Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Lea and I have just returned home from a weekend in Reno. No, we didn’t go to Reno to gamble, nor did we go to see a show. We went to Reno to get educated!

The annual Member’s and Officer’s Seminar this year was held – for the first time – in Reno. And it was a great success with over 150 participants – an all-time record for these seminars. This seminar has traditionally been held in Santa Nella (a bend in the road with little to commend it except some fast-food restaurants and a handful of low-cost hotels). Santa Nella had been chosen year after year for the main reason that it is in Central California and the concept that choosing a location in the middle of California would make it more convenient for both Southern and Northern California attendees. In reality, the location was equally inconvenient for everyone. Several months ago, Deputy Grand Master Peter Sellars approached me and asked if he could organize the annual seminar in Reno. I readily agreed.

And it was a great seminar for many reasons. First, the attendance was large and energizing. Second, the presentations were informative and useful. Third, the accommodations were excellent with a large well-appointed meeting space, very nice rooms, good food, and things to do in the evening after the seminar recessed. Fourth, the cost was quite reasonable at $190 for a single room for two nights, which covered the cost of the seminar, registration, and most meals. All in all, it was a win-win-win-win. I spoke to virtually every attendee at the seminar, and uniformly received good reviews. No one left the seminar without learning something. Subject matter was diverse and detailed. Topics covered included the duties of desk officers, how to properly prepare annual reports, the role of Trustees of a Lodge, Hall Associations, parliamentary procedure, the structure of the Order, historical information and the care of books and records, leadership and management, the role of the Grand Lodge and the relationship to Lodges, and many more. There was also ample time for Q&A so that participants could ask questions that were on their minds and could get direct answers from leaders of the Order. There was also plenty of time for dialog and conversations, as well.

Kudos to the organizers of the seminar: Peter Sellars, Ron Carrey, and Don Lang. These three members have organized seminars in the past and have taught at these seminars, but they outdid themselves this year. The seminar was well-attended by leaders of this Order including Grand Master Dave Rosenberg, Deputy Grand Master Peter Sellars, Grand Warden Dave Reed, Grand Secretary Ray Link, Grand Treasurer Jay Johnson, and Chair of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors John Morgan. Also in attendance were six of my seven appointed Grand Lodge Officers: Grand Marshal Nancy Johnson, Grand Chaplain Rita Cooper, Grand Color Bearer Stark Dagesse, Grand Guardian Lea Rosenberg, Grand Herald Anita Donnell, and Grand Instructor Neil Allen. Leaders of the Rebekah Assembly were also in attendance including Warden Phoebe Astil and Secretary Karolinne Livingston. Instructors including myself, Peter Sellars, Ron Carrey, John Morgan, Nancy Johnson, Rita Cooper, Jay Johnson, and Ray Link. Peter Sellars, Dave Reed and I participated in the Q&A.

The participants in the seminar included a wide array of Lodges from throughout California. There were a significant number of attendees who were assuming key offices in their Lodges for 2016: Noble Grand, Vice Grand, Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary and Trustee.

A particularly poignant moment (for me) at the seminar occurred when I asked the audience, “What is the single most important responsibility of an Odd Fellow today?” I expected a broad range of answers, but was pleasantly surprised to hear virtually every voice in the room say, “membership” or “bringing in new members.” That was very satisfying to me, personally, because I have spoken these words as a drumbeat for years and years. As our Order shrinks, we must focus on bringing in new members as our primary obligation to the Order. To hear the participants repeat those words tells me that my message is getting through.

These annual seminars are an important tool for our Order to insure that members and incoming leaders are equipped with information which will enable Lodges to function in accordance with the law and the codes. I expect that the seminar in 2017 will, again, be in Reno and that we will seek to replicate the success of 2016, and to encourage even greater participation from the Lodges in California.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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