Why do Lodges and fraternal Orders find themselves with declining
numbers? The primary reason, in my opinion, is that they have been
locked in a time warp, unwilling or unable to evolve to fit their time.
They continue to believe that men and women of the 21st Century have the
same needs and interests as men and women of the 20th Century, or even
the 19th Century. We may have the same values, but in the age of
television, the Internet, iPhones, etc. we certainly don’t have the same
needs and interests. These Lodges continue to believe that people want
to join a fraternal order because of nifty slogans, and ritual, regalia,
costumes, secret grips, signs and passwords. While those things are
historically important, are part of our rich past, and must always
remain as part of our heritage and unique character, they simply do not
attract new members. If anyone doubts that is true – just examine the
precipitous decline in our membership over the past three generations.
To attract the new members we need today, a Lodge must supplement the
ritual, and must offer community activities outside the Lodge and
vibrant good fellowship activities within the Lodge. This is not
rocket science. In fact, in 2010, at the 158th Annual Grand Lodge
Session, I proposed two resolutions which stressed those very two
things. Both resolutions were adopted at sessions, with overwhelming
“aye” votes. In short, we know what we need to do to turn the tide.
Now, let’s just do it.
Please click on the link below, which continues a series of articles
about the rapid decline in membership facing fraternal orders around the
country. This particular article comes from the state of Ohio – but the
stories and the issues are similar in every state, including California.
A few months ago, Dave Rosenberg nominated the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge to receive the annual Thong B. Huynh Memorial Award for “excellence in community involvement”. We are delighted to announce that onTuesday, April 29, 2013, the Davis City Council selected the Davis Lodge #169 as the recipient of this important and prestigious award!
The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge is very deserving, for all the good community works it has done over the years in Davis and Yolo County. Lodge members should all be proud of this recognition in which you all share.
The actual Thong B. Huynh Memorial Award will be presented to the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge on Tuesday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Davis City Council Chambers. Our five elected officers – Noble Grand Bob Schelen, Vice Grand Lea Rosenberg, Secretary Alekka Fullerton, Treasurer Penny Smith, and Financial Secretary Steve Lopez – will all be present to represent the Lodge and receive the award.
Below is the information from the City of Davis Administrative Offices
Russell Boulevard, Suite 1 – Davis, California 95616
530-757-5602 – FAX: 530-757-5603 – TDD: 530-757-5666
May 2, 2013
Mr. Dave Rosenberg
Dear Mr. Rosenberg:
I am pleased to inform you that the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge has been selected by the Davis Human Relations Commission and the Davis City Council to receive one of this year’s City of Davis Thong Hy Huynh Memorial Awards, which recognize outstanding service in addressing human rights issues. The Odd Fellows have been chosen to receive the Excellence in Community Involvement Award for their many efforts to promote positive human relations throughout the community.
The City Council will be presenting the awards at their meeting on May 21, followed by a simple reception. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers, 23 Russell Blvd. and the presentations will be made as soon after that as possible.
Recipients receive an individual certificate and the name of the organization will be included on the city’s “Thong Hy Huynh Perpetual Plaque,” which hangs in the lobby of the Community Chambers.
I hope that a representative(s) of the group will be able to accept the award and encourage you to invite anyone with whom you may want to share this event.
Please contact me if you have any questions. If no one is not able to attend, please let me know so that we may make alternate arrangements.
Deputy City Manager
Despite national trends for fraternal organizations, Davis Lodge and Branches continue to grow.
You know the statistics. In the State of California, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows continues a steep decline in membership and lodges – a decline that started after World War II and continues almost unabated till today. Odd Fellows? Over the past five years membership in this state has decline about 10% and now totals less than 4,770 members. Over that same five-year period we have lost 23 lodges (that have closed, had their charters pulled, or consolidated) so that we have just 126 lodges in the entire state today. As you know, Odd Fellows once numbered in the hundreds of thousands and Odd Fellows Lodge numbered in the hundreds. Rebekahs? Rebekahs continue to lose a couple of hundred members every year, and now count only about 1,700 “contributing members”. The Rebekah Assembly now operates a deficit budget, projected expenses to exceed income. Encampments? The Grand Patriarch of California recently wrote a letter indicating that many of the few remaining Encampments are “operating” with less than a quorum, and if he were to pull their charters, we would have less than five functional Encampments in this state thus losing our state’s ability to operate a Grand Encampment. Patriarchs Militant? It appears that we have only five or six functional Cantons in California today.
