I am not in favor of one-day classes. I won’t go into detail about that, mainly because I think the reasons have already been said by other brethren in this thread. They just don’t accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish…unless, of course, all we’re trying to accomplish is a quick infusion of cash from all the degree fees (and I think we’d all agree that’s not the goal).
However, even though I’m not in favor of one-day classes, I am encouraged by what led to the decision to try them: a willingness to experiment and try new ideas. Yes, we are a fraternity rooted in tradition. Yes, there are certain things about Freemasonry that are probably never going to change, whether you want to call them “Ancient Landmarks” or not. But we live in a world that’s changing all around us, and while it’s fantastic that Freemasonry brings a certain consistency to our lives that are usually dominated by change, we can’t keep doing the exact same thing forever and expecting to remain successful. The Lodges that never tried anything new are the ones that are dying and merging…for them, Lodge simply became the routine of meeting the same guys every month, with no real effort to bring in new members as the existing membership aged. Some have even realized their error, but often too late to fix it…because a man in his 20s doesn’t want to join a Lodge where the average age is over 70. He’ll find almost nothing in common with his brethren, nothing to talk about when they get together. So I welcome the willingness to try new things. The Open Houses have been very successful, as the simple act of throwing open our doors and saying “welcome all!” has done a lot to change the perception that we’re very “secretive.” And frankly, I like that the rules of solicitation have been relaxed a little. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking someone, “have you ever thought about it?” as long as there’s no pressure. There are simply too many other distractions in this world for us to expect that all the men we want in our fraternity will come to us.
Other ideas have been less successful, like the one-day classes. My attitude on those is, “we tried it, it didn’t really work out, let’s try something else instead.” If another jurisdiction wants to try it, perhaps they’ll do it a little differently and will find it more successful. It’s not my place to question the Grand Master of another jurisdiction. But if I may, I’d like to focus on one part of the OP that really bothered me:
all new brothers are being referenced to this program instead of the traditional one degree at a time method, regardless of preference. I heard this was due to budget constraints
Excuse me, but that’s a load of you-know-what. “Budget constraints” shouldn’t be a concern at all, because candidates for the degrees should be paying a fee that covers the cost of conferring the degree, including training and materials. In fact, it should probably be much more than that so that we’re not giving away Freemasonry too cheaply to those who are simply “curious” and want to see what the ritual is all about. Becoming a Freemason should be a serious commitment, and the degree fee should reflect that. Does anybody honestly believe that someone who’s really serious about becoming a Freemason is going to give up on it because he needs a little time to save up the money? Ridiculous. Something worth doing is worth waiting for. If a candidate isn’t willing to wait, they were never that serious about it in the first place. If candidates are being forced into one-day classes because of “budget constraints,” then something is very seriously wrong. Bylaws need to be updated, and if Lodges aren’t willing to do that (or are unable because of a few stubborn brethren who oppose change) then the Grand Constitutions need to be changed so that Lodges are forced to collect a reasonable degree fee.
My apologies if I sound overly judgmental, but the idea of forcing candidates into one-day classes over issues of money really bothers me. It does a huge disservice to those candidates. If a jurisdiction wants to do one-day classes, it should be considered only as an alternative method, not the ONLY method. To make it the only method because Lodges are charging the same degree fees they did 50 years ago and can’t afford anything else is very disturbing. Come on, brethren…THESE ARE OUR OWN LODGES. We should be taking an active role in keeping our Lodges viable and healthy for years to come, and that means periodically updating our bylaws. To go decades without doing that is inexcusable.