I am a member of Santa Rosa Lodge #53 and I’ve been following your DMC newsletter for a while now. In particular, your most recent communication of September 30 resonated very strongly with me, as I reflect back on some of the events that have transpired of late within our Lodge and how they seem to fit quite well into the above concept/idea (“the stool”), that you continue to highlight in your newsletters. And please know that I’m certainly not trying to be self-serving with regard to our Lodge in bringing an awareness of its endeavors to you, as I realize that there are many Lodge’s who are strong in their membership and diligent and focused when to comes to what they attempt to accomplish as a fraternal organization. So with that in mind, I share with you – with a degree of humility of course – some of what’s been going on at our Lodge recently.
Regarding the charitable aspect of our Lodge, we recently made a donation (actually, a few) to a local organization located here in Santa Rosa – “The Living Room” – that provides daytime support services to homeless and at-risk women and their children – they were indeed very grateful for our support and we are considering taking a tour of their campus in the near future. We are also planning a golf tournament fundraiser to be held the last Saturday in October at a local course, which will be a benefit for the “Save the Children” foundation; we were actually able to secure some radio air time to bring attention to the event – which is being broadcast in several different areas around Northern California. This will, of course, not only serve as a way to hopefully bring in a number of participants – but it will also bring attention to our Lodge specifically, within the context of this charitable pursuit.
We regularly receive solicitations from other, local charitable organizations (such as our local Food Bank) and while we certainly understand that we must exercise some level of financial prudence with the money that we consider sending to those who request it of us – we are definitely open to at least considering what assistance we might be able to provide to these groups/causes. We offered our Lodge Hall for a fundraising event in late August, for a woman whose ex-husband tragically killed himself and their 2 young children (they actually lived not far from the Lodge) and not only was a fair amount of money raised – but our participation was made reference to more than once within our local newspaper. And while our interest in helping out the situation certainly wasn’t driven by a desire for media attention, I would submit that having that take place is definitely a positive reflection on Lodge 53 and further, the Odd Fellows as a whole. And of course as you may already be aware, we sent a donation of $10,000 to the Texas Grand Lodge on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, to assist in their relief efforts with regard to their Houston-area Lodges – and we recently received a letter from them expressing their significant gratitude and appreciation for our gesture, along with feedback that the money was able to go very promptly to those Lodges impacted by the storm and its aftermath and was indeed put to good use right away.
As to the Social “leg” of the stool, we have been having monthly events for some time now – and not only has the attendance has been very strong (I believe that we had close to 100 people at last week’s “Oktoberfest”, for example), but we continue to find that a number of those who come to the events are not actually Odd Fellows. Which isn’t to suggest that we don’t get a strong showing of Lodge members – but obviously, the word is getting out that what’s taking place at our Hall on Pacific Avenue in Santa Rosa on the 4th Wednesdays of the month is worth taking the time to be a part of. To that end, we’ve been able to bring in some new members from these events and we see no reason that this trend won’t continue. Also, just to circle back to the Charitable/Community-minded leg of the “stool”, at these Socials we always try to have one particular local organization represented and acknowledged – either in having a representative of the charity present (and if that’s the case, we ask them to give a brief overview of their organization), or at the very least, we make sure that some of the money that we collect – for a raffle for example – will benefit the organization. An example of this would be an organization that sent a couple of representatives to a Social not too long ago, one which provides housing for homeless youth, as well as a number of counseling and support services. So again, we’re certainly enjoying each other’s company and enjoying the events themselves – but we are very conscious of our Mission while planning and executing them.
One note – there are many people who are instrumental in putting these wonderful gatherings together – but frankly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t specifically acknowledge 2 of our members in particular, Laurie Crum and Karen Amandoli – who are very often the driving forces behind the success of these events (and of course, there’s also a special “shout out” to Gundy Feil – who worked for weeks as to the food preparation for the last week’s Oktobertfest – and it was very good food, no doubt!).
