The Brethren of the Grand Lodge of Ohio have been meeting like crazy while sheltering in place and staying home. Using a variety of software applications like Zoom, Skype, WebEx, GotoMeeting, and FaceTime to name a few, Masons began meeting for informal fellowship activities, educational presentations, and even to share a toast to the Craft. More recently, Grand Master Newton has given Lodges permission to hold virtual stated meetings if they follow certain guidelines to preserve the privacy of the meeting.
Not everyone knows how to hold a virtual meeting, so Brothers like RWB Alexander Herbert, District Deputy Grand Master of the 21st Masonic District, began offering instruction so that Lodges and Brethren could hold their own meetings.
Even the Grand Lodge Officers have been meeting on a regular basis to review the current health emergency and plan for the gradual reopening of Ohio’s 450 Masonic Lodges and 25 Districts. Using the application Zoom, all twelve are able to hold a meeting, see each other, discuss events, and meet very much like they would if they were sitting around the table.
Since Grand Master Newton issued a new dispensation to allow virtual Lodge meetings, reports from the field have been positive. Several Lodge secretaries report having a larger attendance at their virtual meeting than they were having at their regular in-person meetings. Two secretaries reported that they had members who now live out of state attending their virtual meetings, something that could not have happened before. Thus, even in the middle of an emergency, there are positive things happening.
Each Lodge is free to hold virtual meetings, but it is not required to do so. Check with your Lodge secretary to see what your Lodge’s plans are. With today’s software, it is really very easy and safe to participate. Who said you can’t teach an old Masons new tricks?