The Rule of the Order of Preachers, Independent
Love of God
The Great Commandments of our Lord are that we love God with all that we are and that we love our fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39). God is love, and as friars and sisters in the Order of Preachers, Independent we are to have love in our hearts for all people and serve God as a faithful bride in a spirit of joy and delight.
In all gatherings and interactions brothers and sisters in the Order are to suppress any urge for disunity, first recognizing each other as one family of believers. Each brother or sister is to put the common effort of the community before their own desires and wants. We are all servants of Christ and each other, and not of ourselves. Where exists individual opinion, this opinion is only to be presented in a spirit of humility. Individual pride is the mother of discord. Brothers and sisters are to love and spread the truth, but truth must be discerned and discussed with a meek heart toward understanding and cooperating. When disagreements cannot be reconciled, brothers and sisters are not to judge each other and squabble, but are to pray for themselves and each other that fraternal bonds of unity are not broken. No brother or sister is to argue with another, but to appeal to authority and common consensus to resolve disputes in words of kindness and humility.
Each brother and sister is bidden to recognize that all of their possessions and wealth belong first to God, and are to be used as God wishes. This is the spirit of the vow of poverty. No brother or sister, whether common friar or superior, shall devise any system of demanding finances or materials from another brother. Priories are not to exact fees from friars. Provinces are not to exact fees from priories. The order is not to exact fees from provinces. Each brother or sister, priory, and province shall exist off the free donations of its members and supporters from without. Brothers and sisters may donate their money to priories, and priories may donate to their provinces, but there will be no dues or tithes required of any part or person in the order from any other part or person in the order. The love of money is the root of all evil. We are mendicants. All of our ministry relies on free donations.
No brother or sister participating in a ministry that commonly charges fees, for example a wedding ministry, may demand a set fee for their services. They may request a donation. All that has been said above concerning money shall also apply to items of property. The Order of Preachers, Independent and its member friars and sisters will not be an organization focused on the acquisition of money or goods. Friars are not prohibited from ministering in organizations that do so, temporal acquisitions shall not be brought into the order other than by free donation.
Brothers and sisters are to commune regularly with God in prayer. Individuals are to include dialogue with God in their regular thoughts throughout the day. Individuals are to bow in prayer for conscious and verbal interaction with God daily. Friars and sisters are to seek prayer with other Christians, most particularly other brothers and sisters in the order, wherever possible. Superiors are to take an active interest in the prayer life of the brothers and sisters in their priory and in the personal lives of all brothers and sisters in their priories and provinces. Co-ordinations shall be made to collect for prayer in the daily office or in regular prayer meetings by superiors for brothers and sisters within their priories and provinces. Friars are to maintain notes of the prayer needs of their brothers and sisters in the order, in their ministries, and in their lives. Prayer should draw both from the heart of the one praying and from the traditional sources of liturgies, devotionals, and scriptures. Prayer is to include a balanced perspective. Time in prayer should include both petitions and thanks, praise, and recognition of God’s presence as well as requests to God for blessings on each other and ourselves.
As friars and sisters following in the footsteps of Saint Dominic, members of our order are to engage in regular study that is profitable to the ministry of the Word of God. This includes daily reading of the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, each brother and sister within the order shall declare to their superior one area of study that they wish to master as a lifelong pursuit of learning. This may be a directly theological area, or may be an area of science or liberal arts not directly related to the Christian disciplines, which may be used in service to God’s Kingdom. Friars and sisters are encouraged to seek formal education where possible, but home study is an acceptable method of personal learning. Whether a degree is earned or not, each friar or sister should engage in providing the order, the Church, and God’s Kingdom with knowledge.
The brothers and sisters of the order, whether ordained or laymen, visibly identify themselves as representatives of Christ, devoted to God, each other, and their fellow man, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Even postulants are permitted to wear the Dominican cross. Even novices are permitted to wear the Dominican habit. All believers in Christ form a royal priesthood, and the friars and sisters pronounce this calling by their very dress and appearance. It is therefore imperative that all members of our order understand their role as visible signs of God’s presence in the world. Friars and sisters are to maintain this understanding at all times, while actively ministering and while conducting their personal lives. Maintaining the appearance of a devoted disciple of Christ is not only limited to one’s clothing, but one’s home, place of work, and social circles.
All of this being said, it is not the intent of our order to implement rigid and excessive standards of appearance already adopted by countless Christian cultures that have had no effect on witnessing the salvation of God, His mercy, or His love to the world. The apostles became all things to all people, and they preached love, truth, and salvation as opposed to prescribing standards of appearance. Imperative for the friar and sister of our order is to understand that though all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial, and that the brothers and sisters of our order will regularly encounter weaker brethren whose faith may be harmed by issues of appearance. Finally, all brothers and sisters are to reflect and pray about how appearance represents them and Christ to believers and the world. Superiors of the order are within the scope of their authority to encourage appearance conducive to fruitful ministry and positive spiritual environments.
