Monday, September 20, 2010

2nd Annual 41st District Barn Degree

The barn degree was a great success. We had Brothers from every Lodge in the District, GA, and even PGM Berry Rigdon there to enjoy the food and fellowship. Stay tuned for the dates for next years event!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1st Annual 41st District Picnic

The first annual picnic was a great success and a lot of fun for all who came. Highway 76 Bluegrass from Blairsville, Ga provided some great music, and the smoked pork was spot on as usual. We missed a lot of our friends and Brothers from the surrounding Lodges....but, this was the first year....and we know it takes time to catch on!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Historical event during Master Mason Degree

With less than 1% of the Masons in North Carolina being certified as lecturers the odds are astronomical for the longest serving certified lecturer and the latest person to be certified at the same degree are astronomical. But it happened Saturday evening, August 28, 2010 at Robbinsville # 672.

When Robbinsville’s newest brothers were raised, Worshipful Brother Kelley Hooper the longest serving certified lecturer in the history of North Carolina Masonry and Charlie McCowan who earlier that day was certified for the first time were both in attendance along with the District Deputy Grand Lecturer. You could say Brother Charlie who is Master of Andrews # 529, WAS the most recent certified, as he was the last person out at the examination of new lecturers a few hours earlier that day.

Pictured, left to right are WB Charlie McCowan, WB Kelley Hooper, and WB Jack Long, District Deputy Grand Lecturer of the 41st District. All three participated in the degree this evening. Some history to go along with this picture: Several years ago Brother Hooper signed the necessary paperwork for Brother Jack to be examined, and Brother Jack signed Brother Charlie’s paperwork. A fine example of “paying it forward.”

Also pictured are Robbinsville’s newest Master Mason’s, Brother Greg “Peanut” Grindstaff and Brother Jarrod Sellers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What happened to Demolay in WNC?

When I was a young teenager, Demolay was going strong in this area, and so was the sister organization, the Rainbow Girls. For whatever reason, both organizations seemed to fade away.

As a former law enforcement officer and a paramedic, I went into the schools
enlightening our youth on the dangers of Methamphetamine. It was alarming to see the hands raised when I posed the question, “How many of you have used meth, or personally know of someone who uses meth?” No class range from the sixth grade through the twelve was immune from hands being raised. Plus, go to any high school today and you will see an increase in teenage pregnancy.

In today’s culture, if we don’t help our youth find meaningful and moral activities to keep busy, many times the activities they choose on their own have life changing, unwanted, or deadly consequences. Almost every week in our weekly newspapers, there is a young adult or teenager who has died because they made unwise choices.

Demolay is our opportunity to touch the lives of our youth, the opportunity to give them a healthier choice of lifestyle, to prepare them as leaders of tomorrow, and to plant the seeds which may eventually keep our organization growing for years to come.

Some famous individuals who were once part of the Demolay include: Paul Harvey, Neil Armstrong, Mel Blanc, Ernest Borgnine, Roy Clark, Terry Bradshaw, Pete Rose, Walter Cronkite, Walt Disney, Buddy Ebsen, Dan Rather, Paul Harvey, NFL QB’s Danny White and Fran Tarkington, Willard Scott, John Wayne, Mark CAlawy (AKA Undertaker from WWE), and the worlds tallest man Robert Waldow. The list goes on to include Governors, Presidents, Congressmen, Astronauts, TV personalities.

IN 2008, during my first year as District Deputy Grand Master, we attempted to get Demolay resurrected in our district. A handful of interested men attended an informal meeting at Clay Lodge, where representatives from Demolay came and gave us a presentation on the organization. I know for a fact, the seed that was planted then has not died; it has just not been given the opportunity to grow, and there are some brothers like Jason Chastain from Clay 301 wanting to see it sprout and grow. Demolay has been invited to the upcoming 2nd Annual Barn Degree, and we are awaiting word on whether they can come or not. Hopefully they can, and in the meantime be thinking about what you can do to help revive this organization.

Together, we can make a difference.

