What is DeMolay?
DeMolay International is the world’s largest youth leadership organization for young men aged 12 to 21. Specifically, its program is designed to provide a good, safe, moral environment to young men while teaching leadership skills. The ultimate aim of the organization is to build better young men who will, in turn, become better men, citizens, husbands, fathers, friends and leaders in the future.
How did DeMolay get started?
In 1919, while employed by one of the Masonic Bodies in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Frank Sherman Land hired a teenager by the name of Louis Lower to perform odd jobs around the building. Soon, Land found that Lower’s father had died in a hunting accident a short time before and that Lower missed having the guidance a father would provide. Considering this was right at the close of World War I, Land assumed that other young men within the community would also have lost their father-figures and would need some sort of patriarchal influence / support.
Land suggested that Lower invite some of his friends together to discuss starting a club. Within a few days, Lower brought eight of his friends to a meeting. The nine young men agreed that the idea of a club was a good one. Soon, the “Order of DeMolay” was born. Within three years, Chapters had been established in 39 of the then 48 states and in the District of Columbia.
Where did the name DeMolay come from?
Jacques DeMolay was born in France in 1244. At the age of 21, he became a member of the Knights Templar, a group originally called the “Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ.” Sanctioned by the Pope and the Church Council in 1128, their purpose was to guard the road between Jerusalem and Acre (a port on the Mediterranean). Because of church sanction and the fact that they fought valiantly in several crusades, the Knights Templar were a popular group among the people.
In 1298, Jacques DeMolay was elected Grand Master (leader) of the Templars. Over the years, the organization amassed great wealth, and King Philip of France became paranoid that they would use their power and wealth against him. False charges were pressed against DeMolay and the Templars by the King in order to brand them as criminals and heretics. On orders of the King, Jacques DeMolay and hundreds of members of the Knights Templar were arrested and thrown into prison for seven years. DeMolay and his fellow Templars were tortured repeatedly in attempts to get them to betray other leaders and members of his beloved Templars, and he consistently refused. Eventually, he was sentenced and burned at the stake on March 18, 1314. DeMolay died a martyr to loyalty.
The original nine members of DeMolay selected the name in honor of Jacques DeMolay and his high principles of fidelity.
What are the requirements to join?
The requirements are few but each is important. To be a member of DeMolay, a young man must:
- Be between the ages of 12 and 21;
- Be of good character and reputation;
- Have a belief in God, a Supreme Being or Deity;
- Submit an application for membership (petition); and
- Attend a 2-part induction ceremony.
What is the induction ceremony like?
The DeMolay induction ceremony is the celebration of a young man’s commitment to better himself by becoming a DeMolay. This orientation and explanation sets DeMolay apart from other organizations, because the young men themselves present it to all new members, together as a Chapter.
The ceremony itself contains two sections, or “degrees.” The first is called the Initiatory Degree. It is a solemn event during which the young man is acquainted with the founding principles of DeMolay.
The second section, called the DeMolay Degree, is a play portrayed by DeMolay members. The subject of the play is the story of Jacques DeMolay, as foretold in the last section. The play teaches loyalty to beliefs, family, friends and commitments – important values for today’s youth.
The Promise of a DeMolay
- I promised to be a better son;
- I promised to love and serve God, my country and my fellowmen;
- I promised to honor and protect every woman;
- I promised to slander no one;
- I promised to aid and uphold the public schools;
- I promised to be loyal to my friends and Brothers;
- All of these things, and more, I did promise!
What are the ceremonies of DeMolay?
DeMolay’s ceremonies are truly what set it apart from other youth groups. Each one containing symbolic meaning intended to inspire the young men to be better citizens, better friends and better men.
Included in these ceremonies are the standard ways of opening and closing chapter meetings, inducting new members, and installing officers. Most ceremonies were written in the early 1920s by Frank Marshall, a prominent Mason and reporter for the Kansas City Star newspaper, and are practically unchanged today.
How does the membership process work?
For each member initiated, a fee is paid to DeMolay International. This fee places the new member among the “life members” of the organization. No annual dues are collected from the members. Members are asked, however, to support their Chapter’s fund-raising projects, since a portion of the money raised by the Chapter must be paid annually to DeMolay International to cover the cost of supplemental liability insurance.
What types of activities does a DeMolay Chapter have?
Within certain parameters, the activities of a DeMolay Chapter are limited only by the imagination of its members. Members of DeMolay plan and hold social functions, fund-raising or civic service projects, athletic activities and much more.
Chapters have a wide range of activities from which they can choose to plan. However, insurance regulations prohibit activities which can lead to one or more of the “3 I’s”: Injury, Illegal activity, or Immoral activity. These activities would be prevented by the Chapter’s Advisory Council.
How does a young man learn good character in DeMolay?
Upon joining DeMolay, members interact with other young men who are dedicated to upholding the virtues and high moral standard of the Order. Young men are proven to act more upstanding when in the company of quality companions. Acting in an upstanding manner becomes a habit, which demonstrates good character now and serves to mold a mature way of thinking as he attains manhood.
How do DeMolays learn leadership skills?
DeMolay prides itself on preparing young men for their careers. Education is vitally important, and DeMolay supplements traditional education with specific training. A process of executing increased responsibilities helps teach acute leadership skills.
The Chapter selects officers to serve each term. These officers plan and direct Chapter meetings and functions.
Here are a few examples compared to their traditional counterparts:
Master Councilor……………………….. President
Senior Councilor………………… Vice President
Much like positions in the business world, members may move through the ranks and obtain higher offices if they have a high level of interest and commitment.
Here are some of the things that DeMolay can teach that will prepare you for future leadership opportunities if you participate:
- Public Speaking;
- Appearance and image maintenance;
- How to plan and execute events, such as banquets and dances;
- How to run a business meeting (Parliamentary Procedure);
- How to prepare agendas and budgets
- How to assign, utilize and execute Committees.
How much time does it take to be involved with DeMolay?
A Chapter member is invited to all events and can spend as much or as little time as he desires. Most Chapters have at least two meetings per month to plan their activities. We hope that you will give it (at least) a six-month trial period. Usually after six months, a young man is familiar enough with DeMolay to see the enjoyment and benefits of membership.
What is the structure of DeMolay as an organization?
In the United States, DeMolay is organized by jurisdictions, which are most often bound by state lines. Each jurisdiction is under the direction of an Executive Officer, who is appointed by the Grand Master of DeMolay and assists with the coordination of the activities, assisting the Chapters in their operation. Each jurisdiction follows the same guidelines set forth by DeMolay International in order to provide a standardized, quality experience for young men, which is in harmony with moral and legal standards.
To be eligible to join DeMolay, three simple requirements need to be met by the applicant.
- You are a young man between the ages of 12 and 21.
- You are of good moral character.
- You believe in a supreme being (all religions welcome).