Freemasonry


Below, we hope you will enjoy the transcript from an address given by Past Grand Master of North Carolina Gene T. Jernigan on October 21, 2006. The address was given on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of King Solomon Masonic Lodge # 704.

BRETHREN, LADIES AND GUESTS:

IT IS INDEED MY PLEASURE TO BE IN GASTONIA THIS EVENING TO JOIN IN THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF KING SOLOMON LODGE #704.

LET ME BEGIN TONIGHT BY TELLING EACH OF YOU, THE MASONS OF NORTH CAROLINA, HOW DEEPLY HONORED I AM TO SERVE YOU AS YOUR GRAND MASTER. THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE THIS GRAND JURISDICTION IS TRULY A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE. TO BE ABLE TO VISIT WITH MASONS ALL ACROSS THE STATE, JUST AS WE ARE HERE TONIGHT, AND TO BE SO WARMLY RECEIVED IS MOST HUMBLING. AS MY YEAR OF SERVICE AS GRAND MASTER IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, I CAN TELL YOU IT HAS BEEN AN EXTREMELY BUSY YEAR AND ONE THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET. IT HAS BEEN MY GREAT PLEASURE TO CARRY THE POSITIVE MESSAGE OF FREEMASONRY AS I HAVE TRAVELED ACROSS THE STATE—TO TELL OF THE GOOD WORK THAT IS BEING DONE IN OUR COMMUNITIES SO THAT WE CAN EXCITE OTHERS TO BECOME MORE ACTIVE AND GET INVOLVED IN THEIR LODGES. IT IS A MOST EXCITING TIME TO BE A MASON. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, THERE IS A HEIGHTENED INTEREST AMONG THE GENERAL PUBLIC REGARDING FREEMASONRY AND WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER. THE NUMBER OF MEN INQUIRING ABOUT MEMBERSHIP AND THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF PETITIONS THAT HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FOR THE DEGREES OF FREEMASONRY IS ON THE INCREASE. I BELIEVE THAT THE MORE WE AS MASONS ARE SEEN IN OUR COMMUNITIES DOING GOOD—TRULY PUTTING INTO PRACTICE, THE TEACHINGS OF FRIENDSHIP, MORALITY AND BROTHERLY LOVETHE GREATER THE INTEREST WE WILL SEE IN MASONRY.

AND THAT SAME KIND OF INTEREST BRINGS US TO WHY WE ARE GATHERED HERE TONIGHT. I WANT TO THANK WORSHIPFUL BROTHER DAVID HUSS AND ALL OF THE OFFICERS OF KING SOLOMON FOR YOUR EFFORTS AND FOR TAKING THE INITIATIVE TO HAVE A TIME OF CELEBRATION OF THIS MOST IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN THE LIFE OF FREEMASONRY AND IN THE LIFE OF KING SOLOMON LODGE. THIS EVENT HAS BEEN IN THE PLANNING FOR MANY MONTHS AS EVIDENCED BY THE ATTENTION THAT HAS BEEN PAID TO EVERY DETAIL OF THE EVENING. OUR THANKS GOES NOT ONLY TO THE OFFICERS BUT ALSO TO THE COMMITTEES THAT HAVE SHOULDERED THE RESPONSIBILITY TO SEE THIS NIGHT BECOME A REALITY. I KNOW THERE HAVE BEEN MANY MEETINGS AND COUNTLESS HOURS SPENT IN MAKING PLANS TO SEE THAT EVERYTHING CAME OFF JUST AS YOU HAVE PLANNED. THE CARE AND EFFORT THAT HAS GONE INTO MAKING TONIGHT A REALITY POINTS TO THE PRIDE THAT I KNOW EXISTS AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THIS LODGE. YOUR PRIDE IN FREEMASONRY AND YOUR DESIRE TO SEE THE HISTORY OF YOUR LODGE AND ITS HERITAGE PRESERVED POINTS TO THE ESTEEM WITH WHICH YOU HOLD FREEMASONRY.

