THE GRAND LODGE OF EUROPE I.O.O.F.

A retrospective glance

 Harald Thoen

Harald Thoen

Past Deputy Sovereign Grand Master/Europe
Past President International Council
Past European Grand Sire
Past Grand Sire of Norway

Reading historical documents, one will soon discover that Grand Lodge Officers in Europe, since 1890ties, discussed the
possibilities of having a broader or wider European organization. The aim was then, as it is today, to have a common platform for Odd Fellowship in Europe.
Much alike the ideas of Thomas Wildey and our forefathers in America who firstly founded The Grand Lodge of
United States, later on altered to The Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
However, one will have to wait for another one hundred years before any perspective plans were put into force.
Giving a glimpse of the short history of the Grand Lodge of Europe I.O.O.F., I cannot but give reference to the
cooperating units and liaison councils in activity, prior to the institution of GLE. Some referred to more than others will.

EUROPEAN GRAND SIRES MEETING/CONFERENCE

From a report written by the Danish Grand Sire Petrus Beyer, in 1903, the following can be read:
“At the fifth Conference of the European Grand Sires in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 17th – 18th, the following were
present: Grand Sire Laurentz of Sweden, Grand Sire Gerlach of Germany, Grand Sire Philips of the Netherlands and
Grand Sire Petrus Beyer of Denmark. Grand Sire Hengst of Switzerland had with general regret sent his apologies”.
From the above, one may notice that the idea of having a European cooperating organization is almost as old as the
Order in Europe. Moreover, the idea of having a European Grand Lodge was born already during these meetings.
The archives shows regular Grand Sire Conferences from 1949 (Denmark) to 1989 (Germany). Most probably, frequent
meetings took place much earlier.

NORDIC GRAND SIRES MEETING
CENTRAL EUROPEAN GRAND SIRES MEETING
Trough years, Grand Sires, and from time to time elected Grand Lodge Officers, have met annually. Such meetings are
held in order to solve common matters and address widespread issues within the two regions.

THE FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT EUROPEAN JURISDICTIONS OF THE ODD FELLOW ORDER I.O.O.F.
(Prior to the merging of EF and ERLA)
During mid 1980ties, the Grand Sires of the Independent European jurisdictions all felt concerned as to the
development as to the membership on the American continent. Lack of unity in Europe and diversified profiles, led in
May 1989 to the foundation of The Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions of The Odd Fellow Order I.O.O.F
as an institution for cooperation. The historical event took place in Berlin, Germany.

The aim of The European Federation was to safeguard, promote and spread the principles of Odd Fellowship.
The leadership, The Executive Committee, consisted of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.
Regular Conferences were to take place every two years. Each jurisdiction had one vote.
It can be observed that the foundation of the Federation has greatly improved the communication between the jurisdictions.
It is indisputable that the frequency of these meetings and the fact that many of The European Grand Lodge
Officers stay in function over longer periods, formed an important element on a national and international level.

The Constitution was agreed upon on May 29th 1989, in Berlin, Germany. Present at the time was The Grand Sires of
Denmark Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherland/Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
With reference to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Grand Lodge of Europe, it is appropriate to emphasize the following
extracts from the very first approved Constitution:

- The purpose of the Federation shall be to protect, promote and extend principles of Odd Fellowship
- The individual jurisdictions agree to take active part in the work within the Federation
- Sovereign Grand Master and other elective Officers from SGL are welcome to attend regular sessions of the Federation
- The Federation accepts to work for establishing a world-wide organization of Odd Fellows!
- Similarities as to regalia, agreements as to amendments of rituals and possible common humanitarian activities
- The majority of the activity to take place in the sub-committees
- Sisters were able to be members in the sub-committees but not in the Executive Committee

At the time, the organization of Grand Lodges and Rebekah Assemblies did differ a lot from the present situation.
The Constitution of EF was amended on May 6th 2000 and November 29th 2003. The latter because of the 
reorganization, which took place due to the discontinuance of ERLA.
The By-Laws of EF were adopted in Lucerne, Switzerland on May 18th 1990, and later on amended in line with the Constitution.

During the extraordinary European Grand Sire Conference, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 4th and 5th
1995, it was decided to draft a note of ”all activities of the European Jurisdictions”, in order to present broad outlines
as to the future cooperation in Europe. The draft led to a workshop in Frankfurt on May 15th 1995. Some adjustments
took place at a later stage. This activity was among the very first steps for a united Order in Europe.

EUROPEAN REBEKAH LEADERS’ ASSOCIATION - ERLA
Since the Grand Sires established The European Federation, the Rebekah leaders, in October 1989 in Stockholm,
Sweden, found it timely correct to institute the European Rebekah Leaders’ Association. The official institution took
place on June 1st 1991, in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Constitution was adopted the very same day, later on ratified by the
Grand Sires Conference in May 1992.
In spite of various disparities, the Constitution of the Rebekah Leaders’ Association had nearly the same object and
contents as for the European Federation.
Prior to establishing ERLA, the Rebekah leaders frequently met through a period of 10 years.
On May 4th 2003, ERLA held an extraordinary conference with the following item on the agenda:
Do the Rebekah leaders want to take part of the leadership of the Odd Fellow Order in Europe by membership
in The European Federation?”
Today, we all know the outcome of the question.
ERLA issued a jewel for its members. The use of the said jewel ended when ERLA merged with European Federation in 2003.

THE FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT EUROPEAN JURISDICTIONS OF THE ODD FELLOW ORDER I.O.O.F.
(Subsequent to the merging of EF and ERLA)
Having been operating since 14 years (EF) respectively 13 years (ERLA), the Executive Committees realized that the
time had come to assemble male and female leaders in one unity.
This also with a background in the changes that took place in the individual European Jurisdictions Executive Committees in recent years.
Pursuant to By-Laws Article 8 of ERLA and Article 7 of EF, Chairman, Hans Pedersen, Denmark, by letter dated November
9th 2003, invited the Executive Committees of EF and ERLA to meet in Copenhagen, on November 29th 2003.
The agenda had two items only:
- A motion to merge EF and ERLA, as from January 1st 2004
- To set up an Executive Committee consisting of representatives from the present Executive Committees,until the first ordinary meeting takes place.
In the joint meeting, Chairman Hans Pedersen gave a well-documented information of the situation in each jurisdiction, as of the present date.
Furthermore, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the European Federation, he presented a draft for common
Constitution and By-Laws. Both adopted with minor corrections.

