The Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) Newsletter reaches progressive Odd Fellows and Rebekahs throughout North America, Europe and other parts of the planet. Our email list just keeps growing. From time to time we receive emails from members in other countries and other states indicating positive changes which show Odd Fellow Lodges CAN and DO grow when they have membership development programs, and when they implement enlightened policies that appeal to younger generations. I’m pleased to publish an article from a relatively new member from the Jurisdiction of Vermont. Once a diminishing and moribund Lodge, his Lodge is now on the path to growth and vitality.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
I became an Odd Fellow in October 2022. When I joined my Odd Fellows Lodge there were four members who could reliably make it to a meeting and two who would occasionally come. One of those reliable Odd Fellows became ill a month after I joined and can no longer attend at all. Our Lodge, which dates back to 1845, was months away from the end.
Since then we have initiated 22 new members. All but two of our new members have returned to attend meetings, join committees, and earn degrees. Our meetings now average 15 members, even during the slow summer months. My goal is to get our average attendance up closer to 25 before the end of the year. With more applications coming in every week, I think we might just pull it off.
How did we do it? What’s the secret?
There’s plenty of little things, many of which DMC has been telling you about for years. Our Lodge has some natural advantages: we own our building, we’re in a residential neighborhood, and we run a very active Food Pantry twice a week. All of those things helped, but here’s the real secret:
The Time is Just Right
There’s been some sort of big cultural generational change recently. Maybe it’s just a fad, or maybe it will stick around. Either way, we’re in a moment where people are hungry for everything the Independent Order of Odd Fellows offers.
My membership secret is that I didn’t have to work that hard at all. I told people what we’re about. I answered their questions fully and honestly. I checked back in with them if they were out of touch for a while. I have recruited for a lot of things over the years, but I’ve never had the success I’m seeing for the Odd Fellows.
I know many of you are burned out. You’ve been trying to talk to people about this thing you love, and you’ve gotten back no interest, or maybe even hostility, for 60 years. You are tired from rowing against the waves. I’m here to tell you that the wind has changed.
Most people under 50 have never interacted with any Fraternal Order. Most people have never even heard of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. They have no preconceived notions you have to fight against. They are lonely. They are tired of doing meaningless work. They have watched loved ones grow sick and old with no support and no community. They desperately want a different way.
Talk to your neighbors, your coworkers, your younger family members. Throw a party at your Lodge and get the word out any way you can. Don’t apologize for our strange rituals: play them up! Don’t bemoan our lack of Mutual Aid: tell your recruits how hard they’ll get to work for their Lodge. Don’t tell anyone that our best days are behind us. We can be proud of our history without betraying our future. If we take this chance, and we reach out our hands in friendship, love and truth, then the best times are certainly still ahead.
I am always happy to talk with folks about Odd Fellowship. Please reach out.
In Friendship, Love & Truth,
Membership Committee Chair,
Queen City Lodge #1, Vermont
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
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