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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Breaking: S. Carolina PGM Mike Smith Expulsion Overturned; Lodges Restored


by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED Friday, April 23, 2021, 11:00p.m.

Messages from Day One of the annual session of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina are reporting that the assembled voting members have overwhelmingly overturned the January expulsion of Past Grand Master Michael D. Smith, and restored his Masonic record. 

Additionally, the two lodges that had their charters revoked by GM Disher – Union-Kilwinning Lodge No. 4 and Landrum Lodge No. 278 – have had their charters restored, with the recommendation that outstanding charges against them be dropped. 

It appears that South Carolina Masons are collectively attempting to erase the battles and dramas of the last year and let wisdom prevail. Grand officer elections take place on Friday.

UPDATE FRIDAY:

Day 2: Grand officer nominations and elections were held Friday morning. The voting members of the Grand Lodge A.F.M. of South Carolina broke with tradition and elected a respected Past Grand Master to lead their fraternity, instead of advancing last year's slate of officers forward. 

Last year's Deputy Grand Master, RW O. Bruce Smith, III, was nominated and expected to advance to GM in their normally progressive line. But in an overwhelming vote of repudiation (described as "over 500 to just over 100"), the Grand Lodge nominated and elected MW Ronald C. Mitchum, who previously served as Grand Master in 2005-2007, to preside in the Grand East for 2021-22 (and likely 2023). They also rejected the expected nominee for Junior Grand Warden, instead electing A. C. Flora IV to the position.

South Carolina Grand Master Ronald C. Mitchum
(2005-07, 2021-)

The newly elected 2021-22 Grand Lodge officers are:
MWB Ronald C. Mitchum - Grand Master
RWB Steven D Hames - Deputy Grand Master
RWB Thomas Watson - Senior Grand Warden
RWB A. C. Flora IV - Junior Grand Warden
MWB Jack A. Marler, PGM - Grand Treasurer
MWB Gerald L. Carver, PGM - Grand Secretary
RWB A. Robert Nix - Grand Chaplain

It's always difficult to dispassionately report events I haven't witnessed for myself, but one final incident was reported at the conclusion of Friday's meeting that I hope is not a fabrication. The story goes that now-Past Grand Master Cal Disher rose to adjourn the meeting. As he finished, he declared, 'I hope you're all happy with your decisions,' and smacked his gavel so hard on the podium that its handle snapped in two. 

There is now a discussion to treat the broken gavel as a historical object, preserve it, and present it each year to each incoming Grand Master as a cautionary symbol.

It's a shame that schools don't teach Latin any more. When it came to commentaries on the use or abuse of power and authority, the Romans sure knew their potatoes.

"Sic transit gloria mundi."

31 comments:

  1. And tomorrow we elect a new GM. That will NOT be O.B. Smith. There is a new day FINALLY coming to South Carolina.

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  2. Chris...I'm not sure what this means, but thank you for posting my earlier posts...Tom Turner.

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  3. This year was nuts because they packed 2 years of GL reports input one session. We started at about 10:00 am and finished at s about 6:00 pm WITHOUT ANY BREAKS.

    Mike Smith's trial, convictions, verdicts, and punishments were "set aside" meaning that from every perspective, they never happened. Full reinstatement.

    Same for Landrim Lodge. Their warrant was arrested, but it was restored.

    Same for Union-Kilwinning Lodge. Their warrant was arrested and 3 members were brought up on Masonic charges. The warrant was restored and the 3 charges were erased.

    Very vocal this time around. Lots of shouting. Lots of questions. Tons of administrative wranglings.

    I'm the end, it could be argued that the final votes may not have been the "best" solutions, but there really weren't any alternatives. Something needed to be done to change the direction we were headed.

    Tomorrow should be another exciting day!

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  4. I am glad the wrong was righted. Congratulations to the Craft of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina for taking back Their Fraternity.

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  5. In SC, O.B.Smith has been removed from the line of succession. PGM Mitchum will be our next GM.

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  6. Looking forward to seeing a resurgence in Masonry in South Carolina. Thanks to all the Brothers who voted to right horrendous wrongs and set the fraternity on a new and true course.

