Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Without question, Odd Fellows Lodges need to change their culture, or they simply will not attract the lifeblood of a fraternity: new members. Men and women of the new generation (those born after 1980) will not join our Order simply to attend boring, do-nothing meetings.
This is not to disparage the basic tenets of this Order: Friendship, Love and Truth. Those tenets are timeless and have as great a meaning in the 21st Century as they did in the 19th Century. However, we continue to tout historical relics from our distant fraternal past that have little or no significance to potential new members today. For example, how does the ancient “command” to “bury the dead” or “educate the orphan” resonate with a 30-year-old potential applicant? It doesn’t. If anything, it is off-putting.
Here is an email from a member of a Odd Fellows Lodge that touches on issues relating to the culture of the Lodge. For the sake of privacy and peace, I will neither reveal the Lodge name nor the name of the writer of the email. Ponder it well . . . .
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
It is funny that you and Rick are touching on the very topic that I have been thinking about. It strikes me that too many lodge meetings have become “organ recitals.”
The meeting is proceeding just fine, taking care of business and then they get to the “sick or in distress” items and then we have to listen to dreary accounts of everybody’s ills and which members and members’ relatives are dead or dying. I know we are supposed to help “bury the dead”, whatever than means nowadays, but can’t there be some sense of proportion in a meeting?
I AM an old person and I get depressed hearing this stuff, over and over. Imagine you are a member in your 30’s or 40’s (those few we have) and you have to sit through this stuff, month after month! Why would you want to attend a meeting, merely to get bummed out?
At one lodge of my acquaintance, if you mentioned in a meeting that you had been suffering from a common cold, or a bum knee it would end up in the newsletter!
Why can’t we change the “sick or in distress” portion of a meeting to a portion that encourages reporting on both positive and negative things?
I would rather hear about somebody’s grandkid getting their degree, or a good job rather than that “Brother Fred is having knee surgery.”
Why not have a member outreach committee than not only checks up on people when they are ill but also that checks up on members who have not been attending to see if there is something the lodge can do to bring them back?
We need to change the Independent Order of Odd Fellows culture and encourage living while we are still alive!