Providence and a Ring: GM Installation 2019

12.10.2019

Providence and a Ring: GM Installation 2019

By Mason Editor Beth grace

Paul Shaun Bradshaw stood in the footsteps of his beloved mother Deborah as he made the promises and vows to become the 167th Grand Master of Masons.

In the ballroom at the heart of the Sheraton Four Seasons in Greensboro, where Deborah Elaine Bradshaw had worked her way from the reception desk to a key hotel directorship, her son because the leader of some 36,000 North Carolina Freemasons.

The installation was not exactly where you’d expect it to be, the new Grand Master told the crowd gathered to honor him and the newly installed Grand Line. It could have been in the beautiful Greensboro Masonic Temple downtown … had the city not planned its annual Christmas parade for the same day … and had the parking lot outside the temple not been promised to brother Shriners to park their parade vehicles.

“It occurs to me that I am standing in my mother’s footsteps. That is why we are here. It couldn’t be anywhere else,” he said.

“As Freemasons, we are taught to look to nature, the divine plan … to know there is a reason for everything. Being here is Divine Providence at work. There is no doubt in my mind.”

The installations followed a Toast to the Flag, recited by PM Ron Sortino, and the Pledge of Alegiance, led by GM Bradshaw’s son, Brother Graham S. Bradshaw.

PM Johnny Surles led a commemoration of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on the 78thanniversary on the deadly attack, honoring those who fell that day and all service men and women who have given their all for their country.

In a special presentation, Outgoing GM Mack Sigmon presented a specially commissioned Tyler’s Sword to be used in perpetuity as the Grand Lodge Tyler’s sword. The Grand Lodge Library and Museum Committee took the project on, found a swordsmith who took the pattern from a Crusader sword in the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem. The Grand Lodge asked all lodges to contribute a small piece of steel; about 80 lodges sent in more than 45 pounds of metal. Wood for the grip was a piece of the 160-year-old post oak Witness Tree that witnessed the Civil War Surrender at Bennett Place NC State Historic Site in April of 1865.

The day was filled with symbols and memories for the new Grand Master and his family. His son Graham addressed the crowd, telling them his mother “told me not to make my dad cry. … I just want my dad to know I’m very proud of him.” He then invited Brother Christopher Wright, a close friend of GM Bradshaw and fellow member of Stokesdale #428, to join him. Both unveiled a specially commissioned gold ring for the new Grand Master.

Wright described the symbolism: “The symbol on the face of the ring is the jewel of the Past Grand Master. In the center of the jewel is the Greek letter Phi, which represents the Divine Proportion, also known as the Golden Ratio. This is a symbol of special significance to GM Bradshaw and was recommended by his son Graham. The columns on each side of the ring should be familiar to any Mason, but they represent the columns on the porch of King Solomon's Temple. Their symbolic meanings are rich and deep and worthy of your study. The ring was crafted by Brother Jesse (Jay) Joyce Jr., son of GM Bradshaw's Masonic coach. The gold for the ring was donated by myself, T. O. Wright Jr. (my father and the man whom GM Bradshaw asked how to become a Mason), and GM Bradshaw's son Graham and wife Sharon. The gold donated by GM Bradshaw's family once belonged to his mother.”

The new Grand Master wiped away tears as he accepted the ring, which Brother Wright promised would remain one of a kind; no copies will ever be made.

In his address to the gathering, GM Bradshaw thanks is family for their sacrifice in helping him on his journey. He thanked his Masonic mentors, including his Masonic “father” PGM Dewey Preslar, who served as the day’s installing grand officer. He also honored PGM William Simpson. His portrait was displayed near the stage during the ceremony and his wife, Marian, was in the audience.

He also thanked his fellow Grand Line officers for their dedication and their hard work. He told them he will rely on them for their thoughts and advice.

“I like a little pushback,” he said. “Please don’t be ‘yes’ men. Give me your honest and fair opinions.”

He invited brothers to attend his upcoming district meetings. The first will be Jan. 27 at Doric #568 in New Bern.

“I will have more stories to tell. And I will want to hear your stories,” he said.

In the meantime, he added, “keep the light and tell your story to others. If we want to grow this fraternity, let them know how this fraternity has changed your life.”

The ceremony ended with a prayer offered by PGM Gene Cobb and Prince Hall Grand Master Daniel L. “DT” Thompson.

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