I’ll close with this quote from Judge David Gray Ross who is over the Federal Office of Child Support, and too was a member of Demolay, "As a young boy who had lost his father, the interest taken in me by the men of DeMolay provided encouragement, leadership, and opportunities which, in hindsight, seem impossible. The vision of the Order of DeMolay kept me focused on the truly important things in life and taught me a morality which remains with me today. As the Director of our Nation's primary support system for America's alienated children, I am mindful of the old adage that says, 'as the twig is bent, so grows the tree.' We must join together to bend our children toward what is right and good and necessary to make them productive citizens of the future."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brother Bob Wolfersteig, PM, PDDGM, PDDGL

Robert Frederick Wolfersteig, was born on Easter Day, March 31, 1919 and on June 7, 2010 he came to the end of his toilsome journey, dropped the working tools of life and entered Celestial Grand Lodge above.

“Bob” as we all called him served the 41st Masonic District with great pride and had the honorable distinction of being both the District Deputy Grand Master and later the District Deputy Grand Lecturer of the 41st Masonic District of North Carolina. He was a member of our fraternity for just over 46 years. He was initiated, passed, and raised in 1964. In 1991 he demitted from Benevolent N0. 3 in Millidgeville, GA and was admitted to Clay 301 in Hayeville, NC.

He was Professor Emeritus of music and Department of Music Chair at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga. He studied at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. and finished his music doctorate at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

For the past 18 years he was an adjunct professor of music in the Tri-County Community College in Murphy.

He won the National Organ-Playing Contest and was the recipient of a Fulbright Study Grant at the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, Germany, where he studied with Michael Schneider; organ building and design with Karl Schuke and harpsichord with Sylvia Kind.

With all the above accomplishments in in vast musical career, some of which many of us will not be able to remeber; a few of us however, us will fondly remember watching him scramble to locate locate the hidden key, unlock the grand organ in the majestic York Rite Chapel at the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford, and giving us a private recital in 2008. This was most likely the first and only time “Phantom of the Opera” was played inside those hallowed walls.

He held memberships in the American Guild of Organists, American Theatre Organ Society, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda, MENC and was past master of his AM & FM Lodges in Macon, Ga. and in Hayesville 301. He was secretary of the Blue Ridge Mountains Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He was elected to the Order of Kentucky Colonels. During the Korean War he served as a chaplain’s assistant in the United States Navy and is a member of VFW.

He is survived by his wife, Eloise; a daughter, Patricia Albritton; and granddaughter, Kendall Albritton; as well as cousins in New York and Arizona. He often told how his daughter would sometimes introduce him as Doctor and explained how her father worked on "organs."

Interment was June 14 at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church Memorial Garden, Blairsville, Ga.

Brother Bob was one of those rare Masons who left a mark on our fraternity which will be remembered by many for years to come. He will be greatly missed. I just wonder if he has found the key to Heaven's organ yet? Probably!

Friday, May 14, 2010

WB George Long

George R. Long, 87, of the Snowbird Community in Robbinsville, NC, died at C.J. Harris Hospital on May 13, 2010, surrounded by his family. George was a lifelong resident of Graham County. He was born on June 16, 1922, the first child of the late Luther and Lillie Long. Raised on West Buffalo, he lived for a part of his early life at the Hooper Bald with Cotton and Mabel McGuire before being drafted into the US Army in 1942. He served in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy during WWII. Returning from the war to West Buffalo, he helped support his younger brothers and sisters by working on the family farm and logging on Santeetlah Creek. On October 3, 1947, he married Nettie Stewart, daughter of Tillman and Lenora Stewart, his wife of 62 years. He worked for Burlington Industries and United Furniture until he retired. After retiring, he farmed and was the manager of the Cemetery Commission of Graham County until his death. George’s interests in life started with his family. In his younger days, he was an avid bear and boar hunter. He always raised a large garden in which he always sought perfection. He was an active cattle farmer on west Buffalo until free ranging was stopped. George was active with hunting dogs and raised bulldogs. He was a 50 year member of the Masonic Lodge #672 in Robbinsville, NC and was active in all aspects of Masonry. A very involved member of the Democratic Party, he was always interested in politics. In every activity, he made friends and never met a stranger or anyone he could not strike up a conversation. George is survived by his wife Nettie Stewart Long; his three children, Joe and wife Diana Long of Clemmons, NC, Jack and wife Brenda Long of Robbinsville, NC, and Janie and husband Mark Mundy of Cornelius, NC; his grandchildren, Michelle Long, Joshua Long, Joanna Long, Brittany Tincher, and Courtney Long. He is predeceased by his mother, Lillie Campbell Long, his brothers, Frank Long and Carl Long, and his sister Maudie Hill. His surviving brothers and sisters are John, Lincoln, Olen, and Jay Long, all of Robbinsville, NC, and Lenora Kolac of Lanham, MD, Mabel Pridemore of Point of Rocks, MD, and Gladys Thein of Apex, NC. He is survived by numerous nieces and nephews from both the Long and Stewart sides, who he loved and maintained relationships. Visitation will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Monday, May 17, 2010 at the Townson-Smith Chapel. A memorial service will be at 11:00 am Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at the Townson-Smith Chapel, where Military Rites will be conducted by Eller Rogers Post 192 and Carringer Webster VFW Post 8635 and Masonic Rites will be conducted by Robbinsville Masonic Lodge 672. The Reverends Burlin Aldridge and Micky Stewart will officiate. The family will have private graveside services at Carver Cemetery at a later time. Townson-Smith Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements. An online register is available at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt at Marble Springs #439

