Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
A few days ago I received an email from a member of a Lodge in another State, seeking answers. I will not reveal the identity of the state or the member’s true name to preserve confidentiality. This member – whom I shall call “Chris” – had joined this Lodge about one year ago, and was perplexed. Seems like virtually all the remaining members of the Lodge were fairly new, and (with the exception of one elderly member residing in a nursing home) there was no member who had any historical memory of the Lodge nor could give any guidance to Chris. When the new members gather for a meeting, less than 10 show up. They have ritual books, but they don’t have knowledge of even the most rudimentary aspects of Odd Fellowship – such as what are the various Lodge officer’s duties and responsibilities. When I asked Chris for a copy of the Bylaws of the Lodge, Chris seemed genuinely flummoxed and had no knowledge of them.
Kudos to Chris trying to make heads or tails of Chris’ Lodge and Odd Fellowship. But how in the world did this Lodge devolve into its present state? The answer, to me, is both simple and sad.
The generation of members of this Lodge that preceded Chris were, frankly, selfish. These members did not plan for the future. Apparently, their only concern was enjoying their Lodge experience in the present. Nothing wrong with that, per se. Everyone should enjoy their Lodge experience – otherwise, why do it? But there is more to Odd Fellowship than the present. Just like there is more to Odd Fellowship than the past. Don’t misunderstand my point: both past and present are important. But, the equation is incomplete without consideration of the future.
The generation of Odd Fellows who occupied that Lodge prior to the arrival of Chris did not plan for the future. They made two mistakes that could very well prove fatal to that Lodge. First, they failed to bring new members into the Lodge who represented different ages and different generations. Second, they failed to let goof the reins of power. Each one, by itself, is a horrible miscalculation. Together, they present an almost insurmountable impediment to the future viability of the Lodge. By failing to bring in younger members, and members representing different generations, the old members did not create a future and steady stream of active members. Bringing in only members of their own generation and age-group probably felt very comfortable to the older members – but as these members “age out” of Odd Fellowship (by incapacity or retirement or death) they all tend to age out at about the same time, leaving the leadership of the Lodge in the lurch. And when older members hold on tightly to all the key offices of the Lodge, they effectively cut out the education and progress of the younger members. They have failed to educate, teach and elevate the character of the newer members. The older members may have benefited the Lodge for an interim period, but in the long run they have created a Lodge that lacks knowledge and that has no successor generation of leaders. Shame on these older members for choosing their own comfort over the welfare of the Order.
They have failed Chris. And they have failed Odd Fellowship.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California