During the years to come, the European Federation received numerous inquiries of membership from private persons in Europe.
Unfortunately, none of these led to further development. Instead, the Executive Committee and subcommittees supported the activity on the rather newly
established units in Poland, Spain, The Check Republic and Estonia.

There is no doubt that the Europeans frequently, through International Council and European Federation, advertised for leadership from Sovereign Grand Lodge.
Such lack of leadership clearly came to sight when a lodge in Austria was instituted, without the knowledge of any European Grand Lodge.
Much to the surprise of the Europeans, Sovereign Grand Lodge announced that they had instituted a lodge – Paracelsus Loge- in Salzburg, Austria.
The fact that some of the members were past members (expelled) in Germany, and the fact that the lodge meetings often took place in Germany,
created a state of turmoil in the relationship. The lodge was supposed to be subordinated Sovereign Grand Lodge, and not within the sphere of the European Federation.

After a couple of years, several negotiations and heavy discussions, the Charter was surrendered to The Sovereign Grand Lodge.

The Committee for Sisterly and Brotherly Matters was a very important committee within EF. Especially in connection with
the upcoming gender equality, as the jurisdictions prepared themselves for a greater equality within the Executive Committees/Grand Lodges.

Furthermore, this committee was asked to develop a new Unwritten Work, based on the old historical ones.

The International Council is not substantially referred to on this occasion. However, it should be noted that the EF representatives to the
International Council, in the period 2000 to 2006, presented several critical questions. Among those, the purpose of the said Council
and its relation and subordination to The Sovereign Grand Lodge. In between the lines, one could read the intention of having IC being
an International Leader Board. Making the Order worldwide, with a firm leadership.

Sovereign Grand Master did not accept the idea nor did the representatives of SGL to IC. They made it very clear that there is but one
leadership within the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. That is The Sovereign Grand Lodge; being supreme.

In connection with the 2005 session of The Sovereign Grand Lodge, the Europeans made some important progress as the Committee on
State of the Order agreed to make a report in favor of an Independent Grand Lodge of Europe. Moreover, in connection with the 2005 IC
meeting in Willowbrook, USA, Brother John Mrizek moved; “that the International Council recommend the Federation of Independent
European Jurisdictions to give consideration to reforming a Grand Lodge of Europe: further that the petition for the same be presented
to this Council for review and submission to The Sovereign Grand Lodge”.

Sovereign Grand Master C. LaVaughn Lawson was present at the time. Much to the surprise of the Europeans, he had no objections.
The first step towards an initiation of a Grand Lodge for Europe was taken.
Brother John Mrizek, being a Grand Representative to The Sovereign Grand Lodge for many years, was a person to
whom the voting SGL representatives listened.
Passing through International Council had the advantage that the petition would be issued in accordance with SGL/American protocol.

Being one of the representatives to International Council at the time, Grand Sire Harald Thoen presented the following text to the 2006
Conference of European Federation in Copenhagen, Denmark:

“We – the Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions of the Odd Fellow Order I.O.O.F. – move, based on the Report No. 142,
Committee on State of the Order, SGL-session 2005, that a petition for a Charter for an Independent Grand Lodge of Europe,
duly signed by the Grand Sires in all the European jurisdictions, is to be handed over to the International Council, during 2006 session
in Copenhagen June 9th – 10th with the aim to present the petition to
The Sovereign Grand Lodge”.
The above was unanimously agreed upon by the eight European Grand Sires and sent International Council.

INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL/INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL OF ODD FELLOWS
The institution of International Council took place in Copenhagen in May 2nd 1949. The very first Executive Committee consisted of;
Grand Sire Knud Nielsen, Denmark, President, Grand Sire Ernst Höijer, Sweden, Vice President and Sovereign Grand Secretary Edward G. Ludvigsen, USA, Secretary.
The history of International Council is not to be repeated here. However, the name illustrates the mission. Only a couple of years later at the
meeting in Baltimore 1951, a request arose as to have Rebekah’s as members in the Council.
The request was denied. However, from 1999, they were granted membership.
For quite a long time, the meeting in International Council took place every 3rd year, in which 30 to 40 Grand Lodge
Officers participated. Today, the name is amended to International Advisory Council, with 13 members including two representatives from Manchester Unity.
The Advisory Council meet in connection with the SGL session.

THE GRAND LODGE OF EUROPE I.O.O.F.
Through the years, Grand Sires and Grand Lodge Officers from the Independent Grand Lodges in Europe have visited the
annual sessions of The Sovereign Grand Lodge. This includes the Chairman of the European Federation.
Knowing that the petition for a Charter to a European Grand Lodge, sanctioned by the Committee State on the Order,
was an item on the agenda at the 2006 session, Chairman Hans Pedersen held an emotional and well-prepared speech,
to the SGL Officers and several hundred Grand Representatives present. The speech ended with the following sentence:
My Sisters and Brothers, we have the requisite courage. Believe me; you will this GLS-session make a milestone in the
history of the Odd Fellow Order, if you let us, the Europeans, bring home from Winston-Salem 2006 a Charter for a Grand Lodge in Europe!

The presentation of the petition on August 23rd 2006 did not come as a surprise to the representative of SGL, but much as a surprise
to some Past SGMs. On behalf of the European Federation, Grand Sire Hans Pedersen, being Chairman of the Federation and
Grand Sire Harald Thoen, gave a PowerPoint presentation on how the Europeans would see the links towards SGL, in the future.
PSGM Douglas Moore stated that he, in the presentation, had seen a discrepancy and immediately moved the matter to be adjourned, which was adopted at 11.15 AM.

