Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Grand Master Peter Sellars promised to write a DMC message for every month of his term. He has done so. Below you will find his latest message.
The message is a very serious one – probably the most serious of his term. Here we are in the latter half of March 2017 and there are still 16 of our Lodges that have NOT turned in their annual reports for 2016 nor paid their per capita fees. This flies in the face of our Codes, and raises a big red flag about the viability of those 16 Lodges. What is particularly distressing is that all these Lodges were given extra time by the Grand Secretary to complete the task, and the Grand Master wrote to each individually and provided a grace period till March 28 (well beyond the deadline imposed by the Codes) to complete the job. He also offered help and assistance to any Lodge that needed it. To this date, however, there are still SIXTEEN Lodges that have not complied.
They have until March 28 to do so – eleven days from today. If they have not submitted their 2016 reports and paid their per capita fees by March 28, the Grand Master will have no choice but to conclude that they are out of compliance with the Codes and are no longer real or functioning Lodges. He will suspend them. As a suspended Lodge, the Grand Master has the authority to take their charters, change the locks, seize their assets, acquire their bank accounts, and take over their Lodge Halls, fixtures and furniture.
Please review the list of 16 Lodges below. If you are one of those Lodges (or if you know a member of one of those 16 Lodges) please take action in the next eleven days. Failure to do so will have undesirable consequences.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
GRAND MASTER’S MESSAGE
Greetings Brothers And Sisters!
Well, time seems to not slow down, as my term has only two months remaining. Last May, I set out to ensure I would not hand lodges over to my successor who were delinquent in their per capita reports and payments to the Grand Lodge (those lodges that had sent nothing). Upon my taking this office of Grand Master, I had five delinquent lodges handed to me. This was May of 2016, meaning these lodges were over three months late! This is the reality of the condition of many of our lodges. The DMC is here to help and guide and to encourage. I am asking all of you who read this message to assist the lodge list below by making contact.
As of March 16, 2017, we have 16 lodges that are late. By code, per capita reports are due to the Grand Lodge by February 15th. As Grand Master, I have a responsibility to this Order to ensure the rules and regulations of this Order are followed. Brothers and Sisters, I have no alternative, but to suspend the charters of the following lodges, if they fail to respond the letter that was sent to them, stating they had a “grace” period until March 28, 2017, to send in their per capita reports. They shall still be late, but I hoped appealing to these lodges by letter would work.
Keep in mind, every District Deputy Grand Master, with a delinquent lodge in their respective districts, was given written notice to contact these lodges as well. In my opening speech to Grand Lodge last May, I wrote and stated, that I expected each lodge to submit its per capita reports on time. I have sent letters on more than several occasions with the same messages.
This is one example of a tough situation that a Grand Master must decide when a lodge is no longer in good standing and has failed to meet the very basic of code requirements. When 104 other lodges have met the requirement by this date, sixteen lodges have not.
This is my last appeal, to all of you. If you recognize a lodge on this list that is worth saving, then reach out to that lodge. Make an offer to assist them with filling out their per capita report, as I have on more than one occasion.
How can we expect membership matters to be going well in these lodges? How can we expect financial bookkeeping to be occurring in these lodges? How do we even know these lodges are still operating? How could they be operating?!
The Grand Secretary, by code, must close out his books by the end of March. He must tally the number of members and the financial members of each lodge and send these certified amounts to the Sovereign Grand Lodge. Do we expect him to fudge the numbers or guess the numbers? How is he supposed to get those numbers and submit them correctly as possible to the Sovereign Grand Lodge? You tell me!
I have one way he can submit correct numbers. That is to suspend any lodge that is remaining on this list by March 28, 2017. I shall even ready my crew to travel to these lodges and open the locks and empty the contents of the entire building, which can be done in a few hours with my crew. I shall have the attorneys draft letters to seize the banks accounts and take over the property. Believe me, I have such a capable crew. This is a promise to all of you, as I made on May 17, 2016, when I stated my expectations of every lodge. This is the time to take this situation very seriously. Step up and take responsibility.
For now, any lodge on this list is not in good standing and shall not be allowed to attend sessions, etc. Look at this list! Do you see any lodges worth saving? If you do, help them out. Teach the members how to read the per capita reports and help them fill these reports out and mail them to the Grand Lodge office.
Of all the messages this year, I believe this one has been the most difficult one for me to write.
