History of Lionism


“You cannot get very far until you start doing something for somebody else”. – this basic percept is thee cornerstone of the movement called Lionism founded by the author of the above statement, Late Lion Melvin Jones (1879-1961).

Positioned as he was in a war torn world (World War II), torn to bits and pieces by hatred and jealousy, Lion Melvin Jones was a successful Insurance Salesman, Having his own insurance business under the name and style of “Melvin Jones Insurance Agency”. Like any other wealth, prosperous person, he joined “The Business Circle”, an exclusive club of about 2000 people, the cream of business community, Merchants, Industrialists, Bankers and Professionals meeting regularly for luncheon at the “Old Boston House”. The Only objective of the Club was promotion of better business by and for the members.

In 1915, Melvin Jones was elected as the Secretary of “The Business Circle” that gave him the much awaited opportunity to put his dream into action and reality. On 7th June 1917, Melvin Jones organized a combined meeting of several already existing independent clubs. They met in La Salle Hotel, Chicago, llinois, to consider the proposal for consolidation of all these Clubs. It was here that the seed of Lionism was sown and a call for an Annual Convention made; and Melvin Jones was elected as Acting Secretary.


The first annual convention was held at Dallas, Texas from 8th to 10th October, 1917. “The Optimists”, “The Reciprocity Clubs” “The Wheels”, The Concordia Clubs of Omaha”, “The Business and Profession men of St. Paul”, “The Cirgonians”, The Vortes Group”, “The Lions Club of Indiana”, ”The Busiess Circle”, 23 existing an Independent clubs forged ahead under one banner. Melvin Jones had succeed in convincing all of them that true brother hood exists where people live together, work together and break bread together in mutual trust and respect.

The name – ‘Lions’

When the clubs were forged into one, the search was on for an acceptable name for the new Association. The clubs, naturally vied amongst themselves for the adoption of the their Club’s name for the new association. But Melvin Jones had anticipated this and had done considerable research on the legend, heredity and zoology of the king of the jungle. The word “LION” emerged with a thumping majority in the secret ballot. The Association was thus named as “The Association of Lions Clubs”. The world “LIONS” also signified the first letters of the words –liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations Safety Movement to work in free county.

Dr. W. P. Woods of Evansile, Indiana was elected the very first International President, Melvin Jones was elected Secretary General. It was here that the Constitution and Bye-laws were laid down, the official colours of purple and gold approved and the original drafts of the Objects and the Ethics drawn up.

Our association

The individual Lions Club is the most important unit of our Association. After all, it is the international Association of Lions Clubs that counts you as a member. But, as an individual, you belong to your Club. It is the Club that is a member of that Association. It means that when it comes to elect International Officers and Directors, or to amend or change the International Constitution and Bye-laws, it is the club that casts the necessary votes through its authorized delegates.

What is Lionism ?

Lionism is a dedication to the highest ideals of humanitarian service; a fellowship of men who have committed themselves to aiding those in need through whatever means at their disposal. Lionism is a faith that people of different nationalities and creeds, separated by borders, oceans and old distrusts, can join together in helping to bring about a better world. It is, indeed, a way of life. The spirit of Lionism is not reserved for meeting hall or only for the calendar of club service projects. Lionism is a set of principles by which one lives; a guideline for community service, ethical business responsibilities and inter-personal relations.

Goals of Lionism

Lions throughout the world are ready at all times, to render unselfish service to their communities and to people who are less fortunate. Our goal is to do whatever possible to relieve the miseries of poverty, disease, hunger, ignorance and fear. Each club has its own goals and each Lion has individual standards. If our purposes can be generalized through, it is a very simple “to be at the side of the grief stricken and destitute when they call out for help, to be willing and able to initiate and support necessary community projects, voluntary in lending a helping hand to the poor, the handicapped, the friendless and the helpless. The goal of Lionism is “to be there” when it counts.

International outlook

The Association of Lions Clubs turned truly International by extending Lionism to Canada in 1920. The third, fourth and fifth Lions countries were China, Mexico and Cuba in 1926 and 1927. Eight years later, Central America entered the fold and in 1936 the first latin American club was established in Columia. In 1956, Lionism crossed the Indian shores. Within four months, 20 new Clubs were born in India with 513 members. Lionism has also put its firm footholds in Russia and other Socialist countries.

Recognition at U.N.O.

In 1945, Lion Melvin Jones had the unique distinction and honor of representing Lions International as Consultant at the historic U.N.O. session. The United Nations has earmarked 24th March as the Lions Clubs International Day, recognizing the excellent service rendered by the Lions to mankind all over the world. It is not an uncommon thing for a Lions Club of accomplish the transformation of man from a misanthropic, selfish individual to a philanthropic, selfless, respected Community Benefactor.

The Lions Name

On June 17, 1917 at the invitation of Melvin Jones, delegates met in Chicago. The only point of contention was the selection of a name for the new organization. Melvin Jones researched the idea of calling the new organization Lions. He was convinced that the lion stood for strength, courage, fidelity and vital action. On a secret ballot the name Lions was chosen over several others.

The Lion Emblem

In 1919 convention, attempt was made to change the symbol, but a young attorney Mr. Halsted Ritter from Denver, Colorado spoke; “The name Lions stands not only for fraternity, good fellowship, strength of character and purpose, but above all, its combination of LIONS heralds to the country the true meaning of citizenship:

Voice of Lions Pin

Don’t overlook me, Lions, I’m the Lions pin. Right up in front here. Put the spotlight on me because I am proud to play a part in the lives of the men who wear me as their symbol of service to the community. I’ve witnessed excitement, sadness and happiness. I’ve been with my wearer as eyes of deceased Lions were removed for deposit in the Eye Bank. I was there too when I watched as the hungry were fed, the destitute cared for. I’ve seen and heard the laughter of children in playgrounds, enjoying recreational facilities and leadership provided by Lions. Yes, I’ve travelled all over the world and can recall thousands of incidents diverted from sadness to gladness because those who wear me made it so. I am a symbol of service to the world. If I could really talk I’d be too filled with emotional pride to say more than : “Thank you, and may God Bless you and protect you.”



In Press