Odd Fellows Lodges in California

Davis Odd Fellows Logo

In 2013, Odd Fellows in California have become an Order of many small Lodges with a couple of handfuls of larger Lodges thrown in the mix. It’s certainly not like it used to be. There was a time in the 1920’s and 1930’s when close to 60,000 Californians were Odd Fellows, there were 400 or 500 Lodges in every corner of the State, and some of our Lodge had memberships over 500.

Today, we have shrunk to 126 Lodges with a total dues-paying membership of about 4,400, statewide.

But when you drill down into the statistics, the picture becomes even bleaker. Here are some stats that should give us all pause. As noted, we have 126 Lodges on the books. Of those, fully 87 have 30 or fewer members. Certainly, we have become an Order of small Lodges because as I have noted many times, we all know that only about half of the members of any Lodge are “active”, so a Lodge with, say, 28 members, really means a Lodge with 14 active members – barely enough to even assume all the elected and appointed officer positions.

One more statistic: Of our 126 Lodges, 53 actually had a net LOSS in members for 2012. A Lodge with just 20 members, or 15 members, cannot afford net losses for very long. Also of interest, 34 Lodges were static – that is, their membership remained the same for the year. Only 39 Lodges showed a net gain of members. And even the “net gain” number may be deceiving. Of the 39 showing a net gain, 16 had a net gain of just 1 or 2 members. And only 9 Lodges showed net gains in the double digits (10 or more).And let’s drill down even further. Of our 126 Lodges, we have 56 Lodges (almost half) where the membership on the books is 20 or less. And a further drill shows that 11 of our Lodges have 10 members or less on their books. How can those Lodges function, find a quorum, meet, have activities and bring in new members? That will be our challenge going forward.

Where once we had dozens and dozens of Lodges in California with 100 or more members (in fact, we used to have many Lodges with 500+ members) we now have only 7 Lodges showing membership rolls of 100 or more.

Indeed, we are now an Order of many small Lodges with a couple of handfuls of larger Lodges in the mix.

Our focus, going forward, must be membership, membership, membership. We will need to pursue methods to help each other bring in new members. And that is what we will do. But ultimately, while Grand Lodge can help, the effort to bring in new members must start and finish with YOU and ME. Each of us, working with our Lodges, must be the prime movers in bringing new members into our Order. But that effort will ultimately fail unless and until our LODGES offer those new members a reason to join, and a reason to stay. In that regard, our Lodges must be involved and active in their communities – doing good public works. And our Lodges must provide an active and fun social network for members – good fellowship activities within the Lodge. When those things happen, Lodges will grow, and the growth can be sustained.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Grand Warden of California

Is The Davis Encampment Right For You

In July, we will be scheduling an initiation into the Davis Encampment for those members of the Odd Fellows Lodge who hold the three Odd Fellows’ degrees and who wish to receive advance degrees.

When you became a member of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, you received the Initiatory Degree at your initiation ceremony.  Some of you have gone on to receive the next three degrees of Odd Fellowship:  the degrees of Friendship, Love and Truth.  If you have the three degrees in our Odd Fellows Lodge you are eligible to move forward and receive three more degrees by joining the Davis Encampment.  So, for those who might be interested, here’s some information for you about the Davis Encampment:

1.  The Encampment is a “branch” of Odd Fellowship.  It was created many, many years ago to give Odd Fellows an ability to earn additional degrees (just like other fraternal orders).  The Davis Encampment #21 was instituted in the mid-1950’s, soon after our current Lodge was constructed.   The total of all the members in all the Encampments in California is less than 200 (a remarkably small number).  The Davis Encampment currently has  35 members (plus 3 applicants for membership) – we are, actually, the largest Encampment in California, and probably the USA.   While virtually all Encampments in California are shrinking in membership, the Davis Encampment is growing and thriving.

2.  You cannot join the Encampment unless you have all 3 Odd Fellows Degrees.  If you have the 3 degrees, you are eligible to join the Davis Encampment and obtain three more degrees:  The Patriarchal Degree, the Golden Rule Degree and the Royal Purple Degree – they are also called the degrees of Faith, Hope and Charity.  Davis Encampment #21 has all the officers that the Odd Fellows Lodge has except the offices generally have different titles.  For example, the “Noble Grand” of the Encampment is called the “Chief Patriarch” and the “Vice Grand” of the Encampment is called the “Senior Warden”, etc.   Dues to join the Davis Encampment are $44 per year.  Some of your favorite Odd Fellows are members of the Encampment!

3.  As an historical throwback, the members of the Encampment can wear the coveted Royal Purple fez with golden tassel.  This is strictly optional, but only Encampment members can wear the fez.

4.  The Davis Encampment meets once each month at the Lodge on the second Saturday of each month, usually in the Conference Room (and sometimes in the Upper Hall), around 11:00 a.m., immediately following the Odd Fellows Lodge breakfast meeting.

5.  Most Encampments have no real mission.  The Davis Encampment #21 is different.  We have a mission.  We send kids to summer camp – including kids who would not otherwise have that opportunity.  We use the Odd Fellows Three Links Camp – located near Yosemite – for that purpose.  This last summer, we sent 15 kids to camp – these are foster kids and kids from very low income families who otherwise would never have had a camp experience.  This coming summer, because 3-link camp closed this summer, we will only be sending 7 kids to camp.  Next year we hope to send 20 or more kids to camp.

6.  Many of our Encampment meetings are formal.  That is, we set the room up in proper style, we have a formal opening and a formal closing.

If you have your three Odd fellows’ degrees and are interested in joining the Davis Encampment #21 and earning three more degrees, please let me know in response to this e-mail.


