Happy New Year 2021The Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I hope and trust that you all had a very enjoyable Christmas despite the restrictions.

I have little to report this week given that Grand Lodge staff are on Christmas Leave although Grand Secretary and I have been in regular contact during the holiday period.

Unfortunately, the Craft has suffered quite a few deaths during the past week with both Brethren and wives of Brethren passing away. It is extremely difficult for families who suffer bereavement at this time of the year on top of the many restrictions relating to funerals brought about by Covid-19. I’m sure you would wish to join with me in extending our united condolences to all in our Masonic family who have suffered bereavement at this time.

The Heads of Orders meeting will take place on 13th January. This will be followed on Thursday 14th with a meeting of the Administration Committee. I will provide an update from those meetings in the weekly update on 15th January.

The announcement this week that the vaccine produced by Oxford University has now been given full approval will hopefully mean that the vaccination programme can now go ahead with some speed. This, however, has been dampened somewhat with the significant rise in cases throughout Scotland this week.  We will need to remain patient, but I am confident that we will have meetings in the New Year.

Hogmanay is certainly going to be much quieter than normal this year with all the usual celebrations put on hold. Despite the stay-at-home restrictions, I hope that as we step into 2021 you and your families will all be blessed with good health and happiness in the year ahead

SCFS


An additional 27 new members joined the group which now has a membership of 4240 Brethren from not only the Scottish Constitutions but from many of our Sister Constitutions throughout the world.

This week saw the total examples of charitable giving recorded within the group rise to 599, submitted by 245 of its members.

These updated contributions can now be attributed as to being made on behalf of 294 Lodges, from within 31 Provincial Grand Lodges, 20 District Grand Lodges, Superintendencies and Lodges under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.

The total identifiable monetary value of the contributions now recorded has risen to £515,971.

SCFS Overseas Report 

  • Although understandably quiet, due to festive period priorities, we did welcome Brethren from Central South Africa (Transvaal), Middle East (Malaysia and Singapore), Jamaica, Western Australia Goldfields, Nigeria, Lebanon. Our Overseas Membership of Brethren and is now standing at 1257 
  • International Constitution Membersjoined from the Grand Lodge of Nigeria, Grand Lodge of New South Wales and A.C.T., Grand Lodge of Ireland, Grand Lodge of Illinoise, Grand Lodge of India, Grand Lodge of Virginia, Grand Lodge of Quebec, UGLE (Cyprus), Grand Lodge of Japan, Grand Lodge of Russia, Grand Lodge of Italy, United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Grand Lodge of Texas. 
  • Total ICM membership is now 132
  • We look forward to welcoming both our first Overseas Member and first ICM of 2021.

 

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason


 
 

GLoSThe Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

2020 started well – after a busy January and February at home, I flew out to Johannesburg where accompanied by Grand Treasurer, Brother Jim Bell, I had the pleasure of visiting our District Grand Lodge of Central South Africa followed by the Installation of our new DGM of Botswana, Brother Jayaraman Ramesh. We then headed to Harare in Zimbabwe where we joined the Brethren of the District at their annual communication. From Zimbabwe, next stop was Malawi to visit two schools and two Lodges before making our way to KwaZulu Natal to install the new DGM, Brother Ken Tucker. It was then back to the UK where we encountered a country beset with the deadly Coronavirus.

Since then we have all experienced a year that has been extraordinary, frustrating and difficult. For many, a year of sadness losing loved ones and being unable to mourn their passing properly – for many, a year of distress through ill health, mentally and physically – for many a year of concern with loss of jobs or businesses collapsing and of course a year which has seen all  our Lodges closing whereby we have been unable to join with each other as would be the normal.

However, in the midst of adversity we have much to be thankful for. We have witnessed first-hand the valued tenets of Brotherly Love and Relief being demonstrated in so many ways throughout all of our Districts, Provinces and Lodges. We have witnessed the creative and imaginative use of technology to keep everyone in touch with each other. We have witnessed the staff at Grand Lodge going that extra mile to keep the wheels of our beloved organisation turning and we have witnessed the tremendous dedication of our staff in the Masonic Homes resulting in them remaining Covid free. Working Parties have been established to work on the future strategy of our organisation and to update the present discipline system with further working parties to be established in the New Year to take us forward in a positive and upbeat manner. I extend my sincere thanks to you all for your support and understanding during the year – it is greatly appreciated.

Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas, our Jewish Brethren have just celebrated Hanukkah and only a month ago our Hindu Brethren celebrated Diwali. The common theme in the three celebrations is Light. As we approach the start of a new year, while there will be ongoing difficulties, likewise there will be light. We have, thanks to the dedication of our scientists and medical experts, a vaccine which will hopefully give us all the protection that we so desperately seek to allow a return to some form of normality.

I wish you all a peaceful, a hopeful and a light-filled Christmas. May you and yours enjoy Christmas despite the restrictions and I pray that the New Year will be a year of great blessings for you, your families and all those dear to you.

SCFS


An additional 44 new members joined the group which now has a membership of 4213 Brethren. All members are from Lodges working under, or whose Grand Lodges are recognised by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

This week saw the total examples of charitable giving recorded within the group rise to 595, submitted by 243 of its members.

These updated contributions can now be attributed as to being made on behalf of 294 Lodges, from within 31 Provincial Grand Lodges, 20 District Grand Lodges, Superintendence’s and Lodges under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.

The total identifiable monetary value of the contributions now recorded has risen to £513,171.

There have been 82,214 individual comments likes, and other reactions to the group from its members since 1st May 2020.
 

SCFS Overseas Report 

  • Our Overseas Membership of Brethren from Lodges under the Scottish Constitution is steadily climbing and is now standing at 1250  New members were welcomed from Lodges in Central South Africa, East Africa, Jamaica, Middle East, Zambia
  • International Constitution Membersjoined from the United Grand Lodge of Queensland, UGLE (Cyprus), Grand Lodge of Texas, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Grand Lodge of Wyoming, Grand Lodge of New York, Grand Lodge of Quebec, Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Lodge of South Africa, Grand Lodge of the Philippines, United Grand Lodge of Victoria, Grand Lodge of Czech Republic, Grand Lodge of Cuba
  • The 100th International Constitution Memberjoined this week and is Brother Manuel Carrasco, Grenfield Park Lodge, St. Lawrence District, Grand Lodge of Quebec. Congratulations are extended. Total ICM membership is now 117
  • Extremely interesting posts were received from Lodge Ailsa, No. 1172, (Singapore, Middle East) and Lodge Tasker, No. 454, (Newfoundland and Labrador) which shared the wonderful support being provided by them to their local communities. 

 

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason


 
 

GLoSThe Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I mentioned briefly last week that the results of the international survey in which more than 7500 of our Brethren participated have been finalised. The results are with the strategy group, but Grand Secretary will arrange to get the results sent to all Districts and Provinces, hopefully today. I am keen that you all look at how you can use the information locally but equally keen that you give feedback to the strategy group. It is important that the strategy group take on board the views and recommendations from the Districts and Provinces in order that they can present as holistic a report to the Administration Committee as possible. In addition, as a direct result of the findings, I am looking to set up a “young masons forum” in the new year. Fuller details of the timescales and how the feedback can be achieved from the Provinces and Districts will be included in the covering letter from Grand Secretary. I look forward to receiving your responses and to learn how you intend to use the information locally. I extend grateful thanks to Brother Kenneth Miller who has worked extremely hard both organising the Survey and analysing the results. A job well done.

SCFS


Excellent week on SCFS, lots of posts, new members, and another milestone reached.
The group once again witnessed another increase in its membership, which has now risen to 4169… Brethren from all 4 Quarters of the Globe.
An additional 41 posts were shared on the group, bringing the total number to 567, these having been submitted by 231 group members on behalf of 286 Lodges working under the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
Last week the total identifiable monetary value of contributions was £632 short of £400,000 and the group Admin Team was very much looking forward to reporting this week that the £400k barrier had been broken. However, those expectations were surpassed by a country mile.
Bro. Kevin Taggart, PM, one of the team who administer the group, received on behalf of his Mother Lodge, Lodge Buchan St. John, No. 636 a quantity of long-life foodstuffs from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. The value of the produce received was in excess of £100,000. This has now been shared with Lodges and Provinces throughout the country with which Lodge Buchan St John has an association. These foodstuffs are now in the process of being distributed to various groups and organisations which provide invaluable help and support to those most in need within those communities.
As a result, the total identifiable monetary value of contributions has risen to £506,928.
 

