Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot concluded his poem “The Hollow Men” with those words. And recent events in Odd Fellowship have brought those very words to mind. Let me paraphrase: “This is the way the Lodge ends, this is the way the Lodge ends, this is the way the Lodge ends – not with a bang but a whimper”. Frankly, I knew this day would come. And, indeed, it has arrived.

What day am I talking about? The day we see Lodges simply disappear – quietly, silently, in the shadows – because they have diminished to such a degree that they fail to have a quorum, fail to have meetings, fail to submit reports, fail to pay per capita fees. The day of reckoning when we see Lodges fail because those Lodges have not brought in sufficient new members to replace members who have passed away, or moved away or simply have stopped coming to meetings. The day when we see Lodges reach the tipping point – the point in time when an older generation just ran out of steam while having neglected to bring in a new generation of members to take over. The great generation that ran the Lodge in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s is no longer at the helm – and that great generation failed the Order because they did not bring in those new members to continue operating as a fraternity.

That day has arrived for some Lodges.

It is March 27, 2017, and we currently have nine Lodges in this jurisdiction – close to 10% of our total Lodges – that have not filed their annual reports nor paid their per capita fees for 2016. These Lodges have failed to comply with the most basic requirements of an Odd Fellows Lodge – requirements contained in our Codes. On March 28, 2017 – just one day from today – the Grand Master will deem them to be non-functioning Lodges, they will be suspended, and their charters can be taken.

What happened?

Our Codes require every Lodge to submit its annual report and to pay its per capita fees by February 15. Our Lodges have been doing this year after year for decades and decades. It should not be a surprise to any Lodge, to any Noble Grand, or to any desk officer. Back in May 2016, when Grand Master Peter Sellars was installed he stressed the responsibility of every Lodge to submit reports in a timely fashion. This year, the Grand Secretary made it even easier for Lodges to comply because he extended the deadline to February 28. This is plenty of time to submit this report and pay the fees. As this deadline approached, however, there were still some 20 Lodges that had not complied in a timely fashion. And the time requirement is not some arbitrary deadline. The requirement is real, because the Grand Secretary must close his books and must submit a full report and pay per capita fees to Sovereign Grand Lodge by the end of March – again a requirement of the Codes. At this point, the Grand Master stepped in and did several things. As a courtesy to the tardy Lodges, he gave them a grace period till March 15. This was contained in a letter sent to all Lodges. Still there were Lodges that did not comply. The Grand Master sent a notice to all District Deputy Grand Masters to contact their tardy Lodges and help them submit. The Grand Master also made efforts to personally contact the non-complying Lodges – although most of them had supplied contact information that was no longer valid. The Grand Master advised the tardy Lodges that if they did not submit their annual reports and pay their per capita fees by March 28 (the Sovereign Grand Lodge deadline), they would be deemed suspended.

As of today (March 27) there are still nine Lodges that have not submitted what they must submit by Code. They still have one day to do so.

It is noteworthy that, based on past reports, these nine Lodges show that most of them have very low memberships, typically with 11 or fewer dues paying members. To me, this reveals a Lodge that has failed over the years to bring in new blood to eventually take charge of Lodge affairs from the prior generation. What a shame.

The end comes not with a bang, but a whimper.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master

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