Did you know there is a new Library on the Grand Lodge website? It is called the Odd Event Library. You can find it on the Grand Lodge home page under the “Odd Fellow Resources” drop-down button (at the top of the home page).
Make a Deposit. The Odd Event Library has two purposes. First, you can share your successes. You can post information about events your lodge has held that were successful or had potential. You will be asked to provide contact information and some details about what you did and how you did it. Your submission will share your experiences with other Odd Fellows who are looking for ideas for their lodge. It will only take a couple of minutes to submit an event.
I have seen and heard of many events by lodges that would be useful to other lodges to consider. We need you to share your experiences.
There are postings in the Odd Event Library for events for the community, fund-raising events, and social events for your lodge. I have yet to find a lodge that cannot try a new event to engage their members and connect with their community.
Check Out an Idea. The second purpose of the Odd Event Library is to provide ideas for us to try in our own lodge. Some ideas will be doable by any lodge. Others may not be easily copied but the event may inspire us to try something similar.
Look at the events in the Odd Event Library. Talk about them in your Lodge. Talk about trying just one new idea. Doing things are what we are about. Doing things will motivate our members. Doing things will help our communities and how our communities perceive us. Doing things will give others a reason to join the Odd Fellows.
We are what we do! Help build the Odd Event Library and use it!
In Friendship, Love and Truth
We have 115 Odd Fellows Lodges in California (not counting the jurisdictional Gene J. Bianchi Lodge). Of those 115 Lodges, there are 17 Lodges that have a unique distinction. These 17 Lodges are:
Diamond Springs #9 15 members
Suisun #78 32 members
Mountain Brow #82 95 members
Vacaville #83 85 members
Santa Crux #96 30 members
Scio #102 21 members
Coulterville #104 18 members
Evergreen #161 42 members
Saint Helena #167 59 members
Montezuma #172 55 members
Ventura #201 62 members
Santa Barbara #232 17 members
Lodi #259 124 members
Little Lake #277 14 members
Grafton #293 19 members
Spring Valley #316 46 members
San Fernando #365 22 members
These 17 Lodges have a combined membership, as of January 1, 2017, of 756. The unique feature about these 17 Lodges is that of their 756 members, 756 are men and 0 are women.
In the “old days” of Odd Fellowship, men joined the Odd Fellows Lodges and women joined the Rebekah Lodges. That changed at the turn of this Century. At that time, by a vote of the membership at Grand Lodge sessions, Odd Fellows Lodges in California were opened to female applicants. And the first women joined Odd Fellows Lodges in the years 2000 and 2001. So, it’s been about 18 years since membership in Odd Fellows Lodges opened to female applicants – that’s almost a full “generation” in sociological calculation. Yet, after all that time, why do 17 of our Lodges have not even one woman as a member?
Interestingly, a majority of these 17 Lodges stay very low-key, not even sending representatives to Grand Lodge Sessions. It’s almost as if they wish to be “out of sight, out of mind.” I have talked to members of some of these Lodges and have asked them the question as to why they have no female members. The answers have varied. In some cases, the members have been brutally frank: “If a woman joined this Lodge, I would leave.” Or, “It’s the one night of the month that I can get away from my wife.” Or, they have simply changed the subject and ignored the question. In one case, I am aware of members who tried to sponsor a well-respected woman as a member in the Lodge, and by a vote of the Lodge, a majority did not vote to admit her. In other cases, I have heard interesting “reasons” such as, “We don’t have any women in the Lodge because no woman has applied,” or “We have an active women’s club in this community and the women would rather join that.”