The apostles exhort all of the faithful to exhibit character of maturity. Brothers and sisters of the order are to carry themselves with balance and grace in all situations. This involves a spirit of discretion and moderation. As defenders and proponents of truth in all its forms, a friar or sister is never to lie about who he or she is, to include his sins and failings. However, one’s unsightly aspects are not to be thrust forth into view with indiscretion. A brother or sister is always to consider context when revealing his or her actions and traits, considering the frailties of humanity’s ability to accept that of which they are taught not to approve.
Our order is a fraternal order. As such, we are a family of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Unlike Cain, we are our brothers’ keepers. We treat each other with honor and respect, with every member being worthy of the honor of a son or daughter in the Father’s house. However, we respect the frailties of our weaker brethren, and we pick up our stumbling brother or sister when they have fallen. This includes the offering of advice, and in some cases, correction. If a brother or sister is resistant to discussing and receiving correction, and will not listen to reason or behave in accordance with the Word of God and the dignity of the order, he or she is to be brought to the superior for correction. All cases of correction within the order shall have the benefit of at least two witnesses. Superiors should hear all sides, conducting investigations when necessary. Once all facts are obtained, the superior should order the brother or sister to the appropriate solution. This solution should always be in accordance with the methods and approval of the ecclesiastical body of which the corrected friar or sister is a member. Corrections may include prescriptive behavior, loss of status and vows, or expulsion from the order.
Have no disputes, but if any should arise, bring them to a speedy end, lest anger should grow into hatred, and should give you the soul of a murderer. For thus you read “He who hates his brother is a murderer.” If anyone has injured another by reproachful or railing words or by false accusation, let him remember to apologize as quickly as possible, in order to heal the wound he has inflicted — and the injured one must forgive without delay. And if the injury has been mutual, forgiveness must be mutual also, and all the more on account of the many prayers you say, for the more frequent are your prayers, the more holy they ought to be. He who is more frequently tempted to anger, but is quick to beg pardon of him whom he has offended, is in a better state of soul than another who is slower in becoming angry, but slower also to beg pardon. But he who will never ask pardon, or at least not from his heart, has no business in a monastery even should he not be expelled from it. Keep yourselves, therefore, from harsh words. But if you should have uttered them, be not slow to remedy the injury by the same mouth that inflicted it.
To insure the observance of all these things, and so that any irregularities be not negligently connived at but carefully corrected, it will be the special duty of your superior when he finds anything that exceeds the limits of his power or of his jurisdiction to control, to refer the matter to him who holds the supreme authority over you. Your superior should not take pleasure in ruling you but rather in serving you with all charity. While the honor you pay him exalts him in your eyes, let fear prostrate him at your feet before God. He should give an example of good works to all. Let him correct the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, comfort the sick, be patient with all. Let him observe the rule with cheerfulness himself and cause others to observe it by the reverence he inspires. And though both are necessary, still it should rather be his desire to be loved than feared by you, ever mindful of the account he will have to give to God of your souls. For this reason also you, by a thorough obedience, show mercy not only to yourselves, but to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.
May the Lord grant that as lovers of the beauty of the spiritual life and breathing forth the sweet odor of Christ in the holiness of your ways you may faithfully observe these things, not like slaves under the law, but like freemen established under grace. Let this rule be read by you once every week so that in it you can see yourselves reflected as in a mirror lest anything be forgotten and, therefore, neglected. And when you find that you are doing what is here written, thank the Lord, the giver of all good things. But if, on the contrary, anyone perceives that he has fallen into defects, let him mourn over the past, take heed for the future, pray that his faults may be forgiven, and that he may not be led into temptation.
Constitution and Bylaws
Constitution and Bylaws Of the Order of Preachers, Independent
- The name of the Corporation is “The Order of Preachers Independent, Nonprofit Organization”
- The Order of Preachers, Independent, is a solo organization, in that it works within the confines of a religious jurisdiction, and voluntarily follows that jurisdiction’s canons, but is not, however, a part of that jurisdiction, following its own Constitution and by-laws.
- If necessary, the Order of Preachers, Independent may become independent of an ecclesiastical jurisdiction upon majority vote of the members.
2.1 This corporation is organized and shall be operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (or the corresponding provisions of any future United States Internal Revenue law) including the following: The purpose for which this corporation is formed are:
2.2 To promote public and private worship; to encourage Christian fellowship; to preach and teach the Word of God through a program of Christian Education; to engage in personal and public evangelism; and to provide a fellowship of committed Christians, lay and ordained, under the jurisdiction of the Old Catholic Apostolic Churches
2.3 To otherwise promote and develop any other type of religious or charitable work within the limits and restrictions provided by or under the laws of the State of South Carolina or any other lawful authority not in conflict therewith.
