Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Odd Fellows across North America will be gathering together over the next few weeks and months in an annual ritual – Grand Lodge Sessions. The Jurisdiction of California – the largest on this continent – traditionally gathers during the month of May. In fact, in California, the schedule calls for Grand Lodge Sessions to occur during May 16-18, 2024. It’s an important occasion for members of our Order to renew acquaintances, meet and mingle with brothers and sisters, elect and appoint jurisdictional officers, vote on important bills, resolutions, and recommendations, and conduct formal installations of leaders within our states and provinces. It is a time when members can reach outside of their individual Lodges, and consider issues on a grander scale.

And yet, there are many Lodges that do not participate in Grand Lodge Sessions. There are years in California, for example, when fully one-third of the Lodges send no representatives to Grand Lodge Sessions. Not one.

Why do some Odd Fellows Lodges not attend Grand Lodge Sessions?

There actually may be a good and valid reason for non-attendance. I can envision a very small Lodge with virtually no available funds to help subsidize the attendance of representatives to Grand Lodge Sessions. There may be no members who have sufficient funds to pay for attendance. After all, it’s not cheap to be a representative to Sessions. There is a registration fee, hotel costs, travel costs, meal costs, etc. Some of the younger members (and we do want younger members in our Order) have difficulty missing work for the better part of a week.

But short of the economic reason for non-attendance, all other reasons for non-attendance fall in the category of “excuses.”

Odd Fellowship is, after all, a world-wide fraternity. Members shouldn’t just hunker down within the four walls of their Lodges and ignore the larger jurisdiction of our Order. So, what are some of the reasons that Lodges don’t send even one representative to their Jurisdictions Grand Lodge Sessions? Here is my take on the possible reasons:

1. There is a disconnect between the Lodge and Grand Lodge. The Lodge members want to exist in the world of their respective Lodge, and wish to be ignored by Grand Lodge. To them, a connection to Grand Lodge can only bring unwanted attention, reviews, audit, official visits, or demands. They don’t view Grand Lodge as a helpful partner.

2. The Lodge has no interest in the work of the greater Order. Elections, resolutions, bills – mean little or nothing to the Lodge. That is a task for others. These Lodge members just want to be left alone.

3. The Lodge feels that Sessions are too long and they don’t have the time to attend a multi-day meeting. Further, if the Lodge hasn’t attended in the recent past, the Lodge has no members who can advise and mentor others – so they feel a bit lost in the business and the process of Grand Lodge Sessions.

4. The Lodge has grown so small and inactive it has no time, energy or members to focus on Grand Lodge. The Lodge is weak and can barely muster a quorum to have meetings. It is probable that most if not all the members are Past Grands, so there are eligible Odd Fellows who could attend Sessions. But no one is interested.

I end with a word of advice for future Grand Masters and Grand Lodge Officers: If you wish to increase attendance at your Sessions, please understand these reasons for lackluster attendance and do your best to address them

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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