The decision to distribute lodge notices, financial statements or minutes by email is a decision for the lodge to make. That decision should not be taken lightly but only after careful discussion in open lodge.
Lodge notices may be distributed to members only if an email is first sent to the member’s email address requesting a return email confirming that the address is the member’s current address and that he gives permission to receive lodge notices at that address. This request for confirmation is required to be sent annually.
Email is not allowed to be used to summon a member under section R21.1 or give notice of suspension under section R16.4.
Section R159 of the 2013 Constitution, revised in 2004, permitted lodge minutes to be distributed to lodge members only. Section R15.17 continues that permission. Prior to that time the distribution of lodge minutes was prohibited entirely, and it is still unusual for copies to be distributed beyond the principal officers of a lodge. Because of the sensitive nature of lodge proceedings—ballots, petitions, requests for charity, personal information and the like—the Grand Secretary’s office discourages their electronic distribution. If a lodge chooses to ignore this advice, the requirement to confirm the identity of the recipient is that much more important. The email should be clearly marked confidential, and brethren are to be strongly advised of their responsibility to maintain that confidentiality.
The publication and distribution of lodge and district newsletters is encouraged. These are understood to be promotional pieces and no restrictions are placed on their distribution. Refer to the Grand Secretary’s Office Policy on Newsletters for details.
Historically some lodges annually distributed a lodge directory, sometimes including members’ names, birthdates, contact information, occupation, photographs, their wives’ names, or other personal information. Today, as we are more aware of privacy issues, these directories are discouraged. No lodge should distribute any contact list to anyone other than the principal officers unless the member has given specific written permission to have his contact information published. No list should be distributed, in any form, electronic or otherwise, to anyone not a member of the lodge.
Lodge notices and minutes are not permitted to be posted on websites, regardless of the use of a password. This also applies to ritual work. Members’ personal or contact information, or image, may not be posted without their specific written permission. Refer to the Grand Secretary’s Office Policy on Photographs in Lodge and Policy on websites for details.
Grand Lodge has expressed no formal statement on lodge or district newsletters, but unofficially promotes their use.
The question is whether a newsletter is considered simply an addition to the lodge notice — only distributed to members who are expected to treat it as confidential — or if it is a public relations tool to be distributed to, or read, by non-masons or non-members of the lodge.
Bound by the following restrictions, defined by the Constitution and general practice, lodges and districts are otherwise permitted to distribute newsletters as they wish. This permission is conditional on the Grand Master’s satisfaction with the discretion of the authors and their loyalty to the principles of the Craft [R15.19], defined, in practice, by an adherence to the following regulations.
- Proceedings of lodge meetings may not be published. [R15.17] The prohibition on proceedings applies to minutes, specifics of ballots taken, and other reports of business or discussion conducted in a tyled lodge.
- The names of persons identified as having attended a specific meeting may not be published other than in lodge notices. This does not apply to recipients of long service awards, and participants in events noteworthy in their value in promoting Freemasonry, with their permission.
- The names of candidates and petitioners may not be published.
- No canvassing for Grand Lodge appointive offices.
- No endeavours to obtain support for propositions may be published without the Grand Master’s permission.
- Lodge information may not be published without the Worshipful Master’s permission.
- Opinions of a political or religious nature that purport, or may be construed, to be authorized by or represent this Grand Lodge, or a lodge or lodges under this jurisdiction, or Freemasonry as a body, may not be published.
Brethren are reminded of one Charge at initiation: “a ready acquiescence in all votes and resolutions duly passed by a majority of the brethren, and by a perfect submission to the Worshipful Master and his Wardens.” The Charges of a Freemason also obligate us in “…avoiding all wrangling and quarrelling, all slander and backbiting….” (Constitutionp. 66.)
Created: 2009/11/09 Revised: 2010/02/22
PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE LODGE
No photographs are to be taken within a tyled lodge, as per section R15.20 of the Constitution.
There is no restriction on photographing brethren, with or without regalia, within the lodge room, providing the Volume of Sacred Law is closed and the tracing boards and working tools are not displayed. The room though, is still obviously a lodge room and a due decorum is expected.
Brethren who have their photographs taken, either posed or casual, are entitled to have a reasonable expectation that these photographs — taken in a private gathering — will not be distributed publicly without their permission or knowledge. They also are entitled to have a reasonable expectation that these photographs are being taken for their benefit and the benefit of the lodge and not, unless clearly specified, for the personal gain of the photographer.
