MWB Weglage, tell us how you first came to Freemasonry.
My grandfather, my father, and several uncles and cousins were Masons. When I went to college, about half of the brothers of the social fraternity I joined were members of the youth organization DeMolay. That provided a double experience of fraternal brotherhood with those two organizations coexisting under one roof. Even though I was not a DeMolay, I still experienced the fraternal bonding that was present in our fraternity house. Joining the Masonic Fraternity was a continuation of that fraternal experience by being a member of Acacia Fraternity at The Ohio State University.
Tell us a bit about your home lodge and what makes it so special.
My home lodge is Millennium Lodge #779 in Dayton, Ohio. This lodge was formed in 2000 when the 4 river lodges in the Dayton Masonic Center merged. Those lodges were Riverview, Stillwater, Miami Valley and Conservancy. Millennium Lodge has many prominent brethren who have assumed various leadership roles in Freemasonry through the years, and the fraternity is stronger because of their selfless service. I hope that when future generations take the time to look back on my work, they will echo the same sentiments.
One such Mason from Millennium Lodge who made an enormous impact on me was Most Worshipful Brother William P. Mayberry, Sr. Sadly, he passed away in 2015 before he knew I was going to follow in his footsteps, and I pray he is looking down on my efforts with pride.
Share your favorite memory from your time as a Freemason with us.
There have been numerous fond memories over the last 43 years, but the best, and most memorable one was when I was presented my 25-year service award while I was serving Millennium Lodge as its Worshipful Master. This moment was extremely special as the brother who presented me my pin was the Worshipful Master who raised me in 1980, WB Carl Downs. That was a very special and enriching night in my life, and I can only hope that every member of our great fraternity has the opportunity to be a part of many moments such as that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about this Masonic year?
My hope is that we all will live up to the tenets of our fraternity: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. These ideas are so simply stated but provide for a strong foundation of a worthwhile and well-spent life. To walk the walk, so to speak, it is my wish that our brethren would direct a portion of their charitable giving, as well as that of their lodge, to the Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation. The Grand Lodge Charitable Foundation does tremendous work throughout Ohio by providing relief to our brethren when they are most in need of our assistance. Donations to the fund can be made at the link below.
What do you envision for Ohio Freemasonry in the long-term future?
Long-term, I see sustainable growth and renewed enthusiasm. Ohio Freemasonry is making a comeback. Freemasonry has so much light to offer a world so often enveloped in darkness, and the world needs our lessons now more than ever. Men in Ohio are realizing this as we see an influx of inquiries as men want to connect with the lodge in their community.
As we aim to grow our membership through our ongoing and targeted marketing campaign, our lodges need to react quickly to these knocks at the virtual door by making contact and answering the questions that those interested men are posing. We must showcase our fraternity in the best light possible by highlighting our growth and the current events in our lodges that make for a rewarding and enriching fraternal experience, as the young men knocking are expecting that experience to be fulfilling, deep, and meaningful as they invest their precious time into Freemasonry.
During my travels, I am also seeing more and more lodge officer lines getting younger and younger, and this has happened each year that I have been traveling as a Grand Lodge Officer. The young men in our lodges are showing their willingness and ability to step up to the plate and continue the monumental work of the brethren who have inspired and come before them. My hope is that in a few years, a majority of our officers in our lodge officer line will not be Past Masters. With what I am witnessing firsthand, that is a goal easily within our reach. But, to temper that, we also need to give these new, young Masons a chance to truly absorb and implement our lessons into their daily lives. Be careful not to rush our new brethren into officer and leadership positions if they are not ready. That would only be a disservice to the lodge and, more importantly, to them.
Want to read Part 1 of our interview series with MWB Paul Weglage? Read more here!