Contrary to the sessions in European Grand Lodges, the “real work” takes place in the committees through the week. Bills, Motions, Reports
and other matters from the committees, are later on to be decide in plenary decision.

European Grand Sires present at the time, Hans Pedersen, Lars Fryklund, Tapio Katajamäki and Harald Thoen, immediately started to
visit committees having special interest in the petition forwarded. As always, the European visitors were very much welcomed and allowed
to present their views. Especially, the visit to the Committees State on the Order and Fraternal Relations. The latter in which Harald Thoen
was a member. Both gave the Europeans the possibility to discuss the present situation for the Order in America and Europe.
Looking at the huge loss of members on the American continent during the last decades, even American Sisters and Brothers understood the
claim for a Grand Lodge in Europe. Still, those several hundred voting Grand Representatives had the final decision.
During late evening and early night, the Europeans searched their PowerPoint presentation, in order to find the discrepancy mentioned the day before.
For sake of order, a new presentation was prepared for the next day.

Reading the Journal of Proceedings, from the 2006 session of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, one will notice that Resolution no 3 from the
Executive Committee and Committee on Fraternal Relations states the following: «Now, Be It Resolved that this Sovereign Grand Lodge
grant the requested petition for a Charter for the Independent Grand Lodge in Europe”.

At exactly 11.15 AM, on August 24th, Sovereign Grand Master Michael W. Dutton called upon the Europeans. The revised presentation was given,
both verbally and by the said PowerPoint. The arguments and the presentation did not call for any further discussion.
A total silence took place in the Lodge hall (being a congress hall in Hotel Radisson). Each one waited for a reaction from any of the Past Sovereign Grand Masters.
The Europeans present had a tense expression. No reaction came, and petition to issue a Charter to a European Grand Lodge was unanimously adopted.

Even the text of such a new Charter was adopted, and it reads:

The Sovereign Grand Lodge of the

Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Friendship, Love and Truth

To all whom it may concern:
Know ye that The Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, by virtue of the authority vested in
it, doth hereby create into distinct Independence in Odd Fellowship the
Grand Lodge of Europe
With full power in all matters relating to Odd Fellowship within the territory and jurisdiction known
as the continent of Europe as hereby described:
Europe is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean,
to the south by the Mediterranean See, and – according to the traditional geographic definition
– to the south-east by the waterways adjoining the Mediterranean to and including the Black See
and the Caucasus Mountains (in Caucasia). Europe’s eastern frontier is vague, but has traditionally
been given as the divide of the Ural Mountains and the Caspian See to the south-east.
The Urals are considered by most to be a geographical and tectonic landmark separating Asia from
Europe; except the lands known as the United Kingdom of Great Brittan and Northern Ireland
and the republic of Ireland.

And said Grand Lodge is authorized and empowered to direct, supervise and control all matters pertaining to
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows within the jurisdiction of said
Grand Lodge.
Provided always, that said Grand Lodge shall render strict obedience to the customs and usages of the Order,
in that it 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; in the performance of all those reciprocal duties
and benevolence which spring from our recognition of a Supreme Being and the Brotherhood of Man and
from the inculcation and practices of Friendship, Love and Truth.

Given under the seal of The Sovereign Grand Lodge and the signatures of its Officers, at Winston-Salem, State of
North Carolina in the United States of America, this 24th day of August, 2006,

Attest:

Sovereign Grand Secretary                                                           Sovereign Grand Master

                                                                                                      Deputy Sovereign Grand Master

                                                                                                      Sovereign Grand Warden

Prior to the Installation of Officers in The Sovereign Grand Lodge and International Association of Rebekah Assemblies
for the term 2006 – 2007, Brother SGM Michael W. Dutton presented a newly printed Charter to the Grand Lodge of Europe.
Most probably the very last official duty, as the Installation of his successor took place the very same evening.
The 2006 SGL-session took place in Winston-Salem, the domicile of The Sovereign Grand Lodge. This official act took place
in the 188th year of our beloved Order.
Since decades, discussions in between SGL and European Grand Lodge Officers have taken place. Disagreements as to
leadership, even lack of leadership, (seen with the eyes of the Europeans), lack of power to International Council (in spite
of By-Laws and Accord) and to some extend; mistrust, had finally ended. In brackets, it could be mentioned that Australasia
(Australia and New Zealand) got their Grand Lodge Charter in 1868!
The Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions called for its final Annual Conference in Oslo, Norway on June
15th 2007. On the agenda, one could find election of Officers to the Grand Lodge of Europe, adoption of Constitution
and seal of the same and report of the European Youth Committee.
On June 16th, Sovereign Grand Master Robert J. Robbins installed the very first Officers of the Grand Lodge of Europe

I.O.O.F., being:

European Grand Sire                                                   Hans Pedersen, Denmark
Sister Deputy European Grand Sire:                           Árný Gudjohnsen, Iceland
Brother Deputy European Grand Sire                          Lars Fryklund, Sweden
European Grand Secretary                                          Harald Thoen, Norway
European Grand Treasurer                                          Brigitte Fuhrmann, Germany
European Grand Marshal                                             Wim Knibbe, Netherlands/Belgium
European Grand Chaplain                                            Hans-Ulrich Bohren, Switzerland
European Deputy Grand Secretary                              Marjatta Steiner, Finland

GLE 2007

In addition, the following representatives from The Sovereign Grand Lodge participated in the ceremony:
Past Sovereign Grand Master Jon Petersen, Past Sovereign Grand Master Michael W. Dutton, Sovereign Grand Secretary
Terry Barrett and President International Association of Rebekah Assemblies Sandra K. Young.

It may be observed that the petition from European Federation/International Council, as well as Report No. 142 from
Committee on State of the Order (2005 session in London, Canada) and Resolution No. 3 from the Executive
Committee and Committee on Fraternal Relations (2006 session in Winston-Salem, USA), contained the text:
Independent Grand Lodge in Europe.

