Ask the Chairman - Does my lodge have to merge if my council merges?

Q: Dear Ray,
My council is considering a merger with a neighboring council. I have heard that the BSA has a new policy that requires that lodges merge when councils merge. Is that true, and are there any exceptions to the policy? If so, how would we request one?

A: Dear George,
You have heard correctly, but the "one council, one lodge" policy is really not new. The Order of the Arrow has had a that policy for quite some time. What is new is that, in February of this year, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America adopted the OA's policy and made it a part of the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America. The pertinent part of Article IX of the Rules and Regulations reads as follows:
“Local councils may apply for and receive a charter for one lodge on an annual basis.  When two or more councils merge their membership, council lodges must create a plan to merge into one lodge within 12 months of the merger.”
It should be noted that the OA previously allowed a shorter period for lodge mergers, but we will now provide 12 months for lodges to merge, in accordance with the new BSA rule. The next printing of the OA's Field Operations Guide will reflect this change.
Lodges are an integral part of a council's program, and it is essential that the structure of the Order of the Arrow match that of the council it serves. Lodges are supposed to support their councils, and if a council's leadership determines that it is in the council's best interest to merge, the council's lodge should support that decision. A lodge should never be an impediment to the successful operation of the council it serves. On the contrary, even though lodge mergers can sometimes stir emotions among Arrowmen, a lodge should always be mindful of its duty to its council and its obligation to help its council successfully deliver the Scouting program.
As for exceptions to the policy, there is no provision for a waiver or exception to the BSA's rule, nor should there be. I cannot conceive of a situation where the Order of the Arrow would consider allowing an exception, even if we had the authority to override a BSA rule, which we do not. I would certainly never support such an exception.
I hope this answers your question, and I am hopeful that the Arrowmen in your lodge will support the decision of your council. Thank you for asking!
In service,

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