Day 3 – GRAND SESSION OF PRINCE HALL ARKANSAS – FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Day 3 was a very busy day. Grand Lodge convened at 9:00 AM with all dignitaries present. Most of the remaining Committee reports were dispensed with. Then the Grand Master opened the doors for the OES ladies who were also having their Grand Convocation in their Grand Lodge hall. Grand Worthy Matron Winnie Ruth Johnson was given a prominent seat in the East along with many Arkansas and out of state visiting OES Grand Officers behind her.
The Grand Master made his Grand Address before all OES and Master Masons assembled together. It was a packed house with standing room only. Much of what the Grand Master said is private and not for public consumption. Some of it was tough but Grand Master Wilson is not one to shy away from tough issues. I can tell you that he asked all within his jurisdiction to step up to the plate, “We can make a difference,” he reminded us. He lamented on the fact that bogus, fake Masonry in Arkansas is more active in society than Prince Hall and it shouldn’t be that way. “Education is the key to our success,” he emphatically stated. “You can’t lead where you don’t go and you can’t teach what you don’t know,” he added as he announced the forming of a state wide Masonic Quiz Bowl Competition. And he commented on the fact that he often visits his chartered Lodges. “What the members of a subordinate Lodge need to ask themselves when they hear an alarm at the door is – is that the Grand Master?”
After his address all Heads of Houses and visiting dignitaries were asked to speak a few words, after which the women were dismissed and the Grand Lodge proceeded to wrap up any business it heretofore had not completed.
There followed nominations for the elected offices of Grand Lodge, conducted by Honorable Deary Vaughn, Grand Master of Prince Hall Oklahoma and also Sovereign Grand Commander AASR PHA Southern Jurisdiction. Following nominations Grand Master Vaughn installed all the officers. The 138th Grand Session of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas was called off until next year.
The business, elections and installation were over but not the celebration. Day 3 saw us all gather back at the banquet hall at Grand Lodge at 7:00 PM for the Trustees Banquet. After we all sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the benediction, we all dined on sliced Angus beef and baked chicken breast in champagne sauce with all the fixings.
The speaker for the banquet was State Representative Stephanie Flowers. Her message was titled “Stick To The Task” and revolved around the scripture of Nehemiah 4:7&8. She told us that her father was a lawyer and that when she graduated from Law School her father presented her with a Holy Bible inscribed by him. All her fellow graduates were getting big checks or a new car. Didn’t her father understand what is needed for a brand new lawyer to launch her career?
She didn’t understand her father’s actions then as well as she does now. Today that Bible is her most used and treasured possession, she said. As a matter of fact it is a little beat up and dog eared. That white Bible is now more brown than white.
Continuing on to her message she told us, “Hindering good work is what bad men aim at.” And: “Nehemiah put his career under divine protection.” We should do the same she told us. What is in it for us today, she asked – “Put God first, watch and pray.”
The end of the festivities was the raffle drawing for the 2010 Chevy Cobalt which was in the banquet hall with us. This is a major money maker by the Trustees of the building for the building fund.
Closing remarks by Grand Worthy Matron, Winnie Ruth Johnson and Grand Master Cleveland K. Wilson, followed by all voices singing God Bless American and the benediction, closed out the festivities of the evening.
Yet there is still more to be said. During my three days at Grand Session in Arkansas I had the opportunity to watch Grand Master Wilson lead his flock and I took some time to size him up.
The Grand Master of a Grand Lodge has to have a certain presence. GM Cleveland Wilson has presence, the presence of command. There is no doubt about who is in charge of the MWPHGL of Arkansas.
There is the need for the Captain of the Ship to have not only the presence of command but the ability and knowledge to make intelligent and correct decisions. If you listen to GM Wilson for a brief time you can tell that he has his priorities in the right order and that he knows what is best for his jurisdiction.
It is also important for a Grand Master to have a humble and loving heart. I can’t tell you the number of times that GM Wilson tells the members of his Grand Lodge that he loves them and appreciates them. And he tells all that he is their servant.
The last trait that you look for in a Grand Master is toughness. No one would ever describe GM Wilson as a “milktoast” sort of guy. Tough but kind are hard traits to find in the same person, but find it you will in the person, in the heart, in the soul of one Honorable Cleveland K. Wilson.
The Grand Master’s address was both tough and touching. Much of the particulars were private and not able to be repeated. But the sentiment, the feeling the Grand Master has for his Grand Lodge was right out there for all to grab onto. Tough and touching sums up Cleveland K. Wilson for me.