UPDATE: See below.
There are really no words. No words for this. It's quite a sad, sad article because it is actually reported that a group of Episcopal DOK (who attempted to break off and start their own Order at one point) are attempting to expel the non-Episcopal Daughters (and I supposed that would include those of us who remain Episcopalian in Anglican Chapters) from the Order.
It's interesting to see how this article is written, as though they are the ones being expelled, when in fact - it's quite the other way around.
There was a last-minute attempt to replace the current president of the Daughters of the King in Province III since she is a member of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, but that challenge was resoundingly defeated by the voting-membership at the last meeting of Province III. The great majority of the Daughters, Episcopalian and Anglican voted together to re-elect the Provincial president. It wasn't about politics, it was about service. We serve the King.
The Presiding Bishop may want to think about that. It's not about her, it's about the King.
It's interesting to see this strategy underway as the same group that set up this website is now attempting to expel Daughters from the Order, denying them their seats and votes in the General Assembly. Currently all Daughters are permitted to vote. All the Daughters will vote - unless this attempt to deny some of the Daughters their seat and vote in the General Assembly. This type of an article is so far from what we experienced at the Province III retreat it causes me to grieve.
What the article doesn't say is that the Daughters of the King is actually a separate 501(c)(3) organization, though the polity is a religious order, the legal structure is not within TEC. It is not officially part of the Episcopal Church structure. It has long enjoyed a very special relationship with The Episcopal Church and it was out of that relationship that Daughters reached across the divide to bring in others in the Order who recognize the historic episcopate. It was the vision of the Order to reach across the barriers and make peace. Those bridges have been built, forged by prayer and common service and a commitment to the Great Commission. It is about prayer and evangelism and service and that is not accomplished by a trick of pulling up the drawbridge and filling up the moat.
In fact, it is the vision of the Daughters of the King within the 501(c)(3) organization which was founded by a remarkable Episcopalian woman to reach out to denominations that recognize the historic Episcopate. The Daughters together will vote how they will move forward in mission.
The Order includes Episcopal members - but it is the Daughters who are in the Episcopal Church, not the Order. The structures are legally separate. The article gives the impression that the Order is within the structures of The Episcopal Church, but that is incorrect. It is a separate organization long affiliated with The Episcopal Church, but is it's own organization and a 501(c)(3) organization.
I don't know if the Presiding Bishop will continue to appoint a chaplain or not - that is for the Order to decide. But it is surprising to see this public display to hold on to power rather than pray for the Daughters to do what is good for the Order's mission. Why us that? She seems unwilling to allow the Daughters themselves to choose their chaplain - and why is that? What matters, what really matters is the mission - isn't it?
The Order is not a drawbridge designed to keep selected sisters out. It is not a closed society. In fact, the Order is a bridge designed to bring more to Jesus. Jesus. Not Katharine Jefferts Schori or anyone else. I don't know why she's intervening rather than applauding the freedom to vote. It's not about her. It's about Jesus. We are Daughters of the King.
In Province III we have had an amazing experience of renewal and reconciliation at our annual retreats (read more about about the most recent one here), including the one this past May. Through the remarkable vision of one of the visionary leaders of Province III, the late Barbara Banks, we stepped away from trying to solve the current crisis through politics and instead fell on our knees in prayer. Barbara knew she didn't have much time left and she spent much of the last months of her life planning this spring retreat - a lasting legacy of a vision that we be made one, united in prayer in our bond in Jesus Christ.
We are Daughters of the King.
It is that vision that I pray will spread across this land - to the Presiding Bishop herself, it is my prayer, my hope for us all that we will embrace one another and not expel anyone - not the Anglican, or the Lutherans, or the Catholics, or the Episcopalian outside the walls. It is not about being Episcopalian - it's about being Daughters of the King.
Please join me and members of the Order as we pray that this earnest call for renewal will spread to Anaheim this summer when the DOK General Assembly will meet. We need to call this for what it is - and call on the Lord to break through and make us one.
Read more about the Province III retreat here. You can read more about the Daughters of the King at their official website here. You can see the website set up by a group of Episcopalians here.