And so that brings us to the “History” leg of the stool – and that is certainly an aspect of our Order that is important within our Lodge; we have many pictures throughout our Lodge that go back a number of years, as it’s been a part of Santa Rosa for a long time. And we are mindful of this history and we understand its significance. We also have regalia that has been in the Lodge for some time and we’ve even come across Minutes of meetings from long ago (such that they were hand-written, on a type of paper that probably doesn’t exist anymore). In fact as a somewhat lighter example of this facet of our Lodge in particular, I just recently learned that there are some who believe that our Lodge might actually be haunted – and while that may or may not be true (and mind you, I don’t consider myself to be any kind of an expert on the Paranormal), it stands to reason that if there’s any accuracy to this claim – it serves as another example of a “rich” history (after all, you generally don’t hear about newer buildings – or those which don’t possess an historical significance of some kind – as being haunted, right?). But again, we have an awareness of our history – and absolutely a respect for it.
In closing, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this. I’ve been an Odd Fellow for 20 years now and I can say without question that this time at Santa Rosa Lodge is about as stimulating and enjoyable as I’ve experienced in that 20-year span of being a part of the IOOF. I also believe that I can say with a high degree of confidence that many of our members feel the same – you can actually “feel” the dynamic of our Lodge as being a positive one, for what that’s worth. We are aware of the need to continue to grow our membership base – and I think that having a positive outlook on being a part of Lodge #53 will help us in doing so – after all, if you believe that you are a part of something special, then you are more likely to be an advocate of it as you share this belief with others who you come into contact with. I also feel its important to acknowledge those within our Lodge who have been members throughout the time when perhaps the above wasn’t the case, who nevertheless persevered in making sure that Santa Rosa #53 continued to be viable as a Lodge and important within our community – we certainly stand on their shoulders.
Perhaps one of the best examples that I can share with you as to the manner in which our Lodge is moving forward in this positive direction is at last Friday’s “Bowling Night”, which had in attendance 16 of our members. Not only did we all seem to be having a really good time – but as I was looking out over the 4 lanes that Lodge #53 occupied (and indeed, bowling shirts – along with nicknames – are definitely being considered), what struck me was the fact that we were all truly enjoying each others’ company. Yet, we were/are certainly a group of people who are “on paper” definitely different from each other. Our oldest bowlers were in their 70’s – and yet they were interacting with the youngest there, who are in their late 20’s/early 30’s; there were men, women, folks who work in drastically different fields from each other, those who very likely share different Political belief’s, some who ride motorcycles regularly – and those who wouldn’t do so for any reason whatsoever (that’d be me, in the interest of full disclosure) – but yet, none of that matters because we were having fun a lot of together. Frankly, I can’t think of a better example of the true spirit of Friendship, Love and Truth.
Santa Rosa Lodge #53
On Thursday, October 19th the Davis Odd Fellows welcomes national recording artist, Sarah Potenza.
After years of touring with her band Sarah & The Tall Boys, Sarah Potenza was chosen over 50,000 candidates to appear on t.v. series, The Voice. Judge Pharrell Williams’ reaction to Potenza’s on-air audition gives you a pretty good idea of the level of talent of this incredible singer. Williams’ immediately exclaimed, “You’re giving this generation something they’ve never seen before.” Potenza left the show as a top 20 finalist then headed to Nashville, where she quickly integrated into the local music scene, becoming a staple at the world-renowned Bluebird Café and the globally broadcast Music City Roots program. She continues to earn raves for her big voice, which seamlessly blends roots, rock and soul.NPR Music exclusively premiered the music video to Potenza’s debut album, ‘Monster’. Programmers have been supporting her gritty sound and unstoppable resolve, resulting in ‘Monster’ moving quickly up the Americana Radio chart.
