Can we attract the 21st Century man and woman to IOOF? The answer is yes, we can. There are a few Lodges around California and around the country that have done so, and quite successfully. How have they done this? The answer is – evolution. These Lodges have evolved (just like Odd Fellowship has evolved over time since it started in the 19th Century) to provide a Lodge that is appealing to today’s generation.
Bottom line: We will never grow as a fraternity and we will continue to diminish in membership (as we have done steadily since World War II) if we just sit behind our own four walls and conduct ritual meetings. We have to supplement the ritual, the regalia, the passwords, and the grips. To attract members in the 21st Century, we have to also provide them a social network with good fellowship activities in the Lodge, and we have to allow our members to be involved in the community with good charitable and community works. That’s what people want to do these days. And when we figure that out, we are going to start the renaissance of Odd Fellowship in California.
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There was a time when one out of every eight adult Americans belonged to a fraternal order. The three largest fraternities in the United States - in order – were the Odd Fellows, the Masons and the Knights of Pythias. Each of them once had a membership close to 1 million. Today, the membership of each is in the thousands, and declining every year. Below is an article from the State of Wisconsin about the decline in membership in the Masons. When you read the article, you will find much that is familiar.
And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way going forward into the future. In the midst of all this decline, year after year, there are a handful of Lodges that are growing and thriving. If we just take the time to study their formulas for success, we may just learn the path to the future for IOOF. Remember, Odd Fellowship has NOT been a static organization – it has evolved over the years to meet changing times. For example, Odd Fellowship was the first fraternal order to open to women when the Rebekah Degree was created. The degrees of Odd Fellowship today are quite different than the degrees of the past. Less than a generation ago, Odd Fellows Lodges opened to women. Sovereign Grand Lodge recently announced that they would begin the process of consolidating branches of this Order. Evolution and change is inherent in this Order.
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CAKEWALK big tomato productions presents
A dance and cakewalk to benefit Yolo Community Care Continuum, sponsored by the Davis Food Co-op & Davis Odd Fellows
MAY 30TH 7-9PM
DOORS AT 7:00PM,
DANCING AT 7:15
A small cadre of Davis Odd Fellows enjoyed a wonderful Spring hike at Cold Canyon outside of Winters, CA. Here are a few photos of the day.
Why do Lodges and fraternal Orders find themselves with declining
numbers? The primary reason, in my opinion, is that they have been
locked in a time warp, unwilling or unable to evolve to fit their time.
They continue to believe that men and women of the 21st Century have the
same needs and interests as men and women of the 20th Century, or even
the 19th Century. We may have the same values, but in the age of
television, the Internet, iPhones, etc. we certainly don’t have the same
needs and interests. These Lodges continue to believe that people want
to join a fraternal order because of nifty slogans, and ritual, regalia,
costumes, secret grips, signs and passwords. While those things are
historically important, are part of our rich past, and must always
remain as part of our heritage and unique character, they simply do not
attract new members. If anyone doubts that is true – just examine the
precipitous decline in our membership over the past three generations.
To attract the new members we need today, a Lodge must supplement the
ritual, and must offer community activities outside the Lodge and
vibrant good fellowship activities within the Lodge. This is not
rocket science. In fact, in 2010, at the 158th Annual Grand Lodge
Session, I proposed two resolutions which stressed those very two
things. Both resolutions were adopted at sessions, with overwhelming
“aye” votes. In short, we know what we need to do to turn the tide.
Now, let’s just do it.
Please click on the link below, which continues a series of articles
about the rapid decline in membership facing fraternal orders around the
country. This particular article comes from the state of Ohio – but the
stories and the issues are similar in every state, including California.