Marble Springs #439 held its 20th Annual Easter Egg Hunt this past Sunday afternoon at the old Coats-American Plant in Marble. WM Carl Palmer started the Easter Egg Hunt just as he did with the first one 20 years ago this year...coincidentally the last time he served as Master. The Lodge would like to thank Mr. Charles West of Wells&West for the use of the property, as well as Mr Andrew Reichman for the donation of the eggs. There have been LOTS of special boys and girls who have dyed, decorated, and hunted the eggs over the years. Special thanks goes out to them and all who have faithfully assisted.

Here is a list of all the prize winners:
Marble Spring Lodge #439 Easter Egg Hunt 2010
1.Colton Reid-$50.00
2.Briania Nichole Downs-$20
3.Carley Graham-$15
4.Nichole Crisp-$15
5.Brayden Jefferies-$10
6.Kaylee clayton-$10
7.Mathew Huskins-$5
8.Autumn Miller-$5
9.Austin Plemmons-$5
10.Lilly Plemmons-$5

Friday, March 12, 2010

Awards Night @ Robbinsville 672

On Tuesday evening, March 9th, over 75 Masons from 10 different lodges were present to witness the presentation of 25 Year Service awards, a 50 Year Veteran Award, and a 60 year Diamond Jubilee Award. However the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the first ever 60 year Certified Class “A” Certificate to Brother James Kelley Hooper.

Seven brothers from Robbinsville were to receive 25 Year Service Awards and lapel pins, but only three could be present this evening. Those receiving these Awards from the Most Worshipful Master William Dill, Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina ere Brothers Harold K. Andrews, John Carpenter, and John W. Carswell. Receiving the 50 year Veteran Certificate and lapel pin was Brother O. W. Hooper, Jr. During his Masonic career, Brother Hooper served as Secretary of Robbinsville Lodge for 32 years, and is a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and is an active Ancient Arabic Noble of the Mystic Shrine. Worshipful Brother Burl L. Orr received his 60 year Diamond Jubilee Certificate and Pin. Brother Orr’s Masonic career started in 1949 and includes serving as Master of Robbinsville Lodge on five separate occasions starting in 1956; he served as the District Deputy Grand Master of the 65th Masonic District 1960-1963, and has served as both Treasurer and Secretary several years in between the other offices mentioned.

The highlight of the evening was special recognition from the Board of Custodians, Grand Master Dill and the Grand Lodge for Worshipful Brother James Kelley Hooper. Brother Hooper, at 90 years if age has reached a milestone which has never before been attained the history of North Carolina Masonry; he has been a Class “A” Certified Lecturer for 60 continuous years.

Brother Hooper became certified the same year as the first District Deputy Grand Lectures began in 1950. The certified lecturer program had stated only 9 years earlier, in 1941. He has served as the DDGL on four occasions under three different district numbering systems, the 43rd, 58th, and 65th. His tenure as DDGL lasted for 12 years. His years as District Deputy Grand Lecturer has been: 1956-59; 1972-75; 1978-81; 1989-92

Not only has he given countless lectures, schools of instruction, assisted newly made brothers witch catechisms, he has helped more than one brother take that dedicated step of also becoming a Certified Lecturer; Brothers such as the beloved late Doc Little, and our current District Deputy Grand Lecturer Jack Long.
In 2000 he became the 2nd individual to reach the 50 year milestone of being certified, and is only 1 of 10 individuals to accomplish this feat. Of those 10 individuals, only the first nine have served without a break in service.
Only one other brother, Brother Willie P. Goodman of Unanimity Lodge # 7 has ever passed 59 years. Brother Hooper was certified in March of 1950, and Brother Goodman will attain the 6o year mark this September.

