Masonic First: Lux Libertas Holds Historic Virtual Meet06.02.2020
By WB Bill Faison, Secretary Lux Libertas #772
With a dispensation from the Grand Master, Lux Libertas Lodge #772 made history May 2 by holding its stated communication online.
“Our lodge stepped up to provide its members with a much-needed Master Masons’ lodge experience,” RW William Mills, master of Lux Libertas, said.
MWGM Shaun Bradshaw issued an order on March 16 for the protection of our brethren, locking down lodges, just as the governor had locked down the state. Shortly after doing so, the Grand Master asked the IT Committee to consider how lodges might continue to meet virtually during the lockdown. On March 27, the committee recommended technology solutions and procedures for conducting virtual lodge meetings. Shortly afterward, Lux Libertas asked the Grand Master for permission to meet virtually, and he sought the advice of the Board of Custodians.
The BOC first decided that approving a virtual lodge meeting was outside of the realm of their authority. However, after the officers of Lux Libertas simulated an online opening and closing for a subcommittee of the BOC and Grand Master Bradshaw, Deputy Grand Master David Wicker and Senior Grand Warden Larry Thompson, the BOC supported the lodge’s request to the Grand Master to conduct a virtual meeting. Stipulations were that the charter always be visible, only known and vouched for brethren could attend, and no degree work, examinations or secret ballots would be permitted.
The Grand Master, in response to the BOC recommendations and Lux Libertas’ request, issued a well-reasoned and thoughtful opinion on April 29, allowing he lodges to meet virtually when it is in the best interest of the lodge, requiring them to apply to him for dispensation to do so, requiring that software meet certain standards and adopting the recommendations of the Technology Committee and the BOC. He also granted Lux Libertas a dispensation to meet.
“We were really overjoyed to have permission to meet,” Senior Warden Gary Handy said. “Our lodge meets quarterly and all of our brothers were really looking forward to getting together.”
“The officers of Lux had a really good time practicing for the first ever Master Masons’ virtual lodge meeting,” said Junior Warden Bobby Meadows. “It was just like any other lodge meeting, only everyone was in their own tiled space, aproned and doing their parts.”
Before members could enter the virtual lodge waiting room, they conferenced with Tiler pro-tem Jeremy Hicklin, who briefed them on the rules for virtual meetings and took up the pass. Eligible brethren were then given a passcode to enter the virtual lodge waiting room and from there they were admitted into the virtual lodge meeting room.
“During the meeting our secretary, Bill Faison, displayed on a dedicated lodge computer appropriate images at the appropriate times: a lodge room, the altar and three Great Lights, the flag, columns and the letter G,” said MWB Speed Hallman who was the “designated hitter,” standing by in case any officer had technical difficulties or for any other reason was not available to do his part. Lodge business included among other items, a revision of bylaws, receiving an application for affiliation and granting a demit. WB Rick Smith presented Masonic education: an overview of early UNC history illustrated with PowerPoint slides. Votes were conducted by the usual sign and by “paper ballot” using the polling function of the virtual platform.
Lux Libertas invited Grand Lodge officers and members of the Board of Custodians and the Board of General Purposes to attend the historic meeting, and members of each were present. Forty-two brethren attended, and before it was gaveled to order, and with the Grand Master’s permission, a screen shot of the assembled brethren was taken to commemorate the event.
Lux Libertas members and Past Grand Masters Bryant Webster, Gene Jernigan, Gene Cobb, Speed Hallman and Dan Rice were supportive and instrumental in advancing the request to meet virtually. Past Grand Masters Bill Brunk (also a Lux Libertas member), Bob Gresham and Tom Gregory also participated in the meeting, as did Grand Lodge officers Kevan Frazier, Robert Rideout and Mike Register. PGM Webster spoke for many when he observed that “this was a technology leap for Masons, and I was proud to have been a part of it.”
The Grand Master closed the historic meeting in ample form, saying “These are challenging times and we need to find innovative ways for our lodges to continue meeting the needs of our brethren. The officers of Lux diligently prepared for this meeting and did an excellent job opening, conducting and closing the first virtual lodge meeting in our Grand Jurisdiction.”
Lux Libertas, chartered in 2017, is an academic lodge whose members have an affinity for the University of North Carolina, the nation’s first public university, founded by North Carolina Masons in 1793. The lodge takes its name from UNC’s motto, the Latin words for light and liberty. The lodge has 52 members and meets quarterly in various locations around the state.