SCFS Overseas Report 

Membership is steadily climbing and is now standing at 1244 Members. New members were welcomed from Lodges in Belgium, Middle East, Newfoundland and Labrador, Panama, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Western Australia
International Constitution Members joined from the National Grand Lodge of France, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Philippines and the Grand Lodge of Ireland. We now have 99 members from other constitutions and look forward to welcoming our 100th ICM this coming week.
Extremely interesting posts were received from Lodge San Andreas, No. 1835, (Bahamas), Lodge St. Andrew, No. 1140, (Republic of Panama) and Lodge Ailsa, No. 1172, (Singapore, Middle East), which shared the wonderful support being provided by them to their local communities.
“The Clansman” District Publication, featuring a wonderful compilation of support given by all Lodges within the District of the Middle East since the COVID-19 pandemic started, was received from Brother Teo Beng Hock, District Grand Secretary... a “must read”.
 
As we approach the end of what has been a difficult year, we have a very special addition to our Grand Lodge shop. A painting of Grand Lodge was created by local staff nurse, Julie Fitzsimmons, who painted iconic Edinburgh buildings to de-stress in between shifts at the Royal Infirmary ICU in Edinburgh. We are delighted that she chose Grand Lodge as one of her subjects. We have decided to issue Limited Edition prints for sale in our shop as a fitting tribute to the Year 2020.We only have 250 of these prints - just to keep it a bit special - so if you’re interested in this special Limited Edition, please place your orders as soon as possible. The cost will be a very modest £20 per un-framed print. I’ve ordered mine.
 
Last Saturday night proved to be another first. Sitting in front of the computer screen in full regalia, I attended, along with another fourteen Grand Masters, the Installation of Brother John Smith as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Africa. There was only about twenty or so in the Temple – everyone else was connected by Zoom. The Ceremony was conducted differently from normal but nevertheless with much dignity. There was organ music throughout but no singing. The new Grand Master took his Obligation on a Bible he carried into the Lodge with him as did those who were obligated thereafter. The Installing Master didn’t invest the new Grand Master, he invested himself with the regalia of his Office all other Office-bearers wore full Regalia from the outset so that there was no contact with each other whatsoever. When the Grand Master was presenting what we would refer to as the Commissions, they were framed but before lifting and presenting the Commission, his hands and the hands of the recipient were sprayed by the equivalent of one of our Grand Stewards – this was done in an obvious but unobtrusive way and in no way detracted from the dignity of the ceremony. It certainly demonstrated what we will need to look at doing whenever we are allowed by Government restrictions to open the Lodges once again.
I think it is fair to say that whenever we are able to start catching up with the list of Lodge Rededications, they will, certainly at first, be carried out with restricted numbers and possibly no Dinners or Harmonies but that does not matter too much. The important thing will be to Rededicate the Lodge – the celebratory dinner can happen at a later date. There will be three teams from Grand Lodge out and about every Saturday (and on other evenings) in an endeavour to meet every commitment we have as soon as we can.
 
Finally, what splendid news this week from Dougie Fergie – Brethren throughout the world are certainly keeping that great tenet of Freemasonry – Charity – to the fore. In monetary terms alone Scottish Freemasons have been contributing over £15,500 per week into the communities where they operate plus the Brotherly Love shown in so many other ways is incalculable. Keep up the good work – stay safe.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason


 
 

Matthew 2 10 11

I wrote this before seeing the Grand Chaplain's Advent message. You will see we have some over lap in our thoughts on Light. 

 St. Matthew Chap 2 vs 10-11:

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

St. Luke Chap 2 Vs 14-16: 

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter (Last 2 Verses)

 

Well here we are, it’s December again with Christmas and New Year on their way. Normally this month I would be doing the Lodge Crawfurdsburn Divine Service. Maybe you will be kind enough to look on this as my mini sermon for 2020.

It has been another quick year despite the lockdown and restriction that the pandemic has brought us.  This is going to be a memorable year for us all. For the older amongst us and for our children and grand-children. I am sure they will be telling their children and grand-children the story of how life changed for us all in 2020.

Christmas will be different this year too with the limits on who we can see and what we can do. I hope you all manage to enjoy your Christmas despite those restrictions.

One thing that hasn’t changed about Christmas is in the messages brought to us from St. Matthew and St. Luke, and reflected in the carol, In The Bleak Mid-Winter.  The message of the birth of the baby Jesus. Matthew and Luke tell the story that we love. The story of the baby in the manger. Neither St. Mark nor St. John start their gospels with the birth of the baby but at this time of year that doesn’t matter. It is the celebration of  the birth of Jesus that we remember.

