Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words “Odd Fellows” to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That’s because the vast majority of people haven’t even heard of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) and of the few who have heard of “Odd Fellows” most know next to nothing about the fraternity. Interestingly, the number of folks who don’t know anything about Odd Fellows increases as the age of the person you ask decreases. So, those born after 1990 will present not only a blank stare, but also a blank slate.

Bottom line: Odd Fellowship has not permeated into the consciousness of Generation X or Generation Y. That generally answers the question of why Odd Fellows Lodges have so few members in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Interestingly, a century ago the majority of members in Odd Fellows Lodges were in those age brackets.

I recall a couple of years ago walking down the main street of a small Northern California town. A beautiful Odd Fellows Lodge building is located on that main street in the very center of that town. Out of curiosity, I stopped and talked to a few locals and asked them to direct me to the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall. Not one person could do so, nor did they even know there was such a Lodge Hall in the town. The icing on this cake (so to speak) occurred when I walked into a bakery on the main street located directly across the street from the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall, and spoke to a couple of the young employees of the bakery (who I would surmise were in their 20’s). They, too, were unable to tell me where the Odd Fellows Lodge was located. When I took them outside the bakery and pointed the Lodge out to them, right across the street, they expressed some surprise. They had never even noticed it – even though they had both grown up in that town, and were employed in a shop shop across the street from the Lodge.

What is the problem here?

The problem is that the vast majority of Odd Fellows Lodges operate in the shadows of society. They are invisible to the community. Instead of being a society with secrets, most Lodges have withered down to be secret societies – known only to the members. This is a recipe for failure. If a Lodge grows inward, it may provide a comfortable and well-known environment for existing members – but it is anathema to the quest for new members let alone the goal of Lodge sustainability and growth. And make no mistake about it: If a Lodge fails to bring in new members, it will eventually wither and die.

While the lifespan of an individual human can last for a century, a fraternal order can exist indefinitely (in theory) and certainly for many centuries. But that longevity is only true to the extent the fraternal order brings in new members – on a fairly regular basis – to provide the next generation of members and leaders for the Lodge. Odd Fellows Lodges can thrive and grow, but only if they open their doors and windows to the community at large.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.)
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn’t helped.

How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in trouble?

Will it survive into the next generation?

Will it even survive the next five years?

There are certainly warning signposts that can help you answer these questions. Here is a little self-test you can take to determine the temperature of your Odd Fellows Lodge. But the test only works if you are brutally honest with your answers. No one is “grading” this test except you.

So here are 13 questions to help you determine the fraternal health of your Odd Fellows Lodge:

  1. Does your Lodge have less than 20 regular dues-paying members on your books? (Please do not count associate members or non-contributing members.)
  2. When you have a Lodge meeting, is the agenda item that takes the most time “members sick and in distress”?
  3. Is the average age of your regular dues-paying members over 70?
  4. Is the average age of your regular dues-paying members under 65?
  5. Looking at the last three years, has your Lodge initiated new members equal to 10% of your membership during that three-year period?
  6. Looking at the last year, has your Lodge initiated at least one new member?
  7. Does your Lodge sponsor at least one event a year for the benefit of the community?
  8. Does your Lodge have difficulty finding members to serve in the elected officer positions?
  9. Did your Lodge have to cancel a meeting over the last year due to lack of quorum?
  10. In addition to your regular Lodge meetings, does your Lodge schedule at least four social events each year for the members?
  11. Are there members of your Lodge who are so angry or upset with other members of the Lodge that they won’t talk to them?
  12. Does your Lodge have updated ritual books (red books) for all members who attend meetings?
  13. Does your Lodge have regalia (collars, chains or rope) for all members who attend meetings?

And here are the answers that show your Lodge has a problem:

  1. yes
  2. no
  3. yes
  4. no
  5. no
  6. no
  7. no
  8. yes
  9. yes
  10. no
  11. yes
  12. no
  13. no

If you tallied six or more of these answers then your Odd Fellows Lodge should raise the yellow caution flag. If you tallied seven or more of these answers, then the red danger flag needs to be raised. If you tallied eight or more of these answers then your Lodge is a mere Potemkin Village masquerading as a Lodge of Odd Fellows. If you tallied nine or more of these answers, then I am sorry to say that your Lodge is what I call a “Zombie Lodge”, going through the motions of existence, but already deceased. Your days as a Lodge are, sadly, numbered.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order?

Of course it isn’t. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern all in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows who value FLT.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Bullies in Our Midst

Many of us are elderly, retired, or otherwise unoccupied in this pandemic time. This has caused the Independent Order of Odd Fellows to be more secluded than ever; some are masked, many are participating only remotely, and others never leave their homes for fear of, frankly, many things. The last thing we all need is someone who spreads rumors about anyone, or everyone, else. Did we learn nothing in kindergarten or in our religious or philosophical teachings? Are we not an order based upon friendship, love, and truth?

