DMC – Fellowship Night Sponsorship

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

It’s almost that time.

Believe it or not, the annual Grand Lodge and Rebekah Assembly Sessions is coming up in just three months – May 15-18 in Visalia. A fair amount of business will be transacted, elections will be held, appointments will be made, acquaintances will be renewed, and there may even be some time for a bit of fun. And one of those fun activities will be the annual DMC Thursday Evening event. Please mark your calendars. That evening will be Thursday, May 16 at the Convention Center next to the Visalia Marriott Hotel. Details regarding the menu, the specific room location at the Convention Center and start time will be announced in the coming weeks. I can tell you that there will be a sumptuous display of good eats, a no-host bar, and lots of live entertainment. It’s the place to be on Thursday evening.

We keep the price tag on this event quite low because a number of generous Lodges contribute money as Sponsors of the event. Because of their sponsorship the expenses are subsidized and the cost to individual Odd Fellows, Rebekahs and their guests is reduced. The actual “admission fee” will be announced in the next few weeks as soon as we determine how much the sponsoring Lodges have contributed – but our plan is to keep it very, very low.

If YOUR Lodge wishes to be listed and recognized as a Sponsor of this fun event, and help reduce the cost for your brothers and sisters, please let me know in response to this e-mail. And mail your Lodge’s sponsorship check, payable to “Grand Lodge of California” to:

Dave Rosenberg, PGM
Odd Fellows Lodge
415 2nd Street
Davis CA 95616

Also, we wish to feature the musical talents of our members during the Thursday DMC evening. So if YOU wish to provide some musical entertainment during the event (either on your own or with your band-mates, please let me know!

We welcome the sponsorship of your Lodge, and the musical talents of members.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows Pledge Process

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Approximately ten years ago, during my term as Noble Grand of my Lodge (Davis #169), I developed a “Pledge” system as a vehicle for membership development. It has worked, over this last decade, in spectacular fashion. My Lodge adds, on average, between 20 to 30 new members every year, and we have shown a net growth, without fail, year after year after year. I have been asked by several members of other Lodges to explain this Pledge system, because parts or all of it may be of benefit to other Lodges. It has worked remarkably well for my Lodge, and may work for yours as well. So here goes.

I used the term “Pledge” based on my experience with fraternities, which typically use that word when defining the class of new applicants, seeking admission into the fraternity. The dictionary defines “Pledge” in its noun form as follows: “A solemn promise or undertaking.” Synonyms include “vow, word, commitment, covenant.” To me, it denotes someone who has gone beyond the point of simply filling out an application form.

When an individual expresses an interest in joining my Lodge, members refer that potential applicant to me. I serve as Chair of the Lodge Membership Committee. An important aspect of membership development for a Lodge is to have such a Membership Committee, which focuses on all aspects of membership. As Chair, I chat with the potential new member, give them a tour of the Lodge, introduce them to a few of the members, sit down and answer their initial questions, talk about the significance and meaning of the three links, and discuss some of the things that we do in the Lodge and for the community, and then explain the Pledge process which, if successfully navigated, leads to admission to membership. You see, we don’t just admit everyone who applies. We require that they go through a process where they become more knowledgeable about the Lodge and about Odd Fellowship. Frankly, we don’t make it easy on the applicant. But if they make it through the process we know they are committed, they become educated about Odd Fellowship, and they tend to be active and involved once they become initiated in the Lodge.

So, once they have submitted an application, we put them in what we call a “Pledge Class”. In the beginning, we had one Pledge Class per year. Then, as our applications increased, we had two per year. Currently, we have three Pledge Classes per year, each averages about a dozen Pledges. The Pledge process takes 4 to 6 months to complete. And when completed, results in initiation into the Lodge. We have three such initiations each year. About 2 out of every 3 Pledges successfully makes it through the process and is ultimately initiated as a member of the Order. As a Pledge, they can participate in everything we do (except they cannot attend closed formal meetings – and no secrets are shared with them). The Pledges can attend (and are encouraged to attend) our social meetings and events, and they can even serve as members of Lodge social committees.

