Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I’m pleased to forward to you an article submitted to the DMC Newsletter by Rita Cooper, who served the Order as Grand Chaplain, and currently serves the Order as a member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors. Rita raises an important subject to the health and well-being of our Order: The health and well-being of our Lodge Halls.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Saving our Future and Preserving our Past by Reviving our Buildings
One of the finest qualities of our Fellowship is its rich variety of people, ideas and opinions. But things we can all agree on are the importance of keeping alive our message of Friendship, Love and Truth and of pursuing our mission of building and maintaining an institutional framework that promotes personal and social development. And one fact that none of us can deny is that our Fraternal Order is experiencing a serious and sustained decline, a decline, not in spirit, but in numbers, a steady erosion of active membership in most, not all, but the majority, of our Lodges. When a Lodge can no longer muster a quorum, our message and mission flickers out in that community, our center for convivial fellowship goes dark. None of us wants our precious flame to die.
All living communities and cultures must continually renew themselves to stay alive. They must bring in the new to sustain the old. It seems clear that our Lodges, each of them, need a program and concerted effort to bring in new people, including new graduates, new community residents, new Americans, the newly retired, and men and women newly discharged from the military.
For such a recruitment effort to be successful, our house must be in order physically. Sometimes, over time, we become accustomed to facilities that are out-of-date, worn, even threadbare, but have become as comfortable to us “as an old shoe”. But this “old shoe” will probably not seem attractive and comfortable to a first-time guest. Let’s face it, many of our venerable Lodges are in serious need of a makeover. A Lodge must appeal to the senses of a guest, a potential new member. It must look good and feel good, outside and inside.
The exterior of the building must be attractive and inviting, appearing to house activities and associations appealing to a potential member. It must look alive and thriving, like it’s a significant part of the community. Important external elements include the IOOF sign, postings of current activities, entryway, the character of ground floor commercial tenants, paint, masonry, woodwork, sometimes even landscaping.
The interior must feel to these guests, to these potential members, like a setting that is comfortable, warm, friendly and fun, a place with the facilities, furnishings, and atmosphere of a club where they would have a good time, where they should belong. This could mean re-painting, putting in new carpets, window coverings, furniture, decorations and displays. Installing or upgrading kitchens and bars may be required, and even arranging settings for entertainers may be valuable. And don’t overlook the bathrooms!
So, we Odd Fellows have a wide variety of views, but here is what I trust we can all believe:
Our Fellowship is precious to us and our respective communities.
Many Lodges are experiencing a long term decline in membership.
This decline will result in our disappearance in many communities.
We can reverse this negative trend in many of our struggling Lodges.
This will require an energized, targeted, supported, recruiting effort.
Effective recruiting will require a Lodge that looks and feels good.
An appealing appearance, both exterior and interior is “half the battle”.
I believe we can work together at all levels of our Fraternal Order to maintain and build our Lodges and their membership rolls by bringing in new members. I would like to hear your ideas on we can sustain and build our enduring beacon of Friendship, Love and Truth.
Director, Grand Lodge of California