After 18 years, the “reasons” don’t wash. Frankly, it defies all reason to brlirbr that not one woman has applied in 18 years. But assuming for a moment that is true, then the men have turned the Lodge into a “Men’s Club” and de jure or de facto have hung out a virtual sign that says, “women are not welcomed.” That is not only a violation of the Odd Fellows Codes – which we have all taken an oath to follow – but it is just wrong at so many levels. At a purely pedestrian level, it is illogical to exclude half of our community’s population, particularly at a time when Lodge membership is shrinking. Look at it this way: Would we all not agree that it is intolerable and unacceptable to think that a Lodge would exclude a potential member because of the color of that person’s skin, or that person’s ethnic heritage, or that person’s religion? Is it not just as unacceptable for a Lodge to exclude a person because they don’t have a Y chromosome in their DNA?
A couple of generations ago, our society had policemen, and firemen, and mailmen. Today, we have police officers, and firefighters, and postal carriers. Odd Fellows had better catch up with the rest of modern American society or we may go down the “manhole” of history.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Let me start by stating the obvious: A person who is 22 years old has a different set of childhood memories, history, and interests than does a person who is 82 years old – or, for that matter, a person who is 42 or 62.
For an Odd Fellows Lodge to be truly viable, strong and active, it needs members who encompass ALL those generations. And you can’t be effective in attracting other generations to your Lodge unless you understand their language, interests, and priorities. A Lodge composed of members who are exclusively from one generation is like an orchestra composed entirely of tubas. A Lodge composed of members of many generations is like an orchestra of many instruments. The former is boring and does not attract new members. The latter is dynamic, and the symphonic sound will attract a wide variety of interest.
At the recent California Membership Educational Seminar held earlier this month, Michael Greenzeiger and Linnea Bredenberg, members of Mountain View Lodge #244, presented an informative and well-received lecture on the subject of “communication between generations.” The talk by Michael and Linnea highlighted the different perspectives of the generations, and gave us a great deal of insight. It is my pleasure to forward, as an attachment, their Power Point presentation entitled “Communication Between Generations.” I think you will find it fascinating! More importantly, it has direct application to your Lodge’s membership development activities.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Michale Greenzeiger Seminar Presentation
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I wanted to highlight two matters in this Newsletter.
First, attached to this Newsletter is a letter from Grand Master Dave Reed, with an explanation of the concept of “restricted funds”. Lodge members often ask what “restricted funds” are about and GM Reed has provided a straight-forward and cogent explanation. I hope it is informative and useful for you.
Second, I wanted to mention the successful 2018 California Membership Educational Seminar we had last weekend in Reno on January 5-7. We had a remarkable 150 Odd Fellows and Rebekahs register for the seminar from 50 different Lodges! Over the Saturday and Sunday seminar, we covered a wide range of topics of value to current and incoming officers of the Lodge, as well as interested members of the Lodge. We also had breakout sessions to provide detailed explanations and answer questions for those members who will serve as Noble Grand, Vice Grand, Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer. We focused a lot on the ways Lodges can increase membership. And we did not shy away from difficult and contentious issues. In the evaluation sheets, attendees particularly enjoyed the presentations entitled “Communication Between Generations in Your Lodge” presented by Michael Greenzeiger and Linea Bredenberg, “Difficult Issues” presented by GM Dave Reed and PGM Peter Sellers, “Running a Proper Lodge Meeting” and “Effective Membership Development”, presented by PGM Dave Rosenberg. Attendees also enjoyed connecting with old friends and new friends on Friday and Saturday evenings. All in all, I believe everyone who attended learned something which will help them make their Lodges stronger.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows now face yet another one of its social issues; that being the manner of how we treat a segment of members and exclude them for unjustified reasons. As controversial as some members may view this writing, it must be said. Where else do the members share their concerns when they feel an injustice has been done?
There was a time when potential members who were “not of pure white blood” were not allowed to join the Order. There was a time when those owning bars, taverns, or selling alcoholic beverages could not become members. There was a time women could not join an Odd Fellows lodge. If Sovereign Grand Lodge does not reconsider a decision made at its 2017 session in Kansas City, Missouri, then next year, in 2019, the Order shall be on its way to discriminating against those who are on fixed incomes, without jobs, or otherwise poor. The decision to raise the dues by $5.00 next year, and then again another $5.00 the following year, was one of the worst decisions made by the Sovereign Grand Body.
