Ohio to Open in Phase One on March 1st

February 12, 2021: 
Sir Knights All, 
Please review the accompanying General Order No. 16, which outlines our Commanderies in Ohio moving to Phase One with permission to resume in-person conclaves.
A few words of caution – just because you CAN, does not mean you MUST.  In Phase One, the Grand Commander grants the Commanderies in his jurisdiction the additional option of meeting in person.  The Eminent Commander may conduct a Commandery conclave in-person, virtually, or via a “hybrid” meeting (a combination of in-person and virtual), based on conditions in your community as they relate to COVID-19.
We are all aware of the color-coded COVID map of Ohio (purple, red, orange, and yellow).  Masonic organizations have been consistent in forbidding in-person meetings in purple counties and that should continue.  We are seeing fewer new COVID cases and the vaccines will be available to more Ohioans over time. That said, there is concern over new strains of the virus.  Reports suggest the U. K. or South African variants may be more contagious if not more dangerous than the original and while many seniors have availed themselves to the vaccines, their overall distribution is still quite limited.  No doubt, the safest option remains virtual conclaves for routine business meetings; however, as of March 1st, Eminent Commanders will have the opportunity to preside over in-person conclaves in Phase One.  USE COMMON SENSE AND GOOD JUDGMENT!  One of the new documents on our site is a Health Assessment Form, which we recommend Commanderies use for in-person conclaves.  If you elect not to use it, or one like it, at the very least, make sure the minutes and sign-in sheet are an accurate reflection of all those in attendance for contact tracing purposes.
General Order No. 16 contains details regarding conferring the Orders and Annual Inspections.  In Phase One, only the modified Order of the Red Cross and the Order of Malta may be conferred on candidates.  The Order of the Temple cannot be conferred, no exceptions.  Annual inspections, which will be an administrative review only with no visitors, are being rescheduled from postponed dates in January and February.  There are not enough Saturdays to accommodate all inspections, which is acceptable considering the limitations in place this year.  Commanderies with an inspection on a Saturday in March or April may retain their date or, with the consent of the Inspecting Officer, change it.  I have given Inspecting Officers great discretion regarding rescheduling.  Communicate well, Sir Knights.
General Order No. 16 is a first step, but an important one.  We will not be able to “flip a switch” and see our Commanderies operate at peak performance immediately.  Careful planning is always important but more so in our current circumstances.  I advise officers to develop a strategy to ramp up your Commandery’s activities over the next 6 to 8 months.  That may include meeting in the summer when you normally would not.  It should include making the most out of stated conclaves – will we ever take them for granted again? – by hosting interesting education programs or at least meaningful conversations sharing ideas of what we can do together to make our Commanderies stronger and more responsive to our members.  If you have candidates in waiting, put together a schedule for conferring Orders.  When we can confer the Order of the Temple, does your Commandery have a second cup for the 5th L?  If not, find a source now!
We have a lot of ground to make up.  It has been a full year since we have met as Knights Templar.  Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we safely and carefully return to our asylums.  Be smart!  Have faith!  Stay home if you do not feel well instead of going to a meeting!  We all look forward to further strengthening those bonds of friendship and brotherly love we all treasure.
“Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” 
Courteously,
R. Thomas Starr, KCT
Grand Commander

January 16, 2021:

Commandery Inspections originally scheduled for the month of February 2021 will be rescheduled. Only virtual Conclaves are permitted.

While we anticipate better days ahead as more COVID-19 vaccines become available, the virus is still a very real public health concern throughout our state.  As a result, Commandery inspections scheduled for the month of February will be rescheduled and we will remain in Phase Zero with only virtual Conclaves permitted.  If your Commandery had an inspection scheduled for February, your inspecting officer will be in contact with you.

Of all the statistics I have heard and read, the one that caught my eye recently is that in EVERY COUNTY IN OHIO, the level of spread of the virus is AT LEAST THREE TIMES GREATER than what the Centers for Disease Control considers “high incidence”.  When you couple that with the average age of our membership being the most vulnerable group and for whom the virus is most dangerous, it gives me pause.  

More than anything else, I have missed the fellowship with Sir Knights and Ladies throughout our state, and though I know we will never get that time back, difficult as it is, it does not compare to the way I would feel if even one SIr Knight or Lady contracted COVID and became seriously ill or died as a result of attending a Commandery conclave.  Ultimately, that is the dominant thought in my mind when I consider when we should resume meeting in person.  Not a day goes by that I do not think about when we may be able to open and pray that when it does come, that our members and their families will be safe.

Please continue to hold virtual meetings to conduct the necessary business of your Commandery and check on your Sir Knights and Ladies to make sure they are OK.

Again, I thank you for your commitment to Templar Masonry, and I appreciate your efforts on behalf of your Commandery.

Courteously,
R. Thomas Starr, KCT
Grand Commander


Ohio General Order No. 16

Ohio General Order No. 15 (superseded by GO 16)

Reopening Templary 2021 Safety Protocols

Ohio General Order No. 14 (superseded by GO 16) and Supplemental Instructions

General Order No 14 Grand Encampment of Knights Templar