Illustrious David L. Nielsen, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Montana
During the pandemic curtailment of our customary Masonic events our Scottish Rite Reunions were either cancelled or postponed. The Valleys throughout the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite are anxious to start getting back into the Reunion business. Though many enjoy the in-person presentation of the degrees in a Reunion, whether conferred or communicated, we recognize that this in-person experience may not be safe for all our members and candidates for the remainder of 2020 at least and maybe longer.
The Supreme Council with the direction of the Grand Commander a script was developed that may be used to help communicate all the degrees, including the mandatory five, in a virtual Reunion. In the Supreme Council Statutes, the mandatory degrees must be conferred, except that the SGIG or Deputy may communicate the mandatory degrees provided he does so personally. Under our Statutes the recording of the conferral of degrees is prohibited, but the degrees may all be communicated with the active participation of the SGIG or Deputy.
With this guidance, I met with the Personal Representatives of the six Valleys in the Orient of Montana to discuss if there was interest to do a virtual Orient-wide Reunion through Zoom. After much discussion, the consensus was to do a virtual Reunion through communication of the degrees. The dates selected are November 7, 2020, starting at 9:00 a.m. for the 4th through the 17th degree (Lodge of Perfection and Chapter of Rose Croix) and December 5, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. for the 18th degree through the 32nd (Council of Kadosh and Consistory). Each Valley agreed to provide knowledgeable brethren to lead the communication on the degrees and I will communicate the five mandatory ones.
As we engaged in the discussion of whether to do a Reunion in a different way, it became apparent that this alternate Reunion is not a means to "just get by," but an opportunity to provide meaningful Scottish Rite education by a different method. This will provide a new Reunion experience and the presentation of the lessons of degrees in this form is expected to be educationally enlightening over other Reunion experiences. Often Reunions are viewed only as a process of initiation of new brothers, but Reunions have always been an event for all brothers to attend and renew their vows, recall the lessons learned, and learn new lessons. Every reunion I have ever attended, I always learn something that I had missed in previous reunions or studies of the degrees.
As we slug through the pandemic and its expectation of personal isolation and discouragement of personal interaction, we can either moan and have a fit over this strange new "normal" or we can use it as stimulation to innovate ways to move forward in a satisfying and productive manner. Who knows, maybe the changes experienced now through adjustments in our lifestyle and social interactions of our fraternity may have greater value than expected and may become the new accepted practice. We need to view this time as an opportunity for learning and growth, since the status quo has for so long beguiled us into rote complacency. The dawn is awaking for new experiences and opportunities. Let's grab it and profit from it.
Stay tuned for the Orient Reunions scheduled for November 7, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. and December 5, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. Both are via Zoom.