For about the last year, I have been hearing a lot about the Essex Cornerstone Club, and how this new group is attempting to do away with some of what they might term to be the age old stereotypes, with the word “old” being the operative term… At first glance, while reading over the many news items, they appear to be no different than any other Lodge; wanting to promote charity, self-betterment, and Fraternal Brotherhood. However, one thing is dreadfully missing from their charter, and it is one of dire importance.
The concept of Fraternal Brotherhood? The Essex Cornerstone Club does not understand the meaning or application of the term.
I visited the website for the Essex Cornerstone Club, and went where I always go first when investigating a Lodge- the tab explaining “how to join”. Here is the mistake- they are not a Lodge, they are only a club, and one with pretty UN-Masonic expectations. The Essex Club lists as its qualifications:
To be eligible to join the Cornerstone Club any prospective member must be under 37 years of age and a subscribing member of any Lodge or Chapter under the United Grand Lodge of England”.
Fraternal Brotherhood and a deeper understanding of Freemasonry…. Nope, you’re not going to find it here. I suppose that anyone over the age of 37 might cramp their style. Hmmmm…. Brotherhood??? Really? I thought that I might consider joining. However, since I’m 42… I guess I won’t bother.
But, still I persisted in researching. From the appearance of the Club’s site, it appears that they are into various fun activities, discussions, etc. Their mission, or what might be loosely termed as a mission statement, i.e. “About Us” is as follows:
“The Cornerstone club has been established to help connect young Freemasons who are spread across the Province of Essex. We oﬀer members a deeper understanding of Freemasonry and promote a sense of charity and community.
Each month will see various social and educational opportunities that will compliment lodge and Provincial activities, and to help members make the most of their Masonic journey.
Representing the views of the younger generation of Freemasons, we hope to help shape the future of Masonry.”
Again, they have missed the point. How can they claim to offer a deeper understanding of Freemasonry and to “promote a sense of charity and community” when this awesome new group is actively engaged in keeping certain Brethren, who might otherwise be recognized by the U.G.L.E., out of the picture?
I can say from personal and observational experience that some of the greatest and longest lasting lessons and life applications I have gained while within the Freemasonic Institution have been given me and nurtured under the guidance and mentor-ship of older- sometimes MUCH older Masons! I have RARELY gained tremendous Masonic insight from a “younger” Mason. In fact, the MOST wisdom I have EVER gleaned has been from DEAD Masonic authors, those who have passed long ago… These guys are OLD & DEAD. Yet- their words and wisdom have stood the test of time.
I DO understand that there are many appendant bodies in and about the Freemasonic family that have some expectations and requirements- but these are generally very specific to the ultimate goal of that Organization, i.e. The York Rite is fundamentally Christian and this is a necessary part of that particular Ritual. But, nowhere in the Masonic universe is found a need for an age requirement… this seems counterproductive to any increase in knowledge and/or membership.
Fraternal Brotherhood, true acceptance, Universality, and yes- some degree of “fun” activities…. These are ALL necessary for Masonic growth. Sadly, the Essex Cornerstone Club has proven that it cares little about the most important of these- that which forms the foundation of Freemasonry…. Brotherhood.
Brotherhood does NOT have an age limit, it does not have a color, and it does not have an ethnicity. If you or your “club” chooses to adhere to such identifiers, then at least have the decency to do it wholly outside of the confines of the otherwise true Masonic Brotherhood, and please do not call such a lopsided “club” a cornerstone. If this un-even and un-true group is the cornerstone of anything, I wager it will collapse quickly (and mercifully), under its own presumptuous weight.