April 29, 2012

Wilkerson College Sessions 2 and 3

I finished the last 2 weekends of Wilkerson College. As I posted before, it is an educational class put on by the Grand Lodge of NC and the AASR Orient of NC designed to help teach deacons to prepare them to be effective masters of their lodges.

The second weekend we spent in Oxford, NC at the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. It is one of only 5 Masonic homes left in operation. That is a wonderful facility and each mason in NC should be very proud of the work they do there. We continued the lessons started at the first session and were taught by some of the most respected men in NC masonry.

We followed up the Oxford session a few weeks later with a full weekend in Raleigh, NC. Friday night we were able to visit the Grand Lodge facility and see the renovation work that has been going on this past year.  Our Grand Lodge building is administrative offices only and does not have a lodge room. There are many great artifacts important to NC masonry on display. One of the most interesting items was a warrant from the Grand Lodge of England in 1771 proclaiming Joseph Montfort Provincial Grand Master of America. He was the only man in history to hold that title.

After a great night of relaxing with the brothers and their wives we had another full day of classes. We ended up that afternoon about 5 and had a graduation banquet that was open to our wives. We had a great meal and heard from Dr. Bill Brunk, SGIG of the Orient of NC, AASR and Robert Gresham Jr, Grand Master of Masons in NC. We had a great time and fellowshipped with many great brothers from across the state.

Some have said that $600 was to much to spend on an education program. Some of us had our lodges to pay for it. Some paid for it themselves. Some even received scholarship money to attend. Considering that we got 4 nights lodging (2 nights at the last session in a single room for us and our wives), all meals paid for, and materials provided, I would consider it a bargain. The courses were great and we learned a lot of valuable information. One of the most important things though was developing relationships with brothers from across the state that should be master at the same time that you are. We are able to bounce ideas off each other and can stay in contact with them. There are some situations that can come up within a lodge where you want to be able to talk to someone outside of your district. This gives us the opportunity for that. We also were able to develop relationships with quite a few past grand masters, PDDGM’s, PDDGL’s, and PM’s that we are able to contact as well for any reason.  It was well worth the time and money. I will honor the experience and friends that I made through it. I thank each and every brother that had something to do to put this event on. I am very honored to be included in the 320 Wilkerson College graduates. I hope that I can take what I learned and help my lodge, district, and fraternity as best as I can.

March 5, 2012

Wilkerson College - Session One

The Grand Lodge of NC and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Orient of North Carolina started a school for those filling the Deacons chairs to help prepare them to serve their lodge as master. The thought is that the deacons have a few years to work and plan for their year as master. This past Friday and Saturday night I attended the first of three sessions of this years class.

We started out with a tour of Whitestone Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Greensboro, NC. Whitestone is a 100 year old retirement community with anywhere from homes to skilled nursing care. It was wonderful to spend some time touring the facilities and talking to some of the residents that live in the community. They are one of the major charities sponsored by the Grand Lodge of NC. I would urge any mason in NC to visit and see what we are doing with our money.

After the tour we met at Haw River State Park Conference Center  for dinner and to start our sessions. After a great meal we met up for an informal social time where we met each of the brethren present and were introduced to the staff. There are 36 students that make up the class and every one of them is sitting as either a Junior or Senior Deacon.We spent the remainder of the night getting to know each other.

The following morning we had breakfast and then was supposed to take part in a Fitness Course for team building exercises. We had bad storms that night so the events were moved inside where we participated in team building events. We then started the formal classroom sessions. Throughout the day we had sessions on Planning I and II, Whitestone, How it really began, Communications I, and Motivating your lodge. It was a full day and a lot of great masonic knowledge was shared.

The next two sessions will take place at the end of March and April and will be held at The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford located in Oxford, NC and The Grand Lodge of NC in Raleigh. I look forward to these next two sessions and hope to be able to be an effective leader in my lodge if elected to do so. Many thanks go out to those involved in putting together this school and for the instructors passing on their knowledge.

I would encourage any mason that has the opportunity to take part in leadership courses offered by their Grand Lode to do so. You will gain valuable information as well as meet brethren throughout the state that you might not have had the chance to meet. Click here for more information of Wilkerson College to find out the history and what is covered.

