A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It’s really a fascinating historical document, and I think you will enjoy the interlude in your Lodge’s past. (Most registers are very old, so make sure to handle them with care – clean white gloves are recommended to protect the ancient pages.)

A Fascinating Discovery About Odd Fellows

But the purpose of this newsletter is more limited. I’ve thumbed through a number of Member Registers from different Lodges during my time as the Grand Master of California, and here’s a fascinating fact that I discovered: If you look at the register from a Century or more ago, you will find the vast majority of members initiated into the Lodge were in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. And if you compare that to members initiated into the Lodge over the past decade, you will find the vast majority of members initiated into the Lodge fall into the age range of their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Why do you suppose that is?

Well, no one knows for sure, but I have a pretty good theory. You see, 100 or 150 years ago, Odd Fellowship was new and fresh in North America. Fraternal Orders in general were popular as gathering places for social, community and fraternal activities. Odd Fellowship, in particular, offered young men (and eventually young women) an opportunity to gather, meet and mingle. There was no television or Internet, of course. It was fun and exciting to start a new Lodge, build a building, and grow a fraternity. Over the decades, however, the shine has worn away. Members became comfortable and complacent. The newness was gone. The edge was no longer there. Members settled into a familiar routine – the status quo was the norm.

And the reality is that when we bring in new members to our Odd Fellows Lodges, we tend to bring in people that we know, in the same general age range as ourselves. So, a Century ago, the 30-year-old members tended to bring in other 30-year-old members. Today, there are precious few 30-year-old members in our Lodges. But there are a lot of 60-year-old members. And those 60-year-old members tend to bring in other 60-year-old members.

Obviously, this is a self-defeating prophesy. This can’t continue.

What is the Solution

The solution is apparent. To survive and flourish, our Lodges need to bring in new members in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Those Lodges that have skipped a generation of members (and there are a lot of those Lodges) must focus on recovering that lost generation.

Not an easy proposition, however. Why would a Lodge composed of members in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s be of any interest to a young person in his/her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s?

In future DMC Newsletters we will explore this vital existential question. And we invite other Lodges – which have found solutions to the challenge of bringing in younger members – to write with your success stories.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]

​Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient “commands” of this Order, instructing members to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan.”

I must be slacking because I haven’t been visiting the sick, relieving the distressed, burying the dead, nor educating the orphan lately.

Have you?

My point, however, is that these ancient commands, for the most part are . . . well . . . ancient. You might as well command us to draw water from the well, milk the cows at dawn, hand-make our own clothing, and participate in a barn raising.

Don’t get me wrong. Historically, the four commands made absolute good sense. There was a time when there were no social services or government assistance provided to the public. Odd Fellows stepped into the breach two centuries ago to build hospitals, construct homes for widows and widowers, establish cemeteries, and operate orphanages. Odd Fellows filled a great historical need and at a time when Odd Fellowship boasted almost one million members, the country was dotted with Odd Fellows’ cemeteries, hospitals, homes for the aging, and orphanages. Today, when our fraternal membership has shrunk to a mere fraction of our former numbers, there is far less ability to own and operate cemeteries, hospitals, retirement homes and orphanages, and there is far less need for Odd Fellows to do any of that in the 21st Century.

Some of the old admonitions can and should still be applicable today. It is a good thing for Odd Fellows to continue to help other Odd Fellows who may be sick or distressed. But as to burying the dead, maybe not so much. To prospective members of our Lodges, the admonition to “bury the dead” just sounds ghoulish. And educate the orphan? When was the last time you ran into an “orphan” or “orphanage” in the United States? The concept of “orphanage” is a relic from another century.

If we wish to remain relevant to the men and women coming up in this new century, we need to adapt to fit the times. After all, it is these 21st Century men and women that we are seeking as new members in our Lodges, to join, sustain, refresh and continue our fraternity.

So, what resonates with the young adults in 2021?

Surely “bury the dead” and “educate the orphan” don’t. But how about “protect the environment” and “help children in need”? I submit that these latter two new commands should replace the outmoded ones and will give us new direction in a new era. Men and women of the 21st Century are vitally concerned with the health and well-being of our planet – our atmosphere, our climate, our land, our waters, our flora and fauna. They want to do their part to protect the Earth for themselves, and for their children and grandchildren. And frankly, so do men and women born in the last century. It is an enduring theme that connects us all – whether we are 20 or 80 years of age. And “help children in need” is an appropriate evolution from “educate the orphan”. While there are precious few orphans in our country today, there are certainly children caught up in the court system, children who are in foster care or aging out of the foster system, children who are hungry and unhoused. The list of children in need is, unfortunately, extensive – and there is plenty for Odd Fellows to do in this arena at the Lodge level.