I'm going to put this up again because this was our prayer, the prayer of the Province III Assembly of the Order of the Daughters of the King. It was Barbara's prayer. Come, Lord Jesus. May it be so!
The National Council of the Order of the Daughters of the King responds to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The letter was received by the Presiding Bishop this morning:
June 18, 2009
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori:
Thank you for your thoughtful response to a letter from Ruth Annette Mills, of the Diocese of Nevada—a distinguished lady who has been a Daughter fifty years. She deserves respect and attention from all her sisters. Although I have not seen Ruth’s letter, your response indicates that she believes the Order of the Daughters of the King is proposing amendments that will cut its ties with the Episcopal Church. I am grieved that she has been misled by this idea. It is simply false, fueled by rumors and fears. Let me explain.
The Daughters have twice rejected a proposal to become ecumenical by allowing chapters in any denomination that practices Christian baptism. The first time, in 1997, the proposal was put forward by a committee that included two future presidents, Sue Schlanbusch and the late Joan Millard. After extensive debate, the proposal was decisively rejected. It was again put forward six years later, and tabled, with a request for a survey on the subject. The survey results were collected by the present chair of the bylaws committee, Lena Nealley. We know from reading the results that Daughters rejected the ecumenical option, and the committee has avoided that path. Instead the amendments seek to clarify the status of women who are already members under our present bylaws, and would still be members if none of the proposed amendments were adopted.
My shorthand description of the Order is that we are “Episcopal Plus”—that is, “distinctively Episcopal,” as the early handbooks phrase it, while continually planting chapters in sister Churches. The membership statistics reported at our last Council meeting listed the overwhelming number of members as Episcopalians: 25,145 of an estimated total 28,462. The next largest number is for overseas members, approximately 2500 Daughters in 15 countries. Their membership is not novel—the Order began founding chapters in Anglican churches overseas in the 19th century. When such chapters multiply in any particular country, they develop their own governing structure and leadership, and US Daughters continue to encourage them as much as we are able.
The recent fears and controversy revolve around the relatively small numbers of Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran chapters in the US: the October report listed 720, 97, and 18 members respectively, totaling less than 3% of the entire membership. As you may know, our present bylaws give chapters in Churches in the historic episcopate (other than those in the Episcopal church) the option of forming a national governing structure parallel to the Episcopal structure, just as overseas chapters organize when they have reached critical mass within their country. Although our bylaws have allowed Roman Catholic members since the mid-eighties, the expected growth in their numbers has not occurred, and they clearly are not able to organize as a national entity. A couple years ago the elected DOK leadership asked Anglican Daughters in the US to explore forming a national governing structure of their own, since it looked as if they might soon reach a number that would make that possible. They did explore that possibility and have rejected it in favor of forming a completely new Order with a different name for Anglican Daughters. A majority of our Anglican members will probably leave the Order in the coming year to join a new Order for Anglican women, unaffiliated with the Daughters of the King.
In short, far from receiving a flood of new members who might change the character of the Order, as some appear to think, we expect to say a sad goodbye to long-time members whose congregations have left the Episcopal Church. At the same time most of us want to assure the Roman Catholic Daughters and any Anglican or Lutheran Daughters that remain that although they are a minority we recognize them as valued members of the Order.
The Daughters of the King are praying for the upcoming General Convention, for you personally, and for all the delegates and bishops who will participate. Daughters in the Diocese of Iowa have prepared a seven-day cycle of prayers for us to use during the three weeks of Triennial and Convention.
In the latest Royal Cross both our president, Joan Dalrymple, and the Triennial Chair, Phyllis Easley, urge members to participate in the Prayer Vigil. These are not the actions of a sinister cabal intent on cutting the Order’s ties with the Episcopal Church. We may be perplexed at times, but the Daughters still seek first of all to serve our King and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and work out our vows to pray and serve within our local congregations. For most of us in the United States, that means a local Episcopal congregation and diocese. Please believe that severing our multiple connections with the Episcopal Church is not an option the Daughters will consider in Anaheim.
Again, thank you for your attention and your prayers.
For His Sake,
Grace Sears, Secretary
The Order of the Daughters of the King