Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I have just returned from the annual Grand Lodge Sessions. It was my pleasure to preside over these sessions as Grand Master. My term as GM ended with the election and installation of the 2016-17 Grand Master Peter Sellars. Also elected is the new Deputy Grand Master Dave Reed, and the new Grand Warden Mel Astrahan. All three will serve us well, and I am delighted that all three support DMC and have written articles for this newsletter.
Our DMC event at Grand Lodge Sessions was entitled “Tacos, Tunes and Tales” and was very well attended. We had close to 200 attendees this year – Odd Fellows, Rebekahs and guests. Participants enjoyed an endless Taco Bar, listened to the music of Cold Shot, and heard brief presentations from a dozen Lodges that are active and involved with innovative events for their members and their communities. This was our largest DMC turnout ever. Once again, I would like to thank the 14 Lodges that donated funds to subsidize the DMC event, and thereby keep the cost down to $10 per person. Thank you to: Bay Rock #300, Yerba Buena #15, Berkeley #270, Davis #169, California #1, Golden West #322, Apollo #123, Morse #257, Windsor #215, Mission Peak #114, Alameda #3, Ocean View #143, Mountain View #244, and Suisun #78.
During sessions, one of the more interesting votes was a bill, sponsored by the Grand Lodge Board of Directors, to divest the Three-Links Camp from the Order. Because the bill would change Odd Fellows law, it required a 2/3 vote to pass. Following a lively discussion, the vote was 98 in favor of the bill (divesting) and 50 opposed. While the “yes” vote was much larger than the “no” vote (and in my opinion shows a strong vote of “no confidence” in the Camp Board of Directors), the bill was 1 vote short of the 2/3 requirement, and it failed to pass.
Another interesting vote was an overwhelming vote of support for a resolution I proposed to change the voting structure of Sovereign Grand Lodge. This launches a process which, when complete and if successful, will allow a more proportional representation at Sovereign – more reflective of the population in each jurisdiction.
Tune in to Odd Fellows Television – a project launched by Mel Astrahan. Mel says that there are 15 new shows on IOOF TV. You can find the website at www.iooftv.org. Check it out!
Statistics are still being finalized for 2015, but here are some preliminary numbers that may interest you.
We are down to 117 Lodges in California at the end of 2015. Ten years ago, in 2005 we had 159 Lodges. That’s a drop of 42 Lodges in 10 years, or an average loss of about 4 Lodges per year. Membership has also declined. In 2005 we had 5,133 members. In 2015 we had 4,068 members. That’s a drop of 1,065 members in 10 years or an average loss of about 100 members per year. If that pace continues, California will have just 75 Lodges in 2025, and 3,000 members.
When I examined the stats of “dues paying” members for 2015, I noticed the following:
15 of our Lodges had 10 or fewer members
26 of our Lodges have 11-15 members.
16 of our Lodges have 16-20 members.
So, fully 57 of our Lodges (that’s about half the Lodges in California) have 20 or fewer members on their books.
39 of our Lodges have 21-49 members. That’s one-third of our California Lodges.
15 of our Lodges have 50-99 members.
2 of our Lodges have 100- 199 members
4 of our Lodges have 200 or more members.
It is interesting to note that only 21 of our Lodges (some 18%) have 50 or more members. Yet these 21 Lodges have more than half the members in our Order – in other words, these 21 have more members than the remaining 96 Lodges. The average membership of those 96 is around 20.
How long can a Lodge of 20 members survive? Probably less than a decade, unless that Lodge gets serious about adding new members.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master