One Day and Beyond…

Bro. Ronald S. Townsend, Jr.

With the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania keeping up with the times, they instituted a one day class program a little over 5 years ago. This was done to afford men with busy schedules a chance to join our great Fraternity and to also increase our membership. As many of you well know, this was met with resistance from some of the membership and still is to this day. It was said that we wouldn’t get quality members or they wouldn’t get as much out of the degrees as if you went through the traditional way.  Being one of those one day wonders and talking to other Brethren that have joined in both ways, we don’t learn much from it other than the experience. Mostly all will attest that it was a blur. Yes, I now regret not joining in the traditional way because of missing out on that experience. But my experience after joining and becoming involved has been life changing!

You see, it’s not how we were made a Mason that counts; it’s what we do after we become one. I personally know of six Brothers that were raised in the one day class format and are now Past Masters or are incoming Worshipful Masters. That’s from just 2 Lodges in our District alone. I’m sure there are many more out there.

For the naysayers, take all newly raised Brothers, no matter how they were initiated into the Craft, nurture them, guide them and mentor them. All too often we let new members slip through the cracks. We all took the same oath and obligation. So instead of chastising how a Brother was raised, take him under your wing and show him the way. Someday you might be shaking the hand of a Worshipful Master that you mentored.

Whether you are a “Traditional” or a “One Day” Mason, it’s not how you were raised, it’s what you do with it afterwards.

Please share your experiences as a One Day Class candidate in the comments. Also, if you are opposed to the One Day Classes, we want to hear from you too.

Bro. Ronald S. Townsend, Jr. is incoming Worshipful Master at Apollo Lodge # 437. He can be contacted by email at rstownsendjr@yahoo.com.

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9 thoughts on “One Day and Beyond…

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  1. I also joined Freemasonry five years ago, but at the suggestion of my first line signer I came in traditionally. I came in at the same time as a One Day Classer. We both came to practices regularly and became involved. Since then, my friend, Brother, and One-Dayer, has been WM twice. I am preparing to start my second year as WM.
    Since we joined we have seen many join both ways. I think One-Dayers miss out at the beginning. But other than that, there is little difference in the Masonic journey. Too many of both join, then never return.
    If you want an enjoyable experience get involved. You will only get out of Freemasonry what you are willing to invest.

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  2. Please don’t take this as critical, it is just discussion.
    I have a couple of comments. First, the first one day in PA was a good while ago, though it was laid out quite differently. see: http://www.pagrandlodge.org/freemason/0904/1day1.html I believe the district format is the class you mention.
    I have always considered that the education of a candidate should begin before his first degree. It is not good to leave a candidate on the threshold without any knowledge whatsoever. There is much that can be taught without revealing any of the work. I wonder also, whether the opponents of the one day class format haven’t been more worried that the candidate wasn’t getting what was needed to become enlightened travelers, rather than being critical of the Brother. They may not have presented their concerns well enough, and may have been more upset with the idea of change than the actual method.
    The other concern that I have heard is the idea of quantity vs quality. No one can deny that many fine Brothers have come from one day classes. Likewise many never-to-be-seen-again Brothers have come through conventionally. But this begs the question, “why, if you have time to go through chairs and learn now, did you not have time to go through conventionally”? For some I believe that it was a matter of convenience and also poor understanding of their options.
    The mentoring that needs to happen, must happen immediately or the Brother will never become connected to the Lodge. That is where our biggest failure has been in PA.

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    1. We face the challenge during the petitioning process of trying to sell a product that we feel we can’t tell much about, I believe that sentiment carries over and doubles for the ODC vs conventional discussion with a candidate. I was the exemplar for the third degree at my ODC, so I consider myself a bit of a hybrid. I had the awesome of experience of getting my third in a lodge room filled to capacity, not something many can say. I like to think, looking back, I understood my options. I made an informed decision to forego the entire 6 month initiation period and opt for the one day experience, knowing that when I did that I would have a mountain of work in front of me to catch up to brethren going the traditional route at the same time. I’m surprised as many ODC brethren are as successful as they are, considering they start three months behind their fellow newly raised master masons. I believe it puts a chip on the shoulder of the more motivated ODC masons. Glad to continue the conversation brethren!
      -Bro. R. J.

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  3. I didn’t take it as critical at all Brian. I appreciate the feedback. This is exactly why this blog page was started. And yes, the district format is what I am talking about. I can only speak for myself. At the time I joined I never knew what nights I would be done in time to make it to a meeting. Then I didn’t attend a meeting again for over a year when my schedule changed and I was able to attend Lodge and get involved. Also, my options weren’t explained to me very well. I was told, “Hey, we’re having a one day class to join the Masons.” I honestly didn’t know about the traditional way until after I joined. Some may join in the one-day classes for convenience, work commitments, etc. Each has their own reasons and it isn’t our place to judge. As I mentioned in my blog I regret not joining in the traditional way. That’s not to take away anything from us one-day guys. Some of the finest and most knowledgeable Masons I know came from the one-day classes. Mentoring should start as soon as we ask someone to join. There are things that we can explain to them and what they can expect. And their mentors should follow through after the one-day class and teach them what they missed as we should with anyone who joins, in either manner. That’s about as much as we can say about it on here. Thank you again for your feedback. And Chuck, I totally agree with you. It’s the Masonic journey that you take after being raised that counts.

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  4. I am always curious as to why we don’t schedule our extra meetings when convenient for the candidate. Worst case is that no one shows on a Saturday degree, but we could fix that with a district degree team. I would love to lighten the load of Lodge officers by having a degree team to assist. Much like the pin club does. The Master and Wardens have their hands full as it is.

    Great insight, btw

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  5. The issue I see with a district degree team is everyone will depend on the degree to do the work. No incentive to learn them. This would be a good topic for a blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m actually okay with that. When we can’t fill the chairs, remember the load. I am a believer in having Ritualists and having Leaders. A Brother can be both, but often the daunting task of learning so much degree work can keep good leaders out of the chairs. Perhaps if it was learned prior to an elective position?

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      1. I’m currently reading “The Search for Leadership” by Allen Roberts, he contends that ritualistic exactness interferes with the lodges ability to find good leaders. This is probably getting off topic of the original post, and can definitely be explored in a later post, but the books shines light on understanding and living the ritual as opposed to reciting it.
        – Bro. R. J.

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