For historical reasons, and in order to safeguard the exact text of Resolution No. 3, it is hereby repeated, as printed in
Journal of Proceedings of The Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows held in Winton-Salem, North Carolina 2006:

Resolution No. 3
PSGMs Petersen of Arkansas, Lohman of the District of Columbia and Rep. Mrizek of Illinois from the International
Council presented the following, which was referred to the Executive Committee on Committee on Fraternal Relations.

Wheras, the members of the European Federation wish to dissolve their Association and form a new
Independent Grand Lodge of Europe, and
Whereas, there has been submitted a Petition to The Sovereign Grand Lodge for a Charter to form a Grand
Lodge of Europe, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (copy of which is attached to this Resolution) and
Whereas, this Petition has been duly signed by the Grand Sire of each of the following Independent
Jurisdictions: Denmark; Finland; Germany; Iceland; the Netherlands and Belgium; Norway; Sweden and Switzerland,and
Whereas, it is understood that the above jurisdictions will surrender their Independent Charters and be rechartered by the new Grand Lodge of Europe, and
Whereas, after much discussion, the International Council voted unanimously to recommend the above noted and attached Petition for a Charter for a new Grand Lodge in Europe.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that this Sovereign Grand Lodge grant the requested Petition for a Charter for the Independent Grand Lodge of Europe.
Looking at the Charter for the Grand Lodge of Europe, dated August 24th 2006, one will notice that the Charter reads:
The Sovereign Grand Lodge……..doth hereby create into distinct Independence in Odd Fellowship the Grand Lodge of Europe with full power….
Certainly, a significant difference as the word Independent is omitted.

In accordance with Resolution No. 3, the agreement with Sovereign Grand Lodge and the power vested in the Charter,
European Grand Sire Hans Pedersen issued new Charters to the jurisdictions, dated June 2007 in the 189th year of the Order.

As previously mentioned, a major part of the activity within the Grand Lodge of Europe is done within the
sub-committees. Reports from all activities as well as financial reports are to be found in the Journal of Proceedings
from the Conferences/Grand Lodge of Europe Meetings. However, certain programs or items needs to mentioned.

Constitution – Membership in the Grand Lodge of Europe – The Degree of Wisdom.
The newly elected Officers of GLE, Sisters and Brothers from eight jurisdictions, all having different backgrounds, firstly
decided to have the following three items in place:
- A revised Constitution which could be adopted by the European Grand Lodges
- An acceptance among the Grand Lodges as to membership in GLE for both Sisters and Brothers
- A degree, which declared the exalted position of the members of GLE, and a degree emphasizing the messages of the Lodge- and Encampment rituals

On March 14th 2007, an extraordinary Conference in European Federation took place in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The aim of the meeting was to reach a mutual consent regarding a Constitution for the upcoming European Grand Lodge, in due time before the institution in Oslo, Norway, in May 2007.
In order to fulfill the requirements forced by diversified Constitutions and By-Laws within each European Grand Lodge, serious but earnest discussions took place.
Both were unanimously agreed upon, and later to be adopted by the 2007 session of The Sovereign Grand Lodge.
Large and small alterations, of the Constitutions and By-Laws, have later on taken place during the Grand Lodge of Europe Meetings. The annual, later every two years meeting,
altered name from Conference to Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting.
The last and a major one took place at the Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2015, in which the legislative power was transferred
from the GLE Officers to the board of Grand Sires.
The qualifications as to membership within GLE was not a difficult task. The Officers of GLE and the jurisdictions agreed upon the following:
“Members of the Grand Lodge of Europe I.O.O.F. are:
- The European Grand Sires who signed the petition for a Charter to the Grand Lodge of Europe
- All Sisters and Brothers having received the Degree of Wisdom”

The Officers of GLE decided that the degree should have a content strongly related to the basic tenets of our Order, but still different from the other degrees within the Order.

Rolf Nordenstam

Past Grand Chaplain, Rolf Nordenstam, Sweden, was engaged and presented an ethical and philosophical ritual. Known as the Degree of Wisdom.
The degree is given to all applicants upon their inauguration, followed by a lecture.
The total number of Sisters and Brothers, being members of The Grand Lodge of Europe, prior to the Oslo 2017-meeting is 660.

Unwritten Work
In Europe, the usage and knowledge of the Unwritten Work has varied throughout the years. Moreover, one noticed
that the jurisdictions did work with diversified volumes, all of course issued by The Sovereign Grand Lodge. Obvious
discrepancies could be seen regarding the Unwritten Work for the Rebekah’s. One of the reasons being that Rebekah’s
in America has had, and still has, only one Lodge degree – the so-called “Schyler Colfax degree”. Contrary to Europe
having had the same number of degrees as the Brothers, since more than one hundred years.

At the turn of the century, Grand Sire Herman Petit dit de la Roche, the Netherlands/Belgium, on behalf of the Committee on
Inside Matters, moved that European Federations should start “working on an Unwritten Work for Europe”.
The Norwegians were at the time, preparing an educational membership program, in which a big photo session was planned.
In order to combine the both, Deputy Grand Sire Harald Thoen being a member of the Committee on Inside Matters, was assigned the task.
Discussions on the profile, content and present use of the “old” UW’s took place along the road. A final agreement on how the UW is to be
perceived and used, was unanimously agreed upon among the European Grand Lodges. The latter is to be found in the preface of the book European Unwritten Work.
Volume I – for Brothers- produced and distributed to the eight European Grand Lodges, was finalized in the time of the European Federation.
In the connection with the merger of EF and ERLA, the discussion of having an UW Volume II for Sisters arose. The Grand Lodge of Europe,
at the time, soon noticed that one could see dissimilarities among the Sisters use of signs and passwords. The decision was soon taken, and Volume II was produced, shaped and covered identical with Volume I.
The Polish Sisters and Brothers received their Unwritten Work, Volume I and II, in connection with the Institution of the Polish Grand Lodge in 2014.

UW

The Sisters and Brothers in Europe today are having an Unwritten Work in which historical signs and passwords are expressed in a clearly manner, by text and photos.
The Unwritten Work for Europe is printed in 11 copies only.
DVD’S of both volumes are safely secured in the vault of the Grand Lodge of Denmark, Copenhagen, being the domicile of the Grand Lodge of Europe.
The majority of the members of the Order will never have access to the UW, nor to study the same. However, together with the rituals, the
Unwritten Work is of tremendous importance historically and educationally.

