What is DeMolay?

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.

The Order of DeMolay was founded in 1919, in Kansas City, Missouri, by a young man named Frank S. Land. Land was a community leader who, at the age of 28, already had a successful business career as a restaurateur behind him.

DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, Walter Cronkite, football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, news anchor David Goodnow and many others. Each has spoken eloquently of the life-changing benefit gained from their involvement in DeMolay.

Is DeMolay a religious organization?

No. Among the requirements for membership in DeMolay is the belief in a Supreme Being, but not one of any particular doctrine, sect, or denomination. A young man’s religious convictions are his own. DeMolay’s members include Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and members of many other religious groups. DeMolay does not involve itself in religious discussions. It merely recognizes the importance of faith in the lives of young men. The virtue of Reverence for Sacred Things seeks to remind our members to rely upon, and use, faith in their own personal lives.

How is it different?

DeMolay is different from other organizations in several ways. First, it’s open to all kinds of guys with all kinds of interests. If a chapter decides they want to, they can devote their chapter’s entire attention to basketball. If they want to focus on soccer, chess, video games, drama, mountain climbing, volunteering, or stamp collecting, that’s O.K. too. Each chapter has its own personality and each member has a chance to make the chapter what he wants it to be. Rather than focusing on any one thing, most chapters do a variety of activities. DeMolay is infinitely adaptable to the interests of the chapter members!

Another difference is DeMolay’s emphasis on training you to be a leader. It doesn’t happen by accident. When you join DeMolay, you’re on the fast track to learn skills that will help you in school and through the rest of life.

Who runs the show?

Officers for each chapter are elected from among the membership. Those officers are responsible for running the chapter meetings and coordinating the responsibilities of event planning. Every six months, the Chapter elects new officers so that different guys will have the chance to lead. The decisions of the Chapter are discussed at Chapter meetings and voted on by all members. The adult advisors can give input, but they won’t interfere with the Chapter’s decision unless it’s absolutely necessary. The overall direction and operation of the chapter is up to the members themselves.

A humble beginning

In 1919, while employed as the social services director for the Scottish Rite bodies in Kansas City, Missouri, Frank Sherman Land hired a teenager by the name of Louis Gordon Lower to perform odd jobs around the building. As the two became friends, Land found out that Lower’s father had died a short time before and that the young man missed having the guidance that a father would provide. Lower had other friends whose fathers were not in the home, whether from divorce, abandonment, or death, and that these young men would also like to have an adult male they could go to for guidance.

Land suggested Lower invite some of his friends to the Scottish Rite building 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 the District of Columbia. It is now worldwide.

Where did the name DeMolay come from?

jdemolayThe name came from Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templars. The original nine members of DeMolay selected his name in honor of his high principles.  The namesake of the Order of DeMolay was born in Vitrey, Department of Haute Saone, France in the year 1244. At the age of 21, DeMolay joined the Order of Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar was an organization sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1128 to guard the road between Jerusalem and Acre, an important port city on the Mediterranean Sea. The Order of Knights Templar participated in the Crusades and earned a name for valour and heroism.

With many nobles and princes sending their sons to join the Knights Templar, the Order also became very wealthy and popular throughout Europe.

In 1298, Jacques DeMolay was named Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a position of power and prestige. As Grand Master however, Jacques DeMolay was also in a difficult position. The Crusades were not achieving their goals. The non-Christian Saracens defeated the Crusaders in battle and captured many vital cities and posts. The Knights Templar and the Hospitalers (another Order of Knights) were the only groups remaining to confront the Saracens.

The Knights Templar decided to reorganize and regain their strength. They traveled to the island of Cyprus, waiting for the general public to rise up in support of another Crusade.

Instead of public support, however, the Knights attracted the attention of powerful lords, who were interested in obtaining their wealth and power. In 1305, Philip the Fair, King of France, set about to obtain control of the Knights Templars. They had been accountable only to the Church. To prevent a rise in the power of the Church, and to increase his own wealth, Philip set out to take over the Knights.

