be eligible for election as Master if I am invested as a Warden later in the year?

Answer: It is probably unlikely that the current Master Elect will wish to stand aside in your favour, but if you should be invested as a Warden during the year, a Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Master can grant a dispensation under Rule 109 to render you eligible for election. (Note: (a) Such a dispensation can only be issued to qualify a Brother with short service as a Warden, not one with no service as a Warden. (b) The practice in the Grand Secretary’s Office in relation to London Lodges, before the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London came into existence, was to grant a dispensation only if a Warden had Page 3 served for at least half a year.)

Question: My Lodge’s by-laws permit the exclusion under Rule 181 of a Brother who is more than six months in arrears with his subscription, but it will not be possible to hold the necessary ballot because the subscription year ends before meetings can be resumed. Can we ballot when meetings resume and backdate the exclusion to the end of the subscription year, so that the Lodge does not become liable for a further year’s dues and MCF contribution in respect of him?

Answer: Subject to the possibility mentioned in answer 3, No. But the Treasurer does have time to persuade him to meet his obligations and resign in good standing. (And Rule 127 deals with the consequences to the Brother of being excluded.)

Question: A candidate for initiation was proposed and seconded at the last regular meeting before the suspension of meetings took effect. Do we need to start the process all over again when meetings are resumed?

Answer: No. Rule 159 requires a candidate to be balloted for at the next regular meeting. The natural meaning of “next regular meeting” is the next regular meeting to be held, not the next regular meeting due to be summoned.

Question: Can a Lodge make a donation to a charity, when it is unable to meet and vote on the matter in open Lodge?

Answer: It is probably better that it does not do so, but if the matter is a case of emergency and the Lodge has a by-law in the form of that in the standard model, the Master has power to authorise a payment and report it to the Lodge at its next regular meeting. (Even so a Master would be wise to consult fairly widely with the members before exercising his power.)

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