The text of the announcement:
Greetings brethren, I hope and trust that you are all well and that you and your loved ones are all safe and sound. To say that we are living in unprecedented times is an understatement as these are clearly times that none of us expected to experience only a few short months ago.
Not only has this pandemic led to a sad loss of life and the destruction of economies, it has also resulted in a huge change in the way we live our daily lives. As many countries begin to win their battle against Coronavirus and begin to lift lockdown measures, we can see some hope for us to begin to return to some form of normal life.
However, the threat of the virus is still with and the health professionals and governments of our various countries have not given the all clear to return to the way of life we enjoyed at the beginning of 2020.
I'm acutely aware that so many of us are missing the friendship and Brotherhood that binds us together as Freemasons. More especially that unique bond which we share within the Masonic Order of Athelstan. Yet, common sense must prevail brethren, no matter how disappointing that is to us all.
On Thursday the 11th of June I instructed the President of the Grand Witan to call a virtual meeting of the Grand Witan to discuss the current situation in depth and with the broadest of opinion. The unanimous view of the Grand Witan reflected that of my own.
That until all brethren can return to their Courts without the risk, or the fear, of catching this awful virus, it is better that all Courts remain suspended so that our brethren may remain safe.
Therefore, within England and Wales the suspension of all Court meetings will remain in place until 1st January 2021.
Regretfully, and for the first time in our history; the Annual Assembly of Grand Court due to be held on Saturday 26th October and the meeting of the Ancient Order of Alfred the Great are both suspended for 2020.
The lifting of the suspension in those Overseas Provinces and Courts will be guided by the Assistant Grand Masters in charge and the Provincial Grand Masters in consultation with their Craft Grand bodies and their local governments.
The Grand Secretary will be issuing the necessary administrative instructions in due course.
A return to normal Court business and to the enjoyment of our unique and wonderful ceremonials; must not occur until we can enjoy without any hindrance caused by the necessity for social distancing and personal protective measures. Whilst I appreciate and respect the advice from other Masonic Orders, no steps should be taken that would diminish the dignity of the Order or its ceremonial, lest the essence of our Order be lost.
Freemasonry is a Brotherhood that gives so much pleasure to those involved within it. I hear many of our brethren state that it is their main hobby, their great passion, a fraternity where they can enjoy the intellectual benefit afforded by the acquaintance of equal minded men.
Personally, for me it goes deeper than that; as I can honestly say that freemasonry forms a major part of my daily life; indeed, it is a way of life to many.
This temporary suspension is painful, but it is just that; temporary! I have no doubt that we will soon return to our Courts with a renewed vigour and with greater inspiration. Our Order will survive this pandemic and it will continue to flourish; it is, after all, built on the solid foundation of your dedication.
Brethren, stay safe, stay well, stay alert and above all else please stay happy.