The year 1307 saw the beginning of the persecution of the Knights. Jacques DeMolay, along with hundreds of others, were seized and thrown into dungeons. For seven years, DeMolay and the Knights suffered torture and inhuman conditions. While the Knights did not end, Philip managed to force Pope Clement to condemn the Templars. Their wealth and property were confiscated and given to Philip’s supporters.

During years of torture, Jacques DeMolay continued to be loyal to his friends and Knights. He refused to disclose the location of the funds of the Order and he refused to betray his comrades. On March 18, 1314, DeMolay was tried by a special court. As evidence, the court depended on a forged confession, allegedly signed by DeMolay.

Jacques DeMolay disavowed the forged confession. Under the laws of the time, the disavowal of a confession was punishable by death. Another Knight, Godfrey de Charney, likewise disavowed his confession and stood with Jacques DeMolay.

King Philip ordered them both to be burned at the stake that day, and thus the story of Jacques DeMolay became a testimonial to loyalty and friendship.

Each DeMolay Chapter is sponsored by a group of Freemasons, a Masonic Lodge, or other Masonic group such as the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, High Twelve Club, or Shriners. The responsibilities of the sponsoring body are: to provide the Chapter a place to meet; to provide adult leadership and guidance through maintaining an active Advisory Council; and to assist the Chapter whenever and however needed.

Who are the Masons?

Today’s Masons are men who have banded together for mutual improvement in an organization whose basic tenants provide its members a framework in which to improve themselves morally and spiritually while giving back to the community through the conduct of various community service and charitable undertakings. Traditionally, the caliber of the men who seek membership in the Masonic Order are among the most charitable and civic-minded individuals in any organization.

Are the Masons a secret organization?

No. In most towns, Masonic buildings are prominently marked. In many locations the meeting time and day of the local lodge is published in the newspaper. In addition to these things, many of the ceremonies and instructional talks used by the Masonic groups are published in books that can be purchased or looked up at the library.

How did DeMolay and Masonry come to be associated?

The founder of the Order of DeMolay, Frank S. Land, was a Mason. As DeMolay grew and new chapters were formed in the 1920’s, Land realized that DeMolay Chapters would require quality men to provide guidance and supervision for the young men. He felt that requiring DeMolay chapters to be sponsored by a Masonic lodge or a group of Masons would ensure that there would always be service-oriented men serving on Chapter Advisory Councils.

Learn more at Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario

Are there Masonic organizations for young ladies?

Yes, there are two organizations available for young ladies to join — Jobs Daughters International and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls.

jobsdaughtersJob’s Daughters is a vital youth organization that develops leadership, respect, responsibility, and confidence within a fun and friendly environment. Open to young women ages 10 to 20 with a Masonic heritage, Job’s Daughters prepares members to face life’s challenges with courage, confidence, and poise. Job’s Daughters are active in their communities, plan and participate in numerous philanthropic activities, and are devoted to helping disadvantaged children.

Learn more at Job's Daughters International

Rainbow for Girls is a dynamic anRainbowgirlslogod fun organization that embraces all young women between the ages of 11 and 20, motivating them to achieve their life goals and helping them make a difference in their communities. Rainbow encourages excellence in learning and leadership, promotes fun and fellowship, and is a source of lasting friendships. Members will realize personal growth and satisfaction through service and community involvement.

Learn more at Canada IORG

The Ontario DeMolay Foundation

Founded in 1989, the Ontario DeMolay Foundation provides financial and organizational support to the Order of DeMolay in Ontario. All of its Board, Officers and Members are volunteers, committed to providing direct financial support for DeMolay youth development activities in Ontario. The Foundation is recognized as a charitable organization by the Canada Revenue Agency. Receipts for tax purposes will be issued to individuals for donations and endowments.

Visit their web site to learn more about the Ontario DeMolay Foundation