The North Carolina Mason

May/June 2020

North Carolina Mason

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Page 2 The North Carolina Mason May/June 2020 ■ see NEW REALITY, page 3 REALITY, from page 1 opinion on whether lodges could meet virtually. He concluded that lodges could, with proper notifica- tion to all members in advance, hold a stated communication virtually if they have dispensation from the Grand Master, but must use approved technology rules offered by the NC Grand Lodge Tech Committee. Lodge must open ritualistically; opening lodge symbolically or by proclamation was prohibited. Recording meet- ings also was prohibited. Lodges also were not permitted to examine candidates or conduct a secret ballot. On May 13, the Grand Master offered a phased-in approach to resuming Masonic contact. He wrote that Masters could, at their discretion, allow up to 10 officers of the Lodge to meet in person (with proper distancing) at the lodge for ritual practice, and allowed coaches and candidates to meet in lodges for in-person coaching. No busi- ness was allowed to occur in lodges during this time and stringent disinfection after all meet-ups within lodges were required. He also urged Masters to ensure that their lodges have adequate disinfectant, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer available and that all surfaces members may come into contact with are regularly disinfected prior to and following any gathering in the lodge. e Master should take an inventory of the number of pairs of white gloves they have available, as some members may wish to wear gloves once meetings are permitted to resume. Wearing masks is highly recommended, he said. Brethren are encouraged to wear them at all activities. As for the months to come, "I will follow a phased approach similar to what the governor has laid out. Sometime after the governor permits us to move to Phase II — when that happens — I'll make the judgment on when to permit business meetings again. But I don't anticipate any degree work for quite a while – distancing can't be maintained in those cases." When Phase III comes, it likely will return the state to business as usual. If there is a capacity limit within that state order, Masons will comply with that. "Once we are completely reopened — I'm hoping late summer — we'll target five areas I was not able to get to for completing my district meetings: Wilmington, Charlotte, Lenoir, Asheville and finish at Stokesdale Lodge. We may hold that at the Greensboro temple if we need extra capacity. "My message will be a little different than it was earlier this year," he said with a chuckle. "ings are a lot different now. Meanwhile, care was being taken to secure the health and safety of our charitable homes – the Masonic Home for Chil- dren at Oxford and WhiteStone: A Masonic and Eastern Star Community in Greensboro. Both closed to the public in March. Because of those efforts, coupled with strict new policies for disin- fection, food service and general care of those who live in the homes, not one case of COVID-19 had been reported in either popula- tion as of presstime. Board members of both homes have not let the pandemic stop progress. Both boards in May held their quarterly meetings online and got their work done well, and in record time. At MHCO, the kids and their caretakers were in good shape. Some who had left campus before the shutdown and returned went into isolation cottages for 14 days after their return. Staff and care workers were in good spirits and working hard to maintain a healthy habitat for all. Adjustments have been made campus-wide. Food supplies were plenty. e fate of the home's annual Homecoming in October was up in the air at presstime. Organizers will make a final decision in August. In the meantime, the pool was scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend. As a private pool, it was not subject to state shutdown regulations. At WhiteStone, restrictions on visitors helped keep the virus out. All residents and staff were wearing masks outside of their apartments. Staff was also working with residents who might be feeling depressed or saddened by quaran- tine fatigue. Staff and a task force of residents were working hard to help keep the mood light, with pop-up concerts in the parking lots, greetings from a friend in a T-Rex costume waving happily to all, and a chance for residents to write messages for Facebook to be shared with friends and family outside. "WhiteStone will take a slow and calculated approach to reporting and easing restrictions based on data and info that comes from health officials, to make sure we're doing it at the right time and not posing added risk," Adminis- trator Mark Lewis said. "We want to make sure COVID-19 stays out of our campus. We were among the first to close and we want to be among the last to open." e North Carolina Masonic Foundation board, working with the charities, maintained a close eye on investments, weathering a raucous market in the early days of the shutdown and protecting assets. By May, investments were recovering nicely, said NCMF Chief Development Officer Jeff Hensley. e public Campaign for WhiteStone, suspended during the isolation, is expected to resume in early Fall. As brothers dealt with the pandemic at home and at work, lodges opted to step back from their own planned fundraisers for the charities. Brother Charles Barrett, chair of the Commission on Subordinate Lodges Special Activities, said some 30 fundraisers were cancelled statewide. About a third had been rescheduled for later this year. e big question for later this year will be where and how Annual Communication operates. "Even if all the restrictions are lifted, I suspect a fair number of our brethren will not want to be present with 1,200 people in a very warm hotel ballroom," Bradshaw said. "So we're looking at every- thing right now." Grand Chaplain's Corner During these "unusual" times, we are all constantly looking for ways to connect and enjoy the fellowship and Brotherly love that has brought us together. I have noticed over social media and through phone conversa- tions we have done a very good job at staying in touch with one another. I want to suggest that we need to stay connected to the one in whom we place our trust as well. Sometimes we can't get that immediate text or call back that we need, but in our trust in the Divine we always have access to a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. I want to offer a prayer this month for uncertain times as we crave our fellowship and time together. Most Gracious Architect of the Universe, we come to you in these days of uncertainty, chaos, turmoil, illness, and even death. We come to you because it was in you we first placed our trust. We rely on our brothers to walk with us through earthly times, as well as you. We miss our conversa- tions with one another, a friendly embrace, a smile, a nod, yet in all of these missed actions we know that you are present in our lives. For we first entered alone, then moved to the reassurance that you, as the Divine Architect, were beside us all of the way. Keep us mindful, that you are still there, in these "different times" and will continue to be with us in what may be a "new normal." For it is in you we place our trust and faith. SMIB. AMEN. Faithfully and Fraternally, Rev. Mark M. Vickers Grand Chaplain GLNC AF & AM Ä

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