The Pledges have requirements they must achieve during their Pledge period. All the requirements are spelled out in the Pledge Book. Pledges can find the Pledge Book on line at our Davis Lodge website www.davislodge.org (on the home page put your cursor over “Lodge Info” then click on “Forms and Documents” scroll down and then click on “Davis Odd Fellows Pledge Book”). They are required to print it out and carry it with them when they come to the Lodge. The requirements include reading the Pledge Book, attending a minimum of 8 meetings or events of the Lodge, and interviewing a minimum of 13 members. Many Pledges exceed these minimum requirements. The purpose of attending social meetings or events is to familiarize them with the Lodge activities (and Pledges are involved in our many committees). The purpose of the interviews is to break the ice and help them meet members of the Lodge (the interview sheets are contained in the Pledge Book, and are simple one-page forms). Toward the end of the Pledge period, the Pledges are each interviewed by the Membership Committee and as part of the interview they are asked questions about the content of the Pledge Book, and the book is checked to ensure that they have attended the minimum number of meetings and events, and that they have conducted the minimum number of member interviews. The Membership Committee reports to the Lodge as a whole and recommends whether the Pledges should be admitted to membership. The Lodge then uses the ball ballot to determine if the Pledge will be admitted.

A number of other Lodges have printed out the Pledge Book from our website and have modified it for their own use. The reports I have received have been quite positive.

Of course, there are other important components to the success of any Pledge system. One important component is that your Lodge has to have some social meetings and other events that the Pledges can attend. The more active the Lodge is, the more successful this Pledge system will be.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows 200th Anniversary

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

This year – 2019 – is a significant and important year in the history of Odd Fellowship. This is the year generally recognized that Odd Fellowship began in North America, through the work of Thomas Wildey and his associates. So, it’s the 200th year of the founding of our Order. It’s also a unique opportunity to celebrate our Three-Links Fraternity, and to further expose your Lodge to your community. Shame on you if you let this opportunity slip by.

One of the best ways to increase the membership of your Lodge is to increase the visibility of your Lodge in the community. If your Lodge is invisible and inactive, then chances are you will not attract new applicants. On the other hand, if your Lodge is visible and active, the odds of new membership increase significantly. And our Bicentennial Anniversary as a fraternal Order is a unique opportunity to create some community visibility and interest.

Every Lodge should have at least one community event in commemoration of our fraternal bicentennial. The simplest and easiest such event is to have an open house. Invite the community into your Lodge for tours, and perhaps a brief historical presentation about the Order and the Lodge. Don’t be afraid to open your doors and windows to your community. Some Lodges have been in their communities for over a century, but are still virtually invisible to that community. It’s long overdue time to change that perspective.

But don’t stop there. Use your imagination to develop other ways to commemorate the milestone. Let me give you just one example to help get your creative juices flowing.

My own Lodge in Davis, California, has launched an imaginative way to commemorate this anniversary. We have started our “Walk the World” project. A committee of Lodge members has invited the brothers and sisters, the applicants for membership, and their families, to participate in the “Walk the World” project. Our intent is to collectively walk the circumference of the Earth. That circumference, at the equator, is 24,901 miles, which translates into 131,477,280 feet (at 5,280 feet to the mile). The average step by the average person covers 2.5 feet so that means it will take 65,740,092 steps to “walk the world”. The Lodge has created a spreadsheet to keep track of each participant’s steps, and an online link where participants can record their steps – it’s a very easy process where participants input just three things every time they use the link: their name, the week in which they walked, and the steps that they walked in that week.

We hope to have at least 50 people signed up to undertake the project, but could have over many more – perhaps as many as 200 (which would be a nice touch as it is our 200th anniversary). Clearly, it will take us a year, or more, to complete the effort. But it’s worth it. We will focus on our fraternal anniversary all year long, we will engage in serious walking which is a very healthy project for the participants, we will launch a project that has great appeal to younger members and applicants, and we will generate a fair amount of community visibility through press releases and social media.

Let’s not let this opportunity slip away. Happy 200th Birthday, Odd Fellows!

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

Odd Fellows to Sponsor Natalie Corona Memorial Scholarship

The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge announced today that they are creating one or more scholarships to honor the spirit of fallen Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona.