Yet, when some of us go to the few public events we now have, we hear things. It almost doesn’t matter who it is, or of what they are accused. It is enough that we hear it. So much so, that it is not the accused that becomes suspicious, it is the accuser. Aren’t we having a rough enough time without unfounded accusations being blurted out? It’s time we all act like brothers and sisters who we are theoretically supposed to be and not filled with blind animosity.

We often miss the forest for the trees. In other words, bullies only see the negative about others. If bullies only see the negative, we are only left debating the negative. Bullies like to research a person’s past. Now, it is easier than ever to do. We can look up everyone we don’t know or like on the computer and examine their entire lives. Often times, bullies like to gather with their cronies, perhaps fired up on alcohol, or just long on hatred, and talk about those they feel are the opposition. But here is the flaw in their reasoning. No one opposes.

At least not by code. If members would like to remove other members from the order, oftentimes all they need to do is ask. That’s all it takes. But a bully wants to end someone else’s very existence. A bully may even be unhappy with their own existence. Being a bully is not a clean path to anywhere. If you ask a bully why they do what they do, they act as if they are compelled to spread gossip in search of truth. But it is not truth they seek it is verification of their own value. Yet, a bully may not even be capable of self-examination, so they project outwards in the hope of seeing nothing reflected back upon them, however inevitable that may be.

Leaders lead by example. It may be hard for a bully to understand, but no one is perfect. We all may have something we are not particularly proud of in our past, but no one else should be the judge of us. This is a fraternal order that is based on love. Nothing could be more clear. Those who want to spread hate or vitriol are anathema to the order itself.

In F., L., & T., Rick Boyles

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

Chase the Chill

Chase the Chill

Years ago Lea Rosenberg started “Chase the Chill” as an Odd Fellows Lodge project in conjunction with the City of Davis. The project provides clothing and other needed items for the unhoused and homeless population in Davis. This year, the “Chase the Chill” day will be October 13. More information will follow in future Odd Gossip Pages. For now, please mark your calendars.

October 13, 2022. 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

What we need

Knitted, home-made or purchased caps, hats, gloves, socks, shawls, and scarves. Also: Coasts, pants, seaters, shoes, and blankets (no shirts or sweatshirts).

How: Between 8 a.m. and 10:30 am on October 13, bring your donated items to the Davis Respite Center located at 530 L Street (directly across the street from 7-11 and the Davis Korean Christian Church). The gate is locked. Ring the door bell next to the gate and City staff will come to the gate to take your items from you and bring them into the respite center.

“Chase the Chill” is looking for the following items:

Here are the donation categories:

Hygiene/Comfort kit items

Nail clippers, pedicure sets, bug spray, electrolyte packets, cooling rags, sunscreen, deodorant, tooth brush/paste/floss, hand lotion/sanitizer, Kleenex/Wet Wipes, Q Tips, gift cards(food/grocery/gas/cell phone minutes), dry shampoo, disposable razor/shave cream, comb/brush, garbage bags.

Other materials

Spray bottles with fans, hats, games, playing cards, books, bikes supplies/parts, bike locks, bike carts, bike pumps, sleeping bags, tarps, tents, towels, clothes/shoes (gently used), socks (new), pet supplies/toys, knitted, homemade or purchased caps, hats, gloves, shawls and scarves, coats, pants, sweaters, shirts, sweatshirts, shoes, blankets

For the Davis Respite Center site

Permanent shade structure, mini fridge, basketball backboard, pull up bar, outdoor mister, industrial fans/heat lamps.

Can’t make a delivery? Contact Lea and Dave Rosenberg at learose@jps.net and we can make arrangements to get your items.

 

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

Accusations and Trials in the Odd Fellows

Accusations and Trials in the Odd Fellows

There has been a flurry of accusations and trials in the Odd Fellows’ Jurisdiction of California in the last few months. I wonder if the same thing is happening in other jurisdictions. The point is that under the revised Code for trials, it is very, very easy for any member to file “charges” against any other member. Here is an article submitted by Past Grand Master Rick Boyles on the subject of Odd Fellows trials.

At the end of the day, do these accusations and trials enhance or diminish “friendship, love and truth.”?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California


Accusations and Trials, Oh My!

Sometimes what we want and what we sense are determinedly different things. On the one hand, we are all members of a fraternal group that trumpets friendship, love, and truth. On the other hand, we tend to give and take offense at every juncture. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is primarily a group of elderly people, many of whom have retired, others may be working, but slowing down, and most have attained some level of importance in both our own lodges and within the state, some even nationally. Often times, resentment comes from a miss-spoken word or missed opportunity to honestly appreciate another person’s efforts. The reasons for resentment are myriad, and the opportunities, of late, to give an honest apology or share a kind word are few, particularly in these pandemic times, and in this era of zoom, we miss the chance to see that all of us are human, all too human.