In Friendship, Love, & Truth,
Peter V. Sellars
STOCKTON LODGE NO. 11
YREKA LODGE NO. 19
PETALUMA LODGE NO. 30
TRUE FELLOWSHIP LODGE NO. 52
EUCLID LODGE NO. 68
FRENCH GULCH LODGE NO. 75
OLIVE LODGE NO. 81
PROGRESSIVE LODGE NO. 134
GEYSERVILLE LODGE NO. 176
UPPER LAKE LODGE NO. 241
FARMINGTON LODGE NO. 296
SPRING VALLEY LODGE NO. 316
GABLILAN LODGE NO. 372
ROMERO LODGE NO. 413
TAFT LODGE NO. 426
HUGHSON LODGE NO. 461
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Odd Fellowship is envisioned as a big tent. So long as one is a person of good moral character, with the qualities inherent in friendship, love and truth – other things are supposed to be irrelevant such as the person’s religious or philosophical beliefs, their business, their politics, their race, national origin, gender, sexual identity, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here’s an article written by one of the founders of DMC, Past Grand Master Rick Boyles, which deals with the interesting issue of socioeconomic status and Odd Fellowship.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Money is the Root of… Both Good & Evil…
Money is the root of all evil, or so the saying goes. Right wing icon Ayn Rand altered the expression with her famous words – “Money is the Root of all good”. As is my normal vantage point, I believe both views are appropriate – because conversely those with money may be imbued with goodness, and those without money may be consumed by evil and hatred. So then, it shows that money is nothing but a tool, a symbol, a token of one’s monetary worth solely. But, in reality, money is nothing more than the current rate of exchange otherwise we might all still be engaged in barter, as in earlier times.
Our order if it works as it was originally intended is supposed to be blind to such matters, and yet, it’s a hard thing to do. We have Odd Fellow events that cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars, and we seem to judge Odd Fellow members based upon their level of attendance to such events. When I was Grand Master, members would confide in me that they could not afford to attend an event or purchase some part of a uniform or go to some other expense. I could feel their embarrassment, and somehow I felt the need to allay this type of feeling. To be precise, no member is required to attend any Odd Fellow event they don’t want to attend. It’s easily demonstrated that many members never venture outside their own lodges. Central events, such as Grand Lodge Sessions, are really only attended by a very small fraction of our order. In our state, only approximately 5% of all members attend our annual sessions. Of course, expense is not the only reason for this, as many members still have jobs or other commitments which interfere with such an event that may consume up to a week of a member’s precious time off. The fact that some members can afford to give of their time or their money to attend such events says nothing more than that and is not a reflection on those who can’t attend. And yet, I can easily detect a bit of regret or even resentment by those who are unable to attend.
I believe that one of the secrets to the Odd Fellows future survival is to make events more accessible, fiscally and in matters of convenience. How can we do this? It’s no secret that many lodges pay for their members to attend sessions, but what about those who have jobs or other commitments, or belong to lodges that can’t support their members? As we become more technologically advanced, we need to make our events more inclusive. We have members such as Grand Warden Mel Astrahan who commit events to film, which is one step; it may be just a minor additional step to make these events interactive, just as our Board of Directors often have had members attend via Skype. If we want to advance into a new age, we have to recognize that eventually there will not necessarily be many centralized events but rather many opportunities for many more members to attend via remote access.
Some of us within our order have taken to judging members mainly on their level of wealth, though how we even know this is hard to fathom. Some of us look at an automobile and judge the driver to be poor if it has years on it, yet some of the wealthiest people I know either have no cars or drive an older one. In the real world many public figures have declared bankruptcy while driving fancy cars, and living the so-called high life. Others look at residences as emblems of self-worth, and while they may indeed be impressive, they are also no real measure of self worth. To me, what is most important is what will you think on when you are on your own deathbed, your extravagant home, or your personal relationships? It seems to be no contest. In fact, money generally tends to dilute one’s view of what is most important in life which is genuine human interaction. Money can be a wonderful tool but if one uses it to merely construct one’s own Xanadu (to paraphrase Coleridge), then it is merely a construct to isolation. Of course, there are many classic works, both books and movies that bear this out.
This is not my own extremist view, but rather the prevalent view in almost all religions. This also explains the downfall of many lodge settings, the fraternal basis upon which most benevolent groups are based. Many Odd Fellow lodges were mainstays to members’ existence years ago, but now they are only casual destinations, with little or no import to the members. In fact, a survey 100 years ago to your members would have emphasized the necessity of the lodges, while today that necessity has pretty much vanished entirely. While some wealthy may act like they don’t even see the rationale for a poor member to join a lodge, the poor or hungry member may see the lodge as some small bit of possible joy, some shred of dignity in an otherwise hobbled existence, what 100 years ago was a home away for most members from their dire state of life. Clearly, we can’t sustain members in their daily lives, but if we are announcing that only rich people are welcome, only wealthy people can run for positions, only retired people with little or no life remaining should feel the need to join than surely our order is doomed. We can’t expect our order to survive by just pandering to the rich, which is actually anathema to our original ideals. This is not negative thinking. It is negative thinking directly at those who want nothing more than to command the universe by virtue of owning it. Of course, this never happens and is its own form of self delusion.