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  7. Hopeful for Healing Across the Entire Jurisdiction. Pause and Reflect, be Patient, be willing to both give and receive wise counsel.

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  8. O.B. Smith had nothing to do with the crap that took place against Mike Smith. That was all Cal Disher's doing! But a great man has been blatantly punished for the actions of others.

    If Mike Smith was the man he claims to be and others think he is, he would have stood at that microphone today and let all of the craft know that O.B. was not a part of that mess before the craft voted for the next GM. No he let everyone think that way and the wrong man tragically accosted by multiple ruffians!

    RW O.B. has done his due time and invested his blood, sweat and tears into SC Freemasonry only to be stabbed in the back by a so called brother. Ron Mitchum tainted the integrity of what masonry is all about and is supposed to stand for today!

    My district like about 65% of the others received new district deputies that are not deserving of the title. These men were placed in these positions because of who they know or are related to, not by qualifications or their contributions to the craft!

    Again this is another of Ron Mitchum's crap. There wasn't any through investigations done into these selections, only a hurried case of fill them if I'm elected on his part.

    Those that were selected by RW O.B. was investigated and found worthy and notified, only to have the rug pulled from underneath them by the deceitfulness of a few.

    It's a dark day for Freemasonry in South Carolina and I'm afraid this is on the beginning of the end.

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    1. O.B. Smith was up to his neck in this crap. He was involved in the Mike Smith trial and the Union Kilwinning and Landrum charters being revoked. He had to go. South Carolina did the right thing. We must get this cancer of Disher, Smith, and Pearson out of our fraternity.

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    2. Well my DDGM was set chosen by OB, and was also chosen under new GM.

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    3. I totally disagree with this "anonymous" Brother who won't identify himself. I stand with the choices made by our Grand Lodge and am proud once again to be a Freemason from South Carolina. We don't need a "DICTATOR" we need a leader who respects the Fraternity. Our past GM was drunk with power. I'm happy he is gone.

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    4. Really? Our DDGM was informed by OB about his appointment before the election, and MW Mitchum upheld that recommendation.

      To say that OB had nothing to do with Mike Smith's trial is ludicrous. Did he try to stop it? Did he try to resolve the issues pro to it when going to trial? Did he try to stop the callous and blatant ouster of MW Tennison from the JP Committee? That he let all this happen is simply illustrative of his lack of integrity.

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    5. You know that the previous DDGM generally recommends the new one, correct??

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    6. Think if your going to leave a comment on here you should be Man and Mason enough to at least be willing to put your name not just anonymous! Think wrong was done by many hope we all learn from this moving forward follow the oath we all took you will be fine!!

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  9. OB Smith is a good man who got caught up in the fury the craft had about the PGM Mike Smith decisions. The Real Grand Lodge made their wishes known and GM Disher took the brunt of their anger,but OB just was collateral damage. Most of OB's appointments were approved. Just not all.

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  10. I am considering affiliating to another jurisdiction. This is the only course of action for those who do want to sit by and be complicit, any suggestions ?

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    1. Meanwhile, I'm a PM in the 3rd district currently living and holding dual membership in Georgia. I'm considering affiliating with a Lodge in the 15th district just so I can stay active in SC. Proud to call MWB Mitchum my Grand Master (again).

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    2. There are several Prince Hall lodges in the area.it's

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    3. I am among the majority, but I encourage you to not give up. Turning your back on South Carolina Freemasonry does nothing to help you or the fraternity to heal and correct. You are not happy. You disagree with what happened. I get that. But we are all Brothers, and we need to come together and heal.

      Many of us in the majority absolutely understand that the decisions we made may not have been the best decisions. But they were not knee-jerk reactions--they were thought-out and deliberate. Something desperately needed to be done and we saw no other solutions.

      We witnessed South Carolina Freemasonry spiraling down on a path that was steeped in divisiveness, negativity, distrust, disillusionment, and apathy. Nationally and internationally, South Carolina had lost its historic luster and became a joke. And we saw no end in sight.

      We so desperately wished that something could have been done before the issues even became charges. But that was not to be, so corrections needed to be made.

