Young men speak up in brotherhood of DeMolay
Tucked comfortably in Lewes on chilly night, a group of young men gathered to celebrate the installation of new officers in the Henlopen Chapter of DeMolay. Proud parents lined the meeting room of Jefferson Lodge No. 15, where young men aim to honor the principals of respect, courtesy, friendship, faithfulness, patriotism and more.
DeMolay is a youth group of the Masons. The Henlopen chapter was resurrected just a few years ago, after a hiatus that might stretch back to 1986, said advisor Carl Wenke.
Open to any young man between ages 12 and 21, the new branch began on a fishing pier, where several fathers and sons already met once a week. They mostly hail from surrounding areas, including Lewes, Georgetown and Millsboro. With nearly a dozen members, they welcome anyone who would like to get involved.
Like any fraternity, they serve and socialize. They have volunteered at the state park, fundraising dinners and dances. Then they do fun stuff together, such as paintball.
“You guys have fun. That’s the key to the whole thing,” said Dave Penney, deputy executive officer for the state.
The young men played a large part in the ceremony. The boys themselves even run the meetings twice a month, with only guidance from adult advisors.
That helps a lot with public speaking skills.
“I learned I could talk more and be more outgoing,” said James Goldsmith, an upstate DeMolay and state master councilor.
People don’t have to be affiliated with the Masons to be members or advisors.
The young men talked about meeting new people and seeing different cultures when they travel for DeMolay.
“It’s very, very civic-minded,” said Wenke. “Building tomorrow’s leaders today.”
Masons of Unity Chapter No. 16 also thanked the DeMolays for helping at past events, saying, “If you need a hand, just give us a call, and one day we might call you.”
Despite the mystery, rumors and lore surrounding the Masons, “We do all things around an open Bible,” said Hunter Wenke, Henlopen chaplain and past master councilor. “We relate to each other as much as we can and relate to God.”
“It’s seen as a secret organization. Anyone can come and find out what it’s about,” Goldsmith said. “Just faiths and devotions that any young man should have.”
Nancy Evans, mother of one of the boys, called it a “character-building organization. They hear it from their mother, but it’s good to hear it” from other role models, too, she said.
The international DeMolay group was founded in 1919, named for Jacques DeMolay, the last grand master of the Knights Templar, which is historically connected to the Masons.