Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I’m pleased to send along to you an article written by Dave Reed. I think you will find it interesting and intriguing. Brother Dave is a Past Grand of Davis Lodge #169, he served as Grand Conductor under Past Grand Master Rod Metoyer, he has served on the Odd Fellows Homes of California (Saratoga Retirement Community and The Meadows of Napa Valley) Board of Directors, and he currently serves as a District Deputy Grand Master. He is a long-time member of DMC. Dave will also be a candidate for Grand Warden at Grand Lodge Sessions this May.
As most articles in the DMC Newsletter, Dave’s article focuses on the challenge of growing our Lodges.
F – L – T
Deputy Grand Master
So What Do We Do Next? (Part One)
By Dave Reed
If you are reading this article, you are either (1) a member of a healthy lodge that is looking for ways for their lodge to improve, (2) a member of a struggling lodge that is looking for direction (such as, can we save this sinking boat?), (3) a member that knows of struggling lodges and may be willing to offer them assistance (if you can persuade them to accept your suggestions), or (4) wondering whether this guy has a clue.
Turning around a struggling lodge is no simple task. That could be the case for a number of reasons. They may not want any help. They may not want any new members. They may not want to try anything different. They don’t care if Odd Fellowship reaches out to more people. They don’t care if Odd Fellowship continues after they are gone.
If you or your lodge has these views, there is probably nothing we can say or suggest to save your lodge. You can stop reading now. On the other hand, if that is not your mindset; if you don’t really know where to start, what do we do next?
If you are still reading, you have hope. You have found good in Odd Fellowship. You want Odd Fellowship to survive. You are willing to try. And try harder. Part of trying harder is being willing to act and participate. That means you need to be part of the solution. It means more than depending on your brothers and sisters to make it happen.
I believe that if a lodge is to survive and improve, you need to first do some self-examination. Take a look at yourself and your brothers and sisters and your lodge. Who are you? What do you stand for? Who do you want to be?
While we have a rich history and tradition and a common ritual, we are still individuals. Our lodges are still unique. Every lodge has its own personality which reflects it members and its community. That’s a good thing. The solution is not to make every lodge the same. If you live in Arbuckle, why would you want to be just like a lodge in San Francisco or Davis or Van Nuys, and vice versa? What works for some lodges may not work for other lodges. There are endless opportunities to elevate the character of Mankind within each of our lodges and each of our communities. Those opportunities differ from community to community. How many of us even think about that historic duty?
Elevating the character of Mankind is a noble aspiration. But it is not meant to be limited to you and me. It is not meant to be limited to members of your lodge. We are just a small slice of Mankind. Our founders didn’t intend that goal to stop at our lodge doors. Our purpose includes what we can do for others outside our lodge in our communities. If that goal stops at your lodge door or doesn’t even make to the lodge door, ask yourselves why? Is it really unattainable?
I encourage all lodges to make an effort to look at yourselves. Set up special meetings to talk about who you are. Talk about what originally made you want to become an Odd Fellow. Was it comradery? Was it social opportunities? Was it a chance to serve your community? Was it to learn more about the principles of Odd Fellowship?
After you have discussed what brought you in, talk about whether those reasons have been fulfilled. Does your lodges provide you comradery or do you feel unwelcome? Does your lodge offer social opportunities? Are they activities that you are interested in attending? If not, why not? Does your lodge provide service to your community? If not, or not enough, what do you think they should do or do more of? Are you taught and reminded of the principles of Odd Fellowship?
Many lodges have long-time members. I encourage you to get their views on why they joined the Order. What activities of the lodge have they enjoyed? Did the lodge do things in the past that they no longer do? Why don’t they still do those activities? What has changed over the years?
What does your lodge do besides having monthly business meetings? Do you have committees that plan events? Do you have events that meet the needs of your members, whether they be social, historic, community service or other types? Does your lodge have activities that your members like? Do members participate in those activities?
I encourage you to discuss and identify who you are as a member and as a lodge and where your lodge has been. How did your lodge get to where it is now? Are you meeting the interests and needs of your members?
So what do we do next? Stay tuned for Part 2. Or contact me after you have explored these ideas.