A few months ago, I asked Louie Sarmiento (a young, active, and energetic Brother who I call the spark plug leading the resurgence and growth of Odd Fellowship in the Philippines) to undertake a “small” project. I asked him to identify the largest Odd Fellows Lodges in North America, particularly those with over 100 members. I had a motive, of course. It was my belief that while this Order has been shrinking in membership for the past three generations, there were some Lodges that have bucked the trend and have grown and prospered. And, based on that belief, it was my theory that these large Lodges can provide examples of ways that other Odd Fellows Lodges can grow and be successful. In other words, these large Lodges may very well be “laboratories” showing successful treatments for the malaise of shrinking rosters that have hectored this Order for over 60 years.

Well, Louie dug into the project, as I knew he would. It was not easy. And the numbers that he checked out in the Sovereign Grand Lodge data base are only as accurate as the numbers provided to that data base by the various Grand Lodges on this continent. Ultimately, Louie focused on the annual reports that were compiled as of December 31, 2013, as his base line. These reports, viewed from the 30,000 foot elevation of SGL are revealing, troubling, and inspiring all at the same time. I offer, below, Louie Sarmiento’s statistics (and a big “thank you” to Louie, as he has done a great service for our Order).

And here are some other thoughts from Brother Sarmiento on his project: “Sadly, only 27 lodges all over the United States and Canada are in the ‘100 membership mark’. Approximately 70% of the ‘active’ lodges in the U.S.A. and Canada are within or below 20 active members. Quite a number are actually in the ‘5 members’ or even ‘4 members’ mark. If combined (without re-counting people because they are members of other branches like Encampment, Canton, Rebekahs, etc.) there are more or less 20,000 members in the U.S.A. and Canada. A majority of the Grand Lodges have a total membership of less than 500 in their State or Province. This is a reality check . . . that IOOF in the U.S.A. and Canada needs to do something . . . IOOF in Europe is the strong-hold with more than 90,000 members . . . the other approximately 15,000 are in Latin America, Asia, Australasia, Africa.”

Indeed, this is a reality check. Knowing that some 70% of the Lodges throughout North America have 20 or fewer members should prompt us all to sit up and take notice. And if we realize that in most Lodges, only about half the “active” members are really active, engaged, and attend meetings with any regularity – then the numbers are even more dire. Clearly, leadership at the Sovereign Grand Lodge level has a great challenge before them. And the challenge must be addressed today. The fact that the structure of our Order compels us to turn over our leadership every single year makes the challenge even more difficult. But we can’t wait till next year, or the year after that. We must address the issues now, and continue to address them. We have to accept the fact that our greatest challenge is (and has been for years) our continued loss of members. To essentially continue business as usual like we have been doing for the past 60 years and expect different results is, truly, insanity. We must change the structure of our Order, and we must change the way we do business. Anything less than this will result in the continued diminution of our great and ancient fraternity. I have every confidence that our new Sovereign Grand Master Jimmy Humphrey understands the challenge and is up to the task. But are the representatives who attend Sovereign Grand Lodge sessions up to the challenge of change?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master


Top 30 Largest Odd Fellow Lodges in United States and Canada

Rank Lodge Name Location No. of Members
1 California Lodge no.1 San Francisco, California 352
2 Apollo Lodge no.123 San Francisco, California 300
3 Salem Lodge no.36 Winston-Salem, North Carolina 294
4 Yerba Buena Lodge No.15 San Francisco, California 268
5 DeKalb Lodge No.12 Maysville, Kentucky 222
6 Davis Lodge No.169 Davis, California 209
7 Excelsior Lodge No.1 Honolulu, Hawaii 200
8 Borough Park Lodge No.409 Brooklyn, New York 190
9 Boone Lodge No.170 Madison, West Virginia 182
10 Huntington Lodge No.64 Huntington, West Virginia 173
11 Golden West Lodge No.322 San Francisco, California 157
12 Eastwood Lodge No.496 Eastwood, Michigan 156
13 St. John Lodge no.539 St. John, Kansas 139
14 Walker Lodge No.306 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 139
15 Alma Lodge No.523 Johnstown, Pennsylvania 137
16 Buena Vista Lodge no.21 Oak Ridge, North Carolina 131
17 Leon Lodge No.5 Tallahassee, Florida 130
18 Olympia Lodge no.1 Tumwater, Washington 126
19 Monongalia Lodge No.10 Morgantown, West Virginia 122
20 Lodi Lodge No.259 Lodi, California 120
21 Chemeka Lodge No.1 Salem, Oregon 116
22 Charity Lodge no.27 Laurel, Delaware 110
23 Waxahachie Lodge No.80 Waxahachie, Texas 106
24 Good Shepherd Lodge No.65 New Milford, Connecticut 105
25 Washington Lodge No.1 Baltimore, Maryland 104
26 Pryor Creek Lodge No.70 Pryor, Oklahoma 104
27 Ft. Dallas Lodge No.44 Hialeah. Florida 103
28 Spencer Butte No.9 Eugene, Oregon 99
29 Waterloo Lodge No.27 Waterloo, Illinois 98
30 Franco American Lodge No.207 San Francisco, California 96
  Century Lodge No.492 Carpentersville, Illinois 96

Source: Grand Lodge Annual Reports (As of December 31, 2013)

In Friendship, Love, and Truth

Brother Louie Sarmiento

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