As is evident from below, SGL – at least the members of the State of the Order Committee – recognize the advancements and needs of the Odd Fellows. However, very little is presented to progressively change those issues that need to be addressed. Despite the establishment of the Non-Discrimination Policy, issues must be faced. Those did not come to the committee, but because of some last day legislation submitted, there very well could be a need for clarification dealing with “religious ideology” and how we define a “supreme being” and a requirement to believe in such. Shall this contrast to the beliefs of the past and conflict with today’s beliefs in the ranks of society and membership of the Order? What if a member becomes an atheist after once believing? One cannot be treated differently because of his or her “religious” beliefs or change in such beliefs as this has never been addressed in code or ritual. Some have proposed removing a member from the Order because that member has, over time, changed his/her religious beliefs. But to simply propose removing a member from the Order because of his or her “religious” beliefs could be legally challenged as a violation of the current Non-Discrimination Policy. I understand where some would want to passionately go with this, but it could have serious ramifications far beyond anything this Order has seen in recent years.
For this year, though, the Order has made some progress.
What was supposed to be the State of the Order report, but was not used because it lacked one signature, still can be shared here as it is relevant to all of us and our concerns.
One of the most impactful detriments this Order faces is angry contradiction between members; even worse is public demonstration of such disagreements on social media.
As society has modernized our means of communications, more frequent and rapid exchanges, whether conjecture, opinion, or fact, we must always keep in mind and practice those absolute principles of friendship, love, and truth. Those who are not members could view us a hypocritical, thus destroying our own legitimacy as a fraternal organization.
All members must seek peaceful outcomes. If discord has reached your hearts, seek amends. Work toward resolutions, rather than persistent aggravation.
The State of the Order committee also found there is a need for the creation of historical literature to be drafted and published in every jurisdiction, as this is one of the greatest mediums to reach a segment of curious people, and history enthusiasts who enjoy historical and interesting stories. No matter which town or city a lodge is located, there is related history, whether to a historic event, a prominent member, or in the structure itself. People enjoy reading history. Our lodges are full of stories and history. Some of our lodges have attics and basements full of historical and interesting artifacts. Clean those spaces out and write about those items. How were they used? How old are they? Are they valuable? Write about them and take pictures and share this information with local news outlets (social media, news articles, magazines, short documentary(ies), pamphlets, and books). This is the kind of program this Order must embrace if it wants to assure its place in history.
The State of the Order committee also encourages the modernization of communications between lodges, members, and jurisdictions, with regard to the latest in electronic technologies. We must utilize and embrace that segment of our membership who can point us in the right direction.
We can also touch upon subtle, but important inclusiveness-achievements witnessed at SGL in the last two years:
- Having a representative of the GUOOF speak to the Grand Body in 2018.
- Having a representative for Cuba at our Annual Communication in 2019.
- Having the first woman elected as the Warden of SGL (2019).
These represent not only progressive change but is evidence of an organization embracing it’s evolution.