Daughters of the King establishes fund for junior members; reject bylaw changes

July 6, 2009

The Order of the Daughters of the King (DOK), a group dedicated to prayer and service, established a new Alpha Fund for Junior Daughters but rejected proposed bylaw changes and amendments during their July 1-5 triennial gathering.

Incoming national president Grace Sears, of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington in Province IV, described the gathering, which traditionally has met prior to the General Convention to pray for the work and ministry of the church, as both frustrating and wonderful.

"It was frustrating. I would say we tried to make changes in one direction and another, and came back to where we were," Sears said in a telephone interview July 6. "What we concluded is that we are not in a place where we are ready to make changes. The membership will stand pat, keep praying and wait on the Lord."

But she added that establishment of the Alpha Fund for Junior Daughters was "a major achievement" overwhelmingly supported by the 500 people attending the gathering, which carried the theme, "The Seven-Fold Gifts of the Spirit."

Junior Daughters are aged 7-21 and, like the DOK, take vows of prayer and service. But little, if any, funding has existed for leadership or other training for them previously, Sears said.

Establishing the fund "was a very, very positive thing," she added. "It was remarkable to see the procession of banners during worship. It was joyous and solemn, feeling bound together by our vows and joy and worship of the Lord. Business can be frustrating but it … was wonderful to have that as a final experience."

Incoming Province VIII DOK President Christine Budzowski of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles said "the proposed amendments to the bylaws served to polarize the order."

The full text of the changes may be found on the DOK website here.

While some DOK members said the changes were an attempt at inclusiveness; others interpreted them as an effort to remove the order from the Episcopal Church (TEC), by those whose congregations have left TEC, referred to as "New Anglicans" in a January 5, 2009 informational document disseminated to the DOK.

Attempts to substitute amendments for the proposed changes also failed, Budzowski said. "It was pretty evenly split, and not among so-called Anglicans versus Episcopalians," she said. "It just shows that what we do best is prayer."

The DOK, which was founded in 1885 at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Sepulchre in New York City, was initially conceived as an order of women who are communicants of the Anglican Catholic Church, which in the United States is TEC.

The group has included Episcopal oversight and in recent years has expanded to include women in churches in communion with TEC, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and churches with an historic episcopate such as the Roman Catholic Church.

The January document lists "41 New Anglican chapters with 720 members" or those who have left TEC.

There are about 25,276 DOK members, including about 3,500 members in some 167 international chapters in South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Germany and Japan, according to statistics compiled by the DOK.

In other business, the DOK also elected new board members for three-year terms, including, besides Sears: Melinda Denney, first vice president; Phyllis Larson, second vice president; Keeva Harmon, treasurer; and Sheila Gerth, secretary.

Budzowski said the new elections created a younger board and that she "is cautiously optimistic the order can move forward with a fresh start."

She added that a new bylaws committee with be formed, consisting of members with a diversity of viewpoints. The new committee may make recommendations for the next triennial in 2012.

"We have three more years to rethink and/or reflect on who we are as an order," said the Rev. JoAnn Weeks, vicar of Grace Episcopal Church in Moreno Valley in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

"Hopefully, we will use the time between Triennials to build up the trust that we have lost. Perhaps we will learn to love each other again. My prayer is that we will."

Outgoing DOK national president Joan Dalrymple declined to comment.

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