A Wake-Up Call to this Order

A few months ago, I asked Louie Sarmiento (a young, active, and energetic Brother who I call the spark plug leading the resurgence and growth of Odd Fellowship in the Philippines) to undertake a “small” project. I asked him to identify the largest Odd Fellows Lodges in North America, particularly those with over 100 members. I had a motive, of course. It was my belief that while this Order has been shrinking in membership for the past three generations, there were some Lodges that have bucked the trend and have grown and prospered. And, based on that belief, it was my theory that these large Lodges can provide examples of ways that other Odd Fellows Lodges can grow and be successful. In other words, these large Lodges may very well be “laboratories” showing successful treatments for the malaise of shrinking rosters that have hectored this Order for over 60 years.

Well, Louie dug into the project, as I knew he would. It was not easy. And the numbers that he checked out in the Sovereign Grand Lodge data base are only as accurate as the numbers provided to that data base by the various Grand Lodges on this continent. Ultimately, Louie focused on the annual reports that were compiled as of December 31, 2013, as his base line. These reports, viewed from the 30,000 foot elevation of SGL are revealing, troubling, and inspiring all at the same time. I offer, below, Louie Sarmiento’s statistics (and a big “thank you” to Louie, as he has done a great service for our Order).

And here are some other thoughts from Brother Sarmiento on his project: “Sadly, only 27 lodges all over the United States and Canada are in the ’100 membership mark’. Approximately 70% of the ‘active’ lodges in the U.S.A. and Canada are within or below 20 active members. Quite a number are actually in the ’5 members’ or even ’4 members’ mark. If combined (without re-counting people because they are members of other branches like Encampment, Canton, Rebekahs, etc.) there are more or less 20,000 members in the U.S.A. and Canada. A majority of the Grand Lodges have a total membership of less than 500 in their State or Province. This is a reality check . . . that IOOF in the U.S.A. and Canada needs to do something . . . IOOF in Europe is the strong-hold with more than 90,000 members . . . the other approximately 15,000 are in Latin America, Asia, Australasia, Africa.”

Indeed, this is a reality check. Knowing that some 70% of the Lodges throughout North America have 20 or fewer members should prompt us all to sit up and take notice. And if we realize that in most Lodges, only about half the “active” members are really active, engaged, and attend meetings with any regularity – then the numbers are even more dire. Clearly, leadership at the Sovereign Grand Lodge level has a great challenge before them. And the challenge must be addressed today. The fact that the structure of our Order compels us to turn over our leadership every single year makes the challenge even more difficult. But we can’t wait till next year, or the year after that. We must address the issues now, and continue to address them. We have to accept the fact that our greatest challenge is (and has been for years) our continued loss of members. To essentially continue business as usual like we have been doing for the past 60 years and expect different results is, truly, insanity. We must change the structure of our Order, and we must change the way we do business. Anything less than this will result in the continued diminution of our great and ancient fraternity. I have every confidence that our new Sovereign Grand Master Jimmy Humphrey understands the challenge and is up to the task. But are the representatives who attend Sovereign Grand Lodge sessions up to the challenge of change?

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master


Top 30 Largest Odd Fellow Lodges in United States and Canada

Rank Lodge Name Location No. of Members
1 California Lodge no.1 San Francisco, California 352
2 Apollo Lodge no.123 San Francisco, California 300
3 Salem Lodge no.36 Winston-Salem, North Carolina 294
4 Yerba Buena Lodge No.15 San Francisco, California 268
5 DeKalb Lodge No.12 Maysville, Kentucky 222
6 Davis Lodge No.169 Davis, California 209
7 Excelsior Lodge No.1 Honolulu, Hawaii 200
8 Borough Park Lodge No.409 Brooklyn, New York 190
9 Boone Lodge No.170 Madison, West Virginia 182
10 Huntington Lodge No.64 Huntington, West Virginia 173
11 Golden West Lodge No.322 San Francisco, California 157
12 Eastwood Lodge No.496 Eastwood, Michigan 156
13 St. John Lodge no.539 St. John, Kansas 139
14 Walker Lodge No.306 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 139
15 Alma Lodge No.523 Johnstown, Pennsylvania 137
16 Buena Vista Lodge no.21 Oak Ridge, North Carolina 131
17 Leon Lodge No.5 Tallahassee, Florida 130
18 Olympia Lodge no.1 Tumwater, Washington 126
19 Monongalia Lodge No.10 Morgantown, West Virginia 122
20 Lodi Lodge No.259 Lodi, California 120
21 Chemeka Lodge No.1 Salem, Oregon 116
22 Charity Lodge no.27 Laurel, Delaware 110
23 Waxahachie Lodge No.80 Waxahachie, Texas 106
24 Good Shepherd Lodge No.65 New Milford, Connecticut 105
25 Washington Lodge No.1 Baltimore, Maryland 104
26 Pryor Creek Lodge No.70 Pryor, Oklahoma 104
27 Ft. Dallas Lodge No.44 Hialeah. Florida 103
28 Spencer Butte No.9 Eugene, Oregon 99
29 Waterloo Lodge No.27 Waterloo, Illinois 98
30 Franco American Lodge No.207 San Francisco, California 96
  Century Lodge No.492 Carpentersville, Illinois 96

Source: Grand Lodge Annual Reports (As of December 31, 2013)

In Friendship, Love, and Truth

Brother Louie Sarmiento

Davis Odd Fellows Visit Volcano Lodge

Seven members of the Davis Lodge visited the Historic Volcano Lodge #25 in Volcano, California on September 20, 2014, for annual meeting of the Historic Lodge.