Think on what you might consider if you were actually on your own deathbed. It will inevitably happen. I have been at people’s sides when they have had a philosophical reawakening when it was far beyond too late. There is little or no doubt the thing that you would not recall would be money. Rather, it would be the friends you may have been blessed with, and the good times you may have had. In this era where money seems a weapon, and little else, if we truly want to save our order we need to look at those who are perhaps less fortunate and see the world through their eyes. For those of you who profess to be religious – Jesus Christ says “‘Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”. Rich people tend to define this statement as being mythical to those times. Other religions have similar passages. For those of you who profess to be great definers of our order – The IRS says “To be exempt under Internal Revenue Code (IRC), a fraternal beneficiary society, order, or association must meet the following requirements: … It must provide for the payment of life, sick, accident or other benefits to the members of such society, order, or association or their dependents. Mar 23, 2016.” Rich people like to re-define this statement by disputing whether or not we are even fraternal. Of course, if we no longer feel like helping our fellow man we are clearly not being fraternal in its core definition.
So we have lost Odd Fellow members and continue to lose members because many of us have forgotten or neglected to remember the basic parameters of our order. If we allow only those with money to run for office, we ignore the reality around us. If we allow only those with money to be members, we are ignorant of the tent cities that surround us. Just as we now almost all logically decry prejudice of race, sexual orientation, and moral precept, we must also accept the lowly as well as the wealthy among us. If we don’t we are really only hastening our own demise. I often ask Odd Fellow members what happens to our order when they leave the order, and they invariably respond – who cares? If we truly love our fraternal and benevolent order, then we should care that it continues on without us.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles
In 2017, the City of Davis will celebrate its Centennial – 100 years as a California City, having formed as “Davisville” in 1917 – and the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge will participate in the year-long ceremony. The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge has played a significant role in the history of Davis. In fact, the first “Mayor” of Davis was a member of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge. John B. Anderson was the 127th signatory in the register of all members of the Lodge.
John B. Anderson served on the Board of Trustees, the City of Davis’s first form of city government, from 4/20/1917 to 11/20/1917. Anderson served as President of the Board, akin to the Mayor, in 1917. He ran the Davisville Cash Store until 1910. He also helped found the Bank of Davis, which was located at the corner of 2nd and G Streets in downtown Davis. While the site has not housed a bank since 1971, the two-story Anderson Bank Building, named for John Anderson, remains in its original site. John B. Anderson, along with his brother A. Gordon Anderson, operated the Anderson Ranch (located on today’sAnderson Road, which is named for the family) and a number of businesses in the City of Davis. Davis Ace, aka Davis Lumber & Hardware, which today is run by John’s grandniece, Jennifer Anderson, has been in the Anderson family for more than 100 years.
The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge actually predated the formation of the City of Davis. The Lodge was chartered in April of 1870. In those days, it was called the “Yolo Lodge” because the City of Davis had not yet been created. The first Lodge Hall was on G Street, which at the time, was the heart of the town. The current Odd Fellows Lodge was built in 1955 and is located on 2nd Street.
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
For a fraternal order to survive, there is nothing more important than bringing new members into the Odd Fellows Lodge. Without new members, the Lodge will diminish over time, will wither and will eventually die. And, this is a task that is necessarily performed on an on-going basis. There is no time for complacency. If an Odd Fellows Lodge skips a few years in the process of initiating new members, that Lodge may find that it has lost an entire generation of membership. This is a gap that is extremely difficult to overcome. A Lodge where the youngest members are in their 60’s will have great difficulty recruiting new members in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. I have visited Odd Fellow Lodges where no new members have been brought in for over five years, or where the youngest member is 68 years of age, or where the only new member brought into over the last 10 years was Uncle “John” or Cousin “Sally.” Ignoring the need for new members, or simply bringing in a relative or two is a sign of the laziness and selfishness of the current members. It says: “We only care about keeping the Lodge comfortable for ourselves, and we could care less about the future of this Lodge or the Order.”
New members are not only the lifeblood of a fraternity, but they bring new energy and skills to the Lodge “gene pool”. Without that new energy and those skills, a Odd Fellows Lodge may find itself dependent on fewer and fewer members with lesser and lesser skills to handle the multiple duties that fall upon Lodge members.
A few of our members have remarkable skills in the recruiting new members. Odd Fellow Lodges should recognize those skills and make sure that those members are the core of the Lodge’s Membership Committee. And let’s hope that your Lodge HAS a Membership Committee. As membership development and recruitment is such a primal function, the lack of a Membership Committee, to me, is a red flag of a Lodge that is (or will be) in trouble. While the task of bringing in new members is a responsibility of each and every one of us, a Membership Committee, which can coordinate the effort, is a critical component to a membership development plan.
