Our Odd Fellows Lodge has been located on this block of Main Street in Jefferson, NC directly across the street from the old courthouse, now the Museum Of Ashe County History, since 1906. In 1958 we traded property with the Bank of Ashe and moved into that building. Most folks don’t know where or who we are, or what we do. It’s like the whole building is wearing an invisibility cloak!
I copied the following from the website of the Sovereign Grand Lodge http://www.ioof.org
As an organization, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows aims to provide a framework that promotes personal and social development. Lodge degrees and activities aim to improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity. For members, the degrees in Odd Fellowship emphasizes a leaving of the old life and the start of a better one, of welcoming travelers, and of helping those in need. The command of the IOOF is to“visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” Specifically, IOOF today are dedicated to the following purposes:
- To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice.
- To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other, the community, the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment and the community in every way possible.
- To promote good will and harmony amongst peoples and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station are brothers and sisters.
Ideally, an Odd Fellows lodge is a place for fellowship in all its forms, from hanging out and just having fun, to discussion, to networking, to collaboration on creative and constructive projects, all with an eye not only on our own satisfaction but on what we might offer to the community at large. An ideal lodge is a great venue for a lot of positive energy and all members are encouraged to contribute their share. In Addition, lodges provide an international social network of brothers and sisters that extends to more than 26 countries worldwide. If travelling is an interest, membership can provide a valuable network that will very much welcome an international visitor, and assist in their enterprises, and certainly their travels wherever possible.”
That, my friends, is a pretty tall order. An Order some might consider a bit Odd! (See what I did there? )
If this is our mission, and we are actually making every effort to live these words, then why the heck does it often feel that we are invisible? People should be knocking down our door to get in! Oh wait, they are! When we are active on social media, when we get people in the community talking about us… Our membership grows. It’s an easily trackable statistic.
Keeping those members is a topic for another blog post. Possibly titled “why the hell do we keep shooting ourselves in the foot?”
I recently read an article posted by the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in which one quote stood out “We have about secreted ourselves to death” I agree ! Past Grand Master Tom Weaver once said “We are the best kept secret that isn’t a secret in Ashe County”
We need to focus on being a fraternity with secrets, not a secret fraternity! ( I read this somewhere, can’t remember where or I’d give credit)
This is one of the reasons I believe it is so important for us to be active in the community, to host social events at the lodge as well as fundraisers.
I also believe it’s important for us to meet more often. Twice a month is not enough to make a Lodge into a brotherhood. It’s also hard to remember when lodge night is!
When we were meeting every week, we had 30 active members. We averaged 22 members per meeting. Don’t believe me? Look in the minutes. I was secretary. I recorded it every week. Then, suddenly, we went back to our old schedule, 2nd and 4th Thursdays. Meeting every week is too much, some said. That night, we had 17 members in attendance. By the next meeting, we had 6 . You could feel the energy leave the room. We tried having an informal gathering on the off weeks, but no one ever showed up.
That’s where we’ve been pretty much ever since. Our last election? Just a process to decide who’s sitting in which chair. We didn’t have enough active members to fill all the offices.
We initiated five new members in November, four of them haven’t been back. One had a stroke soon after initiation, and is still recovering, One is awaiting 1st degree because it’s hard to get enough people there to go through the motions, much less open the lodge for business.
We have to do better y’all. Or we aren’t worth saving.
We voted on five new apps at the last meeting…..
In Friendship, Love & Truth,