The North Carolina Mason

March/April 2010

North Carolina Mason

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NORTH CAROLINA Volume 135 Number 2 The Mason Official Publication of Te Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina Oxford, North Carolina March/April 2010 Lake evens the scales of justice By Ric Carter RALEIGH — Tere are societal parallels to Masonic teaching and its promotion of the search for light. Education is certainly one, and Masons have exemplified that search in their promotion of schools and colleges around the country. But, in North Carolina this year, it would be hard to find a more striking example of the search for light than in the criminal justice system. As you might expect, there is a Mason inti- mately involved with the existence of the Inno- cence Inquiry Commission, the country’s only state-financed body charged with insuring justice in cases where all appeals have been exhausted. I. Beverly Lake Jr., a lifelong conservative jurist, was Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 2001 through 2006. No small num- ber of people in the law enforcement and justice system were taken aback when Chief Justice Lake started talking about the system being flawed. Al- liances and friendships were taxed by what some saw as his seeming relaxation of the tried and true conservative maxim of law and order. Lake says, “We have got the best criminal justice system in the world. It is absolutely the best in the world. But, it is not perfect. It is made by men and women, so we do make mistakes oc- casionally.” While Chief Justice, Lake had been talking with his law clerk, Chris Mumma. Mumma, on her own time Lake stresses, taught at UNC and Duke law schools. With the help of law students from UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, and Campbell universities, she examined cases of possible wrongful convictions. When she found convincing cases, she shared them with Lake. As more and more suspicious cases became apparent, Lake began to think that some other form of review might be necessary. By No- vember of 2002, he was convinced. He set up the Actual Innocence Study Com- mission with judges, prosecutors, defense attor- neys, police chiefs, and victims. “I noticed at the first meeting that the prosecutors sat on one side of the room and defense attorneys on the other side of the room. I told them, ‘Tis is not going to work. Tis is not an adversarial process.’” “Our basic system is adversarial, and it’s worked well. Tis goes beyond that. I want us to look at some of the mistakes we have obvi- ously made and see why we made those mistakes and see how we can correct them.” In 2006, the North Carolina Legislature created the Inno- cence Inquiry Commission to give a last avenue of hope to those wrongfully convicted. Todays Commission consists of eight mem- bers: a Superior Court judge, a prosecuting at- torney, a criminal defense attorney, a sheriff, a victims’ rights advocate, a member of the public, and two additional discretionary appointments. Speaking with Lake on the day that the Commission first freed a man wrongfully im- prisoned for 17 years, Lake spoke of calls from eight to ten other states about how the program works, including an email from Connecticut’s Chief Justice the previous week. “It is going na- tionwide, in my opinion.” What made Bev Lake become a Mason? Lake says, “I heard a lot of good things over the years about the work of Masons. I had sever- al friends in the Masonic order.” He mentioned Dick Ellis from local radio and television, Rufus Edmisten, for whom he worked for a short time in the Attorney General’s Office, and Raleigh lawyer Earl Purser, a student of his father’s. Lake was raised in Raleigh 500 in 1981. He was grand orator for Grand Master Jer- ry Tillett in 2002. Lake spoke then about the duties of Masons in society. He encouraged especially the duty we have as Masons to pass along to young people the values we have come to appreciate — that they have a duty to public service. “We have to appreciate,” says Lake, “the foundation we were given by our founding fa- thers through civics and history. I think that’s a very serious mission for the Masons.” Te other lesson we can take from the ex- ample of our brother is to be true to the light, to stand up for truth and the innocent, even if it makes our friends doubt us. Brother Lake sat in his living room immediately after the Innocence Commission he inspired freed a man for the first time. Waves of media interviews quickly fol- lowed to learn more about this innovative justice program. White House stone exhibit opens By Mark A. Tabbert ALEXANDRIA — Te George Washington Masonic Memorial opened a new exhibit in Feb- ruary featuring 45 historic White House stones. Each stone is marked by a Scottish stonemason who helped build the White House. Te stones are reassembled for the first time since President Harry S. Truman sent one to every United States Masonic grand lodge in 1952. Complementing the stones is a minute book from the Lodge of Journeymen