The Mooresville Masonic Lodge 496 has had a lot to celebrate recently.
On Nov. 24, the members of the lodge gathered first for a meal at the Heritage House in Mooresville where they had a catered meal and welcomed Grand Master P. Shaun Bradshaw of Greensboro, who later spoke to the members and participated in a special ceremony at the lodge, located on Institute Avenue.
“This is just a very exciting night for us as we are so pleased to have Grand Master Shaun here with us,” said Mike Cook. “We really appreciate him and his taking the time out of his busy schedule to be here. It is a very special and important night tonight for Mooresville Lodge 496.”
The evening would include the rededication of the local lodge and dedication of a special commemorative plaque as well as the honoring of several Masonic members.
It was during the first portion of the evening at the Heritage House that Cook and Ben Goins made a presentation of a framed Masonic emblem to Randy Marion to thank him for his generous gift to the lodge, which enabled the major renovations of the building to take place.
“We just wanted to do a little something special for you,” Cook said as Marion opened the package. “You do so much for us and for this whole community.”
As he looked at the gift, Marion said, “I will find a very, very nice place to hang this.”
Following the meal, the group reconvened at the lodge for the remainder of the ceremony. As members entered, they were able to tour the newly renovated Masonic Lodge building.
During the public portion of the evening, two members, Ray Witherspoon and Tommy L. Hartsell, were recognized and escorted up to receive their 50-year pins. Both men had joined the Masonic Lodge almost at the same time they noted, in the month May.
Presiding over this portion of the ceremony was Grand Master P. Shaun Bradshaw, who shared, “the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina has noted with gratitude the fact that you have been members of this fraternity for more than 50 years.”
He noted not only their service to the lodge but also the service they have rendered to their community.
Following a time of prayer, Bradshaw said, that “50 years ago, you were advised to remember your Creator and the days of your youth. Today, we commemorate the completion of your half century of Masonic fellowship and we honor you for your contributions to the fraternity. In life, each Mason gives of his substance, time, loyalty and steadfast devotion. All of us are reminded to dedicate all that we have and all that we are to work with God here and on earth,” he said.
On this their golden anniversary with the lodge, Bradshaw concluded by telling them, “It is my privilege for and on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina to present to you the Grand Lodge 50 year veterans emblem award as a visible token of our fraternal love and gratefulness for you.”
After the presentation of pins and certificates and congratulations on this achievement, both men shared their thankfulness for the honor, as Witherspoon said, the pride of being a Mason.
After they were seated, John G. Rhyne was asked to come forward to be recognized and presented with a life membership in the lodge.
Bradshaw shared that Rhyne was initiated April 14, 1983, in Lodge 832 in Bamberg, Germany, and admitted into membership in the local lodge June 8, 2002, where he has served as Master in 2005, chaplain in 2010 and treasurer in 2011.
Owen Estep, Master of the local lodge, resumed the ceremony stating, “it is my happy privilege to present to you a life membership in this lodge, which you have served long and faithfully. This is presented to you by your lodge, not because the brethren feel there is any danger of you letting your membership lapse, but because they wish to show you there has been no lapse in their affection for you, no lapse in their keen appreciation of the service you have rendered. This lifetime membership therefore is presented to you with the love and affection of all your brethren.”
Rhyne expressed his appreciation for this honor and said that he would always remember this.
After the presentation, Bradshaw told the group, “It’s good to be here. At the beginning of the year, we had this dedication planned and then things went a little awry. I had to do something I don’t think any Grand Master wants to do by ordering lodges to cease their Masonic activity, but of course, with the virus it became necessary to ensure the health and safety of our brethren. And I’m so glad to be able to be here with each and every one of you for this dedication.”
Bradshaw then acknowledged those who had both funded the renovation work and who did a good portion of the work.
The first recognized was Randy Marion to whom Bradshaw noted that the plaque being dedicated was “specifically to you and your generous contribution, contributions to Freemasonry and to this lodge in particular, and we are so very thankful for your generosity. And on behalf of Mooresville Lodge and as Grand Master, I want to thank you in particular for all that you have done for the fraternity and in particular the lodge. Thank you so much,” he said.
Marion responded with his thanks to the lodge and noted that he was “very proud to be a Mason.” His inspiration to be a Mason came from both of his grandfathers.
“I’m very, very proud to be a Mason, and I’m very proud to have my son come after me to be a Mason,” he said.
Estep later presented Marion with the commemorative plaque, which read, “Mooresville Lodge #496 presents this award for charitable giving to Bro. Randy Marion. By his selfless generosity and love of his brothers and lodge, we are able to make needed upgrades to our lodge and ensure that we are secure for the future. Charity does not end with giving, it grows through love of one another, 2020” Another matching plaque hangs in the lodge building.
And, Estep said, “On a more personal note, we would like for you to have this gold Masonic watch that will remind you of all the brothers whenever you check the time as we will be reminded of you when we enter the lodge. Also, there’s a plaque on the altar, dedicating the altar to you. I just want to thank you so very much for all this. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much.”
Marion responded with words of thanks and said, “thank you for allowing me this opportunity to do my part. People that did the work ought to be up here instead of me,” he said. “They had a dream. They had a vision of what they wanted to get done. They came with that vision and we were able, but they did the work. Thanks for letting me be a part.”
Also honored during the ceremony was Ralph Miller who was thanked by Bradshaw for his “dedicated service to this lodge in particular, particularly in regards to the renovation that you and others did on the fellowship and especially the renovations in the kitchen. It’s fine craftsmanship, certainly worthy of a Master Mason’s work. It’s gorgeous and I know I speak on behalf of all the brethren here, thank you so much for all your effort and everything you have done for the lodge.”
Others recognized for their work on the major renovations included JAG Construction Company, Leon Schwartz, who was in charge of and handled painting, Andy Faust, who assisted Miller in some of the work, and Leroy, a Prince Hall brother, who assisted in the installation of both the carpet and new flooring in various locations in the building.
“I’m sure many more brethren who are here and are not here volunteered their time and effort to the various renovations that went into the lodge,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw concluded the ceremony and shared that as Grand Master, he has the honor to travel and visit the lodges and the brethren.
“Unfortunately for me, with the nature of the year, I had a couple of these on my calendar, but this is the only one that I got to do,” Bradshaw said. “And so I want to thank this lodge, and Owen, thank you for the invitation. I want to especially thank you for making me a part of this evening. It has been my absolute honor to be here with each of you and to do this dedication of the plaque and I so appreciate that honor.”
The lodge, as noted by past Masters Aaron Stone and Jerry Gould, was first started in a building on Main Street, what is now the upstairs portion of the Insurance Center. Masonic Lodge 496 was chartered in 1898, their building was built in 1910 and previously dedicated in 1942.