WE ARE HERE THIS EVENING TO HELP CELEBRATE THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF SOMETHING VERY DEAR TO EACH OF US. IT IS OUR LOVE FOR THIS FRATERNITY THAT WE CALL FREEMASONRY THAT BRINGS US TOGETHER. OUR DESIRE TO “RAISE THE MORAL, SOCIAL, INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL CONSCIENCE OF SOCIETY BY TEACHING THE ANCIENT AND ENDURING PHILOSOPHICAL TENETS OF BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF AND TRUTH WHICH ARE EXPRESSED OUTWARDLY THROUGH SERVICE TO GOD, FAMILY, COUNTRY AND SELF UNDER THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD WITHIN THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN”—THIS IS THE MISSION STATEMENT OF THE GRAND LODGE OF NORTH CAROLINA.

THIS IS THE SAME MISSION STATEMENT AND MIND SET THAT WAS PRESENT IN SEPTEMBER OF 1955 WHEN THE THIRTY-THREE MEN, WHO WOULD BECOME CHARTER MEMBERS OF KING SOLOMON LODGE, CAME TOGETHER TO MAKE WHAT WE CELEBRATE TONIGHT A REALITY. THE MEMBERSHIP OF GASTONIA LODGE #369 AND HOLLAND MEMORIAL #668 GAVE THEIR CONSENT FOR A NEW LODGE TO BE FORMED. WHEN PAST GRAND MASTER CHARLES H. PUGH, A GASTONIA PHYSICIAN, SIGNED THAT DISPENSATION FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE NEW LODGE, HE HAD CONFIDENCE IN THOSE MEN AND THEIR DESIRE TO FURTHER THE CAUSE OF OUR GREAT FRATERNITY. ON APRIL 18, 1956, THEN GRAND MASTER JOHN C. VANCE ISSUED THE CHARTER UNDER WHICH THE LODGE BEGAN ITS WORK. WORSHIPFUL BROTHER MARCUS S. McCLUNEY SERVED THE LODGE AS ITS FIRST MASTER. HE AND HIS OFFICERS WERE NO DOUBT CAUTIOUS ABOUT THEIR ENDEAVOR; HOWEVER, THEY ACCEPTED A CHALLENGE AND WERE WILLING TO SHARE THE ENLIGHTENMENT THAT THEY KNEW THEN AND THAT WE KNOW TODAY AS FREEMASONRY WITH MORE GOOD MEN WHO HAD A DESIRE TO FURTHER ENRICH THEIR LIVES AND THAT OF THE COMMUNITY ABOUT THEM. MASONRY’S ROOTS WERE DEEP IN THE COMMUNITY FIFTY YEARS AGO AS THEY ARE TODAY—THE FIRST JUNIOR DEACON OF THE NEWLY FORMED LODGE WAS BROTHER HUNTER ELMORE THOMAS—WHO WAS THE FATHER OF GASTONIA’S CURRENT MAYOR, THE HONORABLE JENNIFER T. STULTZ, WHO IS WITH US TONIGHT—MAYOR WE HONOR YOU AND THE MEMORY OF YOUR FATHER AND THAT OF OUR BROTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED HOME BY THE GREAT ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE—AND WE THANK YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND BROTHER DAVID STULTZ, WHO IS A MEMBER OF HOLLAND MEMORIAL FOR BEING WITH US TONIGHT. FROM THE LISTING I HAVE IT APPEARS THAT 3 (THREE) OF THE CHARTER MEMBERS ARE STILL LIVING AND 3 (THREE) MOVED THEIR MEMBERSHIP TO OTHER LODGES—I WONDER IF WE HAVE REPRESENTATIVES OF ANY OF THOSE MEN’S FAMILIES WITH US—IF SO, WOULD YOU PLEASE STAND AND LET US RECOGNIZE YOU—TELL US YOUR NAME AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR CHARTER MEMBERS. ALSO, ARE THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS WITH US OF ANY OF OUR CHARTER MEMBERS WHO ARE DECEASED—IF SO, LIKEWISE PLEASE STAND SO THAT WE MIGHT RECOGNIZE YOU.

THE LIGHT OF FREEMASONRY WAS BRIGHT IN KING SOLOMON #704 DURING 1956. HISTORY TELLS US THAT A TOTAL OF 9 (NINE) MEN WERE RAISED AS MASTER MASONS DURING THAT FIRST YEAR. ONE OF THE FIRST 4 (FOUR) WAS BROTHER SETH T. WHITE, JR. WHO RECEIVED HIS 50 YEAR VETERAN’S AWARD JUST THIS PAST APRIL. AS MUCH HAS CHANGED OVER THESE 50 (FIFTY) YEARS, WHEN THE DUES WERE $6.00 AND THE INITIATION FEE WAS $60.00, BUT THE CONSTANT IS AND CONTINUES TO BE THAT DESIRE TO SHARE THE PASSION THAT OUR BROTHERS HAD THEN AND THAT I BELIEVE THIS GROUP HERE TONIGHT SHARES TO HELP MAKE FREEMASONRY BE THE VERY BEST IT CAN POSSIBLY BE.

