W Bro Tony Shepherd SLGR reports

10am, Saturday 18th July 2020; just hours after the general suspension of activity ended, ten members of the Old Brentwoods Lodge 5342, including the Worshipful Master, Secretary and Director of Ceremonies gathered at the Mount Avenue Banqueting Suite and Masonic Hall in Shenfield, Essex, and opened their Lodge.

Little did the Old Brentwoods Lodge members’ know that their previous regular meeting, back on 12th March would be one of the last masonic gatherings before The Grand Master issued the suspension order just five days later.

The Lodge has a tradition that their next regular meeting is usually held under dispensation on the first Saturday in July each year at their school rather than Freemasons’ Hall. Clearly that didn’t happen but – ever committed to the Lodge and to each other – the Brethren gathered on someone’s driveway with their own chairs and own drinks to catch up and to, effectively, mind the gap.

It was the first time in eighty eight years the school meeting had not taken place. During discussions however, and once the Warrant was consulted, the members realised in fact, their regular meeting in July was always meant to be, rather than on the first Saturday, on the third Saturday, being the 18th, which they subsequently found out was to be the first day after the suspension ended.

So, still under dispensation due to a change of regular venue, the members gathered. Although they decided that the initiation which was scheduled to be the main business would be rescheduled to a future occasion, other business was conducted. They ratified donations of more than £2,250 to various Masonic and Non- Masonic charities, all whilst following strict guidelines from UGLE, Metropolitan and of course their own Director of Ceremonies!

Like so many Lodges who were missing the connection, contact and community, our Zoom gatherings enable the Lodge members to meet each week for social reasons. One week the theme of the group conversation was, “Two things you don’t know about me” with the member having to guess who had said what. For example, “I’m only 1 inch shorter than being medically classified as a Giant” and “I was once offered a job as a carpenter in a Nepalese Monastery”.

Although there has been regular virtual contact and a continued sense of community – as Brethren around the world must also feel – all who were allowed to be present on 18th July were delighted to see each other in person and consider themselves lucky that the planets aligned to make that date possible for them all.

The members imagined that they were likely to be amongst the first Lodges to meet under the Metropolitan Grand Lodge after suspension, and would be pleased to hear from any other Lodges or Chapters that took place on that Saturday, so an invite may be sent to that unit for a visit in the future.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 42.