O.T.O. On Purpose: Developing and Strengthening Local Operations

Hey everybody! In today’s “How to OTO on Purpose” post, we’ll be looking at the ways the USGL works with the local bodies in the Kingdom. So not only “Hey everybody,” but also “Hey every Body!”

Because the local Bodies … and …

Yes, moving right along, we’ll continue presenting ways that you can help. In this post, we’ll explore ways to help Grand Lodge help ourselves locally.

I’ve recently been reading some historical anecdotes about what life in the OTO was like back in the 1960s and 1970s, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those early pioneers of the rebirth of the Order. Local bodies did not have anything even remotely close to the kind of support we have today, partly because Grand Lodge was still in formation, but mostly because there weren’t that many people with the combination of time, interest, and skills that make it even plausible.

When you look at the next part of the USGL Plan, you can see that lessons were learned, and people with experience in making these volunteer organizations brought their experiences to the table. Many of these items have been accomplished and addressed, but that means there’s a whole world of support that needs to go into making sure the objectives continue to be met.

Goal: Encourage local bodies to develop their own strategic plans

I like to think that this series of posts has helped point out the value of the Strategic Plan in general. It gives us focus, items to choose from that match our interests, and something we can use to actually measure progress. After the Women’s Symposium is complete, one of the things our local body will be doing is the review of our own Strategic Plan.

To facilitate the development of this, Catherine (neè Craig) Berry published an article in Agape Volume X, Number 1 titled “Strategic Planning for Local Bodies.” This was the first strategy to accomplish this Goal, and it worked. Take a look at the link above, it explains what you need to think about and include in your plan, and gives some great advice. Talk to your local Body Master to see if they have developed a Strategic Plan, and whether there’s anything you can do to help implement that plan.

In addition to the article, the next strategy was to develop a Kaaba module on local body strategic planning. The Kaaba Committee accomplished this goal, and when you attend, you  will get to benefit from their work. Kaaba is an ever-changing ongoing project made up of Order members who are always looking for new ideas to help meet the needs of the local body. If you’ve never attended, consider hosting a Colloquium locally. It not only teaches the skills necessary to run a successful local lodge, it also draws members together from across the Kingdom, and strengthens the bonds of the Order.

Goal: Increase expertise and proficiency of local officers

Havign traveled to several bodies over the last few years, I’ve noticed the number one thing that growing bodies do consistently is to perform the Gnostic Mass on a regular schedule that is well known and dependable. When people know that every other Saturday at 7 there will be a Mass, the number of people who just show up goes up. To accomplish this kind of regularity requires a number of other factors to be in place as well, and all of those factors depend entirely on having expert and proficient local officers.

The strategy identified by USGL to accomplish this goal was to lay the responsibility on the Kaaba Colloquium. This turns up a lot in today’s post, as Kaaba is perhaps the most hands-on local body member training program we have. Again, if you’re interested in helping this program or hosting it, reach out to the Kaaba leadership using the information here:


Goal: Improve Mentor Program

While the classes provided at Kaaba are an amazing resource, there’s simply no way to address every possible scenario Body Masters have to deal with locally. And locally, all the things that happen must be dealt with by the Body Master.

The Mentor Program is designed to provide a way for people just starting out as body masters to have contact with people who have done it before. I’d never heard of the Mentor Program before writing this article, and I think it’s amazing that we have this resource. I don’t ever want to be a Body Master personally, I think it’s one of the most difficult and least appreciated positions in the OTO, and I can’t imagine trying to deal with it alone. The existence of this program makes me think I could at least manage to do a decent job for as long as it took to get someone else interested in the job.

The Strategy identified to accomplish this goal was to increase the pool of mentors by directly (i.e. personally) recruiting immediate past masters by the Electoral College Mentor Secretary. They have been doing this now for years.

Copying directly from the Mentorship Program web site:

If you need a mentor, are of the degree of KRE or higher and would like to be a mentor, or have questions about this program, please e-mail the Mentorship Secretary.

Goal: Promote local body membership

This is the last of the items we’ll be addressing today. Local body membership is a thing that fascinates me. In the last year, we’ve had an influx of Millenials at our local lodge, and they are awesome. Young, eager, effective, aware, and absolutely completely useful in every instance where we’ve needed people to help out. I think the thing I want to do the most locally is to find ways to expand this influx of fresh members, and to get more people who love this thing we do as much as they do.

The strategies supporting this goal in the USGL Strategic Plan seem to be completed. They were focused on making sure the ways the Grand Lodge interacted with OTO members included their local body affiliations. They added “Local Body Affiliation” spots to the initiation applications, and the online dues payment system. This might seem innocuous at first glance, but this simple change represented a shift in Grand Lodge focus from its own primary needs to an understanding that its own primary needs are met when the needs of the local bodies were met. This subtle shift was an outward manifestation of a level of maturity, responsibility, and I dare to even say adulthood. I think it represents a major milestone in the growth of the Order.

Also, this allowed the Executive Council the ability to see local body membership statistics. What parts of the country are doing great? Which parts need help? Which body masters are having growth, and which are seeing consistent member drop offs? By having this data, new strategies could be developed, and bodies that needed additional support could be readily identified. Mentors could be assigned, Kaaba Colloquiums scheduled, and whatever else is necessary.


This is ultimately the entire focus of the OTO in my opinion. Getting people on the same page, experiencing the Mass, realizing their personal power. It all starts at the local lodge, and the Grand Lodge has our back.

Rufus Opus

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