International Association of Rebekah Assemblies

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Daughters of Rebekah
Founded September 20, 1851; 163 years ago (1851-09-20)
U.S.A.
Type Fraternal and Service Organization
Scope International
Symbol Three Link Chain, dove, lily, moon and seven stars
Headquarters 422 Trade Street,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Homepage http://www.ioof.org

The Daughters of Rebekah, also known as the Rebekahs and the International Association of Rebekah Assemblies, is an international service-oriented organization and a branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It was initially designed as the female auxiliary of the IOOF,[1] but now allows both female and male members.[2]

It is one of the units of the IOOF, but women need not be related to an Odd Fellow to be a member of the Rebekahs. As long as she meets the moral, ethical and age requirement for admission, any woman may join. In most jurisdictions, women aged 16 or 18 years old and above can join a Rebekah Lodge.[3]

An 1898 print depicting various themes related to the work of the Rebekah Lodges.
Schuyler Colfax, U.S. Vice-President from March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873.

Philosophy and Purpose[edit]

The general duties of the members of this unit are, “To live peaceably, do good unto all, as we have opportunity and especially to obey the Golden Rule, Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”[3]

History[edit]

The Rebekah Lodges were founded on 20 September 1851, when, after considerable debate, the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows voted to adopt the Rebekah Degree, largely due to the efforts of an Odd Fellow named Schuyler Colfax. The first Rebekah Degrees were honorary awards only, conferred on wives and daughters of Odd Fellows at special Lodge meetings, and recipients were known as "Daughters of Rebekah".[4] The name is taken from the Biblical character of Rebekah.

These early Daughters of Rebekah had no lodge system of their own, and operated in an informal and local manner. On September 25, 1868, the IOOF voted to establish Degree Lodges of the Daughters of Rebekah, mirroring the existing arrangements for their male counterparts. The Daughters were given the right to elect their own officers, charge for initiation fees, collect dues and undertake charitable and benevolent activities. The name was changed to "Degree of Rebekah" in 1874.[5]

Teachings and Symbolism[edit]

The Rebekah Degree was designed especially for women, and its ceremony and lectures are based upon the characters of notable women in Biblical history. It is named for that woman of early Hebrew history whose kindness and hospitality to a humble and unknown stranger best portrayed the nobility and character of women. There are also other notable women of Biblical history whose characters and virtues form the basis for the Rebekah Degree and lessons of life to be followed by the Rebekahs. They were famous for their loyalty, patriotism, for civic and national services, for humanitarianism, and for devotion to God and the cause of righteousness among mankind.[6]

The Rebekah Degree ceremony is illustrated by distinctive symbols employed in the work of the degree, each having a beautiful significance and an appropriate application:

  • The Beehive, a representation of cooperative industry teaching the advantages of united efforts in all the noble ministries of the Order.
  • The Moon and Seven Stars represents the never failing order which pervades the universe of God and all of nature, and suggest to the members the value of system, regularity and precision in all worthy undertakings
  • The Dove, a universally recognized emblem of peace, has this significance in the Rebekah Degree. Through the mission of love and charity, of tolerance and forbearance, Rebekahs are to strive to bring happiness to others and to promote “Peace on earth and good will to men.”
  • The Lily, regarded for untold ages as the emblem of purity, is a fitting symbol of the purity of character, of thought, of word, and of action which should always be found and manifested in the heart and life of members of the Rebekah Lodge.[7]

Rebekah Creed[edit]

I am a REBEKAH. I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the sisterhood of women. I believe in the watch-words of our Order - Friendship, Love, and Truth. Friendship - is like a golden chain that ties our hearts together. Love - is one of our most precious gifts, the more you give, the more you receive. Truth - is the standard by which we value people. It is the foundation of our Society. I believe that my main concern should be my God, my family and my friends. Then I should reach out to my community and the world. For in God's eyes we are all brothers and sisters. I AM A REBEKAH![8]

Membership[edit]

