The passwords, signs, grip and ritual of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows are at the heart of Odd Fellowship. However, fraternal life is not just about memorizing passwords and reading passages from a little red book. If Odd Fellowship fails to engage men and women in the coming generations and if Odd Fellowship fails to reach out into the community to do good works, it will surely continue to diminish and fail itself.
So, in this Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) Newsletter, I will endeavor to offer 5 suggestions to open the doors and windows of your Lodge to the world, to encourage new members to join the Odd Fellows Lodge, and to bring fun and satisfaction to Lodge members. Certainly, not every one of my suggestions will work for your Lodge or your community. But it is my hope that these suggestions will spark discussions at your Lodge, and those discussions will foster positive changes. So, here we go:
5 Tips for a Welcoming Odd Fellows Lodge
- Cosmetics. No, I’m not talking about make-up and eye liner. I’m talking about sprucing up the building that you call the Lodge Hall. Some Lodges have (regrettably) neglected their halls for years (sometimes decades) and that’s a darn shame. But I am not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades. That’s not feasible for most Lodges. But ALL Lodges can do a thorough cleaning, a little painting, and some repairs. Having pride in the Lodge Hall is important, particularly if you wish to attract new members. Notwithstanding the aphorism to the contrary, most people DO judge a book by its cover.
- Open House. Find an excuse to have an open house, at least once a year, for your family, friends and the community. There are many occasions when your Lodge could have an open house, but one easy one would be to celebrate the anniversary of your Lodge’s institution (the day you got your charter). That can readily be turned into an historical event. We should not keep our doors and windows closed to the community. We are part of that community, and it is the community from which we draw our members.
- Community Project. Every Lodge should have at least one community project. It is good for your town, and it makes your members feel good. I recommend you dedicate a portion of a Lodge meeting to a discussion and consensus on picking a community project that can engage the Lodge. Let your imagination be your guide. A community project will increase the visibility of your Lodge within the community – and that can only be a good thing.
- Encourage the Oddness. There are several theories about how we got our fraternal name: “Odd Fellows”. None of use really know which theory is real, because we weren’t there. But whatever the reason, we are now known as Odd Fellows. So let’s go with it. Let’s embrace our “oddness”. It gives us a distinction among fraternal orders. There are many subtle ways your Lodge can embrace your Oddness. For example, when you schedule events, don’t set them to start at 7:30 p.m. – instead, start them at 7:31 p.m. Have “odd events” like an “OddtoberFest”. Bottom line: have fun with your oddness.
- A Weekly Gathering. If your Lodge can manage it, try to have a weekly social event. Over and apart from your Lodge meetings where you employ ritual and discuss the business of your Lodge, consider organizing a once-a-week social event at the Lodge Hall. It can be as simple a a weekly card night, or a weekly game night, or a weekly potluck. Members need an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company as brothers and sisters. Let’s get into the fraternal spirit so that the Lodge can be a home away from home, and an escape from the tumult and turmoil of the world.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
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