NPR Music calls the album a “blistering, riff-propelled personal anthem,” while No Depression states, “You won’t find any gimmicks on MONSTER, just pure unadulterated rock and roll.” Sarah’s album also received rave reviews from Rolling Stone. In September 2016, the magazinenamed her one of the top 10 artists you need to know, stating “Potenza is to the Blues what Adele is to Pop.”
The Odd Fellows Hall is located at 415 2nd St. in downtown Davis. Doors open at 7p.m.; show starts at 7:30p.m. Ticketswill be available at the door for $20. There will be a no-host bar. For more information contact Juelie Roggli: email@example.com.
Four Course Prix Fixe Menu
Discounted to $53/person for parties of 6 or more (excludes tax/gratuity and alcoholic beverages)
*Newly Renovated No-Host Bar will open and highlighting
Premium wines, whiskey and draft beer for purchase*
Saturday, October 21st 5:30-8:30pm
415 2nd Street, Davis, Ca
Roasted Chestnut, Parsnip and Apple Soup
Caesar Salad with Focaccia Croutons topped with Poached Egg
Choice of Entree
Lamb Osso Bucco served with Rustic Smashed Potatoes
and Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Braised Chicken Legs with Honey and Five Spice, served with Herby Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Almonds, and Brussel Sprouts
Poached Halibut in a White Wine and Tarragon Sauce served over Herby Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Almonds, with Wilted Greens
Handmade Butternut Squash Raviolis served in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce served with Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Choice of Dessert
Lemon Meringue Tart
Blackberry Sorbet served with Shortbread Fingers
(No Menu Substitutions available) Seating is limited, reservations are required! Please call 530-758-4940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
THE HISTORY OF THE I.O.O.F. IS IMPORTANT
History is as important to the success of an organization as any other aspect considered. Sometimes, the history could be more important than anything else. I have wondered why other jurisdictions have not attempted to teach the historical background of the Odd Fellows to their members. Not only is the history of the Odd Fellows being neglected, it is being forgotten.
For years, in a quest for recording and sharing the history of certain events or matters of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, via articles, speeches, or books, I have found that most of the information I had sought, had to be discovered and rediscovered by a concerted effort (meaning a strenuous effort). So few members actually know the history of the Order, because those before them were never taught the history. Perhaps this lack of information sharing and teaching of our members, started about the same time the decline in membership began.
Could this be from lack of interest or lack of access to books and other materials? Could it be attributed to other causes, such as the types of members who join the Order or ideas and activities being sold to the members upon joining? I don’t have the answers as to why our rich and full and interesting history is not being shared with all of the members.
Make no mistake, the history of the Odd Fellowsr and what each lodge experienced during their operations and meetings is interesting and very much coincides with the events outside of the lodge doors. Our members are part of the civilization outside of the Order!
Have you ever walked into an older lodge room and picked out items that were over 100 years old and wondered what it was like when the lodge purchased such items or what the outside world looked like when the lodge was instituted? What is the oldest items inside your lodge? Do you know the value of these items? Sometimes the value of the antiques inside our lodge – especially those related to a historical event or important historical figure – are worth more than most anything else inside your hall and perhaps more than the real estate the lodge sits on.
Artifacts are “history”; and the stories around the artifacts are history. Coincide that history with the figures in the lodge at the time the items were acquired, and you shall have yourself worthy history to be shared with members and non-members.
Have you ever thought about sharing your lodge’s history with the local historical society or even donating an item or two? This is an excellent method to share the Order with those who do not know the Odd Fellows.
Your lodge may have an attic or a basement. Does your lodge have a few items stored in such spaces. Attics get incredibly hot. Basements sometimes flood. Most of these kinds of spaces, including those “secret” spaces in the old building, contain older items and property. I would suggest you pull all of those items out and establish a museum and share everything with the public. Preserve those items! Do you know how to preserve the valuables you have inside your lodge? Historical societies, and other historical groups can give you good advice. If you have access to the internet and youtube, you can query a great deal of subjects. Preservation of historical items is important to maintaining your lodge’s history. Local libraries can assist you as well. Do you have any old books? These should be protected as well.