Of course it is a time of year when our Brethren of other religions celebrate in their own ways too with the Hindu Diwali festival of lights and the Jewish Hanukkah, also a festival of lights. So let’s not forget the diversity of Freemasonry at this time of year.

Our Muslim brethren too revere Jesus as the “Prophet who did not die”. The story of Mary and the virgin birth is told in the Quran 19: 16 to 34. Muslims believe Jesus’ first miracle was to speak as a baby from the cradle when his mother was accused of committing the sin of becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The baby Jesus is reputed to have said that He was the servant of Allah and had been appointed by Allah to be a prophet.

Whatever book is your Volume of the Sacred Law it is a time to celebrate the Light. Christmas is of course the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. (St. John 8 vs 12) Jesus, foretold by the angels to the shepherds who travelled to see Him in the manager. They went on to tell everyone they met about the coming of the Son of God. Jesus, visited by the wise men who were guided by a star to Bethlehem, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

2020 may bring restriction on how we celebrate Christmas but it cannot change the way we celebrate the original meaning of Christmas. To visit the baby Jesus in our own way. To think about Him and the Christmas message, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

So what can I give Him? If I were a Shepherd I could bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man I could bring gold, frankincense or myrrh. Yet what can I give Him? Give my heart. And isn’t that the most important thing you can bring him? Give your heart, give your love to the Light of the World. Carry that light with you wherever you go. Brighten the world, don’t bring darkness to those you know, those you love and even those strangers you meet going through the road that is your life. A kind word and just a smile to lighten everything.  (There I go quoting the Beatles again and I didn’t realise until I’d written it. ) Peace and goodwill to all mankind, regardless of their religion, creed or colour.

Bring your gift to Jesus, give your heart. Bring love and kindness. Bring peace and goodwill.  Ring out 2020 and ring in the new by bringing your light to 2021.

John Lennon would have been 80 this year. The 8th of December marks the 40th anniversary since he was shot down and murdered. I would like to finish off this message to you with his words which I think sum things up nicely.  

“So this is Christmas, And what have we done? Another year over, A new one just begun.

And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun. The near and the dear ones, The old and the young.

And so this is Christmas, For weak and for strong, For rich and the poor ones, The world is so wrong. And so happy Christmas, For black and for white, For yellow and red ones, Let's stop all the fight.

A very Merry Christmas, And a happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear.”

 

A Christmas Benediction

Let us go from this place proclaiming that we have seen the glory of God.

Believing that there is a light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness will never overcome.

And may the love of the Creator, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of the Christ-child be with you this Christmas and evermore.

Amen.

 

GLoSThe Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I am indebted to Brother Dr Douglas Nicol, PGM of Aberdeenshire East for the following information regarding the Coronavirus vaccine.

“Vaccines have been developed and are now being released in the UK, and the hope is that most of us may be vaccinated by early Summer. This will assist us revert to a degree of normality and I encourage you and your families to take advantage of them.

There are two vaccines which are being released in the UK which work in different ways. 

1)    The Oxford vaccine manufactured by Astra Zeneca uses well-established technology.

2)   The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a new technique developed over the last year which has been thoroughly tested in spite of the short time frame.

Although enough vaccine will eventually be available to protect us, I am becoming very concerned about "fake news” regarding the vaccine and its safety currently circulating on social media. This includes masonic media, where the alleged dangers of vaccination are proffered. These include -

1) “It hasn't been tested enough and we are going to suffer side effects later”.

2) “The vaccine will take over the cells of our bodies and cause serious conditions in future”

3) “The vaccine contains microchips which will allow governments to control us”. 

4) “The vaccine is made from animal or aborted human foetus material”

5) “Comments also include allegations that Governments are not being honest with us”.

Scientifically there is no evidence for any of these or other similar statements.

I am really anxious that many Brethren, on hearing these reports will refuse the vaccine. I feel strongly that we need a high rate of vaccination to protect Brethren and their families and allow lodges to restart. In my professional opinion, vaccination will ensure greater safety of our members, many of whom are of mature years or suffer chronic ill health. It is said that a figure of 70% is required to achieve appropriate "Herd Immunity" to move towards allowing this. I also feel that it is our duty to be vaccinated not only for our own safety but for the safety of Lodge members and our families, as not doing so will put ourselves, friends, and family at risk and also prolong this pandemic.

