Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
As we wind down 2016 and prepare to welcome 2017, it is my pleasure to pass along to you an article written by Rita Cooper, who has served this Order in many capacities, most recently as Grand Chaplain in 2015-16, and currently as a member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors. In the following article, Rita provides a positive outlook to the future, and offers suggestions on how a Lodge can expand its membership.
Take a moment to review Rita’s suggestions – which might spark some “new” ideas for your Lodge.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Bring in the New to Save the Old: Renew so as to Retain
In the time that I have had the honor of serving our Order as both Grand Chaplain and Board member I have had the privilege of visiting a number of our California Lodges. Often I came away from the visits with two distinct feelings: (1) fond remembrance of the friendly warmth of our Brothers and Sisters in this Fellowship of Friendship, Love and Truth, graced by the enduring value and beauty of our shared traditions and venerable rituals; but, (2) dismay at the obvious shrinkage in too many of these Lodges in the number of Odd Fellows there to honor the traditions, to revere the rituals, to carry on the Mission.
And so it came to me: We must bring in the new to save the old! We must renew the body to retain the soul of our Fellowship. Now the emphasis here is on the word “new”. Certainly we should maintain our effort to bring in young people, but I am suggesting that each Lodge should develop some specific strategies to recruit new people and I believe there are several situations that people find themselves in that can lead them to appreciate what the IOOF has to offer: men and women in a particular kind of transition:
– New “empty-nesters”
– Newly discharged or retired military
– New Americans
– New retirees
– New arrivals in the community
There may be other types of transitional situations and I would love to hear your suggestions, but most of all I would like to work with you to develop recruitment initiatives, to create programs at the Lodge level to identify and recruit candidates for Odd Fellowship.
Of course simply bringing in new people to our Lodges is not enough. They must see and feel the reasons that this relationship, this facility, will be comfortable and rewarding to them, because of things such as:
– An attractive building exterior
– A warm, lively, up-dated private club-like interior
– Hospitality facilities for food and drink
– Engaging activities like parties and trips
– Charitable activities that are valued by the community
– Committees that engage Lodge Members and that get things done
Surely there are other valuable features that you might suggest. I’d like to hear about them from you and work with you in developing them.
Let’s ring in the New Year with plans for renewal, plans to regain our strength in numbers, so that we may retain our relevance and protect the Odd Fellow way, protect our rituals and traditions for the coming year and those that follow.
In Friendship, Love and Truth,
Director – Grand Lodge of California