Three Link Plan Progress – The Certificate
April 2017 – Lewisburg Lodge No. 96
One of the “Links” of our Three Link Plan is to embrace our rich history and heritage that guide our purpose.
In order to reach back to our roots, our history, and heritage, we examined an original blank membership certificate that we have that was attached to our 1844 charter. If one examines IOOF documents from the Victorian period, you will see that they were very busy, ornate, and gaudy by today’s standards.
In today’s world, certificates are simple, not elegant, and really have no personalty. But, in the 1700’s and 1800’s they were very ornate and elegant. This was actually done, not only to impress the viewer, but to showcase the engraver’s talent. Remember, no Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator in those days! Engravings were done meticulously by hand on a lead lithograph plate, or other media to be printed. Much like an ornate tattoo today, it not only captures meaning, it display’s the artist’s talent.
If one examines our original membership certificate, you can see the symbols of the order, elaborate and varied fonts, and elements. The new member is also “caused” to sign the certificate in the margin…which was also common for Victorian times.
Now, transport yourself back to those days. Ceremonies were very formal, gentlemen and ladies attended in their finest attire. It was an “event”, something to look forward to, something to be reveled, something to be an honor to be a part of. Something that was meticulously planned and executed. Something mysterious and exciting. It captured the excitement and the honor of being an Odd Fellow. It was an event.
With all that said, our Lodge has decided, as part of our Three-Link Plan, to return to our roots, to make our initiations an event. How are we going to do that? It’s easy!
But first, we must consider the new member who is being initiated. We are making a first impression on them. We only get ONE chance to do that. But, more important, we are creating a memory for them. Yes, a memory. Something that will be with them for life, and that’s what it’s all about. A memory.
We are in the process of partnering with a neighboring Lodge to perform initiations. This was not uncommon, back in the day. We have an advertisement from an Odd Fellows magazine in the early 1900’s where a local Lodge “specializes in the initiatory degree”. Our neighboring Lodge is beautiful, historic, and has the proper furnishings for the initiation. Additionally, this strengthens our alliance between Brothers and Sisters, and there will be more people at the initiation! Our members will attend the initiation in their suit jackets…not jeans. This adds formality and reverence to the occasion. We are returning to our roots.
We are also adding a very special and personal dramatic element to close the ceremony, and give the new member a token to cherish and display, and to remind them of that evening…a memory.
Now, back to the discussion about our history and heritage…the Membership Certificate.
Our original Certificate is simply too big for modern times, and would be too expensive to reproduce and frame, so, unfortunately, it is not practical for our purposes. We need to modify it.
What our Lodge has done, is extract elements from the original 1844 Certificate, the wording, type fonts, symbols, actual elements, and made our own Membership Certificate. You will notice that, at the bottom of our Certificate, we used the actual two ladies from the original to surround our Lodge seal. How cool is that? We are continuing our rich heritage!
At the end of the Initiatory Degree Ceremony, the Noble Grand and the Lodge Secretary will approach the new member, who is standing at a podium in the middle of the room. The Secretary will be carrying a platter. The Platter will contain: The Membership Certificate, a quill pen, and an inkwell. The Noble Grand will read the certificate to the new member and will “cause” him to sign it in the margin. The Noble Grand and the Secretary will counter-sign with the quill pen and then retire to their stations where the Secretary will mount the Certificate in a frame and present to the new member.
Thus, we have added a very special and personal close to the Ceremony that carries forth our rich heritage and history, and we have given the new member a token of that evening that they can proudly display, just like in Victorian times. The return of investment is huge. But most important, we have given them a memory…every time they look at their Certificate, they will remember that evening and smile. That translates into excitement, and someone who will recruit new members. Revitalization.