December 9, 2011

A full masonic week

I just had one of the busiest masonic weeks I have ever had. I had the honor of being installed Senior Deacon for my lodge on Saturday afternoon. I have been meeting with a few brethren as much as I can to learn the parts for the position. Many people have told me that this is their favorite chire in the entire lodge. There is a lot of movement and memorization that has to take place to fill that position properly. The following Monday was the busiest night I have had in a lodge.I was sitting SD for the first time other than just open and closing which I did pro tem a couple times last year. We opened, had 2 ballots, a FC proficiency examination, then straight into a third degree. That was the first time ever conducting a candidate and it was fun. Not perfect, but pretty close. I even played a speaking role later that I had never done before.

The following night we held an EA degree and I again conducted the candidate. It was a great night and a lot of fun.
Thursday night we had our regular Scottish Rite meeting where I was installed as Senior Deacon for the KSA for the upcoming year.
I am very honored that the lodges think enough of me to allow me to serve them in the positions that I have been appointed. This is looking like it is going to be a full year that I am going to enjoy.

November 23, 2011


I had the honor of being knighted into the Knights of St. Andrew for  my Scottish Rite valley tonight. We had a small meeting where they were going to elect officers and they went ahead and knighted another brother and myself. The KSA is basically the working arm of the valley. They are responsible for serving meals and cleaning up, performing marshal duties if needed, helping with the reunion, helping with fundraisers, and anything else the valley might have a need for. It is a fun group to be involved with. After the knighting I was elected to be the Senior Deacon for the KSA for the coming year.

November 7, 2011

This past year

Looking back over the past year is very interesting for me. It was a month ago that I received my EA degree. During the past 12 months I have learned a ton about masonry and have grown much as a man. My wife has even noticed a big difference in me over this last year and our relationship is better than ever. It was said to me that you get out of masonry what you put into it. That is certainly true. Is freemasonry perfect? I believe that it is. It is the humans that get in the way.

I have enjoyed serving this past year as steward and have gained much from that experience. I was appointed tonight as Senior Deacon for the next year. What a great honor and humbling experience. That is a great honor to me and I only hope I can serve my lodge well. Attending the Grand Lodge session as a proxy was one of the highlights of the year for me. I was able to understand more of how freemasonry worked by doing so. It was also voted on tonight for the lodge to send me to Wilkerson College which is a school for deacons to prepare them for their year in the east.

This coming week we have the Scottish Rite meeting where we have a ring ceremony and elections. I have turned in my petition to the Knight of St Andrews which is a service unit within the Scottish Rite. I should be receiving that sometime this month as well. I have completed the Master Craftsman I program and would recommend it to anyone that goes through the Scottish Rite degrees. It brings a perspective and understanding to the degrees that you do not get at the reunions. I have also been fortunate to participate in a degree day during the early summer for a club doing the 17th and 18th degrees. During the fall reunion I was able to help with the 17th, 18th, 24th, and 26th degrees.

What a great experience this past year has been. I hope to stay active and learn as much during the upcoming years as I have this one. I am very honored to have been able to join such a fraternity of great men. I only hope that I can give back just a fraction of what the craft has already given to me. Thank you all for making this a great year. I look forward to many more.

October 27, 2011

Definition of a Freemason

The following was first published in 1823 in the Farmers Almanac that was published in Andover, Mass. This is as relevant today as it was the day it was written.

“definition of a Freemason"

The real Freemason is distinguished from the rest of Mankind by the uniform unrestrained rectitude of his conduct. Other men are honest in fear of punishment which the law might inflect they are religious in expectation of being rewarded, or in dread of the devil, in the next world.

A Freemason would be just if there were no laws, human or divine except those written in his heart by the finger of his Creator. In every climate, under every system of religion, he is the same.

He kneels before the Universal Throne of God in gratitude for the blessings he has received and humble solicitation for his future protection.

He venerates the good men of all religions. He disturbs not the religion of others. He restrains his passions, because they cannot be indulged without injuring his neighbor or himself. He gives no offense, because he does not choose to be offended. He contracts no debts which he is certain he cannot discharge. because he is honest upon principal.           

