In important update from Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Ben Batley.
Just as we thought we were nearing the end of the Covid Emergency Regulations and returning to Masonic business as unsual, along comes Omicron!The new variant will make things more difficult for all but hopefully it will not damage the progress we have made following the resumption of meetings.
I think it is appropriate to publicly thank all of our secretaries for navigating our lodges through such difficult times. Also to personally thank those members of the provincial team who have facilitated communications, admin and ceremonial arrangements. Well done and thank you all.
Reflecting on the pandemic effect has brought home to me how important our Membership and Mentoring strategy is – please ensure you are engaged with this either through ours Comms network or at the Seminars led by Martin Slocombe and his team.To highlight the different times we find ourselves in let’s just think about the impact on our lodges, and as a result our provincial team when considering planning for the future. The number of WM from 2016 that might be recommended for a first provincial appointment of 89 lodges is 36, the lowest ever this year. Of those some may not wish for active appointment, and with 20 roles to fill you can see why the Provincial Executive is looking to reducing the number of years before recommendation and allowing those who have performed well to be able continue for a further year. So, sooner and longer opportunity is on the horizon for those who have gone through the Masters Chair for the first time.The pandemic has also seen lodges reflect on viability for the future. In coming months we shall see Cornucopia at Keynsham and St Luke’s at Bath hand in lodge warrants. Sad, but in my view prudent, and something that our membership number might see more of during the next few years. Whilst I wouldn’t encourage this I will encourage lodges that have not got and can’t increase numbers to reflect on arrangement for the future. Loss of another ten lodges would not, in my view, be a problem. Viability of Masonic Hall as a result would be, so please do contact me to discuss if the Provincial Team can help.
Of late my time has been spent with far too many disciplinary matters. Whilst some are by nature necessary, others highlight the need for a little more tolerance, discussion, mediation and consideration of others before raising them with me on behalf of the PGM. It is simple brethren – please remember your obligation and try and resolve differences through an apology before setting off down the disciplinary route, the outcome of which in relatively minor disputes is a local admonishment or no further action.
On the plus side I have been pleased to see greater understanding of the GDPR legislation from you all. Once again, thank you.I have now been able to visit all of our 89 lodges (to be 88 by the end of the season with the consecration of a new Military Lodge in May). It has been a long journey on which I have met as many of you as possible – thank you for the way you have received me, something that will remain with me for years to come.
Finally may I wish you all a very happy, healthy festive season, and a return to more Masonic regularity in the new year!
Yours sincerely and fraternally Ben Batley