Digital Is Working
Stephen A. Balke, GGR

Greetings Companions,

WebMason

I hope this post finds you well and healthy.

Lots of Activities!

Over the past several days there have been several people testing systems, exploring alternative methods for keeping in touch, and trying new things to continue their journey, keep in touch with our Brothers, and encourage the continued preservation of our Craft.

Last night I attended two lodge socials online. Edgewood Lodge in New Mexico (Sandia Mountain Lodge was meeting at the same time) had fourteen members get together and share updates on life, exchange a few laughs and plan some reaching out to our members who could not make it. Later on in the evening, I was invited to join with members of Honolulu Lodge online in their first get together during this crisis; AND, they invited several other people from across the world - yes, even Scotland. Aloha, Brothers! Thank you for including me.

According to everyone I asked, a “first time” occurred on Monday. Nine of the fourteen Regional Deputy General Grand Masters met together and discussed how everything was going in their Regions with the General Grand Master and Deputy. In addition to getting updates from everyone on what is happening and what changes to the calendar have occurred, it was just a good conversation that shared ideas and built the team – across three continents. The only change to the next one will be making the time so it accommodates all of our regions (which is actually an eighteen-hour spread! (Click here for the meeting notes)

General Grand Council

Tuesday saw what is now (and for the foreseeable future) a weekly Trustees meeting. There are several things happening, In addition to reviewing our activities and current focuses, several items were covered:

  • There are currently no changes to the plans for the Triennial – AND BOOK your hotel NOW, rooms are filling up.
  • The General Grand Council will help and facilitate the electronic activities of our constituent Councils and Grand Councils as much as possible – as long as it is in congruence with the Grand Lodge activities and directives within the jurisdiction.
  • Reviews of committee and project work and the efforts of Cryptic Masons around the globe were discussed, and we will have some great information and opportunities coming in the near future.
  • This was the fifth formal meeting of the Trustees this year, after the General Grand Council adopting the policies of working electronically.

Electronic Meetings and Resources

Sunday also saw the distribution of a survey to the Grand Recorders of Cryptic Grand Councils. 64 were emailed, and we got 26 participants. The purpose was two-fold:

  1. Gather the opinions of the use of electronic media to continue our work.
  2. The poll tested the viability of Survey Monkey’s ability to keep responses anonymous.
    • Most of them believe that electronic meetings will be helpful to us during this time.
    • We got a glimpse of the conferencing software and available systems being used and people’s opinions of them.
    • We found that many think that this will change how we do things in the future as well.
    • The anonymity was successful, and we could not tell who answered what to each of the questions.
    • See the full report (click here).

Much of our current work is dedicated to providing support and facilitation to the leadership in all levels of Masonic organizations as they face our crisis and make the hard decisions. While we are continuing both facilitating meetings in GGC and researching further and better opportunities for adapting communication, we do have the following options available should your organization wish to use them – these are available on a time based, first-come, first-serve basis:

  1. We have a Zoom pro account, which seems to be the easiest and most stable platform for video conferencing; though it has its drawbacks, it has served us and many organizations well for over a year.
  2. We have and are testing a freeconferencecall.com account, and the Grand Bodies of Minnesota are doing further and more varied testing.
  3. We are revisiting Skype alternatives and will also be looking at Google Hangouts, as well as other conferencing systems.
  4. We have a SurveyMonkey account that will allow for anonymous voting and be effective for over 100 contributors.
  5. We are continuing testing, seeking and exploring options.

Companions, in the face of unforeseen and unexpected circumstances, we should rely on the teachings of our Craft to steer our direction and provide a reliable framework for our decisions. Stay healthy and safe. Keep in contact with our Brethren, widows, and orphans and help when you can. Encourage the continued interactivity of our various organizations. Please let us know if we can help!

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