Originally membership was open to wives and daughter of Oddfellows who had obtained the Scarlett Degree, as well as Oddfellows of that degree themselves. In 1894 membership opened to all single white women over 18, as well as wives, widows and daughters of Oddfellows. On January 1, 1898 there were 297,691 members of the Rebekah Degree.[9] In 1923 it had grown to 1,021,297 members.[10] The whites only clause was removed in 1972. In 1977 there 331,844 members of the Rebekahs Assemblies, as well as 34,337 Oddfellows who belong to both orders. Oddfellow and Rebekah lodges allow female and male members, but while both females and males may hold an Oddfellow office, only female may hold the highest Rebekah offices[11]

Organization[edit]

Local units are called lodges, of which there were 6,700 in 1979 in the United States and Canada.[12]

Theta Rho Clubs[edit]

Theta Rho Clubs are the junior order of the Rebekahs and are open to young females ages 8-18 depending on jurisdiction.[13] The clubs functions under the supervision of Oddfellows, who are superior in organizational authority to both the Rebekahs and the Theta Rhos. Membership was 14,150 in 1969 and 13,577 in 1970.[14]

Rebekah Children's Services[edit]

Rebekah Children's Services is a public benefit corporation founded in 1897 by the California Rebekah Lodge as an orphanage. They now provide foster care placement and support services, parent support, prevention and early specific needs of the child and family whenever categorical services do not work. Their services include outpatient therapy, education to the community, and behavioral health care services to children and families living in Santa Clara, Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.[15]

Religious Controversy[edit]

In 1907 the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, the Mt. Rev. Diomede Falconio, in reply to a query from the Rev. Novatus Benzing , OFM, of Phoenix, Arizona, determined that the Daughters of Rebekah, as well as the female auxiliaries of other condemned secret societies, fell under the same category of condemnation. However, permission for "passive membership" in female groups affiliated with societies condemned by the Church in 1894 (including the Oddfellows, Knights of Pythias and Sons of Temperance) could be granted individually under certain conditions, viz. that the person in question had joined the group in good faith before the condemnation, that leaving the group would cause financial hardship due to the loss of sick benefits and insurance, that if permission is granted dues would only be paid by mail, the parishioner would not attend any lodge meetings, and the society would not have anything to do with the persons funeral.[16]

Today[edit]

Rebekah Lodges are still active in the United States despite the fact that the IOOF now accepts women as full members in the United States. There are male and female Rebekah members. There are also Rebekah Lodges in Europe, Canada, Australasia and South America.[citation needed]

Notable Rebekahs[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Grand Gathering, but One With a Solemn Note". New York Times. August 26, 2007. As with most matters of Odd Fellowship, nearly every aspect of the annual convention of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows must adhere to protocol. The dais for the officers’ banquet, for example, must be two-tiered and able to accommodate 50 people, important on the bottom, really important on the top. Seats for the sovereign grand master, the deputy sovereign grand master, the sovereign grand warden, the sovereign grand secretary and the sovereign grand treasurer. Seats for the leaders of the two uniformed branches, the Patriarchs Militant and its Ladies Auxiliaries. A seat for the president of the International Association of Rebekah Assemblies, established when the Odd Fellows long ago recognized “the need for a woman’s touch.” 
  2. ^ Grand Lodge I.O.O.F. of Texas. A charitable organization in Corsicana, Texas
  3. ^ a b Membership Product 2
  4. ^ "Our Rebekah History". Official website. Rebekah Assembly of Idaho. Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  5. ^ "The International Association of Rebekah Assemblies". Rebekahs In the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area - website. Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Philosophy & History
  7. ^ Meanings of the symbols are taken from the Manuals of a Rebekah lodge
  8. ^ REBEKAHS
  9. ^ Stevens p.260
  10. ^ Preuss, Arthur A Dictionary of Secret and other Societies St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co. 1924; republished Detroit: Gale Reference Company 1966; p.103
  11. ^ Schmidt p.331
  12. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p.286
  13. ^ The Independent Order of Odd Fellow Youth Website
  14. ^ Schmidt p.331
  15. ^ Rebekah Children's Services
  16. ^ Preuss p.104
  17. ^ Notable american women: a ... - Google Books
  18. ^ Jim McKee: Lincoln Odd Fellows have been around for more than 140 years

See also[edit]

External links[edit]