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Monday, March 23, 2020

Manitoba's Castle Island Virtual Lodge Hosts Open Meeting 3/25

by Christopher Hodapp

Until the last few weeks, most Masons gave the idea of an online "virtual" tyled lodge meeting little more than the hairy eyeball. The notion of "social distancing" is about as far away from the philosophy and practice of Freemasonry as it's possible to get. But now that we're all being isolated to one extent or another by the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions that prevent us meeting in person, desperate times call for desperate measures.

As we used to say in advertising, "Where do good ideas come from? Somebody else!" Fortunately, someone else has spent several years perfecting the actual practice of holding a tyled Masonic lodge meeting using Internet teleconferencing software. And if you're looking for a 'proof of concept' example to show to your grand master in order to suggest a similar approach right now, there's one coming up this week.

Castle Island Virtual Lodge 190 (CIVL for short) is a regular, recognized Masonic lodge chartered in Canada by the Grand Lodge of Manitoba. They have met online almost exclusively since the day it was chartered, so this social distancing and Internet meeting concept is nothing new for them. The lodge normally holds its stated meetings in any month that has a "fifth Wednesday." But since March is not such a month, they are hosting something special this week.

Castle Island Virtual Lodge will be hosting an Open Meeting and Education Night on Wednesday night, March 25th, at 8PM, EST (7PM CST). The Grand Master of Manitoba has granted the lodge's request that it be permitted to continue meeting, unlike the rest of the physical lodges in their jurisdiction. NOTE: This will not be a tyled lodge meeting, but an open education night. All Masons may 'attend' (but please, no non-Masonic visitors, cowans or eavesdroppers). 

In order to participate, FIRST please contact the Lodge Secretary at: civLodge190@gmail.com

Castle Island uses Zoom conferencing software to hold its meetings (photo above from their officer's installation in 2018), and it can be "attended" with a smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer equipped with headphone, a webcam, and a microphone. Even though visitors' microphones will be muted, please situate yourself in a private, quiet room.

For more information about CIVL, visit their website at: https://civlodge190.ca
By the way, Masons are not the only group suddenly interested in virtual meetings these days. Not by a long shot. Seven out of the top 50 most downloaded free Apple iOS apps this week are communications apps: Zoom is No. 1, followed by Google's Hangouts Meet (No. 9), Microsoft Teams (No. 12), Google Hangouts (No. 29), Messenger (No. 30) Google Duo (No. 36) and WhatsApp (No. 38).

PLEASE NOTE THIS IMPORTANT BUZZKILL: If you're relatively new to Freemasonry but you're suddenly all hot to start holding meetings online, you cannot just leap online and fire up a virtual Masonic lodge meeting. Castle Island Virtual Lodge is unique in its ability to hold regular tyled meetings online, and I can promise without even looking that your own grand lodge likely forbids such things. 

The only other regular, recognized online lodge I am aware of is Endeavor Virtual Lodge 944 in Victoria, Australia, chartered in 2018 by the Grand Lodge of Victoria.

Some lodges of research have worked out the ability to hold their meetings and present papers and speakers online, but that is NOT the same as a tyled Masonic lodge business meeting or degree conferral.

CIVL jumped through enormous hoops to get to do what they do several years ago, and there are few grand masters in the world who will suddenly decide they're all in for approving online stated meetings, much less degree nights. Do NOT attempt to do this without going through proper channels and securing proper permission within your own jurisdiction. If your grand lodge has a technology committee, I'd strongly suggest getting them involved right up front. 

With all of those qualifiers aside, before you set forth on any exploration of this, I urge you to start by seeing how Castle Island does it first.

1 comment:

  1. It says 7:00 CST. Are they not on Daylight Savings Time?


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