Fairview’s Odd Fellows want to revive their Rebekahs. The order and service organization gave up its charter in 2007 due to lack of membership while other Rebekah groups in the Lower Mainland carried on. But the Odd Fellows resurrected the Rebekahs last March.
Christian labourers are said to have started Odd Fellows in a tavern in England more than 250 years ago.
“They’re very similar to the Freemasons,” said Nick Vaughan, vice grand of Fairview’s Odd Fellows. “I always joke they were the guys that couldn’t get into the Masons.”
In addition to supporting youth and a variety of charities, Odd Fellows assist their older members, visiting those residing in extended care homes and cutting their lawns. Friendship, love and truth are the creed of both the Rebekahs and Odd Fellows.
Rebekah societies were started for wives and daughters of Odd Fellows more than 150 years ago and Vaughan believes they’re needed now, in a time when Vancouverites cite loneliness and a lack of a sense of community.
“You’ve got ladies who are in their 60s and 70s that have a lot of wisdom that they can impart to the younger generation about simple stuff like recipes, childrearing and what have you and it’s good for the generations to mix,” Vaughan said.
He’d like to see mothers, particularly single parents, visit the Odd Fellows hall at 1443 West Eighth Ave. and socialize with their kids in tow.
Marleen Powell, past president of the Rebekah Assembly of B.C. and representative to the international Rebekahs, says Vancouver’s group includes 13 members, most of them men.
“We’re hoping that some of the guys’ wives and girlfriends [will join] and I think they’re working on it too,” she said.
The re-emerging Rebekahs have donated to a visual research institute in the U.S. and supported the United Nations Education Pilgrimage for Youth. A youth speak-off related to this will happen Feb. 20.
Powell became a Rebekah more than 25 years ago.
“We had so many good causes and to conduct a meeting and be dressed properly and it was such a nice ritual type of atmosphere,” said Powell who would only divulge that she is over 50.
While the Odd Fellows’ rituals are heavy on Christian symbolism, Vaughan said members only need to believe in a god, any god; it’s not a Christian organization.
Being a Rebekah has provided Powell with a charitable outlet and a sense of belonging.
“I travel a lot with them and if you’re in some town… there’s always a Rebekah or Odd Fellow in that town that you can rely on, talk to,” Powell said. “So many friendships that I’ve developed.”
Vancouver’s Rebekahs gather on the second and fourth Thursday of each month for a meeting and dinner. For more information, see ioofbc.org.