The North Carolina Mason

November/December 2011

North Carolina Mason

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NORTH CAROLINA Volume 136 Number 6 The Mason Official Publication of The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina Oxford, North Carolina November/December 2011 North Carolina's favorite Masonic celebration returns By Ric Carter OXFORD — After a much lamented absence of several years, the big Masonic Family celebration returned to the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford October 7–8. The Shrine parade, music, and lunch under the oaks are back as a focus for the fra- ternity. An estimated 3,000 were on hand to see the creation of a new tradition. The return was the culmination of a dream of many Masons, but especially Grand Master Lewis Ledford who started promoting the idea before he became grand master. The inaugural Homecoming event was rolled into the Home's annual Alumni Homecoming weekend. It's the time former resi- dents of the Home return to see their friends and visit the home of their youth. They were kind enough to include the Masons of the state in their festivities this year. Masons increased the size of the field in this year's Chip- shots for Children Golf Tournament on October 7. The annual tournament held at Kerr Lake Country Club raises money for the Home. A new event for both Alumni Weekend and the Masonic gath- ering in Oxford was a barbecue cooking contest. John Sullivan and see HOMECOMING, page 5 Clockwise from below, Sudan Shrine's Choo Choo threads the campus, marching fezzes approach the administration building, barbecue cook tents filled one corner of the grounds, and famous animals greet the kids along the parade route. Building our future on our past By Ric Carter Masonic lodges have often been landmarks in their communities. In many cases, they served as centers of community activity. Thanks to the antiquity of the fraternity, many of our facilities are historic. They are often our public face. With the privilege of owning a treasure comes the magnified requirement to keep it fit and polished. Our connection to our operative predecessors makes maintenance even more symboli- cally critical. As we have seen declines in membership, our incomes have fallen. Fear of raising dues to cover our expenses forced us to sometimes choose that so popular path of doing nothing. Rather than taking care of repairs to preserve the value of what we have, we have too often chosen to close off portions of our facilities. One cut leads to another until we have a rundown building that is too expensive to make usable again. A renewed pride and interest in our heritage are bringing more Masonic groups to rejuvenate their landmarks. In Halifax, Royal White Hart 2 built their simple frame two-story lodge building around 1820. It sits midway between the homes of William R. Davie and Joseph Montfort, two of NC Ma- sonry's brightest stars of the colonial period. Joseph Montfort is buried in the lodge's front yard. It has long sat beside the historic buildings in the town's historic center with minimal upkeep. In the last few years, consolidations have brought increased membership and men interested in making sure the lodge is a source of community pride for another 200 years. see RENEWAL, page 4 THE BOTTOM LINE Grateful appreciation By Lewis R. Ledford Grand Master It's that season when we're called upon to show gratitude and reflect on just what that is. "Gratitude can transform com- mon days into thanksgivings, turn rou- tine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings," according to William Arthur Ward. Ward was a newspaper columnist and essayist who came of age in World War II, one of the most difficult times in our national story. Some have faced the challenges of tough times again and may have to lean a little harder on our sense of gratitude to turn com- mon days into thanksgivings. Similarly, self-help writer Melody Beattie advises, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into accep- tance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Grati- tude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Despite the economic uncertainties and other issues that have challenged our society of late, when one truly assesses our circum- stances and positions we see that we have been extended many mercies and blessings as individuals and as a fraternity. I hope that you will take the opportunity to spend as much time as pos- sible with family, your lodge brothers, and friends during this busy season. It's sure to provide you with a sense of gratitude. As I reflected this week on where we are with the goals set for this year, I am grateful for the progress made — yet as is always the case, there remains much to do in 2012 as we celebrate the 225th anniversary of our Grand Lodge. The following are a few updates I would like to share. State of the Craft It is an exciting time to be a Freemason. I am firmly convinced that craft Masonry in North Carolina is strong, active, and well positioned to grow. There are many indicators. We could possibly experience a net increase this year or in 2012 for the first time since 1981. Yes, we have a number of older members — six are grateful for living more than 100 years, including our oldest mem- ber who is 106. In terms of new members, of the 2,883 petitioners in the last two years, the average age is 37. We must focus on these new Masons and engage them such that they gain a passion for this greatest of fraternal organizations. There are many reasons that foreshadow this renewed interest. Obviously, we have a rich and proud heritage. The good works of members have in large part quietly continued to aid those in distress and need. It is pleasing to be frequently made aware of the community engagement and additional services being provided by local lodges. There have, of course, been a number of media reports, best selling novels, and mainstream feature films that have referenced Masonry in a gripping, captivating, and enthralling manner. Some even suggest that our fraternity becomes a choice when times are difficult such as the ones we are experiencing now in this "great recession" with high unemployment rates. I am re- minded of the admonition of Past Grand Master Graham Pervier who suggested membership declines were nearing their end, and that "friendship, morality, and brotherly love will always be im- portant to men of character." Whenever possible, I have endeavored to convey that in my view there are two traits that are vital to being successful. Those are being passionate and being competent. Whether it is work endeavors, undertakings at church, or achieving the mission of our fraternity, it is vital to have that true belief in your efforts and always seeking to improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities. These traits in my view are paying dividends in terms of the suc- cesses we are realizing in the Craft. Masonic Home for Children at Oxford I am particularly grateful for the strong and active support of the inaugural gathering this fall — Homecoming or whatever the name becomes for this joint gathering of alumni, friends, and am- bassadors to celebrate and advance the mission of our beloved Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. By all reports, the week- end of October 7–9 was a striking success. In the first planning meeting, it was determined that 1,000 in attendance would be a positive goal. The most common estimate that I heard about the actual attendance was 2,500! The barbecue cooking contest was very popular and well managed. There were many positive events, including golf, a marquee bluegrass band, numerous volunteers, and more. see BOTTOM LINE, page 2 The Grand Lodge headquarters has been restored after years of defilement. Ric Car ter photos

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