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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 came into existence in 1922, when the Reverend W. Mark Sexson, a Freemason, 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 during his Masonic activities, he suggested that a similar order for girls would be beneficial. 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 (also called Stations) in the local Assembly. Each requires some memory work and all but two serve for one term (4 to 6 months out of the year). Some offices are elected by the other girls in the assembly. These offices include Faith, Hope, Charity, Worthy Associate Advisor, and Worthy Advisor. There are also two offices that are elected in January but serve a full year which are Treasurer and Recorder. The other offices are appointed by the Worthy Advisor (President) and Mother Advisor. All offices include:
Some Assemblies and Grand Assemblies have other officers not specified in the ritual, such as Historian, Editor, Assistant Grand Editor, Circulation Manager, Orator (or Lecturer), Bible Bearer, Goodwill Ambassador, American Flag Bearer, State Flag Bearer, Christian Flag Bearer, Rainbow Flag Bearer, and Assembly Banner Bearer.
It is an unwritten law that each of the line officers (Faith, Hope, Charity, and Worthy Associate Advisor) advances to the next highest office, culminating in her term as Worthy Advisor. However, this is not a guarantee.
The Mother Advisor is the primary adult working with the girls. An Advisory Board of seven to fifteen adults consisting of at least two Master Masons and two members of the Order of the Eastern Star, members of the sponsoring body(ies), and Majority Members, aid in the supervision of the Assembly. Almost all of the Assembly work is done by the girls, with the advisors in support roles only.
The appointing of Grand Officers varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Generally, to be appointed or elected to a Grand Floor Office, a girl must be a Past or Present Worthy Advisor in her assembly. Grand Representatives may also be PWAs, but it is not mandatory. Other offices include: Grand Choir, Grand Assistant Outer Observer, Personal Page, and Grand Page at Large.
The Grand Cross of Color is the highest award given to a member or adult leader for outstanding service. Recipients of the award (Masters of the Grand Cross of Color) are expected to meet once per year for a special service. In order for designates to be nominated, the assembly must initiate 3 new members within a calendar year. For every 3 new members, one girl may be chosen to receive the Grand Cross of Color for service rendered above and beyond what is expected for Rainbow. The Masters of the Grand Cross of Color meet with the Advisory Board to decide which girl(s) to nominate as a designee for the Grand Cross of Color. The Grand Cross of Color may also be awarded to adults that serve the assembly, but there may be no more adults than girls that are nominated.
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).
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 São Paulo), Canada (in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, and Romania. Rainbow has had assemblies in the following countries, mostly due to American military presence: Cuba, France, Panama and Vietnam.
Its headquarters are at the International Temple in McAlester, built in 1950-1951 for the Order's use.
Being related to a Master Mason is not a requirement for Rainbow membership. Interested girls must submit an application 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. Once the application is accepted, the assembly will vote on accepting the candidate into the Assembly. Membership then starts with an Initiation Ceremony.
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. 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 10, some jurisdictions have a "Pledge" program for prospective members, so that they can become familiar with Rainbow ceremonies and activities.
Majority Membership is reached in two ways. A girl receives age majority when she reaches her 20th birthday, or marriage majority if she marries before age 20. Also, depending on the jurisdiction, girls are given the choice of extending their membership until they reach the age of 21. For this to be granted, the girl must write a letter expressing her interest in extending her active service and present it to her Supreme Deputy/Inspector.
|“||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 Lee Meriwether, United States Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, 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.[not in citation given (See discussion.)]
SGT. Kimberly Munley, the woman credited for stopping the Fort Hood shooting rampage that killed 13 people, is a former Rainbow Girl. Munley was part of North Carolina Assembly #29