Odd Fellowship is Progressive Part II
by Michael Greenzeiger, Grand Warden, Grand Lodge of California
Odd Fellowship is progressive, consisting of a series of degrees which each new member progresses through as they strengthen and deeper their connection to our Order. In the history of our lodges there is another manner in which participation is progressive of equal importance, namely the “progressive line.”
Unlike other types of organizations, which may find it desirable to have a set of officers or leaders that varies little from year to year, in Odd Fellowship we see value in giving as many brothers and sisters as possible the chance to participate in leadership. While, the “desk officer” positions of Recording Secretary, Financial Secretary, and Treasurer do often remain with the same individuals from year to year, there also exist the “line offices” which comprise a series of steps leading up through Noble Grand which are designed to be switched every year as the members advance. Traditionally, the line offices consist of:
1. Outside Guardian
2. Inside Guardian
3. Left Scene Supporter
4. Right Scene Supporter
7. Vice Grand
8. Noble Grand
9. Acting Past Grand
During the times when our lodges were much larger than today, often consisting of hundreds or thousands of members, it was very difficult to get into line and was considered quite prestigious. The average member would never get the chance to serve in these offices. Today, in most lodges there is ample opportunity to do so for those who wish to. In fact, being Noble Grand can and should be thought of as an important rite of passage. The leadership experience and confidence that a successful term as Noble Grand bestows cannot be underestimated in its importance to helping with the personal and professional development of our members.
It may be observed that the first six positions in the line are appointed and the remainder are the result of election. The line in no way implies that the right of the lodge to elect whomever they wish should be abrogated by this tradition. Rather, it remains the duty and responsibility of the lodge to reject any member for election if he or she is unfit for office.
The advantage of this system of anticipated offices is two-fold. Firstly, it gives the candidate for Noble Grand or Vice Grand the opportunity to experience the other ritual offices of the lodge in preparation for their term so that they are fully conversant in the operation of the lodge by the time they assume office. Secondly, it allows for a measure of predictability in who will assume the office of Noble Grand, enabling them to fully think through and prepare their program form their year in the principal chair.
While this arrangement may not be practical for a lodge which has only a handful of members and is still getting back on its feet, it can be of great value to a larger and more well-established lodge. I earnestly commend it to your attention.
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