International Association of Rebekah Assemblies

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Daughters of Rebekah
FoundedSeptember 20, 1851; 172 years ago (1851-09-20)
TypeSororal and service organization
SymbolThree-link chain, dove, lily, moon and seven stars
Headquarters422 Trade Street,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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. As the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Rebekahs began as an all-white organization, typical at the time, that purported to promote reciprocity and charity, and drew inspiration from Judeo-Christian ethics.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows originally limited membership to white men only, as was typical at the time; the Rebekahs began as the female auxiliary of the IOOF.[1] Initially, only relatives such as wives or daughters of IOOF members were admitted as members.

Currently, both the IOOF and the Rebekahs admit both female and male members.[2] Women today 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]


In 1850, Schuyler Colfax was asked to write a Degree for women. 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 Odd Fellow Schuyler Colfax, U.S. Vice President from 1869 to 1873. 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.

The early Daughters of Rebekah had no lodge system of their own, operating informally and locally. 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 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 was thought the best portrayal of 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 significance and an appropriate application:

  • The beehive, a representation of cooperative industry teaching the advantages of united efforts in all the 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, long regarded as the emblem of purity, is a symbol of the purity of character, of thought, of word, and of action which are aspired to in the hearts and lives 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]


Originally membership was open to wives and daughter of Odd Fellows who had obtained the Scarlett Degree, as well as Odd Fellows of that degree themselves. In 1894, membership in the United States opened to white women, typical at that time, over 18, as well as wives, widows and daughters of Odd Fellows, although non-whites were able to join in other countries such as in Latin America and Australia. The African-American, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, also have their own women's branch called the Household of Ruth. On January 1, 1898 there were 297,691 members of the Rebekah Degree.[9] By 1923 it had grown to 1,021,297 members.[10] In 1977 there were 331,844 members of the Rebekahs Assemblies, as well as 34,337 Odd Fellows who belonged to both orders. Odd Fellow and Rebekah lodges allow female and male members, but while both females and males may hold an Odd Fellow office, only females may hold the highest Rebekah offices[11]


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

Lodge officer positions[13]
Office Elected/
Noble Grand Elected Sits as Chair for Meetings, Official Representative of lodge to outside persons and organizations and see that the lodge program is planned in advance
Vice Grand Elected Exercise power to assist Noble Grand in Presiding Meetings. Assume the duties and responsibilities of the NG in times of absence or if necessary
Past Noble Grand Elected Assist Noble Grand and lodge officers in every way possible. May act as NG or VG when legally called thereto
Secretary Elected Records minutes at meetings, files necessary paper work, sends and receives communications.
Financial Secretary Elected Notify and collect to members their dues and financial obligations
Treasurer Elected Keeps an accurate file of all finances and receipts of the lodge and writes all checks ordered
Warden Elected Responsible for the general welfare of the applicant, examines all present before the lodge is opened, give charge of office during initiations, in-charge of regalia and lodge room property and will place regalia in the lodge room before and removing it on closing
Conductor Appointed Receives the candidates when they enter the lodge room, perform all duties assigned in conferring the degrees and assist the Warden while in the lodge
Chaplain Appointed Leads the opening the closing ceremonies and performs all functions assigned during conferral of degrees
Right Supporter of Noble Grand Appointed Supports the NG in keeping order, execute commands, open and close the lodge in due form, see that signs are given correctly and occupy chair of NG when vacated temporarily during lodge hours.
Left Supporter of Noble Grand Appointed See that members who enter the room are in proper regalia and give the signs correctly and to officiate for the Right Supporter when absent
Right Supporter of Vice Grand Appointed Observe that members give the signs correctly, report to the Noble Grand members that do not conduct themselves according to the regulations of the Order.
Left Supporter of Vice Grand Appointed Assist the Right Supporter and officiate for that officer when absent
Color Bearer Appointed Oversees flags and proper presentation of such
Right Scene supporter Appointed Assist at initiations and perform roles specified in the charge book
Left Scene Supporter Appointed Assist at initiations and perform roles specified in the charge book
Inner Guardian Appointed Guards the inner door
Outer Guardian Appointed Guards the outer door
Musician (Optional) Appointed Play all required music and accompaniment during meetings and ceremonies.

