The Toronto West CORNERSTONE PROJECT is an initiative implemented by the District Deputy Grand Masters of Toronto West District. Its objective is to encourage adoption of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, Lodge Resources Committee’s Cornerstone Project throughout this District. This adoption is to be evidenced by a majority of lodges attaining Cornerstone status within the next two years.
Since the inception of the Grand Lodge project 3 years ago, only one Lodge in the Toronto West District has sought and attained Cornerstone Lodge status. In light of the many benefits that accrue to Lodges as a result of participation, our District Deputy Grand Masters considers this project a valuable component is the strategy towards his goal of ensuring strong, sustainable lodges and enhancing the Masonic experience in the District.
The CORNERSTONE Project has been developed to assist lodges with the many challenges they face. Its primary purpose is to encourage and recognize lodges that plan, implement and manage a well rounded yearly lodge program that promotes lodge activities, brotherhood, charitable work and involvement in the community. Although good planning and strong management is a vitally important component to the overall success of any lodge, it must never be forgotten that in order to maintain the momentum in the lodge the members must have a compelling idea of where the lodge needs to go, what type of members it will attract, what benefits it can provide, and how the organization needs to be perceived in the community if it is to thrive.
When a lodge makes the decision to participate in this program they acknowledge their desire to increase the value of the experience that they provide to their membership. Participation will bring many value added benefits:
The Grand Lodge, through the Lodge Resources Committee, administers and evaluates the project, which is not a one-time event. It is an award that is valid for two years and is presented on a biennial basis. Should a lodge wish to participate, a Letter of Intent must be submitted each and every time a lodge chooses to participate.
To qualify for the CORNERSTONE designation the individual lodge must:
All lodges should ensure that they have the most recent copy of the Lodge Resources Manual available to them in their lodge. This manual contains valuable resource material that can help a lodge in qualifying for the designation of Cornerstone Lodge. Should a copy not be available, the lodge can obtain a copy from the Grand Lodge website or request an electronic copy from the Cornerstone Team Leader or District Cornerstone Adviser.
Many lodges are under the impression that, because they are small, struggling lodges, they do not have the resources, specifically the “manpower”, to implement Cornerstone. Those lodges are encouraged to consider the alternative perspective that by implementing this Project, they may energize their lodge and see absent members return or see new members join, thereby addressing their issue of insufficient resources. Those lodges may find that they are unable to complete the required number of standards in one year but these actions will serve as a preliminary step to actually applying for Cornerstone. Consider the following statement by a Lodge Coordinator that was part of the covering letter with his lodge’s package:
“The Cornerstone Project has been a real positive experience for our lodge. Last November at a “committee of general purposes” meeting a vote was held to proceed with amalgamation talks. The vote was all members in favour with one against. I was the one against and I convinced the brethren to try this project in conjunction with other Grand Lodge programs for two years and if we were not in a stronger position I would relent. Six months later and talk of amalgamation has vanished and been replaced by the prospect of attaining “Cornerstone Lodge” designation for a second time [again the next year]. The change in attitude has been amazing and it has been accompanied by a mini revival in lodge. I must thank you for your efforts and let you know that in at least one lodge they have been successful.”
The following comment was submitted by a Lodge Cornerstone Coordinator:
“This [Cornerstone] will definitely not go to waste since it does enhance Brother-to-Brother programs, Mentor programs, etc. as well as good management. I hope every lodge sees the value and seeks the recognition.”
To initiate the qualification process, the Worshipful Master of each lodge must:
MANDATORY STANDARDS (Requires 1 of 3)
Friend to Friend
The lodge holds a Friend-to-Friend event using the Lodge Resources Committee Friend-to-Friend Program or another similar format selected by the lodge that
approximates the Friend-to-Friend Program.
The lodge uses the Mentor Program to enhance the education and journey through the degrees of its new candidates by conducting the Candidate through at least 2 of the 4 Elements of the program as contained in the Lodge Resources Manual. If something other than this program is used within the Lodge, a detailed description of the program as presented to the candidates must be included. Remember, mentoring is much more than helping a candidate learn the ritual.
The Lodge practices a program that involves Past Masters regularly providing mentorship to its line officers (i.e., stewards, deacons, inner guard, wardens and master).
MAJOR STANDARDS (Requires 5 of 11)
Grand Lodge Annual Communication
A minimum of three (3) lodge delegates must participate in the current year GRAND LODGE ANNUAL COMMUNICATION. Note: Two (2) of either the Worshipful
Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden or proxy carrier, must be present to qualify.
Annual Operating Budget
Establish a yearly operating budget and have it presented to the membership, prior to or shortly following the beginning of the lodge fiscal year.