AS MASONS, WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE OLDEST FRATERNITY IN THE WORLD AND IN MY OPINION, IT IS WITHOUT DOUBT THE GREATEST! OUR HISTORY IS RICH, DATING BACK TO 1717 WITH THE FORMATION OF THE GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND AND OUR OWN GRAND LODGE RECEIVED ITS CHARTER IN 1787. JUST AS WE CELEBRATE 50 YEARS HERE TONIGHT, WE HAVE RECENTLY CELEBRATED THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF ST. JOHN’S LODGE # 1 IN WILMINGTON. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT ANY ORGANIZATION WITH THIS RICH HERITAGE HAS STAYING POWER. THE VERY FACT THAT FREEMASONRY IS BASED ON THE TIME HONORED PRINCIPLES OF FRIENDSHIP, MORALITY AND BROTHERLY LOVE IS PROOF POSITIVE TO ME THAT WE HAVE THE BASIS FOR WHAT OUR SOCIETY NEEDS TODAY. IT IS UP TO US AS TO WHAT WE WILL DO WITH THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE OURS. HOW WE CHOOSE TO CARRY FORWARD IN THE TRADITION OF OUR FOREFATHERS AND THE CHARTER MEMBERS OF KING SOLOMON #704 AND HELP TO BUILD ON AND PRESERVE THE HERITAGE THAT IS OURS IS US TO EACH OF US. THE INFLUENCE OF FREEMASONRY ON THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY, STATE AND OF THIS COMMUNITY IS WITHOUT QUESTION. WE SHOULD BE PROUD OF OUR HERITAGE AND OUR DEEP ROOTS IN SOCIETY. IT IS OUR FRATERNITY AND OUR LODGEWHAT LEGACY WILL WE LEAVE?

WE MUST STRIVE TO MAKE OUR LODGE AND OUR MEETINGS FRIENDLIER AND MORE INTERESTING—OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIALIZATION AND INVOLVEMENT IN ACTIVITIES THAT ARE MEANINGFUL AND REWARDING MUST BE A PART OF WHAT WE OFFER TO OUR MEMBERSHIP AND THEIR FAMILIES. I BELIEVE THAT MASONRY HAS RELEVANCE TO SOCIETY TODAY AND THAT MEN ARE ATTRACTED TO WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER. AS WE CHANGE TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF THE DAY, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE ARE TO COMPROMISE OUR VALUES—MASONRY IS NOT FOR EVERYMAN—HOWEVER, I DO BELIEVE WE ARE STILL IN THE BUSINESS OF HELPING TO MAKE GOOD MEN BETTER.

MASONRY AND ITS APPENDANT BODIES, THE SCOTTISH RITE, THE YORK RITE, THE EASTERN STAR, ITS YOUTH ORGANIZATION—DEMOLAY, THE ORDER OF RAINBOW FOR GIRLS AND JOBS DAUGHTERS AND A HOST OF OTHERS ARE ALL ABOUT THE SAME MISSION—THAT OF HELPING TO MAKE THE WORLD AROUND US A BETTER PLACE IN WHICH TO LIVE, WORK AND RAISE OUR FAMILIES. WHILE ON THIS SUBJECT, I WANT TO PAY A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO OUR YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS AND ESPECIALLY OUR RAINBOW GIRLS WHO I BELIEVE ARE WITH US TONIGHT—ALONG WITH THEIR ADULT LEADERS. OUR FUTURE LIES WITH THESE YOUTH AND ALTHOUGH I AM AFRAID THAT WE OFTEN FAIL TO GIVE THEM ALL OF THE SUPPORT THEY NEED—LET ME TELL YOU HOW VERY PROUD WE ARE OF YOU AND WE ARE ANXIOUS TO HELP YOU IN ANYWAY WE CAN. I COMMEND YOU FOR YOUR EFFORTS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND TO HELP RAISE THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF OUR YOUTH TODAY.

