The direction of our Order is dependent upon those who represent us at the Sovereign Grand Lodge, our Grand Representatives. We often overlook the importance of these members. But, we can no longer take these important members for granted or believe they are automatically working in the same interests of our membership.
For example, we may consider California Odd Fellows to be a less conservative version of Odd Fellowship, while another jurisdiction may be very conservative. This is regards to change within the Order; this is not in the context of politics. This progressive attitude has to do with finding positive change to modernize and make the Order become attractive to people.
Some of us have figured out how to expand a lodge, how to have larger memberships, and how to work together to make something worthwhile for our members. Even with differences during a lodge meeting, the members still work toward the “Good of the Order.”
If a member recognizes that a change should occur in the lodge or have a good suggestion, then such a change must be proposed. This is where the experience and knowledge must be learned and shared with every member in the lodge. If it is a Ritual change, then the process is lengthy. If it is a change to the bylaws, then that can be much easier, per se. To make a change in the Ritual is much more lengthy and difficult, and yes – political. Anyone who tells you that changing the Ritual is not political, is badly misinformed.
To make changes to the Ritual, one must have support on the lodge level, the Grand Lodge or jurisdictional level, and the Sovereign Grand Lodge level, in that order. At the Sovereign Grand Lodge level, it must be presented in a timely manner by a submission by the Grand Secretary of the given jurisdiction. Then, it gets assigned to a Ritualistic committee at Sovereign, where representatives who are assigned to that committee hail from different jurisdictions (and different beliefs).
And, this my fellow brothers and sisters, is where the importance of having a good representative for your jurisdiction matters. Sometimes, those committees want to hear from the representative about where a certain piece of legislation or suggestion originates. If your idea didn’t appeal to the representative of your jurisdiction, then your idea shall not be enthusiastically presented. Or, if your representative does not respond to the inquiry of such legislation, then it shall most likely fail. This speaks to the importance of those whom we elect to represent us as Grand Representatives.
Also, procedurally, items brought before the Sovereign Grand Lodge Body are laid over for one year. The Ritual changes, as well as proposals to change the Code of General Laws (Sovereign Grand Lodge) work pretty much the same. Changes to our jurisdictional codes is a little easier. Changes to local bylaws is about the easiest. All must be approved by Grand Lodge at one point in the process.
Why do I write about this process and the importance of having reliable Grand Representatives to Sovereign Grand Lodge? It is because this Order needs to be saved and changes must be accepted to avoid death of this organization. There are many of us who believe we have the correct ideas to save this Order. But, we are often discouraged – or our ideas shot down at one level or another. We must unite and start watching those who represent every jurisdiction across the Order. Who accepts positive change? Who rejects any change? We must learn the values and beliefs of those whom we ask to accept our ideas for positive change. Will your ideas be supported?
At the most recent session of the SGL in St. Louis, MO., I sat in attendance as a visitor, I witnessed representatives of my own jurisdiction vote differently on the issue of increasing dues. This was only after I was informed that representatives from the same jurisdiction should vote in unison. In our jurisdiction we have opposed the increase of dues for the past few years, since that last increase in dues by SGL, which by the way, proved detrimental to the growth of the Order. Again, I was only a visitor with no right to speak on the floor. As like all of the members of my jurisdiction, I must trust those who represent us at SGL.
When I saw the split vote on increasing the dues, I was surprised, given the Finance Committee could not explain what the use of the funds would be used for in the future. In fact, there was no explanation of how the money would be used. I thought, surely it could not be for the representatives’ mileage reimbursement, as the representatives are now at a low of 113 – a decline.
Well, the decision on a dues increase went a direction many did not wish it to go, as was evident by the vote. A majority wished to have the dues increased. This new increase applies to Rebekahs and Odd Fellows, to which many of us belong. It applies to our fixed income, non-working and disabled, and poorer members. In my opinion, this was an insensitive and unjustified increase, without the real reason behind the increase being placed in public.
I have heard many members complain, as I have as well. Here are the responses I have received, when asking for the REASON for the increase:
1. 1. “The increase is the price of doing business.”
2. 2. “If you love the Order, you will pay it.”
3. 3. “It only means giving up a Big Mac.”
4. 4. “All you have to do is eat more hotdogs.”
5. 5. “You only need to save .45 cents a month.”
6. 6. “You are rude and ignorant and don’t live by our principles if you disagree.”
Yes, these are the actual responses I received, when I asked for the REASON for the dues increase. As you can see these are vague solutions and defensive remarks, FOR ONLY ASKING THE QUESTION! Do any of these look like justified reasons for raising the dues? They didn’t to me either. We do have a right to question the action of our members when it increases our dues. The increase in dues, and the responses I received, do not strike me as fraternal.
Peter Sellars, PGM