Conduct at least three (3) Masonic Education programs during the year. At the Worshipful Master’s discretion, these programs may be part of either a stated or
special meeting. Presentations need to be at least five (5) minutes in duration. A Lodge of Discussion does not qualify as Masonic Education.
At least two (2) of the three (3) degrees of Masonry are conducted by your own lodge officers and members during the year. In the absence of actual candidates it
is permissible to perform the degrees with a representative candidate.
The Lodge must distribute at least three (3) written communications in addition to the usual lodge summons (such as newsletters and flyers) to its entire membership and/or provide at least three (3) written communications on the lodge website, reporting on Lodge activities and upcoming Lodge events. If the website or email distribution is used, explain how the information is made available to those members who do not have internet capabilities.
At least four (4) lodge members, including at least two (2) of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon and Junior Deacon, must participate in a Masonic Workshop that may, or may not, be within their own district.
At least five (5) lodge members, including at least two (2) of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon and Tyler, must visit a tiled meeting of another lodge. This is a Lodge initiated visit as opposed to a District initiative. The Official Visit of the DDGM does not qualify.
Conduct a Lodge Survey for the purpose of determining the views of the membership on the operation and activities of the lodge while specifically identifying
the strengths of the lodge and the challenges faced by the lodge.
At least seven (7) lodge members, including at least two (2) of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon and Junior Deacon, must
participate in a District Traveling Gavel or other such similar type of district initiated visitation program.
Mason CHIP Event
The Lodge sponsors a MasoniChip event within their community
Blood Donor Clinics
At least five (5) members of the lodge participate in two (2) different blood donor clinics. It need not be the same five members at both clinics.
BASIC STANDARDS (Requires 6 of 12)
Invite & Host another Lodge
Invite and host a meeting with another lodge (or lodges) that is not part of a regular visitation program or friend-to-friend event. This could include workshops, seminars, Masonic discussion groups, etc. that are not a district-sponsored event and that are more than a social time
Hold a social event to which the member’s ladies and deceased member’s widows are invited with or without families. Such event could include Ladies Night, Wives and Widows Night, dinners, picnics, ice cream socials, dances, etc.
Recognize Masons, such as Past Masters, Fifty (50) Year members, etc. at a Lodge meeting or other special event such as a dinner. The event must be much more than simply handing out pins within the lodge meeting.
Invitation to Youth Groups
The lodge invites members of a local Youth Group, such as De Molay, Rainbow Girls, or Job’s Daughters to a meeting where the youth are entertained by the lodge. Alternatively, at least five (5) lodge members, including two (2) of the worshipful master, senior warden, junior warden, senior deacon and junior deacon, attend a meeting, that may include an installation ceremony, of a local youth group. In the absence of the Masonically-oriented youth groups listed above within the community, other local youth groups, such as Scouts Canada, Girl Guides, 4H, cadets, etc. may be substituted. Sponsorship of a youth group or minor sports team would qualify for this standard.
Assistance to Shut-Ins
Assist five (5) shut-ins or widows/widowers during the Masonic year with such things as lawn mowing, house painting, shopping, medical needs, etc. The recipients need not be Masonically-connected.
Rusty Mason's Event
Conduct a “Rusty Masons Event” or other similar event that encourages non-attending members to join their brethren in a relaxed atmosphere to reacquaint them with our Ritual.
At least five (5) lodge members and their spouses and children, if available, attend as a group at the same religious service of their choice
Conduct a dinner to honour new lodge members and/or those who have been raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason within the past year and who were not previously recognized.
Dinners with Toasts
Implement a program in the banquet hall that is held on regular meeting nights where proper Protocol and Etiquette are observed. This must include at least one
“formal” sit-down dinner prior to or following a lodge meeting with head table and toasts as well as at least five (5) meetings where “informal” fellowship in the banquet hall concludes with all the toasts (Queen and the Craft, Grand Lodge, Visitors, JuniorWarden’s toast).
Lodge of Discussion
Hold a “Lodge of Discussion” at a regular meeting of the lodge. It will be important to choose a topic that will assure good interaction and discussion between the lodge members. This must be a stand-alone event and cannot be combined with any other event used to qualify for another standard in the Cornerstone Project. Discussions of matters pertaining to lodge business, such as raising members’ dues or replacing the carpet, do not qualify for this standard. Lodges of instruction are not lodges of discussion and, similarly, do not qualify for this standard.
The lodge actively participates in a community event such as parking control or manning gates at the local fair or having a display booth at sidewalk days, etc.
The lodge holds an Open House and welcomes members of the community to their lodge facilities.
DISTRICT CORNERSTONE PROJECT CHAIRMAN/ADVISOR
Lodges interested in participating in the Cornerstone Project and needing assistance or support, including: workshops and/or presentations to members, documentation, planning and implementation guidance, etc should contact the District Cornerstone Chairman.
Current Cornerstone Lodges in Toronto West District