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Reopening Virginia Lodges 2020 Last update on June 17, 2020, at 8:00 PM EDT

A resource for DDGMs and Lodges

"Common sense should rule the day." - M∴W∴ Douglas V. Jones

This web page is a living document that will be updated regularly with information pertaining to the reopening of Masonic Lodges in Virginia. The information contained herein applies to those lodges holding a charter under the Grand Lodge, A∴F∴ & A∴M∴, of Virginia and its affiliates. Information contained herein is for the valid fraternal use of these organizations only.

Questions pertaining to the content may be addressed to aa@glova.org. Questions on the site design or operation may be sent to grandprovost@glova.org. The information is only warrantied through the date posted as the last revision; this page is maintained by the Committee on Masonic Education.

As we seek to reopen lodges, it is our hope that this resource provides equitable, timely information to those lodges in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The effort to provide information on the current progress of re-establishing normal operations is a combined effort of multiple parties, and the patience and perseverance of the Craft are appreciated in these historic times. As Grand Master Jones stated in the conference with the District Deputy Grand Masters (DDGMs), "This Masonic year will be one for the history books. There is no road map or playbook, so bear in mind we are making decisions with health and safety in mind."Consistent with the Virginia Forward program, the tentative reopening date is July 1, 2020.

What is the reopening date?

Consistent with the Virginia Forward program, the tentative reopening date is July 1, 2020.

Can a lodge (lodges) delay reopening?

Yes, the Grand Master's Letter dated June 9, 2020, indicates that the Worshipful Master has the prerogative to delay reopening until September 1, 2020, with notification and not a dispensation.

Why "stay in place"?

The Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master, with the approval of the Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, have elected to retain the current elected and appointed Grand Lodge Officers through the year 2021. The decision to remain in place provides consistency during a time of great change and allows Grand Master Jones and the Grand Lodge Officers to continue the plan of building health lodges in the commonwealth.

Further discussion indicated that the 2020 Grand Annual Communication would most likely be a condensed version of the annual event; this abbreviated Grand Annual Communication would not do justice to the open installation of officers. The decision to condense and remain in place also reflects trends observed outside of the fraternity. Also, the option to retain all officers in their current positions is also open to all subordinate lodges consistent with the decision of the Grand Lodge Officers.

Frequently Asked Questions

The June 9th, 2020, communication from Grand Master Douglas Jones outlines the preliminary steps to opening Masonic Lodges in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Why will there not be an election or advancement of the Grand Line in 2020?

The Grand Annual Communication is codified in the Virginia Methodical Digest. There will be a Grand Annual Communication for 2020; however, the Grand Lodge Officers are addressing challenges as we face them and are working hard to ensure safety and security for the Craft when the event is held.

Planning for the 2020 Grand Annual Communication is taking place right now. The current proposal is to have a half-day session to address pressing matters and to deliver the required reports. The event may be held at the Richmond Scottish Rite building, as opposed to the Hilton, to provide for social distancing.

Current discussions also include that only delegates and Grand Lodge Officers/Past Grand Masters would attend for social distancing and caps on groups. There are many details that must be addressed, but some modified sessions will take place to address the annual communication without public ceremonies or voting on resolutions.

Why will there not be an election or advancement of the Grand Line in 2020?

Almost half of the Masonic year has passed while Lodges are dark durning the SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Grand Master Doug Jones and Deputy Grand Master Jim Golladay have conferred with the Elected Grand Line and the Past Grand Masters of Virginia and determined that it is in the best interest of the craft for leadership to remain as elected in the ensuing year. This process provides for comparability and the chance to see the Craft through a troubling time. The Grand Lodge Officers are working in the best interest of the entire fraternity and are seeking to maintain stability in a troubled time.

A lodge or brother has made arrangements for a hotel room at the Grand Annual Communication: What should he do?

The Grand Lodge Office is working with the hotel to determine the best course of action. The Hilton property will work directly with those seeking to cancel or amend reservations pertaining to the Grand Annual Communication. Any other hotel reservations should be rectified with the hotel property directly. More information will be available once the Grand Lodge Office has confirmed plans for the 2020 Grand Annual Communication.

What about the Official Visits for 2020 and 2021?

Any Grand Master's Official Visits to districts that have occurred in 2020 will not be repeated in 2021. The focus for the Grand Master's calendar will be on safely visiting those lodges that have not had a visit from the Grand Master and his officers.

District Deputy visits should be accomplished, and if they have not taken place should be reported as such. District Deputy Grand Masters will also need to visit the lodges in their districts in 2021 to make their annual report as normal procedure.