So the revised commands would instruct us to “visit the sick, relieve the distress, protect the environment, and help children in need.” It would become a link to our past and a bridge to our future.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021

What do you see in this photograph?

If you said “a group of Odd Fellows” you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And if you also said “an initiation of Odd Fellows”, you are very perceptive. Under the remarkable leadership of Brother Ed Burns, these 27 men and women were initiated into our Order just last month – in August of 2021. Four of them became members of Sunset Lodge # 328, and the remaining 23 became members of Oceanside Lodge # 346. Congratulations to the new Odd Fellows and to the Brothers and Sisters of those Lodges.

But what else do you see in this photo?

If you said, “young faces” you are spot on. Unlike most photos we see nowadays from Odd Fellows Lodges, this photo shows a variety of ages, but mostly young people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. And it is precisely those young people which are the lifeblood and future of our fraternity. A Lodge which attracts only new members who are septuagenarians or octogenarians will not long survive.

How does a Lodge appeal to younger members?

It’s not that complicated. A Lodge that does nothing will appeal to no one. A Lodge that does things like organizing a Bingo event or a classic film event will appeal primarily to an older age group. A Lodge that organizes a rock & roll show or a bicycle ride or a rural hike will appeal to a younger age group. So WHAT you do is important. But HOW you announce it to the world is equally important. Announcing events in the local weekly newspaper reaches a certain generational audience. Announcing events on social media reaches a different generation.

And if you think that you can attract younger members to a Lodge that does little more than hold one or two formal meetings each month where folks sit around and read passages from a little red book, then think again. That may be an important component to the fraternal experience, but if that is the only component, your won’t keep those younger members for very long. I have attended meetings in Lodges where the most significant item on the agenda was “members sick and in distress.” That is certainly an important item for a fraternity to discuss, but if it has become the big ticket item of your meeting, your Lodge will not be of interest to newer generations which Lodge need to continue our Order.

Men and women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s want to have a fraternal experience that includes social events – like dinners, trips, hikes, winery visits, concerts and the like. And they also want to reach out to help others in the community – things like food drives for the hungry, warm clothing efforts for the homeless, gift cards for young adults coming out of the foster care system and the like.

The happy and eager young faces in the photo should bring joy to all Odd Fellows who care about the future of the Order. Because those faces are the future. They are the future leaders and members who will continue our great and noble fraternal experience well into the 21st Century and beyond.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

A Step Backwards for the Odd Fellows

A Step Backwards for the Odd Fellows

Updated: August 30, 2021

I pass along to you an article just written by one of the preeminent Odd Fellows historians – Peter Sellars.   Peter has served this Order as a Grand Master and currently serves as a member of the California Grand Lodge Board of Directors and one of the two representatives from California to Sovereign Grand Lodge.   Not only is he a recognized and respected historian of Odd Fellowship, but he is the curator of the remarkable Odd Fellows Museum located at the Historic San Francisco Odd Fellows Temple.    He has written several books about our fraternal order, exploring the historic underpinnings and the historic record of IOOF.

Brother Peter has just returned to California after attending the 2021 Sovereign Grand Lodge sessions.   I think you will find the following article both enlightening, troubling, and provocative.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California

A step backwards for and organization that should be moving forward

By Peter V. Sellars

I have never seen a group so intent on finding ways to eliminate its membership or keep people out! The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in America, from its beginnings have set self-imposed limits on who shall be admitted to join its ranks and who shall not be permitted. The Order set its bar early on by stating on its application that a member would have to be of “white blood.” Personally, I have only seen red blood, never white. So, the level of ignorance started very early on in the Order.

In California, an open-minded Grand Master, in 1853, asked the Grand Sire if Chinese would be allowed to join. The Grand Sire did not see any problem with California allowing Chinese to join the Order. Word quickly spread around the country and there was an uproar. At the 1855 session of the Grand Lodge of the United States, one of the representatives from another state, drafted and presented a five-page document detailing who was “white” and who was not. Thus, this description, written in response to the Grand Sire permitting California to allow Chinese to join the Order, quickly eliminated them.