He has served as Master of Robbinsville Lodge # 672 on four separate occasions.
Has been a Deacon at New Hope Baptist Church in Robbinsville for over 50 years, and severed a Chaplain of Robbinsville Lodge for many years.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

WB Don McCarter passes.

What more honor can a Mason bestow than to accompany a fallen Brother to his last rites here on Earth? Several Brothers from Montgomery #426 had that privilege today at the memorial service given for Brother Don.

Don served as Worshipful Master of Montgomery #426, and was awarded his 50 year by GM Dan Rice at this past year's Annual District Communication.

Don's life travels was dotted with many memorable events along the way. He was husband to Amelia for 58 years, father to 6 kids, and served his country as a veteran of 20 years of service with the United States Air Force. He was Master of Montgomery in 2007, and was a Knights Templar, Royal Arch Mason.

He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

The US Air Force Honor Guard fold the flag to be presented to Don's wife Amelia.
21 Gun salute for a worthy fallen Brother.
Brothers from Montgomery Lodge along with Don's son EA Mason Dan McCarter, and nephew WB Bobby Lee McCarter.

Donald McCarter, age 77, of 896 Orton Road, Murphy, NC passed away Monday, February 22, 2010 at his residence.

He was born May 7, 1932 in High Point, NC. Donald was the son of the late Roy and Bertie Freeman McCarter. He served in the US Air Force for 20 years and retired in 1970. Donald also served as Director of Lose Prevention with Gulf State Utilities in Beaumont, TX and retired from Gulf State in 1997.

He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Amelia McCarter; two daughters, Donna Rae McCarter of Daytona Beach, FL and Sandra McCarter Sheppard and her husband, Ken of Ormond Beach, FL; four sons, Paul Douglas McCarter of Kady, TX, Franklin Lindsay McCarter and his wife, Vicki of Lake Norman, NC, Daniel Wayne McCarter and his wife, Dawn of Austin, TX and James Fredrick McCarter and his wife, Denys of Victoria, TX; two brothers, William McCarter and Robert McCarter; two sisters, Betty Bryant and Jeannie Craven; nine grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 4:00 PM, Saturday, February 27, 2010 at Ranger United Methodist Church in Murphy, NC. Rev. Nathan Finsel will officiate. Military graveside rites will be conducted by the United States Air Force Honor Guard.

Following the service the Ranger United Methodist Church will host a dinner in honor of the McCarter family.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made in memory of Donald McCarter to the Valley River Humane Society, PO Box 658, Murphy, NC 28906.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How do you define "Free Born?"

A few days ago while at a recent place of business, I ran into a brother who was present during my third degree. This was the same brother who often informed me his definition of what “free born” meant, and I am sure his coach imparted this same wisdom(?) to him. I am sure many of us have been imparted with this same wisdom(?) many times over. During this recent encounter, the brother expressed to me how he was “hurt” over our recent mutual recognition. Let me interject here, in the 26+ years since I was raised, he probably hasn’t attended the lodge more than a dozen times, and none in the last 20 years. Knowing his background, his remarks didn’t surprise me. I knew I couldn’t change his way of thinking, as it has been in his way of life for around 70 years now. I’ll not disclose how I know this but, I am well aware he and his siblings were brought up in a way and manner which was biased toward African Americans. To my knowledge none of his generation was ever in the Klan, but research shows most of his ancestors fought for the south during the civil war, and his great-grandfather was involved in helping establish the KKK. I firmly believe his feelings and beliefs were handed down though the generations, he was never taught different, and his feelings were carried over into Masonry – further enforced by his coach many years ago. What makes this a little ironic, are two things, first is his firm beliefs of prejudice, and second he is a die-hard democrat who votes a straight ticket and would never-ever cross party lines; need I say more.

