What is a Fraternal?

SPJST is Fraternal

The word “fraternal” is derived from the Latin word fraternalis which means “of, or befitting a brother.”

Fraternalism and fraternal life insurance are founded upon the principle that every individual is his “brother’s keeper” and that each of us has a responsibility to help each other. This spirit of doing good for each other was expressed in the loosely organized and semi-religious societies of ancient Greece which provided financial aid to their members in time of sickness and death.

In addition to providing financial support to the families of departed members, these early fraternal societies recognized the social need of human beings for companionship. As such, these early societies and guilds provided a way for people to meet at friendly gatherings.

The American fraternal benefit system began in 1868 in Pennsylvania. Jordan Upchurch, a railroad master mechanic, organized the first lodge of a fraternal life insurance society in the United States. His group was known as the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Included in the Upchurch program was a plan to provide members with protection for their dependents. The story of its success spread, and similar lodges were organized in other cities and states.

For nearly 150 years, fraternal organizations have been a force for good in North America. In addition to providing life insurance, they serve their members and society at large through cultural, social, educational, and various civic and fund-raising activities. Democratic principles are an important aspect of membership in a fraternal benefit society. Within SPJST, members elect their local officers as well as their society’s directors and officers.

A fraternal benefit society (“fraternal”), under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), is a non-profit mutual aid organization that (1) insures members and their families against death, disease, and disability, and (2) maintains an active lodge system. In general, the term “fraternal” applies to an organization whose members have adopted the same or similar calling, avocation, or profession and who, for that reason, have banded together to aid and assist one another and to promote a common cause.

Fraternalism seeks to build relationships. With new relationships come vitality, adventure, the freedom to strive, compete, and create. Fraternal involvement makes men, women, and children happy in the work that they are doing. Community service projects and social gatherings that strive to achieve a sense of purpose make SPJST members proud to be members and attracts others. For local lodge activities, please refer to the Local Lodges section.

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