Blacks, along with others who were not “of white blood” could not join the Order. Slavery in the South kept blacks out; discrimination in the North did the same. In the early 1840’s when some blacks in the North sought to become members of the Order, they applied to Manchester to become chartered as the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, thus starting their own Order. The “white Odd Fellows” had the opportunity to include them, but turned that opportunity away.

It was not only African-American and Asian-Americans that the Order blocked, it was any person who owned a bar or sold liquor. Women could not join the Odd Fellows either. Those who did not believe in a “Supreme Intelligent Being, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe” were prevented from membership as well. It goes without saying, juveniles could not join. The reasons for keeping people out extended beyond those listed here. The Odd Fellows were not seeking good characters, good people, but created an exclusive club, when the standard of membership should have been the decency of the person, rather than the person’s skin color, religious belief, and gender. The Order has made numerous changes throughout the years to remove some negative terms. The “red race” was removed from the Golden Rule Degree a hundred years ago. Of course, there are one or two sentences which should still be removed from this degree.

Those good ‘ol boys as we like to call them still exist today. Since I have been a member, I have witnessed biases over the years. In 2000, when women were finally permitted to join Odd Fellows Lodges, men complained and threatened to quit. I quietly told them, “good-bye” and good riddance. I was not a member in 1971, when blacks and others were permitted to join, but I imagine the backlash was worse than when women were permitted. I will not discuss the things I have witnessed over the years, but racism, bigotry, and gender bias was certainly around. Those barriers have slowly been eroded by a group of dedicated members, who have been labelled, “not true Odd Fellows” or those who want to “destroy the Order” by the good ‘ol boys. In point of fact, it is these members who are seeking inclusiveness and modernization of the Order, who sponsor the most new applicants by far! These good ‘ol boys should be getting down on their knees to thank those who have kept the life blood of the Odd Fellows flowing.

For years, the requirement of believing in a Supreme Being has been interpreted in different ways in order to allow good people to join the Order. We have ended up with people of vast beliefs, some of which do not seem to be aligned with the good ‘ol boys definition of this Being. They would have you believe it is strictly Christian based. They would even argue the matter until their heads exploded. I say, as many members do, the lodge is not a church. Leave your religious beliefs at the door. This idea is supported by the Internal Revenue Service, as we are a 501c(8) and not a 501c(3).

In this year of 2021, there was legislation at Sovereign Grand Lodge to remove all agnostic and atheist members from the Order. It also included a provision to remove those who have a “loss of faith” a change in their belief after initially meeting the requirement to join the Order. In short, by defining terms such as these, or stating anything about a loss of faith, the Order is entering the realm of religion. This would violate our non-discrimination policy which prohibits such discrimination against someone solely on religion. Of course, during the course of debate, the usual statement made by the good ‘ol boys is that if we do not like the Order the way it is, then do not join it. They would do and say anything to hold onto the exclusive club they still have in some parts of the country. In the end, the good ‘ol boys won out this year, by the new language, that a loss of belief after joining would be considered conduct unbecoming an Odd Fellow. I say, good luck with that code passage, as it violates current discrimination policy and could be considered like an ex post facto law. The point being, the Order keeps seeking ways to keep good people out – and now – to actually remove good members. We are witnessing an organization kill itself from the inside and outside, For those of us who are “real” Odd Fellows, its hurtful.

 

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

How do you handle conflict within your Odd Fellows Lodge?

How do you handle conflict within your Odd Fellows Lodge?

Updated: August 23, 2021

Does your Odd Fellows Lodge have an internal conflict right now?

And make no mistake about it – conflict must be handled. If left to fester, it will develop into a fraternal boil that will eventually erupt, causing significant damage to the fraternal skin which holds the Odd Fellows Lodge together. The unresolved conflict will make Lodge life unpleasant, will turn members off, and will eventually lead to diminution of the IOOF experience and reduction in membership. Certainly, it will affect the ability of the Lodge to bring in new members. After all, who really wants to join a Lodge where the atmosphere is tense and where some turmoil is apparent?

