Brethren Focus on New Leadership, Shrinking Finances at Grand Lodge


Annual Communication 2018: Brethren Focus on New Leadership, Shrinking Finances at Grand Lodge

By Beth Grace

Mason Editor

North Carolina Freemasons elected a new grand master, received a new member of the Grand Line, rejected a plan to increase the per capita and welcomed two new Montfort Medal winners at the 231stAnnual Communication.

Shortly after the vote for the 166thGrand Master, Dwight MacLauchlin Sigmon told the assembly, “I stand before you today extremely grateful.”

He challenged each person attending to use the tools of Masonry to bring positive change to the world.

“We can choose to be a Mason or just a member,” he said. Sigmon will be installed on Dec. 1.

Sigmon also announced his addition to the Grand Line, naming Worshipful Brother Gilbert DeVerne Bailey of Charles M. Setzer #693 as junior grand steward. Bailey was raised in 2004 and served as senior warden, secretary, trustee, and master of the Charles M. Setzer lodge and also has served on the Board of Custodians and currently is a member of the WhiteStone Board of Directors.

A total of 1,007 delegates also tackled 10 amendments, completing voting on the first day of the communication. They rejected a proposal to revamp endowed memberships and to open lodge on the first degree.

They approved proposals that allow a lodge to meet on another day and to hold its annual meeting on an alternate date in cases of hazardous conditions. Several other proposals were ruled out of order or withdrawn.

Brethren voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal to increase the per capita by $5. On Friday, the body took up the proposed budget for 2019, which forecast a deficit of more than $53,000. After discussion, the budget was approved as proposed.

“Please be aware, we don’t prepare the budget in a vacuum. We live in the real world,” said Kevin Combs, chairman of the finance committee. “Lots of things about Masonry are unique and require funds to carry out.”

As a part of the budget presentation, Senior Grand Warden Shaun Bradshaw gave a brief overview of a proposal called “3 by 5.” Under the plan the per capita would increase gradually and on a predictable schedule.

Bradshaw said the finance committee felt a vote on that plan this year would be premature. Grand Master Speed Hallman conducted a straw vote, asking the representatives of the lodges whether they might favor such a plan. A substantial majority raised their hands in support of the idea. Bradshaw and other Grand Line officers want to visit lodges to discuss the plan.

Business turned to celebration during the two-day session as Grand Master Hallman announced two Montfort Medal recipients: Worshipful Brothers Gary Handy and Jim Medlin.

Brother Handy is a member and Past Master of Walnut Cove #629 and has been employed has a purchasing agent for Stokes County since 1994. He has taken on many jobs within the Craft – not the least of which is his work to stage a seamless Annual Communication every year. He was raised in June 2003 at Walnut Cove Lodge and is affiliated with Wilkerson College #760, Sophia #767, Lux Libertas #772 and Kernersville #669.

He’s a Past DDGM of the 26th district. He also is General Secretary to the Valley of Greensboro Scottish Riteand is active in the York Rite, along with Oasis Shriners in Charlotte. He says he has loved all of this work but the work he most treasures is acting as secretary and instructor to Wilkerson College.

He has served on the Board of General Purposes, as well as the Charter and Finance Committees of the Grand Lodge. Brother Gary lives in Walnut Cove, along with his wife Jennifer and has one daughter and two grandchildren.

Brother Medlin is a native son of Kings Mountain and is Past Master of East LaPorte #358. He also is a member of Fairview #339 and Wilkerson College #760.

He is a 33rd degree Scottish Rite member, Valley of Asheville; an Oasis Shriner; York Rite, North Carolina Grand York Rite Body; and a National Sojourner in the Fayetteville and Raleigh chapters. He holds two bachelors degrees from Western Carolina University, and an MBA.

He was a member of the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1971 and is a veteran of the Vietnam Conflict.

He enjoyed a successful 36-year business career as an Executive Senior Vice President and National Sales Manager in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry.

He was also CEO of three major charitable foundations, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and is a licensed insurance broker and agent.

Each Grand Master may give three Montfort medals during his tenure. GM Hallman’s first medal went to Past Grand Master Gene Cobb. Joseph Montfort was the only Provincial Grand Master for America. He died before the American Revolution began and is buried in front of Royal White Hart #2 in Halifax, where he was a member.

The assembly also took some time to remember those in need. The third annual “Masons Can” food drive netted about $1,610 in cash donations and about 1,600 pounds of food, and brothers chipped in about $4,800 in cash, in addition to cleaning and other supplies, for Hurricane Florence victims.

The Board of General Purposes, in a meeting Thursday, voted to contribute $4,000 to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina to help brothers and lodges hit by the hurricane.

Meanwhile, the Masonic Services Association presented a check for $181,500 donated by lodges and Shriners around the country for brotherly relief in North Carolina. Of that amount, the Grand Lodge of Texas contributed $100,000.

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