In historical terms, a human “generation” is considered a period of time spanning some 20 to 25 years. Using that measure, it has been almost a full generation since the Sovereign Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of California, and Grand Lodges in other jurisdictions, opened membership in Odd Fellows Lodges to women. The Rebekah Degree and Rebekah Lodges were always open to women since their inception in 1851, and ironically, men could join Rebekah Lodges almost from their beginnings. Yet Odd Fellows Lodges were closed to women until the turn of this Century. In the 21st Century, all Odd Fellows Lodges are open to women to apply and to join and to advance to any and all degrees and offices. This is the Law of Odd Fellowship.
Yet, it is distressing to say that there are still Lodges in California and in other jurisdictions that have no female members. I can certainly understand that there may be a brief period of time (perhaps one or two years) when all-male Lodges would transition to admitting their first female members. But that time has long since passed. It’s been almost 20 years since the decision to open our Odd Fellows Lodges to women, and – sad to say – in 2017 there are still Lodges with no female members. This is unacceptable, and violates basic principles of our Order. The Odd Fellows Membership Application states, explicitly, the following as to who may become a member: “A man or woman over the age of 16 years, of good character, whose life and acts have been worthy and honorable, is eligible for membership.”
Significantly, nothing less than the Code of General Laws of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows makes crystal clear, in Chapter III, Section 1 that membership in an Odd Fellows Lodge is open to “a person”. It does not limit membership to “a man”. And to reinforce this egalitarian requirement of the Code, that same Section states the following warning to non-complying Lodges: “Continued rejection of women may result in revocation of an Odd Fellows Charter after notice and hearing.”
I have heard the excuses (and they are, truly, excuses) from members of Lodges that have no women on their membership rolls. And these are not just small Lodges of less than ten members. There are Lodges of 40, 50, even Lodges with over 100 members, that have not one female member.
Some members offer excuses that are brutally frank, and say things like: “I don’t want a woman member in my Lodge. If a woman joins, I would leave.” But let’s substitute another word for “woman” in this statement. What if the member had not used the word “woman” in his statement, but instead had used the word “African-American” or “Asian-American” or “Hispanic” or “Jew” or “Catholic” or “Hindu” or “Muslim” or “Buddhist”? Would that be acceptable? Of course not. It would display intolerance and prejudice and would be a show of blatant discrimination. How is it any less reprehensible or more acceptable because the member used the word “woman”? It is demonstrably unacceptable and should be so to every Odd Fellow who professes belief in Friendship, Love and Truth.
Some offer what they must consider to be reasonable or logical “excuses” and say, “No woman has ever applied” or “I don’t know any women who would want to join” or “the women I know have their own organizations.” These sorts of “reasons” are simply thinly veiled excuses for discrimination. Give me a break. Half the population of this country is female, as is the population of every state and province and every city and town. Are you really telling us that in a Lodge of 30 members, not one male member is able to find even one woman who would like to apply to join? Nonsense. Of course they can. But either through laziness, inertia, prejudice or just because they want the Lodge to remain an “old boy’s club” no women are sponsored for membership.
This sort of behavior should be anathema to good fellowship and should be rejected by every true Odd Fellow. Odd Fellowship professes, right on the website of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, “to elevate the character of men and women”. Relegating women to second-class citizenship is not acceptable. Creating structures for women which are “separate but equal” is no longer acceptable. Odd Fellows Law requires Lodges to accept men and women. For any Lodge to admit men, but reject women either de jure or de facto, is a violation of Odd Fellows Law and Odd Fellows principals. After a generation – almost 20 years – a Lodge today that has no women on its membership rolls must be viewed as a Lodge that rejects women. For all those men who routinely profess that we must all “follow the Code,” I remind them that not admitting women into their Lodge is a violation of the Code.
And even from the very narrow perspective of membership development, the exclusion of half the population makes no sense. Particularly Lodges that are struggling to survive as membership declines can ill afford to turn their collective backs on women.
The Lodges that have no women as members know who they are. I hope and trust that they will – after all these years – finally do the right thing. Follow the Code.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
The 8th annual “A Taste of Davis”, organized and hosted by the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, was another smashing success. We wish to say “thank you” to the 250 members of the public who attended and enjoyed the food, wine, beer and other culinary treats served by 20 local purveyors on both floors of the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall. We heard many positive comments and saw many satisfied smiles.
Many individuals and businesses deserve a big “thank you”.
