The interactions between the officers of the Odd Fellows Lodge and their duties are not always clear-cut and precise. For a lodge to be successful all elected officers must cooperate and assist one another in meeting the goals of the lodge and for the membership.
After many years of either, observing and performing the duties of all positions at one time or another, I have learned that the written duties contained within the Odd Fellow codes and bylaws do not cover all situations. Trustees and their duties should coincide with those of the other officers, too.
All should know the functions and tasks performed by the other officers in the lodge. It is extremely important that officers do not become so rigid or complacent in their duties, because I guarantee you, issues shall arise, unexpectedly.
The new Noble Grand is given many responsibilities in the Odd Fellows Lodge, but does the Noble Grand really understand the duties and responsibilities of all the officers? The Noble Grand is responsible for all the Rituals to be up-to-date and accounted for after each meeting. The Noble Grand is responsible for the codes and bylaw books to be updated and available in the meetings. The Noble Grand must have a grasp of parliamentary procedure to conduct a proper meeting. He or she deals with the not only the Ritual aspects, but the business of the lodge. More often than not, the Noble Grand does not have a grasp of all the responsibilities he or she must know. The Noble Grand must rely on the other officers and the Past Grands of the lodge.
One area not covered by Odd Fellow code or bylaws: Governmental requirements. Who files the 990 forms or state tax forms, files electronically, etc.? Who submits the 1099 form for those officers/members who receives $600.00 or more for a given year? Who submits the Agent of Service form? Who handles the many other possible government requirements?
All of these occur in a given year. If a lodge is operating legitimately, then all of these tasks are being completed by the lodge. Is this yet another task we ask of the Noble Grand to oversee?
Secretaries have their hands full, too. The annual per capita and financial forms come to the Secretary of the Lodge, but the financial report is not the task of the Secretary to complete. These reports are challenging reports for any one officer to complete. The Noble Grand is responsible for the completion of these reports; however, the work must be done by all the desk officers. Other members are required to sign the documents. For a Noble Grand, this could be a daunting task. If the Secretary is new to the office, then that task is difficult as well. Every officer should be familiar with each other’s tasks. It is not a requirement, but it is helpful to know who works on each required form.
A successful lodge employs the assistance of the trustees in some of these listed tasks. Trustees are usually Past Grands, longtime members, who handle the investments of the lodge, and sometimes oversee the interaction of the Finance Committee and the Treasurer. A lodge lacking trustees is most likely a struggling lodge.
Although all of this seems complex, it is easily handled with a Noble Grand willing to learn and to receive guidance from experienced members of the same lodge. Those members know the corporate memory of the lodge and can assist the Noble Grand as well as other officers.
What if your lodge, or a member, wish to change the ritual or the code? This knowledge comes experience, as well as following the guidelines or the code book. Do not always rely on one member to recite the code; learn to read the code. Then, ensure others read the code. (A warning: Use the code to encourage members, rather than discourage members.)
Any member desiring to become an officer in the lodge, is required to become familiar with the duties associated with a specific office. Those duties are located in the ritual. They are detailed in the code book. OPEN THE BOOKS!
In some jurisdictions, seminars, district meetings, Grand Instructors, and proactive District Deputies are available for assistance. A lodge may be fortunate to have a past officer who has experience in many areas mention here. Do not be embarrassed or shy about seeking advice and knowledge. All officers must work with each other to provide a positive atmosphere inside the Odd Fellows lodge room.
Peter V. Sellars