Theta Rho Girls Clubs[edit]

Theta Rho girls Clubs are the junior order of the Rebekahs and are open to females ages 8–18 depending on jurisdiction.[14] The clubs functions under the supervision of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 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.[11]

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]

Secular organizations were not widely acceptable at the time when the Rebekahs started. Because the Rebekahs was open to anyone regardless of religious affiliations, it met opposition from the clergy specially the Roman Catholic church which opposed the separation of the church and state politics. In 1907 the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Diomede Falconio, in reply to a query from 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 Masons, Odd Fellows, 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 was 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 person's funeral.[16]

Since 1975, however, several Catholic priests have become members of the Odd Fellows. One of them was Titian Anthos Miani who joined Scio Lodge No.102 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Linden, California.[17] As soon as the controversy declined and religious leaders began to accept secular organizations, numerous pastors, priests, bishops and rabbis from different religious sects have become members and some even held leadership positions in the Odd Fellows.[18] Currently, membership represent various religious denominations from Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and others.


Rebekah Lodges are still active in the United States despite the fact that the Odd Fellows Lodges in the United States and Canada now accept women as full members. In Europe and Latin America, however, the Rebekah Lodges are exclusively for women because the women choose to preserve the heritage while the Odd Fellow Lodges remain for men. In 2012, there were 77,468 active members belonging to 1,849 Rebekah Lodges located in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Chile, Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and in Europe such as Estonia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.[19]

Together with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Rebekahs undertake various community and charitable projects which include:

  • The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs spend over US$7.5 million in relief projects annually
  • The I.O.O.F. Educational Foundation provides substantial loans and grants to students
  • SOS Children's Village provides a caring home for orphaned children in 132 countries around the world
  • Odd Fellow and Rebekah Homes provide a caring environment for the elderly
  • I.O.O.F. Living Legacy Program focuses on planting trees and enhancing the environment
  • The Arthritis Foundation
  • Visual Research Foundation supports vision care and research through the Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Odd Fellows & Rebekahs Pilgrimage for Youth sponsors a group of students for an educational trip
  • Annual pilgrimages to the "Tomb of the Unknowns" (Arlington National Cemetery, USA), Canadian War Memorial, Ottawa, ON, and other Tombs of the Unknown Soldier.
  • Odd Fellow and Rebekah camps and parks provide recreation for the youth and for families

Notable Rebekahs[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, high-ranking on the bottom, even higher-ranking 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. Archived from the original on 17 November 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  5. ^ "The International Association of Rebekah Assemblies". Rebekahs In the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area - website. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  6. ^ Philosophy & History Archived 2011-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Meanings of the symbols are taken from the Manuals of a Rebekah lodge
  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. ^ a b Schmidt p.331
  12. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p.286
  13. ^ Greer, J.M. (1998). Inside a magical lodge: group ritual in western the tradition. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  14. ^ The Independent Order of Odd Fellow Youth Website Archived 2013-11-06 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Rebekah Children's Services
  16. ^ Preuss p.104
  17. ^ p.122-123 Christy, F. & Smith, D. (1995). Six Links of Fellowship. CA: Linden Publications
  18. ^ Christy, F. & Smith, D. (1995). Six Links of Fellowship. CA: Linden Publications
  19. ^ 2012 Advance Reports of the Officers and Committees of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, held, in Cincinnati, Ohio
  20. ^ President Ulysses Grant is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His wife, Julia, was initiated in the Rebekah Degree
  21. ^ Goss, Charles Frederic (1912). Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912. S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. pp. 924–28. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  22. ^ President Rutherford Hayes became a member in Croghan Odd Fellows Lodge No. 77, Fremont, Ohio, in 1849. Due to frequent residence changes, Hayes also consorted with Eagle Lodge No. 100 of Cincinnati, Capitol Lodge of Columbus, and Metropolitan Lodge. In 1881, he returned to Croghan Lodge, and in 1887, he became its Noble Grand. He and his wife were also members of Lincoln Rebekah Lodge No. 128.
  23. ^ Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A (1928). Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America. Retrieved 8 August 2017.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  24. ^ Tinkham, George Henry (1921). History of Stanislaus County, California: With Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the County, who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present. Vol. 1 (Public domain ed.). Los Angeles: Historic Record Company.
  25. ^ Jim McKee: Lincoln Odd Fellows have been around for more than 140 years
  26. ^ Notable american women: a ... - Google Books

External links[edit]