October 10, 2011

The Square

The [square] is an instrument made use of by operative masons .........to square their work.......... but we, as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to make use of them for more noble and glorious purposes; the plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man, squaring our actions by the square of virtue........ (http://www.ncdistrict39.com/index_files/Page406.htm)

The square is a simple instrument of two legs forming an angle of ninety degrees. As used in freemasonry, the square is made up of 2 legs of equal length used for testing the accuracy of angles. It is not the carpenters square where one leg is longer than the other and marked of in measurements.  Operative masons used the square in order to prove that stones were cut straight in order to place them. If the stones were not square, then the structure would be weekend and possibly fall. The squareness of the stones aided in the strength of the building.

The square is arguably one of the most important symbols in masonry. It is the emblem of the master of the lodge and one of the great lights in masonry. It is one of the first thing a candidate sees when the blindfold is removed.

Symbolically the square is an instrument of morality. As we develop our thoughts and actions shape our character. We are taught to square our actions in order to live a moral life. We test each of our thoughts and actions by the square. We should strive to live honest and upright lives. We should be truthful and honest in all of our doings. We should strive to build ourselves into a man that leads a moral life. For that to happen, we must fit our thoughts and actions into a form that is strong. By measuring them on the square, they will not easily fall.

September 28, 2011

The Plumb

"The Plumb is an instrument made use of by operative masons to raise perpendiculars,..... but we, as Free and Accepted Masons are taught to make use of them for more noble and glorious purposes; the plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man, ........" http://www.ncdistrict39.com/index_files/Page406.htm

We are called to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and man. The plumb reminds us that we should do our best to live our lives in a rectitude manner with uprightness, integrity, honesty, and justice. We should strive to have integrity in what we do. If we say we are going to do something, we should strive to do it. We should be honest with what we say. We should not cheat or  lie to get ahead. We should walk on a straight path and not veer to the right or the left. The plumb is a simple tool but teaches us a most important lesson.

September 24, 2011

Grand Lodge

Last weekend I was able to attend our states Grand Lodge Annual Communication. This was a great learning experience. Our Grand Lodge is made up of the Master, Junior and Senior Wardens of each lodge as well as the Grand Officers and a few others. Our Junior Warden was not able to attend so I went as his proxy. I was only able to attend the Friday session as I had a previous commitment Saturday. It was interesting to be in a room with 850+ other masons and watch how things were handled. I was able to meet other brethren from across the state and learn about their lodges as well. I am very glad that I was able to attend and learn a little more how freemasonry operates in my state. I would suggest that any master mason attend their jurisdictions annual communication at least once. It is a great time to meet and visit other brethren as sell as get some work done.

August 25, 2011

The Common Gavel

The Common Gavel is an instrument made use of by operative masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them for the builders use.; but we as Free and Accepted masons are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our minds as livings stones for that spiritual building, “that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (http://www.ncdistrict39.com/index_files/Page330.htm)

The common gavel is another working tool of the entered apprentice. Opertavely it was used to make stones smooth so that they could be fit into a building. We are building that "house not made with hands." which symbolically is ourselves. We are to improve our own lives by getting rid of the bad and replacing it with the good. Like the 24 inch gauge, the common gavel is an instrument not directly used in the physical building of a structure. It is used in the preparation of that building. The entered apprentice is a newly made mason that is preparing himself for the further travels in his masonic life. He has not yet been given all of the tools. He is learning and preparing himself for advancement to the next degrees at this point. It is the same in life. We are to prepare ourselves to be a just and upright man. We have the qualities to some degree or else we would not have been accepted into the craft. The same with the rough ashlar, it is somewhat square yet it is not yet in a position for the master's use. As we grow and develop in both our lives and masonic life, we shape ourselves into what we have now become.

The following is taken from the ritual used in Scotland. "" The Common Gavel teaches us that skill without exertion is of little avail , and that labour is the lot of man, the Heart may conceive and the Brain devise in vain if the Hand be not prompt to execute the design. The Gavel also represents the Force of Conscience which should keep down all vain and unbecoming thoughts so that our feelings and actions may be pure and unpolluted." 

We need to put effort in what we do. Nothing is given to us. We should strive to make "that house not made with hands" into a perfect ashlar in order to serve our creator's purpose for our lives. We have the tools to do it. The rest is up to us.