Long Term Plan
The third Annual Conference took place in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 2009. A Long Term Plan for the period

2010 – 2014, was presented and adopted. The Vision stated; the Odd Fellow Order shall give each Sister and Brother knowledge,
values and aƫtudes in such a way that they may contribute to a better society through their conduct of 
life.

Expansion- Strengthening/Personality – Rituals and Ethical Content – External Activity- Information/Public Visibility-
Organization – International Activities were all parts of the plan.
The intention of the Long Term plan was to focus on the development of the Order in Europe through the key words:
Purpose – Values – Strategies – Conduct.
The eight Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland 2015, adopted a new, or revised, plan, named “Identity
of the Odd Fellow Order in Europe”. The Identity, underlines the Mission and Vision, Ethics and Rituals, Values and Behavior.

European Youth Committee
During 1980ties, several European jurisdictions participated in a youth exchange, taking place in America as well as in
Europe. However, the program came to a stop as some unpleasant visits were reported. The focus was then directed
towards United Nations Pilgrimage for youth, run and supported by The Sovereign Grand Lodge. Since 1992, 40 to 50
young delegates from Europe have participated yearly.
European Grand Treasurer Clarence Wilberg, Sweden, has since years been Chairman of European Youth Committee in
addition to being tour leader for many years.
Having had several complaints, as to how the UNP program is carried out, the Grand Lodge of Europe has, and still is,
discussing an alteration from USA/Canada to Europe.

Expansion
Through the final years of European Federation/ERLA and the period of existence of the Grand Lodge of Europe, the
European jurisdictions have initiated, strengthened and supported subordinated units in Czech Republic (Grand Lodge
of Denmark), Estonia (Grand Lodge/Rebekah Assembly of Finland), Italy (Grand Lodge of Switzerland), Poland (Grand
Lodge of Sweden) and Spain (Grand Lodge of Denmark).
Since years, the Grand Lodge of Sweden has successfully been working in Poland. The Swedish and Polish members
finally reached their goal, when the Grand Lodge of Poland was instituted on September 27th 2014. The institution
took place in the city of Wroclaw. European Grand Sire Lars Fryklund, of Sweden, had the pleasure of being the
presiding Officer during the ceremony.
It should be recalled that an Independent Grand Lodge of Poland was instituted on June 30th 1925, which ceased to
exist on November 22nd 1938.
The Grand Lodge of Norway is presently considering the possibility of introducing Odd Fellowship in Ukraine.

Patriarch/Matriarch - Military Council
Patriarch Militant is an official branch within the Order. The history of Patriarch Militants dates all the way back to
1870ies. In Europe, the branch is in operation in Denmark and Iceland, and shows increasing membership-figures.
Numbers of Cantons have as well increased during the last decade. The Grand Lodge of Europe took active part in the
struggle of having the leadership of the European Patriarchs Militant/Matriarchs Militant transferred from America to
Europe. A struggle, which ended with the institution of Military Council Europe I.O.O.F. in Copenhagen, Denmark, on
January 10th 2015.

Closing words
One main idea, which the founding Sisters and Brothers of the Grand Lodge of Europe took upon themselves, was that
the preamble should lead to a stronger approach among all members in Europe, not necessarily elected Grand Lodge
Officers only. It was desirable to create a wider understanding and respect for the differences one could see from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
In retrospect, one will be able to see that these perspectives are not yet fulfilled.
The Grand Lodge of Europe I.O.O.F. is still in its very beginning and will certainly move with the time. May all members
in Europe feel they are a part of the movement in the years to come.

152 years ago, a statue in honor of Thomas Wildey was unveiled in Baltimore. The Statue of Charity. May the inscription
on the monument, an extract from one of his speeches, be a guiding principle for members of the Order in Europe:
He who realizes that the true mission of man on earth is to rise above the level of individual influence and recognize the
Fatherhood of God overall and for Brotherhood of Man is nature’s true nobleman”.

Thomas Wildey

Many people have worked with the goal being able to establish a common Grand Lodge for the Odd Fellow Order in Europe.
I myself have participated in this work over many years. Years of hardship, but also years of joy and cooperation across national borders.
This report of the final years of the European Federation and the first years of the Grand Lodge of Europe is dedicated to the following persons,
who through years fought for communication and collaboration within Europe
– a European Grand Lodge:

- Past Grand Sire Preben O. Rasmussen, Denmark
  Past Deputy Sovereign Grand Master
  Past President International Council
  Past Chairman European Federation

- Past Grand Sire Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
  Past Deputy Sovereign Grand Master
  Past President International Council
  Past Chairman European Federation

- Past Grand Sire Penti Grönberg, Finland
  Past President International Council

- Past Grand Sire Hans Pedersen, Denmark
  Past Deputy Sovereign Grand Master
  Past President International Council
  Past Chairman European Federation

- Past Deputy Grand Sire Árný Gudjohnsen, Iceland
  Past Deputy European Grand Sire
  Past Member International Council

The dedication of course includes European Sisters, being members of International Council, Grand Lodges and
Rebekah Assemblies in Europe, who participated in the fulfillment of the Grand Lodge of Europe I.O.O.F.
The following Americans are widely appreciated for their active participation:
Past Sovereign Grand Master Jon Petersen, Past President International Council, United States of America
Past Sovereign Grand Master Harry Lohman, Past President International Council, United States of America
Past Grand Representative to The Sovereign Grand Lodge, John Mrizek, Past President International Council,
United States of America

Sources are retrieved from:
- The archives of the Grand Lodge of Norway
- The archives of the Grand Lodge of Denmark
- The archives of the Grand Lodge of Europe
- The Grand Lodge of Europe – history and idea by Past European Grand Sire Hans Pedersen
- Private archives

The titles used in this report are from the current time.