Take a look at your old minute books sometime. You may learn interesting facts about the members and the events of your lodge. Your lodge may have done things you never imagined. Your lodge may have had a popular figure as a member. Go ahead, take a look.
It may inspire you to start writing short articles and to start sharing your lodge’s history and interesting facts. You may even want to write a book. You may have a yearning to speak about your lodge’s history at a historical society event. Your lodge may want to have an open house to share items with the public.
Over the years, in a quest to write about this Order’s history, I have contacted other jurisdictions and found that the members don’t have an idea about the Order’s history or even their own lodge history. Some valuable items have been stolen or thrown out or sold with the properties of defunct lodges. This history is important not only to the jurisdiction of where such neglect occurs, but to all of us. We should all take an active approach to preserve ALL of the history. If such a situation presents itself, make an attempt to acquire everything for your own lodge and for your own museum and for your own lodge’s historical project. Don’t let your Order’s history slip out your hands. It is all valuable in either tangible terms or documented terms.
As a historian, I can tell you, the history of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows is as important as any other historical perspective.
Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me and share your ideas.
Peter V. Sellars
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
How the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time in America, Odd Fellows was the largest fraternal order boasting over 1 million members in North America. However, since those halcyon days, Odd Fellowship, year after year, and decade after decade, has hemorrhaged members. The decline in membership has been steady and debilitating and has continued for over three generations.
Today, the numbers will shock you.
I have recently reviewed the 2017 “Advance Reports” of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, and here are some statistics that will be of interest to every true Odd Fellow and Rebekah:
1. Total Membership as of December 31, 2016. Worldwide, there were 103,116 Odd Fellows. Worldwide, there were 64,184 Rebekahs. Worldwide, the Encampment had 31,861 members. Worldwide, the Patriarchs Militant had 3,076 members. And L.E.A. had 12,944 members worldwide; L.A.P.M. had 828 members. Junior Odd Fellows Lodges had 38 members; Theta Rho Girls’ Clubs had 214 members; and United Youth Groups had 90 members – again, worldwide.
2. Total Decreases in Membership. Worldwide, there were losses in membership year over year. Odd Fellows decreased by 2,392; Rebekahs decreased by 1,975; Encampment decreased by 597; L.E.A. decreased by 897; Patriarchs Militant decreased by 71; and L.A.P.M. decreased by 84.
3. Odd Fellows Membership in North America. In the States of the United States and the Provinces of Canada, December 31, 2016, Odd Fellows membership stood at 33,745, in 1,236 Lodges (down from 1,270 Lodges in the previous year). The largest jurisdiction was California, with 4,449, followed by Pennsylvania at 2,173 members. Interestingly, 1,172 of the California members are women, but only 143 of the Pennsylvania members are women. Only seven other jurisdictions have more than 1,000 members: Illinois, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia. Juxtaposed to that, there are 19 jurisdictions each with less than 300 members.
4. Rebekah Membership in North America. In the States of the United States and the Provinces of Canada, December 31, 2016, Rebekah membership stood at 20,454, in 835 Lodges (down from 899 Lodges in the previous year). The largest jurisdiction was Ontario, with 1,799, followed by California at 1,549 members. Only one other jurisdiction has more than 1,000 members – Oregon. On the other hand, there are 30 jurisdictions each with less than 300 members.
5. Encampment Membership in North America. In the States of the United States and the Provinces of Canada, December 31, 2016, Encampment membership stood at 3,531, in 276 Encampments (down from 290 Encampments in the previous year). The largest jurisdiction was Pennsylvania with 288, followed by California at 214 members. No other jurisdiction had more than 200 members. In fact, 36 jurisdictions each had less than 100 members. It’s further noteworthy that 15 jurisdictions each had less than 50 members.
