Why Become an Odd Fellow or Rebekah?
Being a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), or Rebekah, means many things to men and women from all walks of life, some of which are, helping your community and those in need, honoring past traditions, and looking to improve the future.
With a humble beginning in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England. The Rebekahs were established in 1851 as a female auxiliary to the all-male Odd Fellows. The Rebekahs derived their name from the biblical character, Rebekah. Both organizations are famous for their loyalty, patriotism, for civic and national services, for humanitarianism, and for devotion to God and the cause of righteousness among mankind.
The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were formed before there were government programs to care for people. If people were sick or out of work, they suffered or perished. In many cases, there was no money to bury the dead. In Old England, it was considered “odd” and against social traditions for people to look out for, and care for, one another. Thus the name “Odd Fellows”, and their original command; “Visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan.”
Move forward a century and decades, and we come to the great depression. People were sick, out of work, and there were many orphans due to tough times and the loss of parents to disease. The Odd Fellows stepped in and helped brother and sister Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. They were offered financial assistance, helped to find jobs in towns where work was available, take care of ill members, and care for orphans and the elders by building large orphanages and senior care facilities. The orphanages offered medical care, education, and structure for children. They were grand complexes and buildings, mostly self-sustainable, some with their own farms. Many of which are still standing today. One such complex is in Sunbury.
Fast forward to today. Now we have government programs to care for those in need. Orphanages are no longer necessary due to foster care programs. However Odd Fellows still maintains care and retirement communities nationwide for our elder members. The original command, visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan, is somewhat out-dated but is a reminder of our rich history and traditions. In modern times, the command may be interpreted as; enhance our communities, protect our environment, and help those in need.
The organization has evolved. Both men and women can join either the the Odd Fellows, or Rebekahs. Many couples have joined nationwide. There are youth organizations and programs as well. As Odd Fellows, we are always bound by sacred obligations to extend the hand of fellowship to others.
The original name is still fitting because in these busy, and stressful times, there are many things that demand our attention and it is still somewhat “odd” for people to care about those in need or their communities. With government programs being cut back, we need to assist others and our community once again.
Our Lewisburg Lodge has a very rich history filled with tradition and ritual. It dates back to 1844. In 1894, the Lodge celebrated its 50th anniversary. The streets of Lewisburg were lavishly decorated. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs from all over the US and abroad were in town for a week of celebrations. The slogan was, “The town is yours”. Being an Odd Fellow or Rebekah was a true honor for anyone. Although times have changed, being an Odd Fellow or Rebekah is still a tremendous honor and requires dedication.
Our members believe in strong charitable and community work. We help frail seniors with work around their home, assist with community activities, sponsor charity events, and engage in fun and exciting social activities at the Lodge. Every year, we sponsor a local youth to join in the IOOF United Nations Educational Pilgrimage for Youth. In the Odd Fellows or Rebekahs, you will develop friendships that will last throughout life. Our Lodge and Degree work reinforces the principles of Odd Fellowship and reminds us of our mortal existence. Through Lodge work, we strive to answer the question, “How will I spend my life?”
In order to join either Odd Fellows or Rebekahs, one must be of good moral character, must be 16 years or older, believe in a Supreme Being, Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and be faithful to their Country.
If this sounds good to you, and you are ready to open a new and rewarding chapter in your life, please contact us!