Declining membership forces Order of the Eastern Star chapter closure 0
LINDSAY - After 75 years of existence, the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star has gone down in history.
Coronation Chapter No. 218 held its final meeting on Wednesday, June 20.
Outgoing Worthy Matron Karen Williams told The Lindsay Post that the decision to close the chapter was made due to declining membership.
Worthy Patron Gordon Henry said they currently have about 50 members, of whom only about half are active.
He estimated when he and his wife Irene joined in 1981, they had about 120 members.
"People are just busy with their own activities," Gordon responded when asked why he believes membership has dwindled.
He said many organizations are having trouble attracting new members these days.
Williams and the Henrys agreed that perhaps the organization needs to become more "open"
"We need to modernize but not forget the roots," Williams said.
They also noted there are many misconceptions about the Order of the Eastern Star, such as even though female members must be somehow related to a Mason member, the Order of the Eastern Star isn't officially connected to the group.
He also explained they are not a "religious organization", but that members are required to have a belief in a "higher power."
Williams was quick to point out that "higher power" doesn't have to be Jesus Christ or any specific figure.
Williams described the order as "a fraternal organization with a focus on charity".
To become a member, someone must be invited to join, Williams noted.
Over the years the order has helped many local charities and agencies, including but not limited to Ross Memorial Hospital, Women's Resources, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kawartha Lakes, Five Counties Children's Centre and the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society.
They recently made their final donation to the hospital in the form of a cheque for $12,200 to the "Imagine the Future" campaign.
The ground work for Coronation Chapter #218 was laid on Oct. 14, 1936 when a number of local residents met at the home of Mary Lytle on Kent St. in Lindsay.
The first officers were elected and it was decided they would be known as a "coronation chapter" as the next year (1937) would be the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Because of this designation, the chapter performs a special flag drill that was done for the last time at their final meeting.
As far as the future for members, Williams said they were to take a vote to choose another chapter to combine with.
However, despite whatever chapter was chosen, all members are free to go to whatever location they please.
Williams said they were expecting a lot of former and non-active members to be present at the meeting.
"We (had) people in nursing homes who requested to be there," she said.
The three agreed they are quite sad to see things end, especially after celebrating their 75th anniversary last year.
However, the Henrys said they have many memories they can cherish.
"We met the most wonderful people," Gord said.
"We have friends all over the world," Irene added.