Updated: July 2, 2021
Peter Sellars is a long-time leader of this Order. He is a Past Grand Master of the Jurisdiction of California, and a current member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors of California, as well as one of our two elected Grand Lodge Representatives to the Sovereign Grand Lodge. He is a leader of the Lodges in San Francisco, and is well-recognized in the Bay Area and the State for his in-depth knowledge of IOOF, the rules and the ritual. He has written several excellent books about Odd Fellowship. He is a founding member of “Dedicated Members for Change.”
In short, Brother Peter has been around the Odd Fellows’ block. In this article, he presents a viewpoint that will help this Order survive and flourish into the next century.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Jurisdiction of California
By Peter Sellars, Past Grand Master
California leads the way for progressive Odd Fellowship! We look at the numbers and must investigate the reason behind this larger jurisdiction. Surely, it has to do with the more liberal interpretation of our codes and rituals.
Too many jurisdictions live by the strict rule and letter of the law per se. We find those strict jurisdictions struggling to entice new applicants and in keeping the members they have found. Too many of these other jurisdictions don’t incorporate the ideas and suggestions of their newer members, so that adjustments can be made to help the Order fit the community in which it resides. This doesn’t mean changing everything we know as our traditions. It means adjusting events to fit the community around us, so we – as an organization – fit in. This concept seems rather difficult for some members to accept.
We know that most jurisdictions based on geographical locations across the country and around the world whose demographics are different than California, won’t need to adjust.
However, In many of our larger and more fluid and more diverse areas, we have made adjustments and continue to blend with our populace. We find what is effective within our ritual and code to make it work.
Continual applicants are sought as we seek to maintain our existence. There has been a steep decline for too long and we must share the methods of acceptance we use in California with other jurisdictions. For example, using one demographic, in San Francisco we participate in all of our city’s parades. We walk and display our banner in the Pride Parade, Chinese New Year Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Pistahan (Filipino) Parade, etc. Because our membership is made up of all these peoples, we embrace each celebration. We fit in our particular community.
Biases and racist attitudes had hurt this Order for a long time, including California. We seem to be making acceptance regular and it has benefited several lodges.
The state leadership has also embraced this improvements to the Order and are aware of the need to reach out to everyone in our ever-changing world. We now seek to expand our successes to other jurisdictions.
We must spread the word and be universal in practicing Friendship, Love, and Truth. We must truly embrace each other as brothers and sisters!
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