Officers of the Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions of the Odd Fellow Order:

1989– 1992                        Chairman Preben O. Rasmussen, Denmark
                                           Vice Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                           Secretary Thomas Jessen, Denmark
                                           Treasurer Dag Wallén, Sweden

1992 – 1994                      Chairman Preben O. Rasmussen, Denmark
                                          Vice Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                          Secretary Johan Korch, Denmark
                                          Treasurer Dag Wallén, Sweden

1994 – 1996                      Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                          Vice Chairman Arne Beckman, Sweden
                                          Secretary Urs Grossenbacher, Switzerland
                                          Treasurer Oddvar Granlund, Norway

1996- 1998                        Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                          Vice Chairman Arne Beckman, Sweden
                                          Secretary Urs Grossenbacher, Switzerland
                                          Treasurer Oddvar Granlund, Norway

1998 – 2000                      Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                          Vice Chairman Arne Beckman, Sweden
                                          Secretary Urs Grossenbacher, Switzerland
                                          Treasurer Oddvar Granlund, Norway

2000 – 2002                      Chairman Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland
                                          Vice Chairman Hans Pedersen, Denmark
                                          Secretary Urs Grossenbacher, Switzerland
                                          Treasurer Bror Krause, Finland

2002 – May 2004             Chairman Hans Pedersen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Hans Schaap, Netherlands/Belgium
                                         Secretary Lars Jörgensen, Denmark
                                         Treasurer Bror Krause, Finland

May 2004 – 2006             Chairman Hans Pedersen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Ulla Rapphed, Sweden
                                         Secretary Árný Gudjohnsen, Iceland
                                         Treasurer Bror Krause, Finland
                                         Member Wim Knibbe, Netherlands/Belgium

2006 – 2007                     Chairman Hans Pedersen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Wim Knibbe, Netherlands/Belgium
                                         Secretary Árný Gudjohnsen, Iceland
                                         Treasurer Lars Fryklund, Sweden
                                         Member Wim Knibbe

Officers of the European Rebekah Leaders’ Association:

1989 – 1992                     Chairman Rigmor Dam, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Anniki Virtanen, Finland
                                         Secretary Birthe Stærk
                                         Treasurer Salome Rytkölä

1992 – 1994                     Chairman Rigmor Dam, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Anniki Virtanen, Finland
                                         Secretary Birthe Stærk, Denmark
                                         Treasurer Salome Rytkölä, Finland

1994-1996                        Chairman Sigrun Laxdal, Iceland
                                         Vice Chairman Ingvild Samuelsen, Norway
                                         Secretary Maria Dalberg, Sweden
                                         Treasurer Rea Helling, Finland

1996- 1998                       Chairman Sigrun Laxdal, Iceland
                                         Vice Chairman Ingvild Samuelsen, Norway
                                         Secretary Maria Dalberg
                                         Treasurer Rea Helling

1998 – 2000                     Chairman Anna Asgreen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Lillemor Johnsen, Norway
                                         Secretary Elisabeth Thomsen, Denmark
                                         Treasurer Rea Helling, Finland

2000 – 2002                     Chairman Anna Asgreen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Lillemor Johnsen, Norway
                                         Secretary Elisabeth Thomsen, Denmark
                                         Treasurer Rea Helling, Finland

2002 – May 2004             Chairman Anna Asgreen, Denmark
                                         Vice Chairman Ulla Rapphed, Sweden
                                         Secretary Elisabeth Thomsen, Denmark
                                         Treasurer Joan Baars-Lazeron, the Netherlands/Belgium

The Annual Conference/every other year Grand Lodge of Europe Meetings have taken place as follows:

First Annual Conference

2007     June 15th – 17th Oslo, Norway
Institution and installation of Officers

Second Annual Conference
2008     May 22nd – 25th Lucerne, Switzerland

Third Annual Conference
2009     June 12th – 14th Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Fourth Annual Conference
2010 May 28th – 30th Stockholm, Sweden

Fifh Annual Conference
2011 May 27th – 29th Helsinki, Finland

Sixth Annual Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting
2012 June 1st – 3rd Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Seventh Annual Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting
2013 May24th – 26th Copenhagen, Denmark

Eighth Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting
2015 May 29th – 31st Reykjavik, Iceland

Nineth Grand Lodge of Europe Meeting
2017 May 19th – 21st Oslo, Norway

The Membership development for Grand Lodge of Europe I.O.O.F., for the period 2007 – 2016:

                             2007                    2010                    2012                    2016

Sisters                  37,774                 38,414                 38,314                 37,646

Brothers               58.537                 57,210                 56,373                 53,329

Total                     96,311                 95,624                 94,687                 90,975


The Grand Lodge for Europe, its history and idea - and the meaning of the Grand Lodge as an important link in the international Odd Fellow Order

There is no Odd Fellow community without International Odd Fellow community. A community, in which the European jurisdictions have always played an active – and in many connections – decisive part.

In order to systematize the article a little, I will outline the most important elements in the international cooperation throughout the times, as it has looked with European eyes:

  • ”Nordic Grand Sire Meeting” with participation from the five Nordic jurisdictions Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
  • ”South European Grand Sire Meeting” with participation from Switzerland, The Netherlands/Belgium and Germany.
  • From app. 1900 – 1990 : ”European Grand Sires Conference” with participation of the European jurisdictions at that time.
  • From 1990: ”The Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions” (hereafter called The Federation), which has today become ”The European Grand Lodge” (hereafter called GLE). The participants are here, except for the five Nordic jurisdictions, the jurisdictions from Belgium/The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.
  • ”European Rebekah Leaders Association” (hereafter called ERLA), with participation of the European sisterly leaders.
  • “International Council” (hereafter called I.C.) with participation of ”The Sovereign Grand Lodge” (hereafter called SGL), ”International Assemble Rebekah Institution”
    (hereafter called IARA), ”The European Grand Lodge”, (hereafter called GLE), as well as ”Grandlodge for Australasia”.   
  • ”Sovereign Grand Lodge” , at the yearly conferences of which Europe throughout the years has been represented by one – and mostly – more jurisdictions. The connection between SGL and GLE takes place through the office ”Deputy Sovereign Grand Master”, who is the Grand Sire for GLE at any time being in force.
  • ”The Australian Asiatic Grand Lodge”.