      If you truly cannot continue as a South Carolina Freemason, then please affiliate with a jurisdiction that suits your needs and expectations. And please do not give up on Freemasonry. That said, I do urge you to stick with us. Take the time to learn and understand both sides of the issues--as will we--and pray for healing.

      Praying for you, Brother.

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    4. I possibly do not have the right to comment, yet I will say this and risk your roth. Freemasonry is a fraternal institution and according to the English constitution, any brother who has a disagreement with his fellow is not to enter the lodge. Such disagreements are to be resolved outside of the lodge, that harmony exist within the lodge. Please, please brothers, let your anger subside and let the healing begin, for the sake of the craft.
      John Campbell
      Amity lodge 5823
      UK.

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  11. Another line all Grand Masters need whispered int their ears: “All power is transitory, and thou, too, art mortal.”

    Nathan

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  12. Meanwhile back in Arkansas, we seem to have good leadership for now and a FEW wrongs of the past have been corrected, but many others still stand.

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    1. Couldn't agree with you more, Brother. I moved to AR 18 years ago. Kept my membership in my old GL. Tried AR for about 5 years and gave up. 13 years later, I still thank TGAOTU that I got out. Never going to try this GL down here again. I put all my energy into my old GL.

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  13. The first time I used the gavel after being installed in the Chair of King Solomon, I knocked so hard that the head of the gavel flew off. My brother had turned a gavel for me so I used that one for the rest of the meeting. My two years as WM were pretty good. I wish my Brethren in SC a period of healing, peace, brotherhood, and increase.

    W.Bro Chris Hansen LGR, Goliath Lodge #5595 UGLE

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  14. Brian Cooper you have no clue what RW Bro. O.B. was involved with. He was not at Mike Smith's trial. The only thing he had a part in was the review of witness statements and he had to sign to validate that the charges was being brought forth to GL. He had no part in the removal of Landrum's charter and he had publicly vowed to return their charter as his first act as GM because he didn't agree with the actions taken by Cal Disher. They (O.B. and Cal) actually had a falling out because he did not support the actions being taken by Disher. I know firsthand that Bro. O.B. done everything possible to distance himself from all of this crap, but PGM Sam Tennison implicated him with his motion.

    I disagree 1000% with Tennison's removal from the JP Committee! Again this was Disher's action and no one else.

    Now he was present and gave a sworn statement to the actions taken the night in December at UK Lodge #4. As did the DDGM Hiott and Disher. The responding Sheriff's Deputy confirmed that the members of UK Lodge that was present smelled of alcohol on their person. They had this perceived thinking that their WM was the actual GM of SC due to the fact that there had been no GL held in 2020 due to Covid-19. So from the start they wasn't upholding their obligation as the rest of the 271 lodges across the state.

    Do you remember this, "I WILL PAY DUE RESPECT AND OBEIDENCE TO THE CONSTITUTION AND EDICTS OF THE GRAND LODGE"???? Well they didn't, They actually snatched the mask off of Disher's face! Now I ask you, brother or no brother, any man who would grab your mask off of your face in anger, what would your actions be? I am no Disher fan by no means, but he held his composure. One of the member of UK lodge shoulder checked Bro. O.B. in a hostile manner. This lodge had not followed any of the edicts on reopening, not 1A, not 1B nor 2A because of their belief that the GM's edicts wasn't valid.

    I now ask you in whom would you put your trust, A few brothers who blatantly disregard the rules, challenge authority, participate in consumption of alcohol and being intoxicated in open lodge or those that have given their sworn account of that evening??The choice is a easy one for me.

    Now I ask all brethren that may read this, if all the 271 other lodges in the state paid due respect and followed each order, how can the actions of this lodge be ignored and then forgiven as if they never happened? It was only because of the distain and hatred of Disher over the whole Mike Smith thing and that is a sad day for masonry in SC. They violated multiple sections of their obligation and the Ahiman Rezon.

