Submitted by Seth Anthony
Triune Lodge #307 Middletown, PA
As I toured some new members around our Lodge room, I pointed to an old Encampment apron and collar on the wall. It was beautifully mounted and displayed. The bullion thread showed nary a bit of tarnish. It looked as if the regalia had been boxed up the minute it was made. “So, do we get to wear something like that?” inquired the wide-eyed neophyte. I sighed. “No. Here’s your white collar. I’m sorry about the stains.”
I can’t stress enough about how important the member experience is for fraternal groups. When someone joins an Order such as ours, they are looking for something. Often, that “something” is as simple as a place where they belong. When someone joins our organization, and pays our dues, they are exchanging their hard earned money for two concepts – community and opportunities. How we deliver on those two items varies with each member. Ensuring that every neophyte feels that their needs and expectations were met is important, and it is what keeps people coming back and recruiting new members.
What’s the impression we give when someone walks into one of our Lodges and sees beautiful regalia behind glass, only to be given a stained and well-worn white collar to wear during the meeting? What vibe do we give off when the officers don their cords and jewels, finding them frayed, discolored, and in held together by jury-rigged methods? How we wear the trappings of the Order matters, as it outwardly conveys our pride.
This pride extends beyond the walls of Lodge as well. Does your Lodge encourage your members to wear shirts, hats, or other apparel? How about lapel pins or other jewelry? As a Mason, I don’t go a day without wearing my ring. But, I’m proud of my Odd Fellows membership as well. My simple, gold three-link lapel pin has become my go to. I wear it every chance I get, in hopes that I’ll be able to talk about Odd Fellowship to someone new. Does your Lodge encourage your members to wear pins or jewels signifying their rank as past presiding officer? These are great ways for members to show pride in their work.
One project that I am looking forward to undertaking when and if I’m elected Noble Grand is creating a new members package. It will include a lapel pin (hopefully one unique to our Lodge), a high quality patent of membership (like the one that was shown earlier on this blog), an introductory guide to our Order and more. Helping a new member feel welcome and giving them tools to answer their questions, will help instill pride in them from the beginning. With this, you’ll be able to continue to build pride in your members, your Lodge, and the Order.
Having pride in our Order, and outwardly showing it, is not only acceptable, but encouraged. By showing that you are proud to be an Odd Fellow, you are demonstrating our Order has value to you. This, in turn, will help others see value in membership, helping to build your Lodge.
I am an Odd Fellow and damn proud of it.