Diaconal OutReach, Care and Services
(ratified May 21, 2006)
The name of this organization shall be: Diaconal OutReach, Care and Services (DORCAS).
Herein, Diaconal OutReach, Care and Services (DORCAS), an organization of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Ohio District, Southern Circuit III, its congregations and members, intends to establish a non-profit organization which serves to fund, administer, and encourage a diaconal response in this region reaching out in mercy and compassion to those in need, motivated by Christ and His Gospel, according to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions. Diakonia, or service, is Christ in us in the midst of the world as we act out the love, mercy, grace, and charity God gives to us in Christ amongst one another as he satisfies the needs of our neighbor through us. In the same way that justification and sanctification cannot be separated, faith lives by expressing itself as love in action.
The challenge for DORCAS is to faithfully and effectively love and serve the people whom God has set before our eyes by supporting opportunities for diaconia (service). The office of deaconess is created in Christian freedom to ensure that this work of practical, human serving of need is completed. The diaconal role of women is rightly identified in the context of the life of the church. The service of a deaconess finds expression as she shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ along with acts of human care.
Therefore, it is to be required that the deaconess holds all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God. That she confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as drawn from the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions (quia subscription). And, that she intends faithfully to conform all of her life to the divine Word, to be faithful in the use of God’s Word and Sacraments, which are his means of grace, and in faith, word, and action to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit even to death.
To this end, DORCAS through its General Assembly, organization and the service of deaconesses duly and properly called and commissioned by the LCMS shall seek to:
- communicate the true and salvific Gospel of Christ through word and deed;
- support diaconal opportunities for human care;
- promote leadership and educate laity with regard to diaconia;
- encourage the formation and maintenance of service groups among the laity;
- develop a resource and referral network to meet physical care needs;
- solicit, allocate and distribute funds for ongoing diaconal work in congregations.
Section 1. All congregations in the Southern Circuit III, of the LCMS, Ohio District, shall be eligible for membership.
Section 1a. Request for membership shall be presented in writing by the Voters Assembly of the congregation to the General Assembly.
Section 2. All member congregations shall by a letter of agreement be bound by this Constitution and By-Laws.
Section 3. Membership shall be terminated upon presentation of a written resignation from the governing body of the resigning congregation to the General Assembly.
Section 4. Voting membership may be suspended by the General Assembly upon presentation of a written notice to the congregation for a period of up to one-year if a member congregation chooses not to comply with the Constitution and By-Laws of this organization for at least two consecutive years or more. The General Assembly shall review the matter of suspension after the 1st quarter meeting of each year.
Section 5. Membership may be terminated by the General Assembly upon presentation of a written notice to the congregation after a year-long period of suspension and in conjunction with continued non-compliance with the Constitution and By-Laws of this organization.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall be formed in the following manner:
- a) Each member congregation shall be represented on the General Assembly by at least one and no more than two Pastors rostered by the LCMS and chosen by the member congregation. These representatives shall serve with authority from the member congregation as voting members within the General Assembly.
- b) The deaconess’ pastoral supervisor shall serve as a voting member on the General Assembly. The pastoral supervisor shall not be eligible to serve as an officer of the organization.
- c) Each member congregation shall be represented on the General Assembly by at least one and no more than two Lay Delegates not less than 18 years of age chosen by the member congregation. These representatives shall serve with authority from the member congregation as voting members within the General Assembly.
- d) The General Assembly as constituted under (a), (b), and (c) may be augmented by advisory members without voting power.
Section 2. The affairs of DORCAS shall be administered by the General Assembly.
Section 3. The General Assembly shall have full authority to plan and regulate the affairs of DORCAS within the scope of this Constitution and By-Laws and the approved budget.
Section 4. The officers of the General Assembly shall be Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary. The above officers shall serve as the Officers of DORCAS (see Article V Section 4 of the Constitution and Article III Section 6 of the By-Laws).
Powers of the General Assembly
The General Assembly shall be empowered or in duty bound:
Section 1. To manage the affairs of DORCAS.
Section 2. To organize itself efficiently for the management of the affairs of DORCAS in accordance with this Constitution and By-Laws and any amendments thereof regularly adopted.
