Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Recently, on Facebook, I saw the following posting from the Charity Lodge from Warrenton, Virginia:
“Everyone is invited to attend our next open meeting on Monday, March 2nd, beginning at 7 p.m.. We’ll meet downstairs so just come on in. People generally begin to arrive at 6:30. You can bring a friend. Or two! We usually wrap up by 9 but you don’t have to stay for the whole thing.
Our committee members will be informally reporting about the various projects they’re working on. This is a great opportunity for people who aren’t Odd Fellows to hear about the variety of tasks Charity Lodge is working on and for everyone to be introduced. Maybe you have questions for us and maybe you might be able to five us some advice on how we can accomplish our goals. We’re open to just about anything!”
I found this posting fun, refreshing and invigorating for many reasons and at many levels. Let me count the ways:
1. It was an announcement on Facebook. Here we have Lodge members who are using social media to reach out to their community. Lots of people of all ages use social media, but in particular, younger men and women use social media. And they use it a lot. Lodges ignore Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media at their peril. In fact, it’s amazing how many of our Lodges do not even use e-mail or the Internet. It’s time to get into the 21st Century.
2. This is a Lodge that is hosting a [gasp] open [gasp] meeting. Yes, indeed, Lodges can have meetings open to the public. What a wonderful way to expose Odd Fellowship to the world and the community. As I have long advocated, Lodges must open their doors and windows to their communities. Why? Because we are part of the community, and if we want community members to join us as applicants for membership, we have to be inviting and receptive to the world around us. It’s OK to be a society with secrets, but we can no longer afford to be a secret society.
3. Committee reports! Here is a Lodge that has committees and they will be reporting on their projects, not only to Lodge members but to interested community members. And again, it is perfectly OK for Lodges to hold open social meetings where these things can be discussed. Obviously, no secrets of the Order are revealed or used during such an open meeting. But whey not discuss the planned downtown clean-up campaign, or the bowling night that’s being planned, or next month’s potluck.
4. Not only has this Lodge invited the public, but this Lodge is soliciting the public to give them “advice.” That is a very inviting, encouraging, and public-friendly approach. In other words, this meeting will be interactive. The Lodge is not going to just “lecture” folks, but is inviting a dialog with interested members of the public.
5. I saw a couple of exclamation points in this short message. Exclamation points show emphasis and enthusiasm. This is an enthusiastic and energized Lodge! Indeed!
6. Let the public see your Lodge Hall. Finally, this open meeting is a wonderful opportunity to give tours of the Lodge Hall and to answer questions from the public. Members of the public are truly curious about what goes on inside that Lodge Hall. I have found that virtually every single time we open my own Lodge Hall to the public (in a public event), members of the community who visit have questions about the history of the Odd Fellows, the history of the Hall, and about my Lodge. It’s a wonderful entree to further discussions about potential membership in IOOF.
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master