What about the Hillman Award and/or Seymour Jonas Levy Award (blood program) programs and points?

The Hillman Award will cover Masonic Years 2020 & 2021; points will carry over and both years will count as one. No awards will be given out at Grand Lodge in 2020.

The Seymour Jonas Levy Award will also cover Masonic Years 2020 & 2021; points for blood donations will carry over and both years will count as one.

As we reopen, is there any called work for conferral of the Degrees in Freemasonry allowed?

The short answer, for the time being, is no. Called work for the purpose of conferring the Degrees involves a great deal of close personal contact that does not comply with the guidelines for social distancing. There may be a possibility of a One Day Conferral (ODC) of the degrees in October 3rd or 10th of this year (2020). A lodge may not call off a stated communication to confer the Degrees in Freemasonry at this time. Pending further discussion, called work for receiving a catechism is not allowed at this time (this may change).

There may be a possibility of a One Day Conferral (ODC) of the degrees in October 3rd or 10th of this year (2020). A planning team has been charged with the development of the ODC for 2020. More information will be released as we near the month of October.

If a candidate does not wish to participate in the ODC, that is his prerogative. It should be noted, however, that there is not a current timeline for when conferral of the Degrees in Freemasonry will resume in the commonwealth. Mentors should discuss the opportunity with candidates seeking invitation, passing, or raising. All candidates may participate in the ODC, regardless of status, but each will be required to be present for the entire conferral (all day).

Our Lodge has(have) a(an) Candidate(s) that have received one or part of the Degrees in Freemasonry; is there an automatic extension for standing examination and recevinging the next degree?

Yes! Candidates will not be penalized or held back for vote based on the current law. The Grand Master has begun the process of setting aside the law to allow candidates to progress as soon as conferred work is allowed again.

What is the process for submitting District Deputy Grand Master nominations for 2022-2023 (Executive Order, No. 1)?

The deadline for the recommendation of nominees for the office of District Deputy Grand Master and alternate for 2022-2023 is set as September 1, 2020; however, the deadline will be extended through December 21, 2020. Every effort should be made to comply with Executive Order, No. 1.

What about the proclamations and edicts for 2021?

All proclamations and edicts will be reissued after the Grand Annual Communication in November.

When reopened, can a Lodge share a meal or event?

No, the Grand Master has placed a moratorium on shared and/or public meals, events, and programs inside or outside of the Lodge at this time. The moratorium seeks to preserve the health and safety of all members as meals tend to be in close contact and may potentially spread the virus.

Are masks and/or temperature checks required for members of the Lodge?

The Grand Master's reopening packet allows the Worshipful Master of each subordinate lodge to decide what is best for the membership. The packet addresses the minimum requirements for reopening lodges; however, the Worshipful Master may elect to require masks and/or temperature checks for those attending a stated meeting.

Are there any changes in the requirements to proficiency for Wardens or Past Masters Certificates?

All standard requirements must be met for the proficiency of these certificates. These items should be handled at the local lodge bearing in mind the requirements set forth in the Virginia Methodical Digest. The Grand Secretary and Grand Lecturer have indicated that there should be no deviation from the standard procedure for proficiency at this time. Exceptions may be handled on a case-by-case basis.

How will election and installation take place in December 2020?

The Grand Lecturer has advised that there should not be much deviation from the prescribed election and installation of officers. More details will be released from the Grand Lecturer as necessary pertaining to the ceremony of election and installation.

Will the same pin, theme, and message be used next year (2021)?

Absolutely!

Will Masonic Home of Virginia Family Day be held this year?

Most likely, no. At this time, the Grand Lodge is preparing a possible event to raise awareness for the Masonic Home and provide more information about the outreach of this part of Freemasonry in Virginia.

Can a lodge hold an outdoor communication to promote social distancing or to enforce safety requirements?

Yes, please seek approval for an outdoor communication via dispensation through a request by the DDGM! An outdoor communication is an excellent way to promote health and safety for lodges that cannot comply with social distancing indoors.

Informational Posters and Resources

These resources may be printed in black and white or color and should be displayed near the entrance to the lodge. Each resource may be used at the discretion of the lodge, but reference the minimum requirements in the Grand Master's reopening packet. The Grand Lodge, A∴F∴ & A∴M∴, of Virginia does not warranty or guarantee the information outside of its control. External links are provided for information only and represented the recommended best practices by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Created By
Jonathan Giles
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