6. Percentage Declines in Membership. Across the Order, it appears that the decline of membership, worldwide, in all Branches totaled 6,000 persons from 2015 to 2016, a rate of about 2.70%. Odd Fellows membership declined at a rate of 2.27%; Rebekah membership declined at a rate of 2.99%; Encampment membership declined at a rate of 1.84%; Patriarchs Militant membership declined at a rate of 2.26%; L.E.A. membership declined at a rate of 6.48%; L.A.P.M. membership declined at a rate of 9.21%.
What conclusions can we draw from these statistics?
Here is the problem: The Order continues on a decades-long downward spiral in North America that is not sustainable. In particular, the L.E.A. and the L.A.P.M. are not viable. New and younger members are not joining these Branches in sufficient numbers to sustain them as older members withdraw or pass away. This affliction troubling the L.E.A and L.A.P.M. is starting to affect the P.M. and the Encampment. Inevitably, the decline will become unsustainable for the Rebekahs and the Odd Fellows, as well. A organization declining at the rate of 3% per year will be in ruins in a generation.
Here is the solution: The Order is, frankly, doomed to oblivion, unless major adjustments are made to make it relevant in the 21st Century. If those adjustments are made, the Order can sustain itself and can grow. The Order must, in short, reinvent itself. Here is what the Order needs to do to reinvent, rejuvenate, restructure and rebuild IOOF in North America.
1. Membership growth is not achieved at Sovereign Grand Lodge, nor is it achieved at Grand Lodge. Membership growth is uniquely the child of each Lodge and the members of each Lodge. And each Lodge is a potential laboratory for membership development. During the years of the Order’s decline, a small number of Lodges have bucked the trend and have actually shown net increases in membership. For example, my own Lodge – Davis #169 in California – has shown steady net increases over the past 12 years, typically 10% per year. Therefore, if SGL studies the Lodges that show growth, SGL will learn what it takes to sustain and grow our Order. And what it takes is pretty simple: Members must enjoy the fraternal experience inside the Lodge with an active social life; and members must enjoy the fraternal experience outside of the Lodge with active involvement to better the community at large.
2. Sovereign Grand Lodge must be restructured. The current configuration allows every jurisdiction to have, essentially, the same voting power – much like a Senate. This stagnates the development of our Order, is an impediment to change, and is inherently unfair and unjust. Why should a jurisdiction of 100 members have the same or similar voting power as a jurisdiction with 1,000 members? The SGL must be restructured so that it is more like a House of Representatives, allowing members to vote in some proportion to their numbers in the Order.
3. Major changes must be made in the ritual of the Order. Ancient homilies like “bury the dead” or “educate the orphan” had great historical significance in our Order, but have little relevance to young men and women in 2017. Continued rote recitation of these sorts of words, or the singing of odes, or parading around the room in a certain order, or wearing tuxedos or long dresses in matching patterns – these sorts of things are out of step with modern society and do not resonate with the new eneration of members we need. Progress was made in this regard at the last SGL session when alternative Initiatory Degree works were approved. This is a step forward. But it has to occur with all degree work in all Branches. The ritual must be simplified and modernized.
4. We must inevitably face the reality that we will be more stable and stronger if we create one Lodge with many degrees, rather than continue being diffused in different Branches. We must fully integrate men and women, and all ethnic groups into our Order. And we must be truly non-sectarian. For the past three generations, while the membership in our Order has declined like a rock, Lodges and Grand Lodges and individual Lodges have – for the most part – continued to operate as usual. They continue to elect each other to office, they continue to “Grand Masters” with a full slate of officers, and District Deputy Grand Masters, and Grand Lodge Sessions spanning several days, and all the other trappings of the past – even when the membership in the jurisdiction has dropped to 300, 200, 100, or less.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again – yet expecting to have a different result. To survive in the 21st Century, Odd Fellowship must evolve and change.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California