Prior to the mutual recognition, in my travels I heard many brothers who were for it (usually the younger craft, less than 50 years old) and some of the older die-hard brothers who were against it. I even heard in a public gathering one brother proclaim that if Prince Hall recognition came to pass, he would demit to a state which doesn’t recognize Prince Hall, and obtain his 50 year status there (to this date, this brother has yet to demit, received his 50 year pin, and serves as an officer in his lodge.)

These two older brethren, have been taught that African American’s can’t be Masons because they are descendants of slaves. (Personally, I firmly and reasonably believe while some may, not all African Americans are descendants from slavery. To make such presumption all men of color are such descendants would be vastly erroneous.)

How many of us were brought up as these older brethren were? How many of us were told by our coaches and “well informed brethren” this same definition of “free born?” But more importantly, how many of us took to heart the meaning of seeking further light (knowledge), and remember we were told to judge a man by his internal qualities and not the external. How many of our generation practice this today when coaching or mentoring a new brother? I use the phrase “our generation” here, as I have observed these teachings of “free born” appear to have been somewhat twisted through the generations.

In my search for more light, I have stumbled upon the “free-born” issue was not based on slavery, but from a social status from the 14th century during the Pesant's Revolt in England. Without going into detail of the social and economic troubles of that time period which were compounded by a time of war, I want to share something I have learned from the writings and research of the late Brother John J. Robinson...

Up until the 1300’s the law of supply and demand to support the wars was in full force and effect. For the landowning class, there had never been a time when farm labor or farm tenant supply did not exceed the demand for it. Now the foundations of a way of life were beginning to crack. Now men began to pledge themselves in servitude to a stronger man who would offer protection. These stronger men pledged themselves to even stronger men, and so on. The warrior class became nobility, and as such needed wealth and labor to build their fortresses where their followers could come for protection. Included in these needs were the necessities of maintaining knights. Where did this labor force to build and maintain this system of protection – from the local peasants? In exchange for their servitude the peasants were eventually “given” nearby land, becoming tenant farmers, tilling farmland assigned to them on shares, while still making payments to the manor lord who provided them with protection during these turbulent times. Furthermore there were “stings attached” to being a tenant farmer; when one died, his best farm animal went to the lord of the manor, and his second best farm animal went to the Parish Priests. Neither he or his family could marry without permission; he was subject to restrictions on gathering firewood, taking wood to repair his house, killing wildlife for food, and even collecting manure that dropped in the fields and roads. If the manor lord owned a mill, the tenant had to pay for the privilege to use that mill. The tenant farmer was required to stay on at the manor to which they were born, and could never leave. In view of all of the above, the tenant farmer was a man bound in what some considered slavery.

Eventually men who revolted and called themselves “free” were required to prove it through genealogy and parish records.

While there is no proof Masonry was around during this time, there were secret societies with rituals, secret meetings, and signs of recognition by its members. Masonry as we know it didn’t publicly reveal itself until 400 years later when 4 lodges come to light, joined, and formed a Grand Lodge on June 24th, 1717 in Yorkshire, England. As we all know, one of the ancient landmarks of freemasonry is a requirement to be free born. In 1717, and most likely centuries before, the requirement to be free-born was in place. If it was proved a man was a descendant of those in servitude, he was denied membership, and if discovered after becoming a member he had to relinquish his Masonic membership.

Over the centuries, we have moved from a “class system” of society, and as such the “class system” has fell from within our organization (remember the part about judging a man on his internal qualifications?) As Brother Robinson writing reveal, free born isn’t directly related to the color of a man’s skin. If Masonry practiced today the same “freeborn” requirement it did 300 years ago, how many of us would qualify. How many of us could prove we aren’t descendants of those same tenant farmers; some of which whose descendants left England for a new life in the new world? How do we portray “free-born” to our newly raised brothers; do we solely base it on thee color of a man’s skin and that his race is the most recent victim of slavery? What would your family tree reveal from the 14th century – do you descend from manor lords or tenant farmers; would you qualify for membership? Think about it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Step Forward : A Masonic Life Lesson Learned

The following was written by WB Brian Rau of Montgomery#426. Brian was deer hunting the morning of his last meeting as Master when the following event occured. As Brian was fixing to close the Lodge for the last time, he rendered the following for those of us in the Lodge. It truly touched my I'm sure it will yours' as well. Derek.