This Grand Lodge has adopted a policy for lodge websites, prohibiting the posting of any member’s image or personal information without his specific permission. By extension, and common sense, this prohibition applies to all publicly accessible websites.
Freemasonry has its detractors and it may not be in our members’ best interests for them to be known as Freemasons. Anti-masons, violent fundamentalists, and con artists have the same global access to the internet as our friends and family. Grand Lodge counsels caution.
There are additional issues when images are posted to public electronic forums such as Flickr, Facebook, &c. The images may easily be displayed with other, inappropriate images. The images, reaching a far wider, non-masonic audience, can easily lose context and be re-used in an inappropriate fashion. And further, website owners such as Yahoo! and Google can freely use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, and publicly display such images.
This prohibition does not apply to images posted to a secured website, or behind a password only available to brethren.
Created: 2010/04/19 Revised: 2010/09/03
Webpages and websites are considered in the same manner as circulars and publications. Bound by the following restrictions, defined by the Constitution and general practice, lodges and individual Freemasons are otherwise free to create or maintain webpages or websites as they wish.
This permission is conditional on the Grand Master’s satisfaction with the discretion of the website’s administrators and their loyalty to the principles of the Craft [R6.13], defined, in practice, by an adherence to the following regulations.
- Proceedings of lodge meetings may not be posted on websites. The prohibition on proceedings applies to notices, minutes, specifics of ballots taken, and other reports of business or discussion conducted in a tyled lodge.
- The names of persons identified as having attended a specific meeting may not be posted on websites. This does not apply to recipients of long service awards, and participants in events noteworthy in their value in promoting Freemasonry, with their permission.
- Members’ personal or contact information, or image, may not be posted without their specific written permission. Refer to the Grand Secretary’s Office Policy on Photographs in Lodge for details.
The names of candidates and petitioners may not be posted.
- No canvassing for Grand Lodge appointive offices may be posted on websites.
- No endeavours to obtain support for propositions may be posted on websites without the Grand Master’s permission.
- Lodge information may not be posted without the Worshipful Master’s permission.
- Grand Lodge information, other than that posted on the Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon website, may not be posted without the Grand Master’s permission.
- Opinions of a political or religious nature may not be posted on websites that purport, or may be construed, to be authorized by or represent this Grand Lodge, or a lodge or lodges under this jurisdiction, or Freemasonry as a body.
- Ill language, private piques or quarrel, wrangling and quarreling, slander and backbiting may not be posted.
- Ritual may not be posted.
- The masonic square and compasses emblem—in any of its various forms—is not to appear conjoint or in association with any commercial, professional or trade logo, mark or representation in any form. Commercial banner advertising is not to appear on a website purporting to officially represent a lodge or Freemasonry.
These prohibitions apply regardless of the use of password protected directories.
Keep in mind that your website is a reflection of the entire fraternity of Freemasonry and act accordingly.
Also see the Grand Secretary’s Office Policy on Electronic Communication, Policy on Freemasonry and Advertising Revenue, and Policy on the Square and Compasses.
Under the direction of the Worshipful Master, the lodge secretary is responsible for giving proper and timely notice to all lodge members of the time, place, and business to be transacted at all meetings of the lodge.
The use the lodge notice as a newsletter is, to some degree, encouraged but the content — both text and images — should reflect, in form and style, the best in Freemasonry. Reports on lodge social events, educational pieces and appropriate bits of prose and poetry are all positive reflections on the character and values of a lodge.
What is discouraged is anything of a sectarian or political nature, or — just as importantly — anything of a questionable propriety. Risqué́ jokes, misogynist remarks, humour that relies on disparaging or belittling stereotypes; these are unmasonic and not to be countenanced.
Before including jokes or humourous pieces in a lodge notice or newsletter, ask yourself, does the content reflect our values? Will the brethren’s masonic journey be furthered or might someone be hurt or insulted?
Finally, section R18.5 of the Constitutionrequires that notices of all regular and emergent communications must also be sent to the Grand Master, Grand Secretary and the District Deputy Grand Master of the District. A copy should also be sent to the Regional Representative. Secretaries are encouraged to send these electronically.