“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Many states and jurisdictions bemoan the diminution of membership in their jurisdictions, and the closing or consolidation of Lodges. Some question the continued viability of fraternal orders in the 21st Century. Brother Peter Sellars – a long-time member of IOOF and a founding member of “Dedicated Members for Change” has written a powerful article of success emanating from the Jurisdiction of the Philippines. We are proud of our Brothers and Sisters in the Philippines, and we suggest that the first item for consideration in 2024 by our Sovereign Grand Lodge Membership Committee should be “How do they do it?” and then spread the word.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows


A STORY OF ODD FELLOWS SUCCESS

By Peter Sellars, PGM

With many jurisdictions with the United States rapidly declining, as validated by the numbers reported by Sovereign Grand Lodge, other areas across Europe and the Philippines are increasing. In fact, Odd Fellowship in the Philippines is exploding!

In California, we have been fortunate to slow the decrease in numbers of members, to a point where we have shown a slight increase. We also understand how much work and effort and activities it takes to make this slight increase happen. To better appreciate what follows, keep in mind California for all its efforts in recent years, only two lodges have been instituted in the past 30 years.

In 2009, the first modern Odd Fellows Lodge in the Philippines was instituted. Watchdog Lodge No. 1 was the result of a hard-fought effort. The early members, which were led by Brother Louie Blake Saile Sarmiento, who gave all he had to promote Odd Fellowship. In the strongest opinion of this author, it was Brother Louie who connected the worldwide jurisdictions with each other by using social media, primarily Facebook. He established relationships with European jurisdictions, Canada and United States of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, Manchester Unity, and the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. He put all of us together, where thousands of personal relationships exist today.

While pushing his efforts, he educated himself with the history and everything else to do with the Order. He visited the United States over the years to study materials at the Sovereign Grand Lodge headquarters. He visited many jurisdictions to gain knowledge and to meet members he had either met on social media or had heard of them. One of those jurisdictions was California.

In 2015, Brother Louie visited District No. 1 in San Francisco to see what they did to have such large lodges. He met with Past Sovereign Grand Master, Donald R. Smith. He visited Davis Lodge No. 169 to see its success story. He visited both of the Homes in Saratoga and Napa. Brother Smith treated him and others to a wonderful luncheon at the Napa Home. He saw the RCS facility in Gilroy. All of this, as well as his visits to other jurisdictions, was for information gathering. He was also writing Odd Fellows books.

Brother Louie brought the information from his trips back to the Philippines. He stayed motivated while assisting in building other lodges. At the same time, he sought funding from anywhere he could get it, for the construction of a new Grand Lodge. In 2015, once they had eight lodges, they petitioned Sovereign Grand Lodge to institute a Grand Lodge of the Philippines.

Since the establishment of the Watchdog Lodge No. 1 in Dumaguete, Mindanao in 2009, and the creation of the Grand Lodge in 2015, more and more lodges emerged much quicker. Significantly, with the institution of Quezon City Lodge No. 10 and Makati City Lodge No. 11 in Manila growth shifted into high gear. Other charters were and are pending in all regions now: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. In 2019, we know there were nearly 30 lodges! In 10 years, 30 lodges! In 2023, there are almost 100 lodges and every one of these lodges have ample members dedicated to the Order.

That is nearly 100 lodges in 14 years, brothers and sisters. Currently, they also have seven encampments.

The Grand Master, Sam Tan, is leading the growth and expansion process, now.

How are they making this happen? The same thing Davis Lodge No. 169 in California is doing, is what most of the lodges in the Philippines are doing. They are blending and sharing themselves and their lodges with their communities. They EXPOSE their success via their programs and events to the people beyond their lodge hall doors.

Many of these lodges have women members who they actively put into the chairs; Watchdog has had numerous women serve as Noble Grand over the years. The members respond in disasters to offer aid, food, and clothing. They have social activities like ping pong, and other games. They recognize non-members in their communities for heroics or hard work. They simply make their lodges a place that is worth their time to belong and to spend their time.

They fund raise by profiting from manufacturing. The jurisdiction of the Philippines is now one of the major sources of Odd Fellows regalia. They make rings and other attractive jewelry. They make an array of accessories available for any member of the Order. Lodges from all over the United States have purchased these items.

This is a jurisdiction that has not only embraced Odd Fellowship, but has taken pride to an entire new level, the members dress well for lodge. They smile in their pictures. Their Grand Lodge seeks to help the lodges survive by aiding them any way possible. It is all about growth. The success of one country is due to the mindset of an entire country. It is about unity and a single vision. Lastly, it is about the collective goal to succeed and to seek growth at all costs.

Brother Louie helped plant the seeds of Odd Fellowship. His motivation set the tone for what was going to come.

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