International Order of the Rainbow for Girls
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The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls (IORG) is a Masonic youth service organization which teaches leadership training through community service. Girls (ages 11-20/21) learn about the value of charity and service through their work and involvement with their annual local and Grand (state or country) service projects.
The order was created in 1922 when a Mason, the Reverend W. Mark Sexson was asked to make an address before South McAlester Chapter #149, Order of the Eastern Star, in McAlester, Oklahoma. As the Order of DeMolay had come under his close study and observation during his Masonic activities, he decided that another Order for girls, setting forth some of the principles of Freemasonry, would be necessary. The first Initiation consisted of a class of 171 girls on April 6, 1922 in the auditorium of the Scottish Rite Temple in McAlester. The original name was ''Order of the Rainbow for Girls''.
Girls can hold many different offices in the local Assembly. Each requires some memory work and all but 2 serve for 1 term (4 to 6 months out of the year). Officers include:
Worthy Advisor (WA) Presides at meetings and plans activities for her term like a President: the highest office in an Assembly. (elected by Assembly)
Worthy Associate Advisor (WAA) Duties similar to a Vice President. Presides over a meeting in the absence of the Worthy Advisor: moves up to WA. (elected)
Charity Teaches about charitable deeds: moves up to WAA. (elected)
Hope Teaches that hope is always there: moves up to Charity (elected)
Faith Teaches that faith is our constant companion. She is the officer who guides new candidates throughout an initiation ceremony: moves up to Hope (elected)
Recorder Records minutes and handles correspondence: serves for 1 year and may be either elected or appointed depending on the
Treasurer Handles monies and bills and compiles reports about the balances of the Assembly's various money accounts: serves for 1 year and may be either elected or appointed depending on the jurisdiction
Chaplain Leads in prayers (appointed)
Drill Leader Leads in the officers in their floor work and leads guests around the Assembly room (appointed)
Seven Bow Stations Teach about their color and its corresponding virtue (appointed)
Confidential and Outer Observers Guard the inner and outer doors, respectively (appointed)
Musician and Choir Director Provide music for the meetings (appointed)
Some Assemblies and Grand Assemblies have other officers not specified in the ritual, such as Historian, Editor, Bible Bearer, Goodwill Ambassador, American Flag Bearer, State Flag Bearer, Christian Flag Bearer, Rainbow Flag Bearer, and Assembly Banner Bearer.
The Mother Advisor sits to the left of the Worthy Advisor during meetings and is the primary adult working with the girls. Members of the sponsoring orders, parents, and Majority Members (alumnae) make up an Advisory Board that also oversees and aids the girls. Almost all of the Assembly work is done by the girls, with the advisors in support roles only.
The appointing of Grand Officers changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there is one universal rule. To be appointed, or elected, to a Grand Floor Office, a girl must be a Past Worthy Advisor in her assembly. Grand Representatives may also be PWAs, but sometimes it is not mandatory. Other offices include; Grand Choir, Personal Page, and Grand Page at Large.
Majority Membership is reached upon the 20th birthday of a member, but serving officers are typically allowed to finish their term before receiving their Majority. Also, depending on the jurisdiction, girls are given the choice of extending their membership until the reach the age of 21. For this to be granted, the girl must write a letter expressing her interest in extending and present it to her Supreme Deputy or Inspector.
The Grand Cross of Color is the highest award given to a member or adult leader for outstanding service. Recipients of the award are expected to meet once per year for a special service. Depending on the jurisdiction, Masters of the Grand Cross of Color, will usually wear white dresses to the bread service and ceremony. For an assembly to receive a Grand Cross, the must initiate 3 new members into their assembly within a calendar year. For each 3 new members,one girl may be chosen to receive the Grand Cross of Color for service above and beyond for Rainbow. The members of the advisory board meet to choose the girl worthy of receiving this honor. The members of the assembly choose an adult worthy of the honor. The Grand Cross may also be awarded to adults that serve the assembly, but there may be no more adults than girls that are awarded.
The governing body of Rainbow is the House of Gold. New members are elected by current members. The House of Gold consists of the Supreme Officers (paralleling a local Assembly), Supreme Inspectors (chief advisor for a jurisdiction), and several others making up a total of 50.
Presiding Supreme Inspectors may retire their duties at any time, unless they are elected to the Supreme line, at which time they must find a successor by the time they reach Supreme Worthy Associate Advisor. The current Supreme Inspector chooses the person whom they believe can best associate with the girls of their jurisdiction. That person will become the next Supreme Deputy. It isn't until Supreme Deputies are elected into the House of Gold that they become Supreme Inspectors. There are 50 seats in the House of Gold, and they are lifetime appointments. A Supreme Deputy is eligible for recommendation into the House of Gold after her 3rd Supreme Assembly after being installed as Supreme Deputy (the Supreme at which they are installed does NOT count).
A State Rainbow Beau may also be appointed. This is office is held by a male, typically a Demolay that is in his teen years that has his obligations in, obligatins are phrases in the demolay book you are given when you join. these phrases are basically a vow to be moral while an active demolay. There may also be a State Rainbow Dad appointed, and it is usually held by a Mason that has an active role in the jurisdictions activities.
Typical Assembly banner
The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls has Assemblies in 47 states in the United States as well as in several other countries. The states that do not currently have Assemblies are Delaware, Utah, and Wyoming. (South Dakota instituted its first assembly in 2006.) The countries outside the United States that have assemblies are Aruba, Australia (in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia), Bolivia, Brazil (in Parana and S‹o Paulo), Canada (in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Guam. Rainbow has had assemblies in the following countries, mostly due to American military presence: Cuba, France, Panama and Vietnam.
Being related to a Master Mason is not a requirement for Rainbow membership. Interested girls must submit a petition to an Assembly and members of that Assembly will meet with the girl to answer any questions the girl may have and to make sure she is a proper candidate to receive the degrees. Members are expected to serve their community, be law abiding, acknowledge the authority of the Supreme Assembly, and show loyalty to the other members, among other things. Members are expected to refrain from becoming pregnant while a Rainbow girl and are expected to apply for Majority before marrying. In 2000, the rules for Eastern Star were changed so that majority members of Rainbow were eligible for membership in that Order. For girls between ages 8 and 11, some jurisdictions have a ''Pledge'' program for prospective members, so that they can become familiar with Rainbow ceremonies and activities.
United States Senator Olympia Snowe has stated:
''I am proud to be a Rainbow Girl. This group instilled in me the values of service, honesty, and leadership, among others. I have carried these ideals with me throughout the years. Being a member of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls reflects well on a young women's character and integrity and will benefit today's Rainbow Girls throughout their lifetime.''
Other famous members include U. S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Miss America and actress who starred as Catwoman in the Batman TV series Lee Meriwether, inspirational speaker Jill Kinmont, actress Shauna McLean Tompkins, florist to the Presidents Lynn Lary McLean, AIFD, and Senior Consultant - Constitutional Law of the Canadian Department of Justice Luanne Walton.