By Seth Anthony
I am an Odd Fellow, just like my father and my grandfather before.
I’m also a Freemason, a Knight of Pythias, and a slew of other titles. Fraternalism isn’t just a club for me; it’s my passion and life’s work. I firmly believe that my Lodge does deserve my best efforts. I also believe I deserve the best from my Lodge. That’s where my first foray into Odd Fellowship ran afoul.
When I joined the Order, I wasn’t impressed. In fact, I was quite taken aback. I had been a very active Mason for a number of years. That experience shaped my expectations of a fraternal organization. I didn’t know what to expect with Odd Fellowship, but it wasn’t what I saw that night.
The best way to describe my Lodge at that time is a shadow. What was once great, had fallen. The members were tired. The Lodge Hall needed work. Effort was hard to come by. The then Grand Master was visiting the Lodge the night I joined. He publicly scolded the Lodge members for how I was obligated into the Order. He left the room when I was made a member. In a Lodge that was obviously struggling with self-esteem, he dealt them a crippling blow. As a new member, I felt worthless and my Lodge felt the same.
But, I was invested. I knew there was more to the story. The faded ring of glory around my Lodge was still visible and I was determined to help. I became regular in attendance. I sat in chairs. I filled in on committees. I volunteered where I could. I was elected Vice Grand. Then it all fell part.
Financial irregularities were discovered in our books. Members turned on each other. All sense of fraternalism was lost. Our Noble Grand stopped showing up to meetings, forcing me to take charge as Vice Grand, without any authority. Rather than deal with the problem at hand, the Lodge chose to ignore it. I, however, could not. I resigned.
I didn’t have a dues card, but I was still an Odd Fellow.
I kept in touch with the Grand Secretary and kept meeting more Odd Fellows on my fraternal journey. I became Worshipful Master of my Masonic Lodge, which has more than 800 members. I learned a lot about leadership and organizational management. Then, I found my way back to Odd Fellowship.
I rejoined my Lodge in the summer of 2017 and by early September I was again elected Vice Grand. The finances are now in order, but the Lodge remains tired and unsure of itself. I’ve brought in three new members and am working to find more. I still see the value in Odd Fellowship and what my Lodge brings to my community. But, it’s going to require dedication and work to bring it back from the brink. I may fail, but at least I’ll have tried.
I am an Odd Fellow, like my father and grandfather, before me and I will give my Lodge my best.