The Purveyors of good food and beverages at this year’s Taste of Davis were: Berryessa Gap Winery, Blue Note Brewery, Bogle Vineyards, ChickPeas, Common Grounds, Davis Creamery, Gesche’s Gourmet Catering, Hunan Bar & Restaurant, Let Them Eat Cake, Maria’s Cantina, Papa John’s Pizza, Putah Creek Winery, Sudwerk, The Lodge Catering, Three Mile Brewery, Tres Hermanas, Turkovich Family Winery, Wing Stop, the Upper Crust Baking Company, and Zumapoke.
Major sponsor for the 2017 Taste of Davis was Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Super sponsors supporting the event are the Davis Enterprise (and Editor Debbie Davis and Advertising Manager Nancy Hannell) and Davis Downtown (formerly know as DDBA). Sponsors include Dawn Coder, Davis Firefighters Local 3494, Mayor Robb Davis, Beth and Bob Dovi, Stacie and Lucas Frerichs, Supervisor Jim Provenza, Sherry and Tony Pruitt, Kathy and Ted Puntillo, Lea and Dave Rosenberg, Charlene Sailer and Howie Spero, Lisa and Jesse Salinas, Diana and Paul Schmiegel, Arun Sen, Andrew Skaggs, Greg Tanner, Timmons Owens Jansen & Tichy Inc., Joyce Trujillo, University Retirement Community, Allison Zuvela.
Thank you, also, to the many Odd Fellows who volunteered their time and energy to this event: Dawn Coder, Robb White, Joyce Puntillo, Joel Mandel, Steve Lin, Nancy Schrott, Elizabeth Lasensky, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, Kelli O’Day, Kati O’Day, Joe Otto, Ed Lewis, Tony Pruitt, Sherry Pruitt, Robin Dewey, Amanda Maples, Danny Tomasello, Aaron Wedra, Bill Grabert, Renee Liston, Alex Saldivar, Arun Sen, Greg Tanner, Diana Schmiegel, Mary de Soto, and co-Chairs Lea and Dave Rosenberg. Thank you also to the Lodge Operations Manager Allison Vickrey and Lodge Assistant Operations Manager Daniela Gutierrez. And special thanks to the two vendors who sold tickets for us: Avid Reader Active and Common Grounds. Thank you to the Lodge webmaster and Noble Grand Stewart Savage.
Every year the Davis Odd Fellows designate a beneficiary for some of the proceeds of this event. The Elderly Nutrition Program will be the beneficiary of a financial donation this year.
This great community social event will continue. We have already chosen the date for the 9th annual “A Taste of Davis”. Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 26, 2018.
Lea and Dave Rosenberg
Taste of Davis Co-Chairs
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I am pleased to submit to you an article written by one of the founders of DMC Rick Boyles, Past Grand Master of this jurisdiction. Rick always presents a thought-provoking submission.
Also, attached to this newsletter is a flier announcing our DMC event at Grand Lodge Sessions. We will hold our annual event OPEN TO ALL on Thursday, May 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Sierra Nevada Ballroom of the Grand Lodge hotel – the Visalia Marriott. It will feature live music, an all-you-can-eat Taco Bar, a no-host bar, and some brief welcoming comments from leaders of our Order. This “Friendship Evening” promises to be a fun and relaxing evening for all. We cordially invite all Grand Lodge and Rebekah Assembly representatives, and their guests, to attend. The cost is a remarkably low $15 per person if you RSVP and pay by May 8 (we are able to keep the cost so low because a number of Lodges and members sponsor and subsidize this event – we will list the names of those generous Lodges and members in future newsletters). If you don’t RSVP and pay by May 8, you may still attend the event on May 18 and pay at the door, but the cost at the door is $35 per person – representing the actual per person cost of the event. Obviously, advance reservation will save you money! Please clip the bottom portion of the flier and mail it in with your check(s) to reserve your spot at the “Friendship Evening.”
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Tote that barge, lift that bale …
Many times I have heard the notion that we must do more work, perform extensive chores, carry additional loads, and become in essence beasts of burden for our order. Nothing to me seems to be of a greater absurdity. A great percentage of our members are already at their breaking point. The idea that we should ask ever-increasing effort from them borders on the insane. Yet there are some among us who measure a member’s worth based solely upon the number of order-related duties they put in. This must not be the basis upon which we judge a member. All members have value and to place a gauge on them purely based upon physical effort only succeeds in belittling the order itself and really by its own definition generates a lessening of our membership base. I have spoken to many of our members who have left our order simply because they don’t have the energy or time to serve the order in this manner.