I do appreciate that this new technology can appear to be frightening, but I trust the scientists and can assure you that they are doing their best for us and would not release a vaccine recklessly. Having had experience of seeing what the virus can do to my own patients and having received reports from consultant colleagues who worked in ITUs managing Covid cases, my conclusion is that I would rather take a risk on a vaccine than seriously risk my life should I develop Covid. 

Please Brethren, when you get the opportunity, take the vaccine as it may save your life”. 

Dr Douglas Nicol, Provincial Grand Master Aberdeenshire East 

SCFS



An additional 33 new members joined the group which now has a membership of 4139 Brethren from not only the Scottish Constitution but from many of our Sister Constitutions throughout the world.

This week saw the total examples of charitable giving recorded within the group rise to 526, submitted by 219 of its members. These updated contributions can now be attributed as to being made on behalf of 276 Lodges, from within 31 Provincial Grand Lodges, 20 District Grand Lodges, Superintendencies and Lodges under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.

The total identifiable monetary value of the contributions now recorded has risen to £399,368. This represents an average of £12,480 per week to date.

There have been 72,690 individual comments, likes, and other reactions to the group since its inception.

SCFS Overseas Report 

  • Our Overseas Membership is steadily climbing and is now standing at 1236  New members were welcomed from Lodges in Belgium, East Africa, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, Western Australia Goldfields District.
  • 21 International Constitution Membersjoined from the Grand Lodge of New South Wales and A.C.T., Grand Lodge of Norway, Grand Lodge of BulgariaUGLE, Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, Grand Lodge of Japan
  • A notable statistic is that 10 Past Masters also joined the group from Lodge Leonardo Da Vinci, No. 152, under the Simbolic Grand Lodge of Paraguay. 
  • Extremely interesting posts were received showing the great support being given by Lodge Northcliffe, No. 1086, and Lodge Newfoundland Kilwinning, No. 1754 (Newfoundland and Labrador), Lodge St. Andrew, No. 1140 (Republic of Panama), Lodge Scotia, No. 1323, and Lodge Salisbury Kilwinning, No. 1097 (Zimbabwe), District Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, District Grand Lodge and its 10 Lodges (Western Australia)

Both the Strategy Working Group and Grand Committee met this week – two good meetings. The results of the survey were discussed at the Strategy meeting and will greatly assist in preparing both the short term (Covid) Strategy and the long-term strategy – they will also be circulated to District and Provincial Grand Secretaries for local use.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason


 
 

GLoSThe Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I would wish, this week, on behalf of the Scottish Craft to congratulate Brother Kenneth Jack, MM Lodge St. Michael, No 38, Crieff, and PM of Lodge St. Andrew, No. 814, Pitlochry, who has been elected a Fellow of the Philalethes Society. 

The Philalethes Society is a prestigious independent American Masonic Research body, formed in 1928, which occasionally confers the honour of Fellowship on those brethren the Society consider have distinguished themselves by their prodigious contribution to Masonic research and literature. Fellowship is restricted to 40 brethren throughout the world, and there is currently 35. 

Past Fellows include George S. Draffen, and Rudyard Kipling. Current Fellows include our Grand Lodge Curator, Bob Cooper. Brother Kenneth Jack becomes only the third Scottish recipient of this high honour, George S. Draffen, and Bob Cooper being the other two.

Writing personally to Kenny, Bro. Shawn Eyer, editor of the Society’s eponymous publication ‘Philalethes Journal,’ said: “Congratulations! You have earned this title with hard work and there is no one more deserving.”

SCFS



During the week the group was delighted to have recorded its 500th post which was shared by Bro. Chris Igoe, Junior Deacon of Lodge Newbattle St. Mary, No. 1063, in Newtongrange.

501 posts have now been shared with the group by 213 of our members representing contributions from 266 Lodges, from within 31 Provincial Grand Lodges, 20 District Grand Lodges, Superintendencies and Lodges under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.

Membership of the group has now risen to 4106.

A continuous rise to £382,169 of identifiable monetary donations has now been recorded. This figure represents only those posts where a monetary value can be directly attributed, therefore the total value of contributions will be significantly higher than this figure.