It was a sure way of telling members in many hard-working lodges, even those lodges that add new members each year and do wonderful deeds in their communities, that they are being punished. They are being penalized due to the lack of hard work of the overwhelming majority of inactive lodges. Most lodges fail to show growth in membership.
It was a sure way to hide the underlying effect this unjustified dues increase shall have upon our indigent and poorer members. Without consideration or a voice made in their behalf at last summer’s session, the silent prejudice against our members who cannot afford the increase is social division and the creation of “class” indifference.
For those who see this statement as an overreaction, you must ask yourselves, “What was the reason for the increase in dues?” The explanation for this increase was not an explanation whatsoever; it was merely a way to punish the entire Order for not growing in membership. In the past, SGL raised dues to meet costs. In other words, if only one jurisdiction does not show an increase membership, despite others showing increases, we must all pay the increase. What is the likelihood of every jurisdiction showing an increase?
In several discussions with members these past few months, I have been told that anyone should be able to afford a simple increase of $5.00. Really? This is, of course, a relative statement. For example, a couple on a fixed income, who may belong to both Rebekahs and Odd Fellows, that five dollars turns into a $20.00 increase for the year. Add a second year of the increase in dues, and this turns into a total $40.00 increase! Believe or not, some of our members live on a tight budget!
A dues increase, if justified, should occur. But, an unjustified or punitive dues-increase could be viewed as discriminatory against those who cannot afford an increase. For those who are saying, “It’s only $5.00” I say to you, this is as insensitive, as it is offensive, as I know members who cannot afford the increase. Do you really believe those members having a tough time of paying their dues, are only facing increases by the Odd Fellows? For many, local taxes have increased, utilities have increased, interest on loans have increased, insurance has increased, food prices have increased, and much more. What has gone down in price? – Very little, if anything. Now, the Order raises its dues for nothing more than a “PUNISHMENT” – period.
This should be appalling to the membership. In fairness, there were many who voted against this increase last August; and frankly, many probably did not know what they were voted for or against. Even my own jurisdiction had two representatives against the increase, while a third voted in favor, which tells us that this group was lost.
During 2017 SGL sessions, the Finance Committee was asked to approach the microphone and tell the Sovereign Grand Body how the money would be used. The speaker for the Finance Committee stated that the SGL was “in the black.” He did not have an answer as to how any additional revenue would be used because there was not a need for the money, nor was there a new budgeted item requiring funds.
Then, in one discussion I had with a member – who was most likely personally financially secure – that member stated, “If a member loves and values the Order, he or she will have no problem paying the dues increase.” There are many things we value and cherish in our everyday lives. There are people who we wish we could to assist but we often simply cannot afford it. Our members who love the Order show it by their participation rather than their donations to mysterious causes.
By helping those in need and giving comfort to those we see struggling is how we meet our Order’s values. Punitive dues increases has NO value! The argument that members will pay their dues if the love the Order, has no merit, as the dues increase had no purpose or justification. One can only see it as an attack on a certain kind of member within our ranks – our less affluent members, our homeless members, and our indigent members.
This opinion has probably been lost on some of you, but for those who can think out-of-the-box and view life beyond this Order, the following passage from the Third Degree is something to ponder, because we do have “poor” members in our Order:
“In the lodge room, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, meet as brothers and sisters, and untidily engage in the promotion of benevolence and truth.”
Finally, we are not critical of the members who proposed this increase or voted to burden our less fortunate members, but rather critical of the lack of justification to increase the dues. Why stop at $5.00 a year for two years? What if local jurisdictions need money? Do they raise their dues, too? This is more of an awareness message, than a message of criticism. There is a simple solution. Reconsider the dues increase in 2018.
In Friendship, Love, & Truth,
Peter V. Sellars PGM/PGP California