Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
California Odd Fellowship once boasted over 600 Lodges and close to 60,000 members. Today, we have less than 120 lodges and about 4,000 members. Why? The reason for Odd Fellow membership decline is sad, but ultimately, simple. Our predecessor members failed to replenish their Lodges with new applicants and new members. And, regrettably, even today we see this trend continue. There are Odd Fellows Lodges in California where the members simply ignore the most important aspect of fraternal survival: To bring in the next generation of membership. Yet there is nothing inherent in Odd Fellowship that would indicate that IOOF is a failing Order; in fact, there are a number of Lodges in California where we see membership growth.
Why do some Odd Fellows Lodges grow while others diminish? It boils down to YOU, the members of that Lodge. If your Lodge does little or nothing, and the members can’t bother themselves with replenishing their stock, then the Lodge will – in time – diminish and die as the last old-timers finally move on. On the other hand, if your Lodge is active in the community and for its members, and the membership focuses on bringing in the next generation, then the Lodge will grow in numbers and vitality.
Grand Master Peter Sellars has submitted the following article to this DMC Newsletter which focuses on the primal issue facing our Order today: MEMBERSHIP. Please read his article, and please re-dedicate yourself to the challenge. Bringing in new members is not the responsibility of “someone else” in your Lodge. It is YOUR responsibility.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
GRAND MASTER’S MESSAGE
Brothers And Sisters Of The Independent Order Of Odd Fellows:
With only a little less than four months remaining in my term, I am hopeful many of you have been working on my request/challenge, made earlier in my term, that each of you bring at least one new member into the Order. I am also hopeful all of you are doing well.
Some of you have fulfilled that challenge and have exceeded bringing in a single member. Brother Larry Morgan of Memento Lodge No. 37 has brought in over 14 new members. The decline of an Odd Fellows Lodge’s membership is reflective of the non-action of the lodge’s members. When we see a lodge declining, we can only look upon those who remain, who failed to replenish the lodge’s members and who have passed on. Be like brother Morgan of Georgetown and heed the challenge I put before you.
MEMBERSHIP is the single most important aspect of any organization. Numerous fraternal organizations have vanished simply because they failed to stay in step with an ever-modernizing and evolving world around them. What ideals used to be “acceptable” decades ago, may no longer be acceptable today. Activities and interests have changed and evolved as well. Lodges must adapt to the changes happening all around them. Recognize those changes and adjust.
If you believe that changes must be made concerning our Ritual (the red book we use in our lodge rooms), then those changes must be initiated by you, by drafting resolutions and writing out such proposed changes and presenting them to the Grand Lodge for a vote, so they can be forwarded to Sovereign Grand Lodge for consideration. We cannot simply decide to forego passages or procedure because we do not like such passages. There
is a procedure to follow. Ask for help in drafting such proposals or resolutions. I encourage you to draft legislative proposals and submit them to Grand Lodge before April 1st of this year. Let us address any concerns you may have within this wonderful Order.
I want to start early and encourage all of you with the Third Degree to attend the Grand Lodge sessions May 17, 2017 (Opening) through May 20th, at Visalia, where we propose change and ideas, listen to reports, and establish social and fraternal ties with other members from all over the jurisdiction. Every session offers something unexpected or new. This one should be equally as interesting. There shall be the usual Dedicated Members For Change (DMC) social Goodfellowship Night, Semi-Annual Grand Encampment meeting, and other meetings. Look out for the forms coming next month and be sure to sign up.
The subject of discussing “Religion and Politics” has come up more than once during my time as a member. Let us be very clear: Per our Ritual, at no time may political of religious matters be brought to the floor of a lodge meeting. No only is this rule self-explanatory, but it is mandatory all of you adhere to this rule. Discussing political or religious topics outside a meeting, is not codified; however, I would strongly discourage such discussion inside a lodge hall or lodge social event. Be careful, as it is easy to fall into such stimulating and destructive discussion. Work for the harmony and peace inside your
membership and your hall. Live by the principles of Friendship, Love, and Truth, as you have promised.
To those lodges who once housed an encampment, canton, Rebekah lodge, Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans, or other groups and still retain and store such fraternal items belonging to these branches of the Order, I must ask you to contact the heads of these groups and make arrangements
to have them pick up said property. The specific items of these branches rightly belong to these groups, and in most cases are still used or are of value to them. We wish to do the right thing and make sure property is returned to the rightful custodians. Thank you so very much for your cooperation.
Again, I want to reiterate to all of you: Make Membership Growth Your Priority! Your lodge has the challenge to build character, per our principles. If all of our applicants already possessed the character traits we teach, then, there would be no need to confer our degrees or teach the workings of our principles of Friendship, Love,& Truth.