Section 3. To elect officers from its members for two year terms holding elections yearly and alternately electing Chairman and Treasurer the even year and Vice-Chairman and Secretary the odd year.
Section 4. To buy, accept, hold, sell, or exchange through its Officers, at the direction of DORCAS, property as the interest of DORCAS may demand.
Section 5. To approve an annual budget.
Section 6. To submit copies of all minutes of Board meetings to member congregations; these minutes shall be promptly mailed to the pastor and president of each member congregation, as well as to the members of the General Assembly and the District President of the Ohio District.
Section 1. DORCAS shall operate within a fiscal year beginning on January 1st and ending on December 31st. As such, the budget of DORCAS for the ensuing year is to be approved by the General Assembly and communicated to the respective member congregations not later than October 1 of each year.
Section 2. The member congregations shall before January 1 next, through due process of their Voters Assembly;
- review the budget in the form submitted;
- recommend amendments;
- indicate by way of estimate the amount of financial responsibility the respective congregations accept toward DORCAS.
Section 1. Bi-annually one of the member congregations shall elect an auditing committee to audit the books of the organization, reporting the result of their audit to the General Assembly on or before the 2nd quarter meeting.
Section 2. The member congregations in alphabetical order shall accept responsibility to supply an auditing committee. In the event a member congregation is unable to comply with Section I of this Article, the Chairman shall have the authority to appoint another auditing committee.
Alterations and Amendments
Section 1. Amendments to this Constitution must be approved by a two-thirds majority of those representatives present and authorized to exercise voting power by a member congregation within the General Assembly.
Section 2. Amendments may be initiated by the General Assembly itself or by the General Assembly at the request of any one member congregation. They are to be presented at one meeting and decided upon at the next regularly scheduled meeting which follows.
Section 3. A review of this Constitution for possible alterations will be made every 4 years by the General Assembly.
Dissolution and Disposition of Assets
Section 1. Dissolution of the organization shall be by unanimous consent of the member congregations.
Section 2. Dissolution of the organization shall consequently terminate the non-tenured Call of a deaconess releasing her “without cause.”
Section 3. Disposition of the assets of the organization in the event of dissolution shall be given to the Ohio District after all financial commitments have been met.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall meet on a quarterly basis at a time and place convenient and determined by them.
Section 2. Special meetings may be called by the Chairman or by the Executive Committee.
Section 3. Notification of the General Assembly’s meetings shall be mailed to members at least two weeks in advance of the meeting, and those delegates present at the meeting shall constitute a quorum.
Election of Officers
Section 1. At the 3rd quarter meeting of the General Assembly, the Nominating Committee shall present a slate of officers which includes at least one candidate nominated for each office from the voting membership of the Assembly. The election of officers shall take place at the 4th quarter meeting of the General Assembly and election shall be by majority vote.
Section 2. All officers shall serve for a term of two years.
Section 3. No officer may serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office.
Section 4. Vacancies may be filled at any meeting of the General Assembly duly convened. At least one candidate for each vacant office shall be nominated from the voting membership of the Assembly and election shall be by majority vote.
Duties of Officers
Section 1. Chairman The Chairman shall preside at all meetings of the General Assembly, and carry out such other duties as may be from time to time required by the General Assembly. The Chairman shall serve as the official representative of DORCAS.
Section 2. Vice-Chairman The Vice-Chairman shall perform all the duties of the Chairman in case of the absence of the latter. In case both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are absent or unable to perform their duties, the General Assembly may appoint a chairman pro tempore.
Section 3. Secretary The Secretary shall be responsible for recording the minutes of all meetings of the General Assembly, making proper record of all proceedings, publishing the same as required by Section 6 of Article V of the Constitution. The Secretary shall generally perform such additional duties as may be required by the General Assembly.
Section 4. Treasurer The Treasurer shall assemble the estimates of giving from member congregations (section 2 of Article VI of the Constitution) for presentation at the 1st quarter meeting of DORCAS. On behalf of DORCAS, the Treasurer shall acknowledge all donations received and promptly deposit in the designated depository all monies of DORCAS. The Treasurer shall prepare to disburse all monies of DORCAS in accordance with the approved budget or budgets and as may be ordered by resolution of the General Assembly. The Treasurer shall keep an accurate account of all monies received and disbursed and be prepared to furnish a quarterly report thereof, and shall generally perform such duties as may be required by the General Assembly. Without exception, the Treasurer shall be authorized and required to sign all checks for the disbursement of funds. The Treasurer shall be placed under bond procured by the General Assembly.