Ironically, if every Odd Fellow always remembered and consistently followed the admonitions and precepts of the Order, there would be no conflicts. There might be disagreements, but there would be no battles and wars within and without the Lodge Hall. The Order’s admonitions and precepts include friendship, love and truth. Simple, yet powerful words. Sometimes, some members forget them, or worse, ignore them.

So, what “conflict” am I talking about?

The conflict can be with a group, or it can be with an individual. Both are potentially disruptive to a pleasant Odd Fellows Lodge experience. After all, we want members to look forward to attending Lodge meetings and events. These should be happy experiences. They should not be tense or worrisome gatherings. Group conflicts are the most difficult to live through and, frankly, the most difficult to solve. At the get-go, I really dislike group conflicts because they can mean that the Lodge has devolved into cliques. (Remember in high school how we had cliques like the jocks, and the nerds, and the “cool kids”, and the thespians, etc.?) We should not have factions or cliques in our Lodges. We are all brothers and sisters in the same family. No one should be shunted aside or marginalized. We can’t elevate the character of mankind, if we can’t elevate the character of each other.

I recall a group conflict that occurred just a few years ago in a California Lodge. It was quite poisonous. I won’t, of course, name the Lodge, nor get into the details of it. But suffice it to say that to me, the group conflict reflected a generational divide. On the one hand were older, more long-term members. On the other hand were younger, and newer members of the Order. The two groups had rather different perspectives on the use of the Lodge Hall and the involvement of the Odd Fellows in the community.

Individual conflict operates on a much smaller scale, but it can be just as volatile. It occurs when one member of the Lodge does something (or fails to do something) that creates irritation for another member (or members) or disruption of the Lodge. This can take many forms. It can be a member who is charged with an important task in the Lodge who fails to get it done. It can be a member who decides, unilaterally, that that member wants to start living in the Lodge Hall. It can be a member who is self-dealing him or herself with money or property of the Lodge. It can be a member who holds the keys to everything and seeks to control everything. It can be a member who bullies or intimidates others. It can be a member who is constantly telling the Noble Grand how to properly run a meeting, or orally telling members where to stand during meetings, or correcting members who miss a word in the ritual. It can be a member who says unkind things to another member.

How does the Lodge remedy a conflict situation?

As noted, the conflict needs to be resolved, sooner rather than later. Allowing it to go unresolved becomes its own conflict. And don’t despair. Conflicts can be resolved. The goal is to take the path of lowest resistance which will resolve the issue.

So, step one would be to have a one-on-one conversation with the person or persons who are the source of the conflict. This is not easy, but it is the fraternal thing to do. In other words, if actions by Brother X concern or disrupt Brother Y, then Brother Y should have a low-key and confidential conversation with Brother X to let let Brother X know how Brother Y feels.

If that is ineffective, then the matter must be brought to the attention of the Noble Grand (or, perhaps, an older and respected member of the Lodge), to see if some quiet mediation may help.

If Lodge-level remedies have not worked, then an aggrieved member can bring the matter to the attention of the District Deputy Grand Master to help find a solution. Some DDGM’s are very conscientious at resolving conflicts. Other DDGM’s are less so. When all else fails, the matter can be brought to the attention of the Grand Master of the jurisdiction. The Grand Master has many tools at his/her disposal to resolve conflicts – and the Grand Master is rarely overruled by Grand Lodge or the Sovereign Grand Master.

Hopefully, the conflict can be resolved at the Lodge level. In the most extreme cases, an aggrieved member can bring “charges” against a perceived offending member, and launch a trial process in accordance with the Code. A member can be suspended or expelled in this process. But frankly, the “trial” card should be played only in the most extreme case because the process is cumbersome, and the trial, itself, will undoubtedly cause even more conflict in the Lodge.

Again, we owe it to our Lodges to take care of these issues. A Lodge without conflict is comfortable, healthy and often growing. A Lodge with conflict is just the opposite.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

p.s. For those who have been following DMC for the past decade, you know that I have published three books about the future of Odd Fellowship. I have now published an autobiography and copies are available through Amazon at the following link: “Judging My Life: From Rags to Robes,” available to buy on Amazon.

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

More Information about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

What is the solution for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows?

What is the solution for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows?

Updated: August 15, 2021

​It is undisputed that over the last Century membership in Odd Fellows’ Lodges has dropped by over 90%. That is a significant and concerning decline.

