This is adapted from a short brochure available to guests attending a Grange Meeting for the first time…
Welcome to the Grange!
If this is your first experience with a Grange meeting, we hope you’ll feel at home, comfortable, and perhaps even a bit intrigued with what goes on!
There is much ritual and symbolism and it is possible to enjoy it without understanding it all. In general terms, when one remembers that the Grange has it roots in agriculture, it becomes easier to see how certain things “fit.” Early English farms were called “the Grange” and the term represented the community aspect of the property, buildings, and workers—each farm/estate was a complete community.
Officer positions also follow that theme, using terms such as “Master” and “Steward.” You may notice that officers typically add the word “Worthy” when addressing each other; a sign of respect. Officers wear sashes as identification and roles are fairly clear and distinct, many of which match positions typical of organizations.
Opening the Meeting…
The Opening Ceremony “sets the stage” for the meeting. By way of a brief background, in its earliest form the Grange was a very secret organization. Farmers had come together in a manner to support each other and avoid being taken advantage of by middlemen and opportunity seekers. To that end, procedures were adopted to ensure that only trusted people attended meetings.
You’ll see this in the position of the “Gatekeeper” whose emblem is the owl and whose task it is to “guard the inner gate.” After opening the Bible, the Assistant Stewards will “take up the word.” This involves passing among those in attendance (as a guest you will be skipped) and asking for the “password” while collecting donations in the baskets they carry.
Other portions of the opening ceremony include an opening prayer, song, and flag salute. Grange Members will also offer the “Grange Salutation” which reminds us of our fundamental principles.
Order of Business
The “middle” of the meeting may vary some in order but typically consists of the order of business and a lecturer’s program. When a number of guests are present, the Lecturer and Master may agree to conduct the lecturer’s program prior to the order of business. In that event, guests are welcome to remain for the entire meeting or may leave after the program.
The order of business is fairly typical of most organizations and includes minutes of the last meeting, treasurer’s report, committee reports and unfinished and new business.
Closing the Meeting
The Assistant Stewards will close the Bible. The Master reminds members of their obligations and reinforces them by repeating the salutation. A closing song and prayer by the chaplain indicates that the “labors of the day are complete.”
Grange Opportunities for Everyone
While the “labors of the day” are considered complete at the close of the meeting, the labors of the Grange are not! Grange Members take the idea of “community” very seriously and strive diligently to serve. You do not have to be a member to get involved and help!
While Valley Grange is probably best known for its work with the children and schools, we have community service projects for everyone, regardless of age and interest. You’ll probably hear a little about some during the meeting, but feel free to talk with a member about your interests.
Members will be only too happy to answer any questions you might have about the organization, its symbols, rituals, and service to the community and individuals.