December the 1st of 2009 was a day that will live forever in my memory as one of my greatest hunting days. Success was mine in a big way; more accurately a very BIG way. The buck deer I harvested that day was the largest deer I have ever seen while afield deer hunting, and the second largest deer I have ever seen in the woods and fields of western North Carolina, in all my days. It was a beautiful 9-point deer with a rack of moderate size and mass, not anything close to those taken in Ohio or Minnesota, but a real treasure for western North Carolina, and a true blessing for me in more ways than perhaps I will ever realize. Though the shoulder mount will be a beautiful adornment on the wall of my living room, and the meat will provide many delicious and healthy meals, the experience provided a serendipitous lesson that was the real gold nugget of the event.

First, let me describe the event in basic details. I was 30 minutes from the time I had decided I needed to be home, to get cleaned up for my last Stated Communication as Worshipful Master of Montgomery Masonic Lodge. That morning I sat in the root-ball pocket of a large oak that had fallen over many years before, located about 200 yards behind my parents’ house, at the very head of the branch by their house. As it was getting on into the second half of our short deer rifle season (buck only), and I had not even seen the first doe in the area, I decided to walk up the head of the valley and on top of the knoll behind my right shoulder to look for sign in the oak stand there before heading straight down the spur ridge to the house.

Nearing the top, I heard movement to my right in a laurel and brush thicket, which I suspected could be either a fleeing squirrel, or a nervous deer moving away from me towards the oak stand. As I slowly crept up though the stand of small birch in the draw and was looking for a quick glimpse of a deer running off through the thicket to my right, I was astonished to see something I would never imagined in my wildest dreams. Just 25 yards laterally left and 20 feet in elevation above me, on the dividing main ridge, a beautiful mature buck step up from the backside Laurel and Rhododendron thicket, with his eyes scanning the same thicket I had been skirting. I froze in anticipation of his immediate recognition of my presence. I was amazed as he started walking forward along the ridge and then started to cut diagonally down across the end of the draw, maybe 40 yards in front of me, just past a blocking laurel patch. I cautiously stepped forward another ten feet or so, before he cleared the laurel. By then, he was 50 yards or so ahead and passing through the densest area of the small birch stand. Once again, I was left with the sinking feeling that I would watch a beautiful opportunity to harvest a real

Class-A deer bound away, either to lack of a decent shot, or to his inevitable and eventual detection of me.

My usual mental attitude at this situation would be to accept defeat and just try to be thankful for having caught a glimpse of such a fine specimen in my old, but unsuccessful, hunting grounds. But God had a different plan for me this day, and one that I can learn so much from, not just about hunting, but about life and opportunities. As this fine buck neared the bottom of the draw, a different voice in my head said step forward, despite my “well-founded” fear of detection. I took two or three steps forward and looked through the new scope on my trusty old Marlin .30-’30, but the shot was still too narrow. Rather than giving up, I squatted down and braced myself and my rifle against the nearest birch, just as the buck stopped with his head directly behind the largest birch in his area, and just two steps short of the only shot I would be given this day. This narrow window of opportunity was not visible when I was still standing at full height, and would not have opened up from any height, if I had not taken those fateful steps forward. As I braced, quietly cocked the hammer back to full cock, and unblocked the safety, the buck stepped forward one step and started to turn his head to look nearly straight at me. I held my breath, expecting him, or an unseen deer elsewhere, to make that dreaded “blow” that would send them all running tails high for the next drainage. To my relief, he turned his focus back to straight in line with his path and stepped forward with a clear resolve. My Marlin, the new Hornady LeveRevolution ammo, and my scope did the job as good as I could ever have asked; and the buck went right to the ground with stiff legs, in the spot where the bullet struck him. Needless to say, I approached him with rifle to shoulder, like I was in a drug raid, and did not let my guard down until I had placed the barrel of my rifle against his chest and his eye.