Donations should be made payable to the Davis Odd Fellows Helping Hands, Inc. at 415 Second Street, Davis CA 95616. Helping Hands is a 501(c)(3) organization, so donations may be deductible. Donors are asked to write “Natalie Corona Scholarship” in the memo section of the check.

Depending on the level of contributions, the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge may create scholarships in both Yolo County (where Officer Corona served) and Colusa County (where she was born and raised). Additional fundraising events are being planned.

For more information, contact Jim Bledsoe at jbledsoe@geovera.com .The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge was instituted and chartered in 1870, and currently has over 300 members.

DMC – Did your Odd Fellows Lodge skip a generation?

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

At the next meeting of your Lodge, take a moment to look around the room. What do you see?

Do you see a small group of members in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? If that is the view, then your Lodge is in trouble. Not today, perhaps. Not even next year. But, mark my words, your Lodge is in its death spiral. Why? Because your Lodge has skipped a generation. Where are the members in their 50’s, 40’s, 30’s and 20’s? In fact, if everyone in the room is in the 60-89 age bracket, your Lodge has actually skipped two generations. And fraternal orders can’t afford to do that. As Lodge members age, it is imperative that the Lodge “back-fill” with younger members to keep the Lodge going. Otherwise, those 60-year-old members will become septuagenarians, and those 70-year-old members will become octogenarians, and so on. No one lives forever. If you don’t have children, your line will eventually perish. If a Lodge doesn’t bring in younger members, it too will perish.

And your Lodge won’t bring in new members if your Lodge is not relevant to them.

Following is an article I wrote on September 2, 2012, which is as pertinent today as it was six years ago.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

On the front page of one of my morning papers this morning – the Sacramento Bee – is an article entitled, “Band of brothers is fading with age.” I’m an active-duty US Army veteran myself, so it caught my interest. The gist of the article is that the established veterans organizations in America are losing membership because younger veterans just aren’t joining. These groups reached their peaks at the end of World War II and since then have found their numbers diminishing. Respected groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are rapidly dropping in their membership counts. Here’s a quote from a veteran in the article: “Younger veterans don’t want to join an organization with a bunch of older guys.”

Sound familiar?

What’s happening to the veterans’ organizations is the same phenomenon that is happening to fraternal orders – including the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The generations born in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s have different interests and different perspectives that the prior generations. Here’s another quote from the article: “Rather than hanging out . . . with their buddies and reminisce, younger veterans prefer family-friendly amenities, an emphasis on community service . . . . free Wi-Fi at the halls might help, too.” In fact, it struck me that as I am reading this article in the newspaper, the folks in their 20’s and 30’s and 40’s are probably reading the same article on line, and probably on their smart phones.

It’s just different now.

For example, ancient Odd Fellows admonitions from the 1700’s and 1800’s like “educate the orphan” and “bury the dead” have great significance in the history of Odd Fellowship, and historically were remarkable achievements in past ages when society had many orphans and many folks who died who had no way to be respectfully buried. But let’s face it. Today there are very, very few orphans in America, and virtually every county has a public guardian who provides for indigent burials. We need to “evolve” these ancient admonitions to the present age – for example, society is filled with foster children (and young adults who have recently “graduated” from the foster system) – we can “evolve” the concept of “educate the orphan” to “help foster children and children in need.” This is just one example (of many) of the modernization in which our Order must engage. If we have the courage to talk about it and actually deal with it.

The great teachings of our Order – exemplified in our degrees – are timeless. But beyond that, I submit that very, very few new members join this Order because they want to wear regalia or learn the secret grip and passwords. The vast majority of new members (and potential new members) want to join because this Order is a fraternity that offers social contact and friendships, and because our Lodges can do good works in our society and in our communities. Accordingly, those Lodges that actively develop social activities and functions for the membership, and those Lodges that are active in helping local charities and community groups (as well as Odd Fellows’ charities) will attract the young blood we need and will flourish and grow. Those Lodges that continue to sit behind closed doors and do little more than conduct formal meetings (with an occasional potluck) will continue to diminish as members pass on. Quoting another veteran from the article this morning: “We don’t have time to sit in three meetings every month.”

Food for thought.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg

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