And yet, notwithstanding these grim numbers, the Davis Lodge and Branches, over that very same five-year period, have been growing. The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, which numbered less than 100 members five years ago, now has 192 members, and 37 applicants to membership. The membership of the Davis Lodge, now makes it one of the five largest lodges in California. In fact, the Lodge has so many applicants that we have had to put each applicant in a “Pledge Class” and we have created a pledging period of about six months. We currently have two pending Pledge Classes, one leading to initiation in the Fall of 2013 and the other leading to initiation in the Spring of 2014. The Davis Rebekah Lodge has 30 active members, making it one of the largest Rebekah Lodges in California. More importantly, the Davis Rebekah Lodge has steadily increased membership over the past five years, adding about three new Rebekahs each year. The Davis Encampment, five years ago, was essentially, defunct – having only three “active” members. At that time a number of third-degree Odd Fellows joined the Encampment and now it has 35 Patriarchs and Matriarchs, making it the largest Encampment in California. Davis also recently received dispensation to form a Canton and Canton Davis #7 already has 14 members.
Why is the Order and all its branches diminishing in numbers throughout California, while at the very same time, the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge and the other Davis branches are growing?
In my opinion, the answer is obvious. Davis actively applies what I call the “Three-Legged Stool” approach. This concept applies a 21st century approach to Odd Fellowship and, frankly, attracts the young men and women of today. Ultimately, it is new membership which is the life-blood of this and any other organization. What is the “Three-Legged Stool” approach? A three-legged stool will only support the body if it is sturdy. If one leg is wobbly, or weak, or missing, the stool will certainly collapse. If all three legs are stout, the stool will readily support the body. In this approach, the three legs of the stool represent the following: (1) The rich history and ritual of our Order that goes back hundreds of years and has evolved to today. We can never diminish the unique history and ritual which makes us Odd Fellows. (2) Good fellowship within the Lodge. Men and women of the 21st Century want a strong social network and so Lodges must offer a range of activities that the members wish to enjoy. The list is almost endless and includes breakfasts at the Lodge, bowling night, movie night, hikes, bicycle trips, wine tasting, game nights, social nights, barbeques, dinners and dances, etc. (3) Involvement in the community. Men and women of today want to be active in the community and in support of good charitable and community works. This can cover a wide range, including but not limited to tree planting, working with mentally ill members of the community, bingo for the community, walk-a-thons to support a charitable group, helping frail seniors in their homes or with their computers, hosting charitable events at the Lodge, raising funds to send kids to summer camp, and so on.
Where Lodges are strong, Encampments will be strong. Where Encampments are strong, Cantons will be strong.
Where Lodges, Encampments and Cantons support, emphasize, and engage in the works represented by all three legs of the stool, there will be strength and growth in the 21st Century of Odd Fellowship.
This continues a series of articles on the decline of fraternal organizations in the United States, please click on the link below. This presents an interesting article, written in 1992, about the rise and fall of fraternal insurance organizations. For those who dispute that fraternal organizations “change” over time, this article explains the rapid expansion of fraternal orders that offered insurance (of various kinds – life, medical, loss of job, etc.) to their members and then the diminution of those fraternities when government and the private sector entered these fields.
The ability of a fraternal order to adapt to its times (and appeal to new members) is the secret of success. Fraternities in the latter half of the 19th Century and early part of the 20th Century adapted to the needs of those times and grew. Alternatively, most fraternal orders in the latter half of the 20th Century and now into the 21st Century have failed to adapt to their times, and are declining. Evolution and change is natural, and those fraternal orders that fail to evolve to fit their “climate” will continue to diminish, and in some cases, will become extinct. The list, sadly, numbers in the hundreds of American fraternal orders that flourished in the 19th and 20th Centuries, failed to adapt, and are now extinct.
From the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge #169 in Davis, CA
On April 18, 2013, the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge #169 hosted “A Taste of Davis”. Twenty-five restaurants, wineries, and breweries from Davis, CA and Yolo County offered samples of their wares to guests of the Lodge. Both floors of the Lodge were opened to the community and over 250 community members attended this $40 per person event. The event was organized by a committee of 17 Odd Fellows and Pledges, co-chaired by Lea Rosenberg and Dody Black. The fundraiser was a smashing success, raising over $10,000 for the Lodge and for our good works in the community.
Be sure to Like the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DavisOddFellows