But I will allow myself to concentrate on the so-called ”Federation of European jurisdictions” – now ”The Grand Lodge for Europe” – and “International Council” – and then more or less sporadically mention the other mentioned parts of cooperation.

”The Federation of Independent European Jurisdictions of The Odd Fellow Order, I.O.O.F.” was constituted in 1990 in Lucerne, Switzerland and was amongst others a result of many years’ considerations about the connection between the European jurisdictions and SGL,  but especially a result of considerations about the future of the Odd Fellow Order in Europe.

For many years before 1990, representatives for Europe had with concern looked at the decline of the Odd Fellow Order on the Norh American Continent, and had at innumerable meetings and  speeches in SGL tried to influence our American brothers to do something radically, but unfortunately it was impossible to make SGL realize the necessity of changes – and even this lack of response from SGL became – as mentioned already – one of the reasons for establishing ”The Federation”.

In 1988 the European jurisdictions decided to form their own association, or rather to strengthen the cooperation, which already existed through the so-called ”European Grand Sire’s Conference”.

It has not been possible for me to find out, when the meetings between the European Grand Sires started, but in the Danish Grand Sire Petrus Beyer’s written report from the fourteenth session of the Danish Grand Lodge in 1903, the following can be read:

”At the fifth conference of the European Grand Sires were present in Copenhagen on 17th – 18th May 1902 Grand Sire Laurentz, Sweden, Grand Sire Gerlach, Germany, Grand Sire Philips, The Netherlands and Grand Sire Petrus Beyer, Denmark. Grand Sire Hengst, Switzerland, had with general regret had to send his apologies”.

Out of this can be seen that the European cooperation is almost as old as the presence of the Order in Europe.
As previously mentioned the first thoughts were to form a Grand Lodge for Europe, but it was decided to form a Federation, and the first drafts of regulations and by-laws were treated in 1988-1989. Upon a lot of written communication, an extraordinary meeting in ”European Grand Sire’s Conference” was held, when the final drafts were agreed upon, and the first board was elected as follows: As President Grand Sire Preben O. Rasmusssen, Denmark, as Vice-President Grand Sire Daniel Corrodi, Switzerland, as Secretary Grand Secretary Thomas Jessen, Denmark, and as Treasurer Grand Sire Dag Wallen, Sweden.
It should here be mentioned that The Federation was formed in a way that only the brotherly part of a jurisdiction could be represented. This lead to the fact that the European Rebekah Assembly two years later – in 1992 – created European Rebekah Leaders Association. Today it definitely looks somewhat different – but hereabout later.

As previously noted ”The Federation” primarily was created, because an organization was needed, which could stick together the Order in Europe and control, how the individual jurisdictions represented – or did not represent – the Order externally. At the same time the jurisdiction accepted its commitment to spread the Order in amongst others the Eastern Europe. Therefore on the first conference of The Federation four committees were established:

1.    Committee for spreading the Order to countries in Europe
2.    Committee for humanitarian tasks
3.    Committee for rituals and religious aspects
4.    Committee for international relations

In the period with The Federation, one of the results in the committee work was amongst others the new ”Unwritten Work” issued in 2002. Gradually there came many lodges in Poland,  Estonia,  Czech Republic and Spain, also having their source in initiatives in The Federation. Overall it is still worked with the mentioned four subtopics in the new Grand Lodge for Europe.
By the way in respect of the endeavours of the Federation to establish lodges in European countries, in which no Grand Lodge existed,  this work required an agreement with SGL, as The Federation did not want SGL to establish lodges in Europe according to American model. This led to certain disputes between SGL and The Federation. Disputes, which we on the European side thought were settled with the agreement, signed by both parties in 2001, the so-called ”Accord”. Unfortunately it quickly turned out that SGL did not interpret the Accord in the same way as we did, for which reason an amendment of the wording in the Accord became absolutely necessary.

A proposal of amendment on this subject should have been treated on a meeting in I.C. April 2005, but because of a completely unexpected reaction from I.C.’s American repre- sentatives, this meeting turned out to elapse quite differently from the expectations, but before I continue, it will be relevant to place I.C. in the worldview of the Order.
This organization was amongst others created to re-establish the lost physical and orderly connection between the two big Odd Fellow areas America and Europe, which had not only, but also because of the 2nd world war, lost contact to each other. The initial meeting about establishing I.C. was held in May 1947 in Baltimore in the state of Maryland. The following constituting meeting in I.C. was held in Copenhagen from 2nd to 6th May 1949. The first act was to elect a president – and the election fell on the Danish Grand Sire Knud Nielsen.

PSGM Charles Wheeler started the meeting in Copenhagen with the following  prophetic words: ”In the next few days,our deed here will write history for our Order, either bad or good.  If we act wise and unselfish, our endeavours will be crowned with luck, and our Order will get honour thereof.  If we act selfish,and each jurisdiction tries to secure themselves on the others’ expense, we will fail, what is expected from us and the brothership will know to value our mistake”,  unquote.

It soon appears by reading the minutes from I.C.’s meetings throughout the years that the most fruitful is reading the different reports of the jurisdictions, telling about the daily Odd Fellow work around the world.
But these reports at the same time give the impression that I.C. never became the forum, which could lead the development in the world’s jurisdictions towards a whole.

It is also rather symptomatic that the following note in the minutes is rather usual: ”Now action taken by the Council”!
At the I.C. meeting in 1957 ”The Grand Lodge for Australasia” asks for membership, but not before 1963 this part of the world was represented.

In 1993 Brother Grand Secretary Ian Witton, even from Australasia, airs for the first  time his thoughts about a new and more powerful I.C., as it had been realized that an organization, represented by all elected brotherly grand officers from the whole world’s jurisdictions, and who only met all three years, did not have a chance to play a role. In 1996 same Br. Witton was elected President for I.C., which gave him the platform needed  to promote his thoughts about a new I.C.