A joke in my family is that if a warning light is glowing in one of our cars, we simply turn the radio up! This is similar to the way I see the order. Rather than thinking of basic change within our order, we are lulled into a false sense of security when those of us who attend regular order-related events see 100 people in attendance, but in actuality, that has become an ever-diminishing amount. Receptions 50 years ago had hundreds of people in attendance. Then, those of us who aspire to bigger positions within our order seem to imply that the few of us still willing to attend events work even harder to build membership. I wonder if we really ever grasp the incongruity of this demand. If our membership is decreasing, it’s difficult to see how a new membership by brute force plan will increase membership by comparison. I often see members forcing applications into visitor’s hands and rarely do these people join. Why? Simply put, the visitors will join if they see something of value to joining. They will not join because we plead with them to join. Some of our members are absolute dynamos – but all of us are unique, and many are too busy in their normal lives to take on additional responsibility. Rather than forcing responsibility on a harried new or prospective member, see what they would like to do, and then you may be pleasantly surprised.
There clearly are ways to get new members, but telling each prospective member that you expect them to lead a charity drive, head up a committee within your lodge, or to walk around pleading with others to join is short-sighted at best. Most people with jobs simply don’t have the time needed to solidify your lodge. You can find people willing to do charity work, but it should not be a requirement for membership. And yet, I have heard prominent members say that they feel the secret to membership is to encourage people to do charity work. While this may seem admirable, it is rather ludicrous to assume that in today’s world, the normal person, working 40 hours a week, in their few free hours is willing to work tirelessly to wave the Odd Fellow flag. We do have many members who put in countless hours without complaint, who march in parades, or visit the homeless, or help with the aged, and this is clearly admirable, but also time-consuming, and not always transferable. So, before we who put in extra hours demand new people emulate our endeavors, we need to look at the new and prospective members and see what they view as necessary to make them happy. I find that if we ask the new member what they themselves seek in joining our order, we may be happily surprised why they want to join. But charity by force will not work. In fact, force itself is meaningless, and just makes us look like bullies. If we want new members to contribute, we need to encourage them to show us what they want themselves. Some lodges have many committees and different charitable goals, but the successful ones lead by example, not by force. I have faith in the individual. Forcing new members to walk in lockstep will do nothing more than force them to abandon the march.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles
Dave Rosenberg was promoted to the rank of Colonel and elected to the position of Commander, First Regiment, Patriarchs Militant, Jurisdiction of California. The PM is the “Degree of Universal Justice” and is the highest degree in Odd Fellowship.
Arun Sen was elected Lieutenant Colonel and Dennis Corcoran was elected Major.
Rosenberg, Sen and Corcoran received their commissions on October 19.
Dear Odd Fellows and Pledges,
You (and your guests) are invited to our inaugural use of our new Lounge as the venue for gourmet dinners and wine pairings! The first such dinner will be on Wednesday, August 31, with social hour at 6 p.m. and dinner service beginning at 7 p.m. There will be four courses and six wine tastings included in this dinner. The various courses are prepared by Chef Sarun Kao and Chef Michael Sutton. Cost is $60 per person, and space is quite limited.
Please join us for our first event in The Lounge. 4 course meal paired with 6 wine tastings, $60 per person. Space is very limited. Please RSVP to reserve your seat Allison@rentdavislodge.com or call the office @ 530.758.4940
- Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
- Food: Prosciutto Wrapped Melon and Shrimp Tempura with Mango Relish
- Wine: Value and Premium Chardonnay
- Food: Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossom on a Bed of Greens
- Wine: Value and Premium Cabernet and Premium Red Blend
- Food: Flank Steak Roulade with Kale and Wild mushrooms topped with Pine Nuts. Served with a 3 cheese Risotto and Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Grilled Peaches with Bourbon Whipped Cream
Patricia Boone, recipient of the Davis Odd Fellows Charities scholarship, speaks at a Northwestern University School of Law community Event. Alumnus J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, have made a $100 million gift that will significantly advance the mission and vision of Pritzker’s alma mater, one of the nation’s leading law schools.
The Triffle P. and Annie G. Ivancovich made a generous donation to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows to establish Davis Odd Fellows Charities, Inc. (a 501(c)(3) corporation) which operates a scholarship fund for the benefit of orphans and young men and women who grew up in the foster care system. This fund can provide scholarships of between $5,000 to $10,000 for recipients.
The announcement was made on Thursday, October 22, 2015, at a community event held in Thorne Auditorium. Watch a video of the event here: