WHAT IS ODD FELLOWSHIP?
Odd Fellowship signifies belief in a Supreme Being and in the Brotherhood and sisterhood of Mankind. These two beliefs are the only “requirements” for membership. The Order has no interest in denominational or political affiliations.
The Order is, and shall forever continue to be, bound to charitable and beneficent works, in visiting the sick, relieving the distressed, burying the dead, and educating the orphan and in the performance of all those reciprocal duties, which spring from our recognition of a Supreme Being.
Odd Fellowship is dedicated to broadening of the mind and the elevation of character without taking from the individual any of his/her rights or privileges or the duties each owes to his/her God or country. Odd Fellowship is the teaching and application of Friendship, Love, and Truth; of Faith, Hope, and Charity; and of Universal Justice. These are the principles of the Order’s doctrine, the basis for thought and action which will create peace and harmony among all peoples.
Odd Fellowship means social and international brotherhood and sisterhood. Odd Fellowship means service with no other hope of reward than the joy of a good deed well done and the memories, which sweeten the soul and elevate the character of humanity.
HISTORY OF ODD FELLOWSHIP
In July of 1817, Thomas Wildey, an Odd Fellow belonging to the Order of Odd Fellows Number 17 of London, England, emigrated to America and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in September 1817. In April 1819, he met with four other Odd Fellows who had come from England and they formed Washington Odd Fellow Lodge Number One in Baltimore. In February 1820, a Charter was received from the Duke of York’s lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Preston, County of Lancaster, England. This Charter listed the titles of “Washington Odd Fellow Lodge Number One”, as well as, “The Grand Lodge of Maryland, and of the United States of America” and gave power to grant Charters to other lodges on the North American Continent. Now, there are hundreds of Odd Fellow lodges covering virtually all of the Free World.
The names of Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Junior Odd Fellows, and Theta Rho Girls were developed over a considerable period of time. First the Odd Fellows were developed and later, realizing that there was a place in the organization for women, the Rebekah Degree was developed. Subsequently, The Junior Odd Fellows and then The Theta Rho Girls Organizations were added. The I.O.O.F. is, as it should be, continuing to develop, and currently both men and women of “good moral character” are allowed to join either an Odd Fellow or Rebekah Lodge or both by presenting a petition to the lodge of their choice and going through the investigative and approval process. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs may join the Order at the age of 16 years. The Junior Odd Fellows and the Theta Rho girls may join at age 8 years and remain until age 21.