A Message from the Grand Master,
April 3, 2020
Article I, Section 1 of the General Regulations, prescribes the date and place of the Annual Grand Communication be fixed by resolution, which for the year 2020 was scheduled the weekend of April 24th, in Alexandria. On April 2nd, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that he would extend his proclamation prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people from the original ending date of April 13th to April 30th. This prohibits holding our 209th Annual Grand Communication as scheduled. By this notice, I am postponing the Grand Communication until such time as our Federal, State, and Local governments remove or amend the prohibitions and mandates on gatherings and lift the “stay at home” order. If you have previously made a hotel or lodging reservations to attend the session, I recommend canceling them as soon as possible to avoid undue expense. If you have purchased meal tickets, you will eventually be issued a refund. I say “eventually” due to our Grand Lodge office is currently closed and only conducting necessary business dealing with checks and invoices, with a skeleton staff. Our ladies are handling tasks from home. In addition, the Quarterly Board meeting, and current and incoming Appointed Officer meeting, scheduled for April 18th, are canceled.
Due to the serious nature of the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the constant changing of the mandates and proclamations, I cannot provide a date or month to reschedule the Grand Session. Venue and location will be an issue, due to cancellations of events at all of the suitable venues and having to work with organizations who are trying to reschedule. I do feel that when the restrictions have been lifted and we come out of this time of darkness for our Fraternity, the delegates and members will look forward to being together for a time of fellowship and addressing the business of the Grand Lodge at a Grand Communication.
Originally (March 13th), the Governor’s proclamation restricted the gatherings to 250 or more people. The Grand Lodge elected line held discussions and began preparations for holding a board meeting to address the elections and business of the Grand Lodge in accordance with Article VI Section 2 and Article IV Section 3 of our Constitution. The Center of Disease Control advised people 65 years and older are considered “high risk” for infection for the COVID-19 virus and should stay home and avoid close contact with others. Article VI Section 2 allows the Grand Master, at his discretion, to call a board comprised of the elected Grand Lodge officers and all Past Grand Masters. The average age of our elected line is 68 years old and is 78 for Past Grand Masters. Initially, I was not comfortable asking these brethren to travel to Alexandria and risk exposure or exposing others to COVID-19, but I did consider the pros and cons of conducting such a meeting. On March 22nd, the Governor further restricted the number of gatherings to 10 or more. This allows 9 or less people to gather. The quorum to conduct business under Article VI Section 2 is 11. As we are required to follow the lawful directives of Federal, State, and Local authorities, holding a meeting under the aforementioned article is prohibited. As such, the Grand Lodge cannot be bound nor abide by Article VI, Section 2.
In closing, I know of 4 members of our Masonic family diagnosed with COVID-19. There may be others, but I pray not. Please, stay in contact with your brethren. Use social media platforms, including holding Zoom or other video conferencing applications to keep the bonds of friendship and fellowship alive. Sincerely, thank you for your patience, understanding, and support you have provided during these unprecedented and difficult times. We will get through this together.
M∴ W∴ Steven Pence