The North Carolina Mason

May/June 2021

North Carolina Mason

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May/June 2021 The North Carolina Mason Page 3 By Beth Grace Mason Editor On a sunny spring Saturday on the back terrace of the historic NC Grand Lodge, one chapter in Masonic leadership ended and a new one began. On May 1, Grand Master R. David Wicker Jr. installed Jonathan Underwood, assistant to the Grand Secretary, to serve as Grand Secretary of this Grand Jurisdiction. Underwood will serve out the unexpired term of Walt Clapp, who retired after serving the Grand Lodge for 42 years – 26 as Grand Secretary. Underwood, 40, joined the Grand Lodge staff in 2014, following the retirement of Past Assis- tant Grand Secretary Ric Carter. From certifying petitions to charting budgets to creating educa- tional programs to delivering the Grand Secre- tary's message at district meetings, Underwood has performed nearly every task required of the office of Grand Secretary. "I've had a good teacher in Walt Clapp, a great support staff in the Grand Lodge office, and fine mentors in our Past Grand Masters," says Underwood, past master of State College #770. "e only way forward is to work as a team – as a family, as Walt coined us – and I am honored the Grand Master chose me to fulfill this important station. I look forward to serving the brethren of North Carolina." A native of Sanford, Underwood is a historian by training and administrator by profession. He holds a bachelor's degree in history and classical studies from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro and a master's degree in European history and Public history from North Carolina State University. Before joining the Grand Lodge office, he served as the Public Services Specialist for NC State University's Special Collections and Archives Department, and then as Director of Historic Preservation for Stanly County. His wife of 13 years, Jennifer, is a director of Oncology Strategy Research in RTP. ey have two daugh- ters, Ali, 10, and Anna, 7. GM Wicker praised Underwood's work at the Grand Lodge and said he had, working with Clapp for seven years, developed a true under- standing of the complexity of the job. If you look at the duties of the Grand Secre- tary," Wicker said, "It is so much more than recording minutes, dealing with correspondence and reports of the lodges. "e Grand Secretary is really the chief operating officer of a 370-lodge non-profit organization. He oversees records and operations of 370 individual lodges. He must be in the position to be able to understand their issues and how to address them. "In these seven years on the job, he has had the opportunity to observe the duties and responsi- bilities of a Grand Secretary and is in a unique position to fulfill those duties." He said Underwood "knows the Code – and the Tax Code – inside and out, and that's critical. e Grand Secretary also sits on many boards and committees, is a member of the Board of General Purposes and secretary of the North Carolina Masonic Foundation. He is an observer on the Children's Home and WhiteStone boards, he attends every district meeting. And Annual Communication is his bailiwick." And that's just a partial list of duties. GM Wicker says it's important to provide continuity when we can, and Underwood's appointment meets that need. He says he hopes brethren welcome him and offer their support as Underwood moves forward in this new role. "It's a whole different view from that seat," he says. As for Underwood, he says, "I have full confi- dence that he can do this job and do it well." e Grand Master explained that he had several options in how he could fill the vacancy and opted to install Underwood as Grand Secretary for the remainder of Clapp's unexpired term – as opposed to an acting grand secretary – because of his extensive background in the job and his qualifications. Underwood also has an extensive Masonic history. He is a member of Albemarle #703, Wilkerson College #760, a founding member and past master of State College #770 and an honorary member of Blackmer #127. He is a member of the Charlotte Scottish Rite, Greens- boro York Rite, the High Point Council AMD, the Amran Shrine, NC College of Masonic Rosicrucians, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Outside of Masonry, he is Presbyterian, a regular volunteer instructor for NCSU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, teaching North Carolina and British history, a member of the N.C. Literary and Historical Association, N.C. Genealogical Society, N.C. Society of Sons and Sons of the American Revolution, a guardsmen in the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, and a member of the Order of First Families of North Carolina. Underwood installed as Grand Secretary Jonathan Underwood addresses family, friends and brethren as he is installed as Grand Secretary. Photo by Dan Hopping By the Rev. Mark M. Vickers Past Grand Chaplain How often do we come into lodge with the mindset that we have to do "the same old thing?" Probably too often. A friend of mine reminded me the other day that opening and closing the lodge was one of the most sacred experiences that he knew about and had participated in throughout his life. We all have those "sacred moments" that stand out in our life; whether a baptism, confirmation, a wedding, a funeral and the list can go on and on. What determines the "sacredness" of an event we might ask? I would suggest to you that it is those events in our lives, no matter how frequently they are done, that give meaning to our lives, determines the sacred worth of their existence. The late Rev. Peter J. Gomes, said in his book, The Good Book- Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, "Reading the Bible to find ways of justifying the status quo, then, is an enterprise that is bound for frustration and failure." Maybe we should be mindful, that when we enter into that lodge room, whether it is two or more times a month, that we have the mindset to enter something sacred and leave the status quo at the door and for the world to worry about. Brethren, let us be "glad and joyous to gather together in a very special way." PRAYER: Grand Architect of the Universe, help to absorb the sacred worth you have given each of us. Keep us mindful of the sacred worth of every living creature. May we be reminded to be guardians, stewards, and shepherds to those who need it most. Keep watch over us and all whom we love. SMIB AMEN. THE PRAYER CORNER

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