Masons No. 8 of Edinburgh, Scot- land. It lists members of the lodge who, in 1794, immigrated to help build the White House. Accompanying the minute book is the lodge’s mark book, showing each stonemason’s trade mark. By comparing these marks to the marks on the stones, visitors may identify the men who helped to build the President’s House. Te ex- hibit opened in conjunction with the Memo- see STONES, page 5 Polk makes major donation PINEVILLE — On December 10, James K. Polk 759 presented the Masonic Home for Children $100,000 in honor of Darwin Byrum. Seen here at the check presentation are, from left, Home for Children Director of Financial Development and Marketing, Past Grand Master Dan C. Rice, Darwin Byrum, and 32nd District Deputy Grand Master Jack Thrower. THE BOTTOM LINE In and out of the lodge By William L. Dill Grand Master Te season is ending, the season that is for Blue Lodges to hold their annual installation of officers. Each year it seems I tend to install more and more officers in their respective lodges. Te more times you do the ceremony of installation the more familiar it becomes. Tis year it is especially true. As grand master, certain passages of the ceremony have really stayed with me. Such are the ancient charges and regulations which point out the duty of a master of a lodge. I find it unsettling, to install not just a master-elect but also his officers, when I learn that not one of them has read previously the ceremony of installation. None are aware of the responsibili- ties and obligations they are accepting as they progress through the chairs. It is a wonder that later during the year we often hear the remark, “I didn’t know that was my job.” Just in the fifteen regulations of Free and Accepted Ma- sons are found the plan for a master to follow in leading his lodge. Each master is directly asked: “Do you submit to these charges and promise to support these regulations, as masters have done in all ages before you?” I daresay every master in- stalled answered “I do!” It does not take a brilliant person to recognize those masters who answer “I do” and mean it and those who do not. Just listen to the credentials report at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. Tose lodges not present are quickly identified and are often pointed out as those who have not had representation in a number of years. Masons from the districts of the missing lodges often notice they are also absent from annual schools of instruction year after year. Let us consider the charge upon the installation of the mas- ter of a lodge. Te passage that has deeply impressed upon me the responsibility of a master is: “Forcibly impress upon them the dignity and high importance of Masonry, and seriously admonish them never to disgrace. Charge them to practice out of this lodge those duties which are taught in it.” Practice out of this lodge those duties which are taught in it. What a powerful charge, what an awesome responsibility, and what an enormous expectation placed on each of us. First is to have the brethren attend lodge. How else can they be taught what Masonry expects of them? Each Master admits that it is not in the power of any men or body of men, to make innova- tions in the body of Masonry. Freemasonry is what it is. We may change the ritual or how we instruct the brethren, but we do not change Masonry. It has survived for hundreds of years because we do not change it, it changes us. Second we must instruct the brethren. Programs at our lodge meetings are outstanding. Tey cover a vast range of topics. From explaining something in our ritual to having a guest present a topic of interest to the brethren. Tese are all good. But we must go further. When was the last time your lodge had an educational pro- gram on what Freemasonry truly teaches. We are, as Past Grand Master William Mathis brought out during his year, “a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” When did we stop teaching the principles of pure morality, the ethics of pure religion, the doctrines of brotherly love, and the sentiments of exalted benevolence? As I travel, whether at a lodge, or Wilkerson College, or in per- sonal discussion, the question always comes up: “Where can I get good Masonic Education?” From where does the light searched for by each candidate come? Te Great Light in Masonry rests upon our sacred altar, in the center of our lodge. It sits there for a purpose. “From it we may learn our duty to God, our neighbors, and ourselves.” What more can anyone ask? As our need for quality Masonic instruction grows and changes, we must all come together and return to our basic fun- damentals of Freemasonry. And always remember to instruct all brethren to practice out of this lodge those duties which are taught in it. — Randy Richardson Several of the White House foundation stones have returned to their community to help mark the George Washington Masonic National Memorial’s centennial. Mark Tabber t photo Ric Car ter photo

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