The whole time I had watched him, I knew he was a fine deer; but once I saw him close-up, I realized what an amazing trophy I had been blessed with. Without another thought, I found myself on the ground on bended knee, thanking God who had whispered in my ear, “Step Forward”. It was He who made that day possible, and it was He who provided that narrow opportunity and the steadying tree right where I needed it to be. Surely He kept the wind in my favor, and let my all-too-big body form blend in against the woods that were so vertical, when I occupy so much more space horizontally. Yes, of course, the rifle and ammo, the camo, and my scent control efforts all were helpful, and the bullet did an amazing job on impact; but how many times do all those efforts and technology fail to put a deer on the ground in front of the best hunter, in the best of conditions. For all this to take place for me (I will tell anyone I am not the most skilled and experienced hunter), I believe a personal miraculous blessing from God was given to me that day. Most of the pictures taken of me by the time I drug that deer down the mountain through the thickets, over and under downed trees, and through the creek bed, make it appear as though I was not very happy or thankful; but nothing could be further from the truth. Though my exhaustion and near dehydration may have temporarily shut down my deeper inner-thoughts and reflections, the important lesson that would bless me most, would come in the following hours and days.

Base lesson learned here for both mankind and more especially the brethren in Freemasonry: Step Forward!!!. Many times in life, and more especially in our Masonic activities and planning, we will see all the obstacles and the reasons we will “surely” fail to fully accomplish our goal or affect the change we desire, so we will not act at all. I do not suggest that as Masons and men, we should foolishly and haphazardly attempt to do anything and everything that comes to mind, without proper planning and due effort. But alas, through faith in the Great Architect of the Universe, we plan to do our best wherever and whenever we see a need; and we make the effort with prayer, force of numbers, and the knowledge that it is the right thing to do. When the situation looks like it is too narrow an opportunity to reach the desired goal, then we should first step forward and look for an un-seen opening, before admitting defeat and failing to act. The great power of Freemasons to affect real and positive changes in the world around us is in faith in God and the power of teamwork, not only amongst the brothers of one lodge, but among multiple lodges and all Masons working together. We should always remember that to first receive the blessing from God that Masonry has been to our lives, we first must have come to the Lodge with an open, hopeful, and faithful heart, and then knocked more than once and been tried multiple times, to reach that most sublime and desirable place of enlightenment and brotherly love. Let us not sit quietly in a seats in the lodge, and not stand up and offer what we can for the good of our fellow man, and thus for the good of Masonry. Let us not fail to ever act where there exists need, without due and prudent consideration as to what we can do, with God’s blessings and faith-driven efforts.

With Him at the center of our Lodges and our lives, we should meet on the Level, acting by the Plumb, and Step Forward to serve Him in the world, guided along the straight and narrow path by His light, giving Him due praises for His many blessings, that we might part this world on the Square, and enter that “House not built with hands, eternal in Heaven”.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Montgomery & Marble Springs Lodges 2009 Christmas Parade float

Montgomery #426 and Marble Springs #439 joined forces for their first ever Christmas Parade float on December 5th, 2009. It was a cold, blustery day. But, the weather couldn't stop a sizable group of dedicated Brothers from making an appearance for the good of the order. Lots of constuction work, and prep went into the float with a fine Masonic Compass being jointly built by Henry Hiss and Jeff Hutt. Montgomery member Michael Turner even brought along his young daughter on the ride to show that families are an important part of Masonry. The riders distributed hard candy along the way, with a good time being had by all involved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blue Ridge Lodge installs Officers

It is no secret that as a whole our Lodges are getting "older". The average age and years in membership at most of our lodges is nearing and past the age of "Social Security". Well, I'm glad to see that in WNC we have a few Brothers/Lodges who are trying to "buck" that notion. How many of y'all can remember what your Lodge accomplished in 1988? In Blue Ridge Lodge, 1988 was a big year....cause that was the year that Harold Neeley welcomed a son named Matthew into the world.....little did he know that 21 years later he would get to install his own son into the probably the youngest Worshipful Master in NC Masonry.

Below is a few words from Secretary Dave Cashion PM.....
"Matthew Neely was installed Master on Dec. 19, 2009. With his birthday being 08/15/1988, he may be the youngest Master in the state. He turned in his petition on his 18th birthday. His Father Harold, a very proud father, installed him as Master. Dads don't often get to install the sons. The Officers and members Blue Ridge are looking forward to the upcoming year. Our annual Christmas Dinner was postponed due to weather, and will now be a Valentines dinner. 2010 events will include the Lodge Picnic, Hot Dog sale fundraiser, and Christmas Dinner. We looking forward to receiving the DDGM on January 21, and hearing his message."



Matthew receiving the Lodge Charter.