Dave Rosenberg
Chief Patriarch
Davis Encampment #21

Dave Rosenberg Elected Grand Warden of California

Dave Rosenburg Grand WardenLong-time Davis Odd Fellow Dave Rosenberg has been elected Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of California, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The
election was held last Friday during Grand Lodge Sessions in Sacramento, with representatives from over 120 Odd fellows Lodges from throughout
California. Four candidates vied for the office and Rosenberg was elected on the first ballot. Grand Warden is the #3 position in Odd Fellow leadership, serving a one-year term, and then moving up to Deputy Grand Master, and then Grand Master of California.

Rosenberg served four terms as Noble Grand of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge and is generally credited with rebuilding that Lodge to be one of the premier Odd Fellows Lodges in the country. Rosenberg also serves as Chief Patriarch of the Davis Encampment, as Captain of the Davis Canton, as Secretary of the Davis Rebekah Lodge, and as President of the Hall Board Association. He has previously served as a District Deputy Grand Master for the Odd Fellows and as Chair of the Grand Lodge Judiciary Committee. Rosenberg also served two terms as Chairman of the Odd Fellows Homes of California Board of Directors, which operates two large retirement campuses in Napa and in Saratoga. Locally, Rosenberg continues to serve as Chair of the Membership & Initiation Committee of the Davis Lodge and serves as a member of the Good Fellowship Committee and the Bingo Committee.

Rosenberg has written a book entitled “The Future of Odd Fellowship – To Be or Not to Be” which focuses on the need to increase membership in local Lodges, and on techniques to do so. While Lodges around the country and in California are declining in membership, the Davis Lodge has increased its membership by 500% over the past 5 years. “I believe that the Odd Fellows need to reinvent themselves to be relevant to men and women in the 21st century”, said Rosenberg. “We can’t just meet behind closed doors and windows. Odd Fellows need to reach out to their communities to do good works, and need to provide an active and fun social network for members. That’s the fountain of youth and the secret of success for fraternal orders going forward.”

Rosenberg is a Superior Court Judge in Yolo County and is a member of the California Judicial Council. The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge has been continuously operating since 1870, and today, is very active in the
community. The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge Hall is located at 415 Second Street, Davis.

A Funny Thing Happend On The Way To The Grand Lodge Sessions

As many of you know, the annual Grand Lodge Sessions have been taking place in Sacramento this week. They started on Wednesday and wrap up tomorrow, Saturday. Representing your Lodge at Grand Lodge Sessions were the following Past Grands: Andrew Skaggs, Bob Bockwinkel, Dave Reed and me. I thank my fellow Past Grands for attending! In addition, Dave Reed was a candidate for election to the Odd Fellows Homes of California Board of Directors and I was a candidate for election as Grand Warden of California. The Odd Fellows Homes of California Board of Directors controls our two wonderful retirement communities in Saratoga and Napa. The Grand Warden is always the hotly contested election at Grand Lodge Sessions because the Grand Warden subsequently becomes the Deputy Grand Master and then the Grand Master of the State of California. The Grand Warden also serves on the Grand Lodge Board of Directors.

I am delighted to report that Dave Reed was elected to the Odd Fellows Homes of California Board of Directors, a powerful and important position in our Order. He joins another Davis Lodge member on that Board – Vic Bucher – who currently serves as Vice Chair. I am currently the Chair of that Board, but will be leaving that assignment due to my election. Election?!

Yes, I was elected Grand Warden this afternoon. There were four candidates running for the position, so I thought surely there would be run-off elections. But, remarkably, I was elected on the first ballot. The vote of the Grand Lodge was as follows: Rosenberg 87, Astrahan 33, Young 30, and Saari 16. This is an interesting turn-around from last year when I lost a close election as Grand Warden by a vote of 82-75. To be very frank, I wasn’t sure that the Grand Lodge (which is composed entirely of Past Grands and Past Grand Masters) was ready for me or for the “Davis way”. But, apparently they are. (Years and years of declining membership in the Order is a very convincing potion.) Odd Fellowship will never be quite the same. And that’s good. This great and ancient Order must evolve to survive. We have come a long way with our philosophy and our approach. And we know that it works. Our Davis Lodge is active, involved, vibrant and growing. We hope to do the same for other Lodges in this jurisdiction.

I am also pleased to say that I talked with DOZENS of representatives from other Lodges. They are all vitally interested in the way we do things in Davis. (My book on the future of Odd Fellowship sold briskly, by the way.)

Finally, its my honor to report that the Davis Lodge, during Grand Lodge Sessions, received the Grand Lodge Board of Director’s Award “For Growing Our Membership and Outstanding Service to the Community.” Davew Reed and I accepted the award on behalf of the Lodge. Gosh, the Davis Lodge has come a long way in receiving recognition from other Lodges and the Grand Lodge. They once mocked us. But now they award us.

If any of you are interested, I am being installed as Grand Warden tomorrow (May 18) at 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree Inn-Hilton (located across the street from Arden Mall) in Sacramento. You are certainly invited to attend if you have time and inclination.

Evolution Is The Key To Success

Can we attract the 21st Century man and woman to IOOF? The answer is yes, we can. There are a few Lodges around California and around the country that have done so, and quite successfully. How have they done this? The answer is – evolution. These Lodges have evolved (just like Odd Fellowship has evolved over time since it started in the 19th Century) to provide a Lodge that is appealing to today’s generation.

Bottom line: We will never grow as a fraternity and we will continue to diminish in membership (as we have done steadily since World War II) if we just sit behind our own four walls and conduct ritual meetings. We have to supplement the ritual, the regalia, the passwords, and the grips. To attract members in the 21st Century, we have to also provide them a social network with good fellowship activities in the Lodge, and we have to allow our members to be involved in the community with good charitable and community works. That’s what people want to do these days. And when we figure that out, we are going to start the renaissance of Odd Fellowship in California.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg


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