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE WORDS OF THE PSALMIST AS HE WRITES, “HOW GOOD AND HOW PLEASANT IT IS FOR THE BRETHREN TO DWELL TOGETHER IN UNITY” AND THUS I BELIEVE IT IS WITH OUR MASONIC FAMILY—WE ARE COMPLETE ONLY WHEN WE ARE UNITED. WHEN WE ATTEMPT TO ADVANCE THE CAUSE OF ONE MEMBER OF THE BODY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE OTHER, WE SPLINTER AND WE ARE WEAKENED—DIVIDED WE WEAKEN THE WHOLE AND THUS LESSEN THE EFFECTIVENESS OF EACH SEPARATE UNIT. SO UNITED WE MUST BE IF WE ARE TO HAVE THE POSITIVE INFLUENCE THAT IS NEEDED IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES. EVEN THOUGH SOMETIMES IT MAY APPEAR THAT OUR INTERESTS MAY DIFFER; HOWEVER, WE KNOW THAT WE ARE ALL MASONS AND A PART OF THAT WONDERFUL MASONIC FAMILY AND THAT OUR SUCCESS WILL TRULY BE REALIZED WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER IN A UNITED EFFORT.

JUST AS THERE ARE EXCITING AND GOOD THINGS HAPPENING IN KING SOLOMON #704 AND THE GASTONIA AREA LODGES AND THE APPENDANT BODIES OF FREEMASONRY—THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD THINGS GOING ON ALL ACROSS THE STATE WITHIN OUR GREAT FRATERNITY. IT IS TRULY A WONDERFUL TIME TO BE A MASON; HOWEVER, IT IS UP TO EACH ONE OF US AS INDIVIDUALS AS TO WHAT WE WILL DO WITH THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ARE OURS. WE MUST PREPARE OURSELVES TO MEET THE CHALLENGES AHEAD. WE MUST UNITE OUR EFFORTS TO PROMOTE MASONIC IDEALS AND PROVIDE LIGHT TO A DARK WORLD. A SPIRIT OF UNITY IN OUR MASONIC FAMILY IS ESSENTIAL IF WE ARE TO ADVANCE THE CAUSE AND PURPOSE OF FREEMASONRY AND MAKE OUR GREAT FRATERNITY THE VERY BEST THAT IT CAN POSSIBLY BE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

WE MUST ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER TO BE GOOD MEN AND WOMEN AND TRUE, TRUE TO OUR CHURCH, OUR NATION AND OUR FAMILIES AND IN DOING SO I BELIEVE THAT GOOD MEN AND WOMEN—BOYS AND GIRLS WILL BE ATTRACTED TO OUR GREAT FRATERNITY AND WHAT IT HAS TO OFFER. SEVERAL YEARS AGO, PAST GRAND MASTER, MOST WORSHIPFUL BROTHER CHARLES LEWIS TOLD US THAT “THE BEST IS YET TO COME” AND I DO BELIEVE THIS IS TRUE FOR FREEMASONRY. THERE ARE STILL HURDLES THAT MUST BE CLEARED; HOWEVER, WHEN WE ALL SET OUR MINDS TO IT AND PUT OUR “SHOULDER TO THE WHEEL”, I AM CONFIDENT THERE IS NO TASK TO GREAT FOR US TO OVERCOME. I CHALLENGE YOU, AS I DO TO MYSELF, TO LIVE UP THE MORAL STANDARDS TO WHICH WE ARE OBLIGATED AND WHEN WE DO –I AM CONFIDENT THE LIGHT OF FREEMASONRY WILL SHINE JUST AS BRIGHT AS IT DID ON THAT DAY IN APRIL 1956, WHEN KING SOLOMON #704 RECEIVED ITS CHARTER AND FREEMASONRY WILL CONTINUE TO THRIVE AND REACH NEW HEIGHTS IN SERVICE TO MANKIND.

AGAIN, IT IS MY PLEASURE TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BE A PART OF THIS WONDERFUL CELEBRATION TONIGHT AND I WISH FOR YOU MUCH SUCCESS IN THE DAYS AHEAD. IT IS MY PRAYER THAT GOD WILL CONTINUE TO BLESS EACH OF YOU, OUR FRATERNITY, AND OUR GREAT NATION.

THANK YOU

GENE T. JERNIGAN
GRAND MASTER

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