The North Carolina Mason

November/December 2020

North Carolina Mason

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The Mason Official Publication of e Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina Volume 145 Number 6 Oxford, North Carolina November/December 2020 NORTH CAROLINA Photos by Michael Harding ■ see INSTALLATION, page 2 Socially distanced installation service also live-streamed By Beth Grace Mason Editor For a few moments, none of it mattered: the pandemic, the hand sanitizer, the scratchy masks, the disclosure forms, the social distancing. What mattered was tradition, ritual, brotherhood. Ralph David Wicker Jr. was installed Dec. 5 as the 168th Grand Master of Masons before a prop- erly distanced crowd of about 80, including Grand Line Officers, Past Grand Masters, and guests – and untold numbers who watched via a Facebook livestream. Everyone who attended was screened. Temperatures were taken, tiny bottles of sanitizer labeled with the seal of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina A.F. & A.M. were distributed. Everyone wore masks, with brief exceptions to make speeches or call the name of the next officer to be installed. Health disclosure forms required for all lodge meetings were proffered and signed. Newly installed GM Wicker said he was sad that circumstances forced preparations to be made in just a few weeks before the event, rather than the traditional full year a deputy grand master has to get ready for the big day. He said he missed the larger crowd of 300 or more that normally celebrates an installation. He had hoped to be installed in the chapel at the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, but "like every- thing else, life happens," he said. No one was even certain an installation could be held until three weeks out. To meet government meeting restrictions, he chose the Amran Shrine Center in Raleigh instead. GM Wicker is a member of Amran Shrine and has served as their Temple Attorney for more than 20 years. e Shrine Center was beau- tifully decorated with Christmas trees – some topped with Darth Vader and storm trooper stars, and a shorter tree with a Yoda head as its star – and tables topped with tiny trees for guests. GM Wicker is a fan of Star Wars and has often been jokingly referred to as Darth Vader by some of the other Grand Lodge Officers. He thanked his wife Susan for her vision, her work and artistry that created such a memorable space and occasion. His children and his parents were in the audience. New Grand Line officers close out the installation service, but begin labors on a new year still beset with pandemic restrictions, including face masks. TRADITION RITUAL BROTHERHOOD Grand Lodge kicks off new year

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