But even more significant and concerning is the decline in the other units in our fraternity. Rebekah membership has dropped. So has the membership of the Encampments and the Ladies Encampment Auxiliary (LEA). And Patriarchs Militant membership has declined, as has the Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant (LAPM). It should be no surprise that when Odd Fellows Lodges opened to women, the “separate but equal” units of Rebekahs, LEA and LAPM started becoming obsolescent. Just to put this in perspective, in California, Odd Fellows Lodge dues-paying membership totals 4,547 while Rebekah Lodge dues-paying membership totals 916 – so Rebekahs membership is a mere 20% compared to Odd Fellows membership. And the drop is even steeper when looking at LEA and LAPM.

The Inevitable

Racing in time against the inevitable, the Rebekahs, LEA and LAPM have tried to sustain themselves. But inevitably and inexorably, as the ages of members increase, the membership numbers decrease. Let’s be frank. Why join an LAPM when membership in a Canton of PM is available? Why join an LEA when membership in an Encampment is available?

Compounding the Dilemma

Compounding the dilemma, it has become increasingly difficult for LEA and LAPM units to find young members to join. I would venture to say that the average age of members in these units is probably into the 70’s. And if a new member is found who might be in his/her 30’s or 40’s or 50’s, they are usually a rare commodity in that unit. These units have so few members, that officer position simply rotate among the same few members, year after year. And what will these units look like in five years? Ten years? Twenty years?

Even the Rebekahs have a problematic future. Precious few Rebekah Lodges actually own Lodge Halls. This is a real problem for the vast majority of Rebekah Lodges. Typically, the Lodge Halls are owned and controlled by Odd Fellows Lodges. So, Rebekah Lodges have no steady stream of income from building tenants or renters of the Lodge space. Some Odd Fellows Lodges have even charged Rebekah Lodges rent to use the Lodge Hall. So, Rebekah Lodges have a strike against them from the get-go. In the standard jurisdiction, the number of Rebekah Lodges is only a fraction of the number of Odd Fellows Lodges, and the number of members in each Lodge is typically smaller and older than comparable Odd Fellows Lodges. Odd Fellows Lodges, before 1999, used to be called “the Men’s Lodge” and Rebekah Lodges used to be called “the Women’s Lodge”. Those designations make no sense today. The majority of Odd Fellows Lodges have women members, and the majority of Rebekah Lodges have male members.

What’s the solution, going forward?

We know that separate units are not sustainable. We don’t need six separate units in a fraternal Order that is shrinking. Economy of scale, alone, would indicate that the units need to merge. Sovereign Grand Lodge has recognized this inevitability, and is slowly moving into the direction of merger of units. I suggest that this is a four step process. In step one, the Patriarchs Militant and the LAPM would merge into one unit. In step two, the Encampment and the LEA would become one unit. And in step three, the Odd Fellows and the Rebekahs would join as one unit. Finally, in step four, Odd Fellowship would be a single unit, having 9 degrees reflecting the merged units: The Initiatory Degree (which I would rename The Degree of Trust), The Degree of Friendship, The Degree of Love, The Degree of Truth, The Rebekah Degree (which I would rename The Degree of Equality), The Degree of Faith, The Degree of Hope, The Degree of Charity, and The Degree of Universal Justice. Perhaps in time, Odd Fellowship should develop additional degrees that members could strive to attain which would help us “elevate the character of mankind.”

I’m not suggesting that this will be easy. Odd Fellows leaders will have to develop fair and equitable plans to create the mergers. But I am suggesting that the great merger is inevitable if we are to survive as a viable and modern fraternal Order.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

A peek into the Odd Fellows member register

If you ever get a chance, talk to the Secretary of your Odd Fellows Lodge and ask to look at the Member Register. This is the document that provides information on all members of your Lodge from the date of institution of the Lodge till the present. It's really a...

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

What do we learn as Odd Fellows?

Updated: [DATE]​Dear Dedicated Members for Change, One of the very first things we learn when we join Odd Fellowship is the ancient "commands" of this Order, instructing members to "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan." I must...

What do you see in this photograph?

What do you see in this photograph?

Updated: September 6, 2021What do you see in this photograph? If you said "a group of Odd Fellows" you were absolutely correct. The three links symbol on the chair in the foreground and the banners in the background indicate that you are in a Lodge of Odd Fellows. And...

Pin It on Pinterest