The first of a series of six Virtual Open Meetings was opened by RWBro Alex McLaren, Provincial Grand Master, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday 1st February 2021 for Mark and RAM Lodges in the North East area of the Province. Attending by Zoom Video Link were brethren from Mark Lodges:
Priory 693; Pendle 695; Gawthorpe 1014; Keep 911; G. F. Nuttall No. 1405 & Wycoller No. 1582
After a warm welcome to all present, the PGM, gave us an update on how we are responding to current restrictions, how the pandemic is affecting our Lodges and membership numbers.
The Provincial Grand Secretary, WBro David Rainford, suggested how the return to “normal” might look and how lodges should be planning to meet again. Lodges were encouraged to organise Virtual Business Meetings (VBMs) which enable Lodges, by dispensation, to receive reports from Treasurer, Almoner, etc and to vote upon:-
Approval of Minutes and Accounts;
Election of WM, Treasurer and Tyler;
Change subscriptions amount;
Dispersal of Funds for Charitable Purposes;
Exclusions and Resignations;
For further information on VBMs please contact WBro Rainford.
The Deputy PGM, VWBro John Smith brought us up to date with the E L Mark 2021 MBF Festival. He congratulated Lodges and Brethren for their support during, what has been, a challenging year. He encouraged us to continue our efforts to enable our Festival total to be one of which we can all be proud.
He encouraged all brethren intending to attend the Festival Banquet on 3rd July to book as soon as possible and reminded us that if the Banquet cannot go ahead, brethren will receive a full refund.
The PGM then spoke about the Annual Meeting on 26th May and called for support whether the meeting is held in Blackburn or if that is not possible, by Zoom virtual meeting. As last year’s meeting was cancelled, he is proposing at the Annual Meeting that Lodges are not asked to make the usual financial contributions this year.
In line with Grand Rank Appointments, all Acting Provincial Officers appointed in 2020 who have, of course, not had an opportunity to fulfil their roles will remain in office until the Annual Meeting in 2022 and no First Appointments will be made either to Acting or Past Rank. Promotions to Past Rank will be made as usual.
The APGMs WBro Gerry Young and VWBro David Thompson referred briefly to RRR (Recruitment, Retention and Reinvigoration). Gerry explained the creation and operation of a Membership Forum within the Province with W.Bro. Chris Welton and a team of 5 specialist and younger brethren. David focussed on what Lodges themselves were doing to keep in touch with members and prospective candidates.
Questions from brethren about changes to ritual and Provincial costs were discussed and the meeting was closed by the PGM with thanks to all for their participation.