Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America is over 200 years old. Very few institutions on this continent can say that. And Odd Fellows can be rightfully proud of that fact.
For over 200 years, hundreds of thousands of Odd Fellows throughout the United States and Canada invested their time, energy, money, blood, sweat and tears building Lodge Halls, furnishing them and upgrading them, bringing friends and neighbors into Odd Fellowship, and growing our Order. There was a time in America when over 1 million Odd Fellows held meetings, marched in parades, and provided cemeteries, orphanages, hospitals, retirement communities and many other resources for members and for the community.
What have YOU done to advance the Order?
It’s a fair question, albeit blunt. And I don’t mean to offend. No one will know your answer – except for you. Are you a member who pays your dues once a year, attends some meetings, and serves in a local elected or appointed office? That’s good. I commend you.
But what have your done to ADVANCE the Independent Order of Odd Fellows?
Membership in our fraternity requires more than paying dues and going to meetings. Paying dues and attending meetings is important, but it only maintains the status quo. To ADVANCE the Order you must assist in moving your Lodge into the future. That effort involves far more than maintaining the status quo. The main thing you have to do to ensure the future of your Lodge and of Odd Fellowship is to sponsor a new member. If you have done so over the last couple of years, you can pat yourself on the back because you have done the single most important thing that an individual Odd Fellow can do for his or her Lodge. Let’s face it. Without new blood, your Lodge will inevitably wither and blow away as the last of your old-timers passes away or moves away. You will have failed your Lodge if you do not bring in new members.
So, have you brought in a new member over the last two years? If so, kudos to you. If not, why not? How hard can it be to bring in ONE new member? Don’t look to anyone else in the Lodge to do it. Yes, it’s their responsibility, too – but it’s also your responsibility. In fact, sponsoring a new member is the primal responsibility of an Odd Fellow. It’s an infinite irony to me to contemplate the reality of our shrinking Order. Think about it: If every Odd Fellows brought in just ONE new member, we would not have a membership problem.
Look at it this way: If you bring in one new member, then you have done your duty to your Lodge. That new member will replace you when you move on so you have helped the Lodge to survive and continue. Now, if you were to bring in TWO new members, then you have not only done your duty for your Lodge but you have advanced the cause of Odd Fellowship because now you have facilitated growth in the Order, not just maintenance of the status quo.
And how hard is it to bring in new members? It shouldn’t be that difficult. You can ask a relative. You can ask a friend. You can ask someone with whom you work. You can ask a member or your church, temple, or synagogue. You can ask your dentist or accountant. And, assuming you are proud of Odd Fellowship and proud of what your Lodge does, telling that prospective new member about the Order and inviting that person to join with you should also not be that difficult.
The future health and viability of your Lodge is up to YOU.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California