Left to right: Janis Rosenberg, Dharmaveer Shetty, Deputy Grand Master Dave Rosenberg, Joel Mandel, Duff Devine, Jeff Munoz, Grand Master Tim Brown, Shannon McCall.


Rummaging Through History

You never know what you will find when you rummage through old boxes.  Well, looking through some old boxes at the Lodge the other day, I came across a card dated 1946 (almost 70 years ago) that a Noble Grand had printed.  This Noble Grand – by the name of J. Osborn Brink – had served in Monrovia Lodge #330.  I did a little research in a wonderful book by Frank Christy entitled “California Odd Fellowship” and found that this Lodge was instituted in 1887 in Monrovia, Los Angeles County.  In 1935, Temple Lodge #398, at Temple City, consolidated with Monrovia #330.  Regrettably, in 1966, Monrovia #330 surrendered its charter and is no more.  But this Past Grand of Monrovia #330 had printed a small card which contained the following few words, which that Noble Grand entitled “Odd”:

“An Odd Fellow is a fellow who was odd until he became an Odd Fellow.  Yes, before he became an Odd Fellow, he was just an odd fellow, a fellow who is odd.  You see, an odd fellow ceases to be odd when he became an Odd Fellow.  Or does he?

When you are looking for an Odd Fellow, do not be deceived by taking a fellow who is odd for an Odd Fellow.  An Odd Fellow is no longer odd when he becomes an Odd Fellow.

It would be quite odd for an Odd Fellow to mistake an odd fellow for an Odd Fellow, for odd fellows are just odd fellows until they become Odd Fellows.

I am looking for you to be less odd when you become an Odd Fellow.  And when all odd fellows cease to be odd by becoming Odd Fellows, then it will be really odd to see a fellow who is not an Odd Fellow.

Brother, the odds are against you if you are not an Odd Fellow.”

I got quite a chuckle out of this little refrain from the pen of Brother J. Osborn Brink.  I imagine he used his little card as a recruiting tool, and one day one of the members of Davis Lodge picked up that card in the 1940′s and it found its way into a box and ultimately, into my hands, so I could share it with all of you.  It reminded me that Odd Fellows of the last generation, and the generation before that one, and the generation before that were not Dour Fellows.  They were not Joyless Fellows, or Sad Fellows, or Stern Fellows, or Severe Fellows, or Gloomy Fellows.  They were fraternal members who knew how to laugh, have a good time, and have some fun.

If we are dour, joyless, sad, stern, severe, or gloomy our Lodges will be dour, joyless, sad, stern, severe, and gloomy.  That won’t retain members, and that certainly won’t attract members.

So, let’s all endeavor to have some fun and enjoy our “oddness”.  And in memory of Brother J. Osborn Brink, and all the fun-loving Odd Fellows of past generations, I have been inspired to compose the following “Ode” which I call:


You may think it odd
That I wish to trod
The venerable sod
Of oddness.

You may even think me a clod
That I purport to prod
And give a hearty nod
To oddness.

In truth, I don’t mean to be a lightning rod
And I don’t wish to ride roughshod
But from Cape Cod to Riyadh
There is oddness.

Here in our own community
I speak to you with alacrity
About a certain commodity
That transcends our heredity.

Do you sense a bit of rigidity?
A touch of liquidity and fluidity?
A certain turbidity and morbidity?
Or just a taste of acidity?

I offer it with validity
And a fair amount of timidity
Assuming a certain absurdity
It’s all about our oddity.

For I am a futuristic mod
By no means an Olympic god
I trust the instincts of my bod
And support oddness.

It’s far heavier than a monkey pod
It’s much lighter than a hot rod
Its tastes better than a boiled cod<
Let’s all hear it for oddness.

So, don’t report me to the Mossad
Don’t spit in my direction with a wad<
Instead, lift your glass of Pernod
And toast the oddness.

Have fun with your oddness.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master

Davis Encampment Initiates Five New Members

Davis Encampment #21 initiated five new members into the Encampment on the evening of September 17.  The new Patriarchs and Matriarchs are:

Christopher Young
Joel Mandel
Shannon McCall
Brett Lemke
Jeff Munoz

At the initiation, the new members of the Encampment received all three degrees of the Encampment: The Degree of Faith (the Patriarchal Degree); the Degree of Hope (The Golden Rule Degree); and the Degree of Charity (the Royal Purple Degree).   The initiation was led by Chief Patriarch Dave Reed, and he was assisted by Encampment members:  Juelie and Kurt Roggli, Duff Devine, Dennis Corcoran, Arun Sen, Mary Superak, Debbie Friend, and Sharla Cheney.

The Davis Encampment was chartered in 1955, and with the addition of the five new members, currently has 41 members, all of whom hold all three Encampment degrees.  Davis Encampment #21 is the largest Encampment in the State of California.  In total, only 195 Odd Fellows in California posses the degrees of the Encampment, and with 41 members in Davis, it can be said that over 20% of all Encampment members in California come from the Davis Encampment.

Three Degree Night at the Lodge

On September 9, 2014, thirteen Davis Odd Fellows earned the First Degree (the Degree of Friendship), the Second Degree (the Degree of Love), the Third Degree (the Degree of Truth) in ceremonies led by Noble Grand Lea Rosenberg and Past Grand Dave Rosenberg.

Pictured are: Kneeling left to right Jean-Paul Montreuil, Crystal Junge, Janis Rosenberg, Jeff Munoz and Beth Dovi. Standing left to right are Robin Dewey, Brett Lemke, Kat Rose, Kevin Cornell, Pat Rose, Shannon McCall, Matt DeMoura, Noble Grand Lea Rosenberg, Bob Dovi, and Past Grand Dave Rosenberg.ThreeDegreeNight20140914