The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is one of the largest and oldest fraternal orders in the United States. Odd Fellowship was founded in England where it grew up during the 18th century. The Patriotic Order in England was followed by the Union of United Orders and the Loyal Order. In 1813, various lodges of the Union Order organized the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows. American Odd Fellowship was founded as the Washington Lodge #1 in Baltimore in 1819, and the following year affiliated with the Manchester Unity. The three links of Odd Fellowship's symbol represent Friendship, Love, and Truth.
On September 20, 1851, IOOF became the first national fraternity to accept both men and women when it formed the Daughters of Rebekah, known today as simply, Rebekahs. Schuyler Colfax, (Vice President of the United States (1869–1873) under President Ulysses S. Grant), was the force behind the movement. Though the term sorority was not yet coined in this year, it may be considered that the Rebekah is the first and oldest sorority in the world.
The History Of Rebekahs
In the Rebekah degree the stories of prominent women of the Bible are used to express universal traits that exemplify honorable living of courageous women; that teach exemplary living grounded in Friendship, Love and Truth the cornerstone for both Odd Fellows and Rebekahs. Rebekah, one of the first and great Matriarchs of God’s chosen people who exemplified beauty, grace, patience, hospitality and a humble spirit of service to others; is the worthy name of this degree.
Among other notable women of the bible are the mother of Samson, worthy of angelic discourse, willing gives her first born to Gods service in an indisputable act sacrifice and piety; Deborah a prophetess that courageously led her people into battle to defeat their oppressors; and Ester who exemplifies courage and patriotism to her country and her people, warning her King of a plot against his life and then foils a plan for (at the risk of her own life) the genocide of her people. Ruth is exemplary for her unfaltering commitment, who chooses God above all others. Sarah the great biblical Matriarch struggles in the face of difficult trails of faith, ultimately yielding to faithfully follow God. Miriam, the sister of Moses, exemplifies faith and hope as she delivers Moses to the river, who is saved by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Ultimately her tenacious faith and hope are realized in the deliverance of her people.
Rebekahs throughout the world claim as their own the honorable traits of women as exemplified through these great and distinguished women of the bible and others in history. Among these noble traits are beauty, grace, patience, hospitality, humility, sacrifice, patriotism, faith, hope, charity, commitment, courage and universal justice for all.
What Does It Mean To Be A Rebekah?
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Friendship - Love - Truth
Sovereign Grand Lodge
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FRIENDSHIP LOVE AND TRUTH
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS
MISSOURI GRAND LODGE
To Improve and Elevate the Character of Man
In 17th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. Those who belonged to such an organization were called "Odd Fellows". Odd Fellows are also known as "The Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent 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.
Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the beautiful Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States during the period 1868-1873. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for our senior members and for orphaned children.