Covid Royal Arch Adaptations
On Monday 6th of July, Supreme Grand Chapter of England and Wales issued a set of adaptations that will need to be observed by all Chapters, under its jurisdiction, which includes Middlesex.
These adaptations are meant to be temporary and have been designed in such a way so as to ensure the welfare of the Companions is paramount.
The ME Grand Superintendent, E Comp Peter Baker fully supports these adaptations and it his request that all of the Chapters in the Province accept and welcome them so that Royal Arch Freemasonry can return, and we can return to meeting as before.
The principal problems associated with forming a convocation relate to a requirement to;
- Maintain the required current social distancing requirements
- Maintain all other central and local Covid-related regulations
- Maintain the dignity of the ceremonies in this Order
A number of potential solutions are described in the guidance issued by SGC that we have extracted and shown in separate documents together with some additional notes which will give some further assistance when carrying out Royal Arch Ceremonial during the forthcoming period. This will offer the ability for Chapters to operate, albeit at a restricted level, yet also comply with current social distancing requirements and minimise unnecessary handling, and thereby cleaning, of items and furniture within the Chapter.
These options also offer an opportunity to reduce the overall time spent in close proximity to others.
These solutions are envisaged as temporary and it should be noted that failure to adopt certain changes to the ceremony will prevent most Chapters from being able to open and may well unnecessarily increase risks to those present.
Companions are reminded that compliance with all relevant Government requirements and local rules issued by their place of meeting are essential, and any deliberate disregard of these requirements should be regarded as activity which may bring Freemasonry into disrepute and therefore result in disciplinary action.
There is considerable scope for local variation in the management of a convocation, but we would strongly suggest that the issued guidance and notes are adopted during this period and that they should be capable of being easily integrated into most workings.
Regalia and Furniture
Quite clearly, there are many more items of regalia and furniture in use than in the Craft. These are all potentially capable of transmitting infection when handled and may require cleaning both before and after a meeting. To help avoid the potential transmission of any infection, we strongly advise that gloves are not worn, but rather that the Companions wash their hands thoroughly before and after the meeting.
To reduce such problems, SGC considers that;
- It is acceptable for Companions to wear only their personal regalia
- We suggest that this should be your own Apron and collar
- It is not considered necessary for officers collars to be worn
- To avoid these being handled we suggest that these are kept in your Chapter locker
- It is not considered necessary for robes or surplices to be worn
- We suggest that as most Chapters will share robes, these should be left outside
- Sceptres can be dispensed with if desired
- We suggest that the Sceptres are placed near to the chairs of the MEZ, H & J
A general recommendation is that only one person should handle any individual item during the course of a convocation.
We would also recommend that hand sanitiser should be available during the meeting as well as disinfectant wipes for the items of furniture.
Dependant on the size of the Chapter room you are using and whether you are carrying out an Installation, Lecture or just opening and closing, you may find that it would be desirable to minimise the number of items on or around the floor-cloth.
Only the following are to be regarded as absolutely essential to open any convocation:
- The three Great Lights (i.e. VSL and the Square and Compasses)
- The Pedestal
If it is desired to use the banners of the twelve tribes, and if the room layout allows, you may find that they would be better placed behind seats (as in Supreme Grand Chapter) or, against the North and South walls of the room, thereby maximising the available floor space.
All other items of Chapter furniture can be considered optional but before committing to use them, each Chapter should consider the cleaning regime that will need to be employed both before and after these items have been used.
The practice of distributing paperwork at the same time as the Chapter Summons is strongly advised.
These would include for example;
- Minutes of the last regular convocation
- Almoners report
- The Almoner would only need to report on anything not already in his report at the meeting
- Charity Stewards Report
- The Charity Steward would only need to report on anything not already in his report at the meeting
- Communications from :–
- Supreme Grand Chapter
- The Chapter itself
Effective consultation with members about matters of business before each meeting will also reduce the time required for the meeting.
It is vital to note that, at present, the ceremony of Exaltation is not considered possible without compromising the enormous impact that the ceremony has on the candidate. Therefore, SGC has directed that no Chapter is to carry out an Exaltation until the current restrictions have been relaxed by the Government and further guidance issued by SGC, who will continue to review and consider options.
Download a copy of these Notes HERE
Also see – Guidance for Resumption of Meetings