As a result of Brother Ian Witton’s work, the old I.C. was decommissioned in 1999:

At the same time, the present I.C. was established as it was hoped to be a stronger organization without the same stifling bindings to SGL, which the first I.C. had. The development on I.C.’s meeting in 2005, to which we will return right away, seems to show that we might be on the right way.

The new I.C. consists of 3 representatives from SGL, 2 from the American Rebekah Institution, I.A.R.A., 2 from Australasia and 4 from The Federation, 2 sisters and 2 brothers. The organization meets at least once a year!

The very big difference between the old and the new I.C. is that the sisters for the first time sit in an international Odd Fellow organization.

And then back to 2005. We find ourselves in Chicago, at the new I.C.’s 6th ordinary meeting, and on the agenda is as previously mentioned a proposal of amendment to the Accord, which The Federation has with SGL, an Accord which the parties understood differently in respect of the right to establish lodges in areas, having no Grand Lodge. This proposal of amendment never was discussed, as the representatives from SGL, at great surprise for the representatives from Europe, gave us the following proposal:  Ask SGL for a charter for a European Grand Lodge. This will make Europe equal negotiator towards SGL,  which will consider a charter a much more important document than the present Accord. Inofficially one of the participants said it in the following way: ”SGL must give Europe a charter, in order that a new ”Grand Lodge for Europe” can be the base for the international Odd Fellow Order of the future. This role SGL can no longer play”!

When we from Europe had recovered from the shock, all agreed upon the following battle plan:

1.    The Federation should before the end of 2005 agree upon a wording of a request for a charter to an European Grand Lodge
2.   This request should be sent to I.C.’s meeting in June 2006
3.   The request should be dealt with on SGL meeting in August 2006

And as we all know, on the meeting in 2006 SGL decided in unanimity to work out a charter to an European Grand Lodge, which was subsequently instituted in Oslo in June 2007.

And then back to The Federation: As previously said this organization has had many different  aspects of the Order on its agenda, and fruitful discussions have taken place between the jurisdictions. But gradually as many Grand Lodges in Europe got more and more aware that a significant argument for many members in the future was to show the world that the Odd Fellow Order was both for women and men, and that all members had equality in the Order, it also became clear for the Federation that the separation of the members : The Federation for brothers and ERLA for sisters - no longer was expedient.

For the clarity it must be mentioned that ERLA – i.e. the sisterly pendant to The Federation – had no rights except for clear sisterly matters – but could be considered a committee under the Federation.

At the yearly meeting of the Federation in Helsinki in 2002, it was agreed upon to set up  a committee, which at the meeting in 2003 should present a draft to new rules for the Federation, so that this hereafter should represent both the European sisters and brothers.

Such new rules were agreed upon at the yearly meeting in 2004 – and as a consequence of this ERLA was abolished.
It was this expanded Federation, which in 2007 was replaced by ”The Grand Lodge for Europe”.

The Grand Lodge for Europe:

This Grand Lodge consists of the present 9 independent European Grand Lodges: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, The Netherlands/Belgium, Germany and Poland (mentioned after number of members).
The most important purposes are:

  1. To safeguard the Order’s traditional use of ethic instruction, ceremonies, signs
    and symbols.
  2. Exchange of information.
  3. Prepare strategic plans for securing the future of the Order.
  4. Secure that the charter, traditional rituals and the Secret Work remain the superior basis for Odd Fellowship among GLE’s members.
  5. Secure European unit, cooperation and respect for the international development of The Independent Odd Fellow Order, and to keep all the rights, advantages and duties, being a consequence of the Odd Fellow – membership.

The supreme authority of The Grand Lodge is the ”Grand Lodge Conference”, holding ordinary meeting every year in May or June.

To the yearly conference each jurisdiction sends 2 representatives, 1 sister and 1 brother. Every second year, at the regular meetings, the ”Grand Lodge Conference” shall elect the European Grand Officers. The conference elects together with the election of officers 2 committees, one for brotherly and one for sisterly matters. Even so The Conference appoints a youth committee, consisting of 1 member for each jurisdiction.

The financing of GLE comes from the subscriptions from the 9 jurisdictions as follows:

  1. The basic contribution of not less than 1.500 euros, which is paid by each jurisdiction in equal parts.
  2. The supplementary contribution, which is paid by each jurisdiction in accordance with formula C = J & T x (A – B) where
    C = the contribution of the national jurisdiction
    J = the amount of sisters and brothers in a national jurisdiction
    T = the amount of sisters and brothers of all European jurisdictions together
    A = the budget that is decided by the Grand Lodge Conference
    B = the total basic contribution as referred to in this paragraph

Dear sisters and brothers: The most important element in this whole Grand Lodge construction is not the officers of this Grand Lodge. No, it is the 100.000 sisters and brothers all over Europe. For them, GLE has been built, it is hopefully them that will have pleasure and use of it.

It is important that the European Grand Lodge is seen by our member jurisdictions as a Grand Lodge, whereto they can come, looking for advice and guidance for the work of the individual jurisdiction towards the common target. It is important that the member jurisdictions understand and feel that the Grand Lodge is there for them.

Here is a big task for the 2 times 9 representatives, that the jurisdictions every year send to the meeting in GLE, the yearly Conference. These representatives must take care that our jurisdictions are well informed about what GLE is doing, in order that it will not become some remote and uninteresting size without connection to the sisters and brothers, paying the party – and hopefully should become value for the money.

Dear sisters and brothers, GLE also wants to see the European part of the Odd Fellow Order as a part of the international Odd Fellow Order, therefore GLE has from the very first day said to the Sovereign Grand Lodge, to the Grand Lodge of Australasia and to International Council: You can count with us in your endeavours to perform the requirements of the Order.

We have not created GLE to isolate ourselves from the rest of the Odd Fellow world, we have created it, in order that it can together with all sisters and brothers make a difference in the world.

I wish for all of us that The Grand Lodge for Europe will solve its tasks to the pleasure of all sisters and brothers, to the benefit of our jurisdictions and the best for our Order.

It will later be brought an article about the work in GLE,  as it goes right now.