Section 5. Officers DORCAS’ Officers shall be the legal representatives of this organization and shall sign all necessary legal documents as may be required. The authorized signature of the Treasurer and the Chairman (section 4 of Article III of the By-Laws) shall be placed on file with financial institutions for the proper disbursement of funds.
Standing committees shall be appointed as the need arises by the Chairman of DORCAS. The Chair of each of these Committees shall be a member of the General Assembly. Standing Committees are:
a) Executive Committee
b) Calling Committee
c) Human Care Committee
d) Nominating Committee
Duties of Committees
Section 1. Executive Committee. The Officers of DORCAS shall constitute the Executive Committee which shall meet at least three weeks prior to the regular meeting of the General Assembly to prepare an agenda. Public notice of the agenda shall be published at least one week in advance within each member congregation. The Committee shall act as a steering committee for all matters to be brought before the General Assembly. This committee shall be charged with the duty of preparing the budget for the ensuing year and presenting the same to the General Assembly at the 3rd quarter meeting.
Section 2. Calling Committee. The Calling Committee shall meet when necessary to identify and prepare to summon a candidate to the auxiliary office of deaconess on a full-time non-tenured basis for a specified period of time. It shall conform the deaconess’ job description to the purposes of DORCAS (see Article II) and identify a pastoral supervisor. To extend a proper Call the committee shall designate a member congregation, which has willingly consented by resolution of its internal policy-making structure or Voter’s Assembly, to act as an agent of the General Assembly and to serve as a Calling body at-large on behalf of DORCAS.
Section 3. Human Care Committee. The Human Care Committee shall interpret the organization’s human care effort to the member congregations , encourage the maintenance of congregational human care committees, maintain liaison with community welfare organizations, and make continued investigational studies of regional human care needs. Periodically, it shall also complete the evaluation of a called, non-tenured deaconess no less than three months prior to the end of her current appointment and make a recommendation to the General Assembly regarding her subsequent re-appointment and/or tenure. This committee shall also at the direction of the General Assembly consider the matter of re-appointment, release, or dismissal of the deaconess. With regard to the matter of re-appointment, release, or dismissal the deaconess’ pastoral supervisor shall serve on this committee as an ad hoc member.
At the request of DORCAS, its officers or General Assembly, the Human Care Committee shall consider the following circumstances and act according to the following procedures, to release or remove a deaconess from office.
a. Release into another Field.
If the Deaconess receives a call into another field, she shall consult with the committee, so that they may jointly, conscientiously and in the fear of God consider whether she shall be granted a peaceful release or be asked to remain.
b. Removal from office.
DORCAS through the organization’s Human Care Committee shall retain at all times the right to call a deaconess – or others within the organization – to account and, if circumstances require it, to remove them from office by the observance of Christian principles, lawful order, and Synodically accepted procedure. Sufficient and urgent reasons for removal from office are:
- Persistent adherence to false doctrine;
- Offensive and scandalous life;
- Willful neglect of official duty;
- Evident and protracted disability to perform the functions of the office.
c. Dismissal “without cause” (section 2, Article IX of the Constitution) shall occur upon dissolution of the organization.
Section 4. Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman at the 1st quarter meeting each year to identify and prepare a slate of officers with at least one candidate nominated from the voting membership for each term of office that will expire at year-end. This slate of officers shall be presented to the General Assembly at its 3rd quarter meeting and may be amended at such time to include additional nominations. At the close of nominations, the committee will publish the complete slate and insure that election of officers proceeds in an orderly manner at the 4th quarter meeting of the General Assembly.
Order of Business
The order of business shall be:
1. Call to order
2. Opening prayer
3. Roll call
4. Reading of the minutes
5. Treasurer’s report
6. Report of committees
7. Unfinished business
8. New business
9. Election of officers (4th quarter)
10. Installation of officers (1st quarter)
Amendments of these By-Laws may be made by a majority vote of the total membership of the General Assembly. Proposed changes will be read at one meeting, with a decision made at the next regularly scheduled meeting.