08/12/18 — Goldsboro Masonic Lodge celebrates centennial

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Goldsboro Masonic Lodge celebrates centennial

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 12, 2018 3:05 AM

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Charles Southerland, right, is honored Thursday night for his 62 years as a certified lecturer during the 100th anniversary celebration for Masonic Lodge 634.


Lodge Master George Reacher receives a certificate celebrating the 100th anniversary of Masonic Lodge 634 from Speed Hallman, Grand Master of Grand Lodge of North Carolina, Thursday night.

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Efton Sager shakes the hand of grand master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina Speed Hallman as he is recognized for his 60 years of membership Thursday night during the 100th anniversary of Masonic Lodge 634. Also pictured, Sager's wife Deloris.

Goldsboro Masonic Lodge No. 634 A.F. & A.M. celebrated its centennial Thursday night.

It wasn't the only milestone celebrated.

Former state legislator and former Wayne County commissioner Efton Sager received his 60-year pin, and Charles Southerland was honored for his 62 years as a certified lecturer.

The celebration included dinner and a 100th anniversary cake.

The lodge was organized Feb. 27, 1917, when 25 master Masons petitioned Claude Pridgen, grand master of the A.F. & A.M. of North Carolina for a dispensation to form a new lodge.

The new lodge's first stated communication was held March 19, 1917. Its charter was issued Jan. 16, 1918, and the lodge was fully instituted on Jan. 28.

"This is a special night for Goldsboro 634," lodge Master George Raecher said. "It is an honor and a privilege to be the master of the lodge during its anniversary year."

Speed Hallman, grand master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, said it was an honor to present the 100-year anniversary certificate on behalf of the Grand Lodge.

It is not often that a 100th anniversary is celebrated, he said.

Making it an even more memorable was recognizing a 60-year member and 62-year certified lecturer, Hallman said.

"It is an honor to follow in past Grand Master Pridgen's footsteps 100 years later to recognize a lodge that was formed in the closing days of World War I, while the war was still raging," he said. "Who knows what Goldsboro was like in those days?

"That shows a real commitment on the parts of those men to start something new and meaningful and impactful in this community."

Those men and those who followed have kept it going, he said.

The lodge has had an untold impact on the community, and it is not too early to start planning for its bicentennial, Hallman said.

Hallman said he attended a 150th anniversary last year and that started him looking at older companies, including Eastman Kodak.

The company was large and profitable, but it might not reach 150 years because it forgot what business it is in, he said.

"They invented digital photography, and they shelved it because they thought they were in the film business, and digital did not fit their business model," he said. "So look at what has happened to digital photography.

"So my charge to your lodge and lodges everywhere is to remember what business you are in, and that business is as we say, and the most simple matter that we can say it, is making good men better."

There is a whole lot that goes with that, he said.

"I will tell you, it is not complicated to be successful," he said. "Be visible and active in your community. If you are living lives as good upright Masons, good men will find you. I've seen it happen over and over.

"So I charge you to keep doing what you are doing, but do more of it. Get out there and be an example. I am so glad to see your lodge and the good things that you are doing. It has been an honor."

Grand Lecturer Don Helton presented the certificate to Southerland.

Helton is responsible for taking care of certified lecturers, the men who are experts in Masonic ritual, statewide, Hallman said.

"Masonic ritual is crucial to who we are as Masons because it is how we teach our symbolism and our allegory and the lessons that we all need to learn and that we work on our entire lives if we are good and dedicated Masons," he said. "Brother Don manages that process for the Grand Lodge.

"Tonight we are so honored to recognize Brother Charles Southerland who has been a certified lecturer Class A as we call it for 62 years."

It is a remarkable achievement since only about one percent of Masons become certified lecturers, Hallman said.

The rituals are done verbatim across the state in all of the 371 Masonic lodges, Helton said.

"If you learn all of that, I think there are around 10,000 words that you have to learn and recite almost on demand sometimes," he said. "But it is an opportunity to learn about what we do."

Lecturers have to sit for examination every five years to retain the certification.

Helton joked that his wife probably knows parts of the ritual better than he does because she listened as he recited them in practice.

That is probably a familiar story for many other certified lecturers, he said.

"So to become a certified lecturer is a big deal," Hallman said. "Brother Charles, I just cannot thank you enough for your commitment to Masonry and to the many men along the way that you have helped to become better Masons and to become more proficient in our ritual and our teachings."

Hallman said the citation letter for the certificate describes Southerland as "renowned in this area" and as "a rare jewel in the fraternity."

Reacher told Hallman he could attest that the past masters in the room learned what they were supposed to learn under Southerland.

"It has been a good ride," Southerland said. "But it is getting a little difficult to meet my own requirements because I have always been my worse critic."

Sager was serving with the U.S. Air Force in Europe when he became a Mason at George Washington Lodge No. 820 in Landstuhl, Germany.

"Brother Sager, 60 years as a master Mason," Hallman said. "That is 60 percent of the life of this lodge. It is two years longer than I have been alive."

Hallman asked Sager what had inspired him to become a master Mason.

It was because of the quality of the people around him who were Masons, Sager said.

Sager said he had to travel 200 miles from France to Germany to do the degree work.

It was that important to him, he said.

"It has meant that if you live up to the virtues and everything that is taught in the lodge -- and Christian values -- you can't go wrong," Sager said.

Hallman said he could not have said it better himself.

Sager's wife, Deloris, pinned the 60-year pin to his lapel.

Sager said he may not have been to the lodge as often as he should have, but that he has always tried to practice the principles of Masonry and Christian values.

"I think if we do that, we will have a much better society," Sager said.

When it first formed, the lodge met in the Pythian Hall on the second floor of the Davis Building on the northeast corner of John and Mulberry streets.

Shortly after forming, it teamed up with Wayne Lodge to lease space on the second floor of Peoples Bank on the southwest corner of Walnut and Center streets.

The lodges later met in the former John M. Grantham home on the northeast corner of William and Mulberry streets after it was remodeled for lodge use.

It met for the first time there on April 17, 1925. The final meeting there of the Goldsboro Lodge was March 9, 1959.

The lodge met in the Davis Building until a new lodge temple could be built.

The two Masonic bodies could not agree on a new temple location and the decision was made to split into two lodges.

In December 1965, Goldsboro Lodge purchased property on U.S. 13 North that had been the Roaming Steer Restaurant.