And having such a plan is pretty important. Except in the case of a handful of extremely active, community-involved, and high-visibility Lodges, potential new members do not just walk into the Lodge asking, “How can I join the Odd Fellows.” The vast majority of Lodges should develop a plan to expose the Lodge to the community and recruit new members. Those plans can include things such as a Lodge brochure (outlining who you are and what you do), a community evening (where you open your doors to the community – a good opportunity is the annual anniversary of your Lodge’s charter), community-serving events, as well as fun social events for the members and their guests.
For most Odd Fellowss, the hardest part of membership development is that first contact. What do you say?
Well, the simplest thing is to invite your friend or neighbor or co-worker to a Lodge activity. Perhaps, it is a St. Patrick’s Day Party with a Trivia Quiz. Or perhaps it is Poker Night at the Lodge. Or perhaps the Lodge is renting a bus to visit some wineries or cheese factories. Whatever it might be, having a function is a great ice breaker and an excellent way to expose the Lodge and its membership to a new prospect. Of course, if your Lodge has NO activities, then you are limited to talking about the Lodge Hall and the rich history of the Order. Realistically, however, if a Lodge is active the prospect of coming into contact with potential members is heightened and the opportunity to discuss something of mutual interest is increased Helping foster children, working to stock the local food bank, assisting frail seniors in their homes – activities like these resonate with potential members.
In my own Lodge I have found that virtually every time we host an activity open to the community, inevitably there will be guests who express an interest in learning about IOOF, and thus the door is opened for a productive discussion and a potential member. A recent example of this dynamic occurred just a few months ago when I proposed and my Lodge hosted our first ever “Chocolate Festival”. We opened our Lodge to the community with chocolate vendors, chocolate-making demonstrations, music with a chocolate theme, dinner with “chicken mole over rice”, chocolate beverages, and more. It was all things chocolate, all the time. During that event, three young women in their early 20’s expressed an interest in our Lodge, discussions ensued, and all three ultimately applied and were initiated. All three have already dived in and are active in the Lodge.
If an Odd Fellow Lodge is invisible in its community, it is unlikely to attract new members. If a Lodge is visible in its community, the chance to make connections to new members is dramatically increased.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
California Grand Lodge Sessions are coming up in just eleven weeks – on May 17-20. This year we will be at a new venue in Visalia. As we have done for the past five years, Dedicated Members for Change (DMC) will once again be hosting and organizing a social event for Thursday evening (May 18) at the Grand Lodge Hotel (the Visalia Marriott), open to all Grand Lodge and Rebekah Assembly representatives, and all Odd Fellows, Rebekahs and guests who wish to attend. We are calling the event “Friendship Night” and it will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Sierra Nevada Ballroom of the Visalia Marriott. This event will be the place to be on Thursday evening! Friendship Night will feature live music, a no-host bar, an all-you-can-eat Taco Bar with all the fixings, a few brief comments by incoming Grand Master Dave Reed and incoming RA President Phoebe Astill, and a great time to socialize and relax.
The cost to attend the event is a remarkably low $15 per person (if you RSVP in advance). We are able to keep the price per person really low as a result of sponsorships by some members and Lodges. Because it is subsidized by these generous sponsorships, the price we charge per person is much less than the actual cost of the event. If you RSVP and pay no later than May 8, it’s $15 per person. If you RSVP after May 8 or pay at the door, you will be charged the actual cost of the event which is $35 per person. So RSVP early! Please see the attached RSVP form and send it in with your check to reserve your spot at Friendship Night.
I wish to commend the sponsors who have already stepped up to the plate. THANK YOU to the following Lodge sponsors: Davis #169 ($500), Apollo #123 ($500), Alameda #3 ($500), Morse #257 ($250), Stanislaus #170 ($250), Berkeley #270 ($250), Yerba Buena #15 ($150). THANK YOU also to the following member sponsors: Rod Metoyer ($100), Dave Rosenberg ($100), Tina Phanivong ($100), Steve Lyda ($100). Because of these generous contributions which subsidize Friendship Night, we are able to keep the cost for attendees very low.
We invite other Lodges and members to consider sponsoring Friendship Night. All Sponsors will be identified and thanked by name (unless you wish to remain anonymous).
All sponsorship checks should be made payable to “Grand Lodge”. The memo section of the check should state “DMC event”. Please send all sponsorship checks to me, so I can account for them and make sure you are recognized for your support, and I will turn them over to Grand Treasurer Jay Johnson. Mail your checks to:
Dave Rosenberg, PGM
Odd Fellows Lodge
415 2nd Street
Davis CA 95616
And thank you for considering this request. See you at Friendship Night on May 18.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master