The Masonic Fraternity this year observes the 300th anniversary of modern Freemasonry, and the more than 80,000 Masonic members in 480 Masonic lodges in Ohio are making plans for the celebration.

"On June 24, 1717, in London, England, four lodges decided to create the Grand Lodge of England," Jeffrey A. Stearns, Master of Lone Star Lodge in Newcomerstown, explained. "And this structure of organization has continued for three centuries and has spread around the world."

"Masonic Lodges existed before that time," he said, "but the 1717 date marks the creative step that continues in the international fraternity we have today."

The Grand Lodge of Ohio was formed in 1808 and observed its 200th anniversary a few years ago. In the United States, there are 51 Grand Lodges one for each state, plus the District of Columbia. Total, U.S. Membership numbers nearly 1.2 million.

The Ohio observance begins on March 25, with a "Grand Master's Class," which will allow new members to complete all initiation work in one day. Normally, weeks or months are required for the process. On that Saturday, initiation ceremonies will be held simultaneously in 25 locations across Ohio, including Heath in this district.

In addition, large Masonic dinner celebrations are planned for June 24 across Ohio to culminate the 300th year observances. Throughout the year, local lodges also will have their own anniversary dinners, open houses, educational meetings and new member gatherings.

"2017 is going to be a great year," Ohio Grand Master Douglas N. Kaylor of Dayton said. "The world is changing and once again men are looking for the benefits that come from uniting with like-minded men dedicated to living well, to doing right, and to standing up for their beliefs when others seem to be stumbling."

For more information contact Lone Star Lodge No. 175 at LoneStarLodge175@gmail.com