SCFS Overseas Report 

  • We welcomed another 21 Overseas Brethren from Lodges operating under the Grand Lodge of Scotland this week. 
  • Our Overseas Membership is steadily climbing and is now standing at 1230 
  • The geographical spread of Overseas Members this week saw Brethren being welcomed from the Districts of ... East Africa, Far East, Middle East, Sierra Leone and The Gambia 
  • The largest increase in membership was from the District of East Africa.
  • Lodge Unity, No. 1611, from Nairobi, Kenya, in the District of East Africa, had the largest number of Brethren joining from an individual Lodge.
  • We welcomed new International Constitution Members (ICMs) viewing the SCFS page from the Grand Lodge of Ireland, United Grand Lodges of Germany and UGLE. Now having 66 International Constitution Members, SCFS really is being viewed world-wide.
  • Excellent support for their local communities is being provided by our Overseas Lodges and Districts and we await them sharing their posts about this with the group. 

Accompanying the Update this week is an Advent message from our Senior Grand Chaplain, Brother Rev Dr Angus Kerr. My sincere thanks to Brother Kerr for such an uplifting message that reaches out to all Brethren of the Scottish Craft.

Grand Committee will be meeting next Thursday by Zoom. There is a lengthy agenda which highlights the amount of work being carried out by our standing committees despite the lockdowns, restrictions and regulations. My thanks to the members of the Committees and to the staff at 96 George Street for their ongoing commitment to ensure that the wheels of Grand Lodge continue to turn.

Likewise, I’m delighted to hear of the many innovative on-line meetings that are taking place in our Lodges throughout the world. In the past week I have been privileged to attend St Andrew’s Nights in Lodges as far apart as Midlothian and Trinidad; Lodges celebrating significant milestones in their history are having on-line harmonies, special Christmas meetings are being planned and a number of Lodges are organising on-line Carol Services. My thanks to you all – keep up the good work.

The announcement this week that vaccines are going to be available before Christmas and that a rolling programme will be underway soon is tremendous news which gives us all a boost and the hope that we will be able to meet again early in the new year. The logistics of getting the vaccine to everyone will be immense so I would expect that a return to some form of normality will take time. But we can use that time well by ensuring that our buildings and meeting places are properly prepared. The Strategy Working Group will be issuing guidance to all Lodges to safeguard everyone during the phased return.

Finally, Grand Secretary has issued notification to the Provinces and Districts of all those who have been awarded Honorary Grand Rank this year. My hearty congratulations to you all and I hope and trust that you will be blessed with good health to enjoy your Honorary Grand rank for many years to come.

Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason


 
 

In almost every broadcast from The Prime Minister, First Minister and every other politician and clinician there are words which are heard time and time again. Can you think what they might be? How about “light at the end of the tunnel” or “we are beginning to see the light”? Words which remind us that we are getting there slowly but surely making our way through this pandemic. There is light they tell us. We within the Craft have always known that of course because, if I recall the ritual correctly, light is what we most desire!

This time of year for many of the religions of the world is the period of light. Diwali for our Asian brothers,Hanukkah for our Jewish brethren and Enlightenment is what those in the East most desire. Light is part of the whole religious framework of the lives of millions. In the Christian life it is of course central and this Advent time points us towards the time when we recall that great prophecy of Isaiah that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”(Isaiah 9:2). The Light comes into the world in the form of the Christ child and you and I celebrate the coming by lights around our house, in the streets, on Christmas trees. They should remind us too that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the people of faith have always believed it to be so. That light permeates our lives and we are asked to be beacons of faith taking an ember of light from the Great Light and shining for the faith.

A little Church was being built in the hills and glens of Scotland. It was ready for use except for the electricity connected. The Minister made an odd request (strange people sometimes the clergy!). He asked that no electricity be put in! Instead every time a person came to this Sanctuary they had to bring a candle. The more that came the brighter it would be..the less that came the darker. There was some wisdom in the clerics idea. Together the light shone brighter.

In this holy season I hope and pray that you will indeed be blessed with that shaft of light that penetrates your hearts. I pray that you will be strong in the faith and strong in each other. I pray that the Christ child who brings light into the world will be real to you. I pray that it will not be too long until we are able to meet together again and share the things we enjoy together.

“May the blessing of the Light be upon you---light without and light within,

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in the window of a house..May the Lord bless you and bless you kindly.”

