An Update from Grand Master John Trauner
I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits.
As you know, the state of California and a number of counties issued stay-at-home orders in mid-March and directed that all non-essential gatherings be postponed or canceled until further guidance is provided. All Masonic gatherings are deemed non-essential in the context of these orders. On March 18, I directed that there be no Masonic gatherings of any kind in this state. This includes all Masonic organizations and youth orders. I included instructions to lodges on the payment of essential bills and charity, and participation in Masonic funeral services. This direction is still in full effect and will remain so until further notice.
As Masons, we are guided by our values and we will lead with our values. Our values include looking out for one another and acting in the best interests of others, including our communities. Our values also include following the laws by which we are governed. We will follow all orders and guidance issued by national, state, and local governments.
Last week the state of California publicized four stages to “resilience and recovery” outlining how the stay-at-home order will be modified and ultimately rescinded. We are currently in Stage One. While there is not yet enough information about each stage to know when or how Masonic meetings and events may resume, we believe gatherings like ours will be permitted in the later stages.
Due to stabilization of COVID-19 hospitalizations and other key metrics, Governor Newsom announced on Monday that the state will move to the initial phase of Stage Two on Friday, May 8. This phase does not apply to gatherings like ours. We will continue to monitor state and local modifications, and I will issue further guidance when it is possible for us to conduct meetings and events in a safe and healthy way.
In the meantime, I am adding to my March 18 instructions to permit the elected leaders of lodges to approve dues remissions recommended by the charity committee. Elected officers should take this issue up as soon as possible in order to meet the June 30 deadline to record dues remissions. I have also addressed other issues concerning per capita and the grand secretary will issue a notice concerning those later this week.
The Grand Lodge has canceled a number of statewide meetings and events. It has proven impossible to reschedule the 2020 Master and Wardens Retreats. While the retreats are now canceled, I am pleased to announce that we will offer a new virtual program for masters, wardens and other lodge leaders that will begin in June. The California Masonic Symposium has been modified to a virtual experience and will be offered on July 16. You will receive more information about both of these very soon. In addition, we have introduced an all-new Masonic Speaker Series offering two to three distinguished speakers per month. Over 1,000 Masons from around the world registered for our first program on April 27. And of course our 9 p.m. toasts every Saturday night on Facebook Live will continue as they have been popular close to home and around the world. Visit this website for more information about Grand Lodge events.
I am very proud of the response to the Distressed Worthy Brother Relief Fund. Due to your generosity, we have been able to help Masons from all around the state who have lost their jobs or otherwise been affected by COVID-19. If you know a brother in need, please direct him to Masonic Assistance. The phone number is on the back of our dues cards. If you can contribute to the fund, go to masonicfoundation.org and make a gift today.
My brothers, as difficult as it has been to cancel our gatherings and remain at a physical distance, Masonry is as strong and unified as ever. Masons know how to “wait a time with patience” and we know the rewards of doing so. We will meet in our lodge rooms again–with likely modifications–but we will do so only when the time is right and the conditions are safe. Until then, let’s keep our social connections alive online and let’s keep the light of Freemasonry shining bright in our lives.
Sincerely and fraternally,
John E. Trauner