It is hard to believe that when I suspended Athelstan activities back on 23rd March 2020, that some 15 months would pass, and we would still be in darkness. Sadly, we have experienced many false dawns, but we should never lose sight that Freemasonry is a distraction, albeit a very important distraction, from our daily lives.
I would hate to imagine where we would be as a human race without the swift identification of effective vaccines and particularly within the United Kingdom, the incredible roll out to those most vulnerable in society.
Brethren, I implore you all to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected by receiving your shot or jab as soon as you can.
My stance has always been that we return to our Courts together, not in little select numbers, together - enjoying our unique fellowship as it was before March 2020.
A Grand Witan was convened on 14th June in which we reviewed the current suspension that is in place until midnight on Tuesday 31st August 2021. At the very same time we learned that the lifting of restrictions in England planned for the 21st of June was to be extended until 19th July, earliest.
Brethren, your Grand Witan agreed at that meeting that the current suspension remain in place and that the earliest date for the resumption of activities within England and Wales be Wednesday 1st September 2021.
Our Overseas Provinces will resume activities in accordance with their government requirements.
In contrast, it is a great relief to report that as of 1st June 2021 the Province of United States of America has resumed full activities; this is wonderful news!
Back to England & Wales:
I mentioned false dawns earlier, and we must not assume that July will see a return to normality, however, a month buffer should assist our endeavours.
Brethren, you should take it as read that we will resume Athelstan meetings from 1st September 2021 in England & Wales unless there is another twist in this saga.
There are of course many caveats!
Our Masonic Halls and venues must be Covid safe, and we applaud the efforts of the Craft Provincial Grand Masters in ensuring that this is the case.
You will have seen many communications from other Masonic Orders providing very sensible advice to brethren that they should not feel pressurised or be cajoled to attend Masonic meetings should they still harbour doubts about their personal safety.
Your Court and Provincial Almoners have and continue to carry out their duties with incredible diligence and remember that should you need to talk privately about your concerns, your Almoner is a great place to start.
Last year we postponed our 15th anniversary celebratory events, and I am pleased to announce that our first undertaking upon resumption will take place on Friday 3rd September 2021 at Kingston-upon-Thames.
It is fitting that on this day we will resume Athelstan activities with the formal hand over by the King Athelstan Memorial Foundation of the incredible King Athelstan Embroidery to All Saints Church.
Remember it is your donations which have made this happen and I invite each of you, your families and friends to make a pilgrimage to All Saints Church to witness this historic event.
Incidentally, less than 24 hours short of the 1095th anniversary of King Athelstan’s coronation at that very location. Brethren, Let's fill that church and celebrate Athelstan Masonry!
Another date for your diary is the Annual Assembly of Grand Court to be held at Leicester, this year on Saturday 30th October. There will of course be a meeting of the Ancient Masonic Order of Alfred the Great the previous evening, that is Friday 29th October.
I end this communication as always with a personal message to you, your loved ones and everyone you touch in your daily life; remain vigilant, stay safe and above all else stay happy.
Your sincerely and fraternally,
MW Bro. Paul W. Johnston