This has also become the era of IOOF charges and offenses, trials unending, and grievances taken, but rarely shared. In my time as Grand Master, I don’t believe that there was one trial in the state of California. Now, it seems like there are a number of them constantly. Not that we were better. At that time, I think most of us saw the futility of charges, particularly when there was an opportunity to talk to each other, and see the other person was not without some quality that today is hard to see via zoom, or however remote we have all become.

Also, now launching charges has become easier, as well. There is even a link on the California Grand Lodge website specifically marked “Codes and Trials” where one can download the materials necessary to launch a barrage of charges against anyone one may have felt gave offense. I anticipate being charged with spitting on the sidewalk someday soon and will have to engage a high powered IOOF defense team to defend the fact, that yes, in 2004, I did indeed spit on the sidewalk, and I will be happy to accept my punishment, which would no doubt, be a public hanging. The point being that at one time, filing IOOF charges was difficult, if not impossible, and cases such as these, hard to win, since in reality, what does one expect to happen by filing charges when the punishment is often nothing, but an admonishment normally given in lodge.

Now, in the past ten years, I have been involved in a number of trials, well meaning members on both sides, and nothing of substance comes of it normally. In fact, most trials end with neither side being satisfied, because both sides will be allowed to survive, and spend time again in their lodges, the good thing being that even resentment fades, and time moves on. The circumstances of today’s world in the Odd Fellows is filled with a zoom-like landscape, where most of us are now, or for a long time, have been, alone in a room, looking at a lonely computer screen, getting resentful of the guy in 2004, who actually was permitted to spit on an actual sidewalk, and realize that once we get together again, that maybe the rest of us may spit on the sidewalk, without a mask, once again, without charges or the spectacle of a public execution.

In F., L., & T.,

Rick Boyles
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

Does your Odd Fellows Lodge Have a Membership Committee?

Does your Odd Fellows Lodge Have a Membership Committee?

Does your Lodge have a Membership Committee and a Membership Chair?

Should it?

I’m going to answer that with an emphatic YES!   Having a Membership Committee, or at least a Membership Chair, should be a requirement for every Odd Fellows Lodge.

Letter from the Grand Master

The current Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Jurisdiction of California, Redgie Fleeman has recently sent a letter to every Odd Fellows Lodge in California, encouraging each Noble Grand to designate a Membership Chair.    Brother Redgie is right on the money with this effort, and I hope he will be successful.   Every jurisdiction ought to undertake similar efforts.  The future of our Order depends on it.

Odd Fellows Membership Committee Requirement

The Codes currently require Lodges to have a Finance Committee, a Bylaws Committee, and a Visiting Committee.    Without question, each of those committees is important in its own right.    But I suggest that of equal importance is a Membership Committee.   It should, in my opinion, be a requirement of our Codes.

Why do I say that?

Simple.   In my opinion, bringing new members to a fraternal order is the equivalent of eating food for a human body.    If we don’t eat, the body will get sick and will die.   If a Lodge fails to bring in new members, it will deteriorate and it will die.   Of course, failing to bring in new members is a process that takes years before a Lodge succumbs.   But it will happen.   And the historical record of hundreds of Odd Fellows Lodges which have disappeared over the past Century proves it.

A Lodge must keep its focus on the need to bring in new members.   Of course, membership recruitment and sponsorship is a responsibility of EVERY member of the Lodge.   That said, it is important for a Membership Committee and a Membership Chair to keep the members focused on this critical task.

In addition to reporting the status of membership and membership development at every meeting of the Lodge, the Membership Chair and Committee can encourage members who have sponsored new members, can help in the task of getting new members integrated into the life of the Lodge, and can highlight membership development opportunities.   Importantly, the Membership Chair and Committee can spearhead and coordinate membership development activities.

Importance of an Odd Fellows Membership Committee

You want proof of the importance of having a Membership Chair and a Membership Committee?

My own Lodge (Davis #169 in California) has had a Membership Chair and a Membership Committee for the past 15 years.   During these 15 years, it’s been my honor to serve as Membership Chair of the Membership Committee.  And for those past 15 years my Lodge has experienced a net gain in members every single year, and our membership has skyrocketed from under 50 to over 350.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF)

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

Odd Fellows and the Shadows of Society

​If you say the words "Odd Fellows" to any random man or woman on the street and then ask them what is the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear those words, you are likely to get a blank stare. That's because the vast majority of people haven't even...

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Is your Odd Fellows Lodge in Trouble?

Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn't helped. How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in...

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Bullies of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Rumors. Allegations. Innuendoes. Charges. Accusations. Trials. Is that what the devolution of Odd Fellowship will look like? Is that any way to build up and grow this Order? Of course it isn't. Here is an article from Past Grand Master Rick Boyles that should concern...

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