Greetings Brothers And Sisters:
I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a joyous Merry Christmas or other specific holiday event you may celebrate. I also wish you a prosperous New Year.
December is upon us and I have concluded my obligated number of visits per the code. This leaves me with the real work at hand: Membership.
A few years ago, I became part of the Dedicated Members for Change because I strongly believed this Order needed a forum, such as this, to share ideas and to be able to make suggestions without hurting
When I joined this Order, I was received by a group of very elderly men, who had been clinging to a dying lodge. I did not receive my initiatory degree in the traditional manner, as this handful of old men simply
recited phrases to me by memory. There were no degree robes or other apparatuses involved. It was a dry initiation. I had no idea what defined a proper initiatory degree, as I was new. Years later, I realized
these men had held on long enough to find someone like me to perpetuate the Order they loved. They were gone within two or three years.
Upon becoming active, I witnessed resistance to change and the need to come up to today’s standards. Change is what was needed, as the 20th Century was nearing an end and the IOOF was still in the 19th Century.
In short, I learned to memorize the Ritual and to use our code books. I did this so I could effect change – or at least work toward proposing change. I was as good as anyone when it came to degree work, being
a degree captain. I was as good as anyone writing legislation. But, I quickly realized there were barricades for ANY proposal for change.
Membership decline was alarming. The history of decline in the IOOF was alarming. I pushed for the acceptance of members, regardless of their religious beliefs, social standing, where they lived, their appearance,
their ethnicity, and any other factors I witnessed to be barriers with the older members. In 2001, when women were allowed to join the lodges, I embraced the idea. This was the most important legislation, in my
opinion, that Sovereign Grand Lodge ever passed. Allowing blacks and others to join extremely important. These moves were a push in the direction of what Odd Fellowship was truly encompassing. We accept people of
all nations or all heritages. We do not discriminate by gender, either. These moves should have been embraced by every Odd Fellows lodge, but sadly, those lodges who have not moved into the 20th Century, have
doomed themselves. They do not represent the modernization and direction the Order must move to survive â€“ and to eventually grow.
Over the years, I have read, with pleasure the suggestions and ideas to expand a lodge’s membership. The tools are in place, but our members do not take advantage. I have read motivating articles written by
leaders and past leaders in this jurisdiction. Some of us have found the easiest way to attract new applicants. Unfortunately, some are still stuck in some era of self-destruction and condemnation. Let me keep
this on a positive level and tell you how to expand the membership in your lodge; you must do a few things:
1. Be motivated.
2. Look to bring in anyone who is eligible to join the I.O.O.F. The key word is “eligible”.
3. Have an event in place where you can invite a potential applicant; i.e. a dinner, an art event, a dance, a party, a BBQ, a musical, an outing, etc.
4. YOU MUST FIND OUT BY ASKING WHAT THIS POTENTIAL MEMBER ENJOYS. THEN, YOU MUST TELL THAT PERSON, “WE WANT YOU TO HELP US DO THAT PARTICULAR EVENT OR IDEA.” MAKE THAT PERSON’S INTEREST, THE LODGE’S INTEREST
This my brothers and sisters is the easiest method of interesting someone in joining an organization.
5. With each new member, add an event or combine an event. Create a committee for that event and perpetuate that event. Lodge members enjoy events.
Of course, I cannot resolve your membership issues by one DMC message. But, I can share an idea that works. It is my prerogative to gear you and your lodge in a more positive direction.
We are in a race to save this Order. While some lodges shall ignore the changes made in the last quarter of the last century, some lodges shall open their eyes and realize the principles of our Order have
a greater meaning that what they believe or what they are holding onto. Free your mind brothers and sisters. Open your doors and your hearts.
Expanding membership is key to success.
In Friendship, Love, & Truth,
Peter V. Sellars
Grand Master of California