    I was there for Grand Lodge and was a voting member and witnessed these actions first hand. I have copies of all the documentation where Mike Smith held zoom MEETINGS and violated his obligation. Again the craft erased history by vote. I will say that I was not in agreeance with the punishment and was in favor of full reinstatement, but not in the manner it was done. To have voted to uphold the conviction and then change the punishment would have been the right thing to do, not the erasure of the proceedings as if they never happened. You can't buy time and you can change the past. Mike Smith asked for the trial, admitted his guilt when presented with the seven charges. Now that is only a whiff in the wind.

    I'll say it again, Mike Smith should have informed that craft that RW Bro. O.B. had no part in his dilemma. He didn't and I challenge his integrity and him as a Christian!

    I am saddened, perplexed, confused and unsure of the future of freemasonry in SC. Brotherly love seems to be a forgotten thing just like the sincerity of the obligations we took before man and God. I see our fraternity failing just like our society. Man twist and turns God's law to fit his own personal desires and now we're twisting and turning our code, constitution and edicts to benefit not the whole fraternity but the politics of a few.

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    1. From the day DGM Smith was elected, his motives have been questionable. When Grand Lodge was opened in Greenville the year he was elected to the Grand line, he introduced the local Sheriff (with whom he worked) who gave a very lengthy welcome speech. It would have gone largely unnoticed except that his speech amounted to a very lengthy campaign speech for DGM Smith. No other candidate was permitted such license to campaign AT GRAND LODGE. To say that this didn't tip the scales is very short-sighted.

      -Did he question MW Disher's edicts?
      -Did he question MW Disher's actions?
      -Did he question the charges levied against MW Smith, Landrim, -and Union-Kilwinning Lodges?
      -Did he question the processes by which the various actions were conducted?

      From all appearances, "no" on all counts. And if he did, he NOT ONCE let it be known publicly other than a very brief statement in the midst of Grand Lodge.

      I'm very saddened that DGM Smith had to be collateral damage in such a much needed action by the Grand Lodge, but unlike what our past GM would like you to believe, and unlike what so MANY are falsely taught to believe, the Grand Master is not a dictator or the God of all things Masonic in South Carolina. And the "second in command" is not powerless. But the results of MW Disher's edicts and actions, and DGM Smith's virtual silence indicate that DGM Smith did nothing to resist MW Disher. South Carolina needs leaders who can serve, lead, think, and give AND TAKE counsel from people at all levels. Arrogance and ego have no place in a Grand Master or his officers.

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    2. A very sad state of affairs, whatever the right of it.

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  15. Time will tell if Mitchum's desires are in due bounds and for the healing and best interest of the craft, or was it just an attempt to oust RW O.B. from the line of progression that was successful. I certainly hope that RW. Steve, RW Tommy and RW A.C. take notice of what happened and know that there progression in now in question and they can be ousted and considered guilty by association.

    The Grand Lodge needs to reimburse RW Bro. O.B. for all the money that he spent out of pocket. It’s been a standard practice that the DGM have ready for sell at GL his ties, pins and coins at his election to GM. Well this year, tradition was broken by the infiltration of deceitfulness, backbiting and a malicious intent to cause disharmony within the craft!!!!!

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    1. Based on MW Mitchum's first edict, it appears that he is leading the Craft in South Carolina in a very positive direction. Finally, we members are being treated as the adults that we are instead of the children that MW Disher presumed us to be.

      As to DGM Smith's expenses, there is no "standard practice" since the AR, which so many on both sides are rightly holding up as law, says absolutely nothing about it. Why not simply go the the Grand Master and plead his case? Civil discussion and negotiation can do so much more than spouting demands. With the savings that the GL had due to COVID, I'm sure that something fair could be worked out. But using "it's always been done that way" as an excuse doesn't hold water.

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  16. South Carolina has a lot of healing and growing to do. Narrow minded people need not be Masons to begin with, let alone leaders. This is just the very problem we see in the evening news in all corners of our country. These people tie us to dark and dreary yesterdays. Maybe the KKK is better suited to the ilk. Either way, SC has a lot of healing to do for this is not going to be easily forgotten nor soon looked over. Sad that such a noble institution has been so badly tarnished, more sadly that so many are complicit, especially "GRAND" officers.

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