May it be for all of you and I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I am,

Yours fraternally,

Angus Kerr

The Revd Dr Angus Kerr, B.D.,Cert.Min,Th.M.,D.Min

The Senior Grand Chaplain

GLoSThe Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland

William Ramsay McGhee, MStJ, D.L., Grand Master Mason

Brethren

I think at this time of year when the Installations should be getting into full swing that many of us are missing our meetings more than ever – I certainly missed having the Grand Lodge Installation yesterday and I’m sure many of you did likewise. However, it was not to be and that is the situation we find ourselves in. What we can do at present is use our time to good effect contacting those in our Lodges who are maybe a bit more vulnerable than others to make sure they are OK and not wanting for anything. Having regular zoom meetings to keep in touch with each other, use zoom for other activities such as lodge quiz nights or a couple of weeks ago I got involved in a Lodge whisky tasting night – by zoom. We were all sent 12 whiskies to guess where they came from and so on – it was great fun and really enjoyable. We need to be creative and imaginative in our use of zoom. But now is also a good time to contact those who have drifted away from the Lodge – invite them to zoom meetings to meet up with old friends, let them be aware that to get back in good standing, now is as good a time as any with the availability of paying only the current year’s fee. If we can encourage those lapsed members, (and I am aware from reports that a significant number are already attending zoom meetings), to come back when we can finally open the doors again, how encouraging and motivating would that be. Keep up the good work and on your Installation Day, have a zoom, toast each other and start planning for a super, all singing Installation season next year

SCFS



During the week the membership of the group rose to 4062.

This week saw the total examples of charitable giving recorded within the group rise to 491, submitted by 211 group members.

These updated contributions can now be attributed as to being made on behalf of 264 Lodges, from within 31 Provincial Grand Lodges, 20 District Grand Lodges, Superintendence’s and Lodges under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.

The identifiable monetary value of contributions rose to £378,969 during the course of last week. This represents an average of £12,632 per week over the last 30 weeks. (Tremendous achievement Brethren)

Each post within the group is regularly viewed by between 2500 and 3000 of the group membership.

 

SCFS Overseas Report 

  • Congratulations to our 1200th Overseas Member who is Brother Steven Horwood, IPM, Lodge Unity, No. 1154 (Western Province of The Cape of Good Hope) who was invited to join the group by Brother Dr. Douglas R. H. Nicol, PGM, Aberdeenshire East.
  • We welcomed another 16 Overseas Brethren this week. 
  • Our Overseas Membership is now standing at 1209
  • The geographical spread of Overseas Members this week saw Brethren being welcomed from the Districts of ... East Africa, Mauritius, Middle East, Western Australia.
  • The largest increase in membership was from the District of the Middle East.
  • Lodge Mount Longonot, No. 1813, from Kenya in the District of East Africa, had the largest number of Brethren joining from an individual Lodge.
  • We welcomed new International Constitution Members (ICMs) viewing the SCFS page from the Grand Lodge of IrelandUGLE, Grand Lodge of Spain, Grand Lodge of Virginia, United Grand Lodge of Queensland. SCFS really is being viewed worldwide.
  • We published our first post from the District of Western Australia which was on behalf of the 10 Lodges in the District and of DGL.
  • Other excellent posts were received from Lodge San Andreas, No. 1835, (Bahamas), Lodge Darul Takzim, No. 1836 (Malaysia in Middle East), Lodge Felicity, No. 1681 (Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada). 

The raffle for the silver watch chain was drawn yesterday and the winner was – Brother Eric Sweeney, Master of Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning No 217, Port Glasgow in the Province of Renfrewshire West. Many congratulations Brother Sweeney and I hope and trust that you will derive great pleasure wearing it. My sincere thanks to our anonymous donor who made the chain – your craftmanship is excellent, and thanks also to John Muir for his unstinting sales promotion, to Mrs Dawn Oliff for all the background work and to Brother Marcus Humphrey for his support and for presiding over the Draw. The chain realised the magnificent sum of £3065 for the Masonic Homes. Finally, my sincere thanks to all Brethren who kindly participated in the draw.

As I mentioned last week, there is a wee light at the end of the tunnel for all of us at home and abroad with the announcement that there may be a vaccine available by Christmas time. Let’s hope and pray that this may be the start of a return to something resembling normality. In the meantime, please stay safe, look after yourselves and each other.

Just health enough to banish care,

Just wealth enough to give and spare,

Just friends enough sincere and true

May this glad season bring to you.


Kindest regards

Ramsay McGhee

Grand Master Mason