DMC – Lucky California

Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Following is an article recently written by one of the founders of DMC – Past Grand Master Rick Boyles. One of the main tenets of Odd Fellowship is “truth” and DMC believes in telling the truth. The focus of DMC, from its very beginnings in 2009, has been to highlight the declining membership of the Order, to encourage members and Lodges to increase their membership, and to suggest practical and effective ways to do so. This focus has proven effective for many Lodges around the world. And it has proven remarkably effective in the Jurisdiction of California where, once again, California shows increases in membership.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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Lucky California

If one makes a study of the Sovereign Grand Lodge Sessions Book, one would quickly take note that California is the biggest jurisdiction by far. It is also the wealthiest, by virtue of several factors. It becomes readily apparent that quite a few jurisdictions are deteriorating quickly, with less than 200 members each. Of course, this is a sad fact, often ignored by Sovereign Grand Lodge, for some even sadder unapparent reason. Perhaps it’s because bringing up reality to all of us elderly is too much reality to maintain the veneer of invulnerability each of us old-timers appears to want to sustain. I’m an old-timer as well, but I don’t believe we should ignore the facts, old-timers or not. We must face facts rather than hide from them.

Getting members is not that difficult, it just means you have to offer the prospective member something. No one joins anything as a lark. Everyone at one time had a reason for joining. But now, in some jurisdictions, they have become so small that they have little or nothing to offer. It would not be an exaggeration to state that other jurisdictions are run by members in their seventies, or older, with no real grasp on the future. Why? Clearly, because their own future is limited. And it is evident that not only do they want no new members, they don’t want to even hear the suggestion of new members. In that case, and in that jurisdiction, the order is truly dying on the vine. Last year, in my first year running for the position of Sovereign Grand Warden, I made the well-known mistake of discussing “membership” with our members. Most members at SGL don’t want to hear about it. But ignoring it doesn’t make the issue go away. Ignoring it only makes prospective members go away. And yet, we have the happy enigma that is California.

California is lucky. We have money and we have members. But the luck of California is not a lark. It comes from honest people working consistently towards a common goal. Everyone who joins our order, and maintains their membership does so for a reason, but leadership is another story. Those who lead must do so democratically, otherwise we as an order may easily suffer. We are lucky in California because we have had good people in all branches who lead with intelligence, and ability. Of course, the most pertinent example right now is the two men we have had working in our Grand Lodge office for a decade, Brothers Jay Johnson as Grand Treasurer, and Ray Link as Grand Secretary. Both men served with distinction, and lead with exemplary work habits and the ensuing results that accompany knowledge. Brother Jay made our Grand Lodge millions of dollars, and Brother Ray did a similar job managing the harried work that involves the secretarial end. I don’t believe anyone realizes the work involved in these two positions unless they see it first-hand. In the case of the Grand Treasurer, there can be every temptation to dole out money to every lodge for every repair, to cover all projects, but that can only result in the ultimate mortgaging of our future. In the case of the Grand Secretary, that position is responsible for overseeing 115 (or more) per capita reports, coordination with other branches, lodge communications, and many other facets unseen by the ordinary member. When I served as Grand Master, I always sought their counsel, and was never disappointed.

Unfortunately, these two gentlemen have both decided to retire this year, leaving us in the unfortunate position of having to pick successors. Both positions pay a salary, but it would be hard to imagine two more difficult positions to climb into than these two. Anyone thinking these positions are easy or stress free will be quickly disappointed. The Sovereign Grand Lodge Code of General Laws, and The Roberts Code of California describe the duties of both positions in detail. Of course, the Grand Treasurer must have a firm grasp of financial and accounting procedures, while the Grand Secretary must have experience in legislation, the filing of reports, and a general knowledge of office procedures. Assistants may perform many duties but to rely on employees because of one’s own inadequacies might put the office itself in jeopardy. Clearly, these two positions are not brain surgery, but a glance at many other jurisdictions will illuminate the simple fact that not all people should be given these titles. The Grand Lodge of California has millions of dollars in savings so the person overseeing such funds should certainly have some modicum of financial acumen. Similarly, the Grand Secretary is responsible for many lodge reports and filings; clearly some type of official expertise must be warranted. I would never seek these positions, but here’s hoping that our next two central officers will continue our ascent within the order and not diminish our own hard-earned luck.

Therein lies the glory of California. We are lucky enough to have great members, and we are skilled enough to realize that our members will tailor make our future.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles

 
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