Updated: September 6, 2021

What do you see in this photograph?

If you said “a group of Odd Fellows” you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And if you also said “an initiation of Odd Fellows”, you are very perceptive. Under the remarkable leadership of Brother Ed Burns, these 27 men and women were initiated into our Order just last month – in August of 2021. Four of them became members of Sunset Lodge # 328, and the remaining 23 became members of Oceanside Lodge # 346. Congratulations to the new Odd Fellows and to the Brothers and Sisters of those Lodges.

But what else do you see in this photo?

If you said, “young faces” you are spot on. Unlike most photos we see nowadays from Odd Fellows Lodges, this photo shows a variety of ages, but mostly young people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. And it is precisely those young people which are the lifeblood and future of our fraternity. A Lodge which attracts only new members who are septuagenarians or octogenarians will not long survive.

How does a Lodge appeal to younger members?

It’s not that complicated. A Lodge that does nothing will appeal to no one. A Lodge that does things like organizing a Bingo event or a classic film event will appeal primarily to an older age group. A Lodge that organizes a rock & roll show or a bicycle ride or a rural hike will appeal to a younger age group. So WHAT you do is important. But HOW you announce it to the world is equally important. Announcing events in the local weekly newspaper reaches a certain generational audience. Announcing events on social media reaches a different generation.

And if you think that you can attract younger members to a Lodge that does little more than hold one or two formal meetings each month where folks sit around and read passages from a little red book, then think again. That may be an important component to the fraternal experience, but if that is the only component, your won’t keep those younger members for very long. I have attended meetings in Lodges where the most significant item on the agenda was “members sick and in distress.” That is certainly an important item for a fraternity to discuss, but if it has become the big ticket item of your meeting, your Lodge will not be of interest to newer generations which Lodge need to continue our Order.

Men and women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s want to have a fraternal experience that includes social events – like dinners, trips, hikes, winery visits, concerts and the like. And they also want to reach out to help others in the community – things like food drives for the hungry, warm clothing efforts for the homeless, gift cards for young adults coming out of the foster care system and the like.

The happy and eager young faces in the photo should bring joy to all Odd Fellows who care about the future of the Order. Because those faces are the future. They are the future leaders and members who will continue our great and noble fraternal experience well into the 21st Century and beyond.

F – L – T

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

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