3.1 We believe in one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 28:19)
3.2 We believe that Jesus Christ the Son of God is both God (John 1:1) and man (Hebrews 2:14), having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:34, 35). He died on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3; 20:24–29), and ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1–9), where he is at the right hand of the Majesty on High (Colossians 3:1). He now is our High Priest and Advocate (Hebrews 7:25, 26; 1 John 2:1; Philippians 2:5–7).
3.3 We believe that the Holy Spirit is God, with a mission to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:14) and during this age to convict men (John 16:8), regenerate the believing sinner (John 3:5–8), indwell (1 Corinthians 12: 13), guide, instruct (John 14:26), and empower the believer for godly living and service (Ephesians 5:18–21).
3.4 We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, to contain and reveal all things necessary for salvation, and to be the divine authority for all Christian faith and life. (2 Timothy 3:16–17; John 14:26; 16:12–15)
3.5 We believe that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
3.6 We believe that Water Baptism and the Eucharist are the great sacraments instituted directly by Christ to be observed by the church (Matthew 28:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). We believe that the sacraments of Holy Orders (Acts 6:3; Titus 1:5), Marriage (Genesis 2:24), Reconciliation (James 5:16), Anointing or Unction (James 5:14), and Confirmation (Acts 9:17) are sacraments formed by tradition as sacred outgrowths of scriptural practices. Sacraments are tools to aid in our salvation.
3.7 We believe that salvation is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) to all who seek Him (Matthew 11:28).
3.8 Beyond these basics, however, we leave it to each individual to work out the details of his or her faith in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, Tradition, Reason and Experience. We do not feel it is healthy or wise to try to compel each individual to believe exactly alike. We respect all Christians and treat them as adults who have both the responsibility and capacity to discern God’s will.
3.9 We commit to the four pillars of Saint Dominic, prayer, community, study, and ministry, as the particular method of divine service in our order.
3.9.1 Prayer. As Dominicans we center our lives on Jesus Christ, and are moved by the Holy Spirit who radiates Godʼs presence in the world today. We celebrate the Word in daily prayer and meditation. Our lives are nourished by Godʼs Word as spoken in sacred scripture, celebrated in the Eucharist, and encountered in everyday life. According to the desire of St. Dominic, the solemn and common celebration of worship must be maintained among the principal duties of our vocation. When the community gathers for community events, we seek to celebrate the entire range of prayer and worship. Each Dominican is called to balance in his own life the two dimensions of our life, the contemplative and the active. This balance is something for which we strive, it is not something that we achieve once and for all.
3.9.2 Community. The basic idea of community is not just people living together under one roof. Rather, community living is about the willingness to share our lives with one another. For Dominicans, the communal dimension of our religious life challenges to us to be of “one mind and one heart in God.” Profession into the The Order of Preachers, Independent includes the promise to hold all things in common. We live together and pray together and share a common vision in our ministry to the world. It was St. Dominicʼs desire to imitate the apostolic poverty of Jesus and the early church, so “we call nothing our own.” As Dominicans, we share our blessings with the rest of the world. Our vow of obedience puts us at the service of the Church, free from the need to always have the last word about what we will do and where we will live. The vowed life is a challenge, but an exciting and fulfilling challenge. Given that most of our members are living dispersed, we especially enjoin our members to gather as a Priory Community to celebrate our life and share it with others.
3.9.3 Study. St. Dominic made study an essential part of the “Sacred Preaching.” This was no small innovation in the thirteenth century when most of the clergy were uneducated. St. Dominic sent the friars to the universities to study, to preach, and to establish places of learning. The dedication to study and teaching continues today. The Dominican emphasis on study opens our hearts and minds more fully to the human condition today, continues to build on a rich history and tradition and has its ultimate effect on our preaching and teaching. In our particular expression, the members are asked to engage in personal study of subjects that allow the member to gain a deeper knowledge in a field of study. The purpose of this study to benefit our community and the universal church.
3.9.4 Ministry. As Dominican friars and sisters, we continue the work of St. Dominic today in an active and contemplative life. Our mission includes preaching, teaching, and works of social justice in a variety of settings: congregations, ministries and service to those in need and being present in communities. We have chosen to live as Friars and Sisters, so that we are free to go where ministry is needed and to live in the world serving Godʼs people with our prayer, study, service and showing how we are all called to live in community. Our members whose work has a ministerial dimension should certainly consider that as a form of fulfilling the apostolate and those engaged in secular work should consecrate their work to making Christ present in the workplace as their proclamation.
Period of Existence
4.1 The period during which the Corporation shall continue is perpetual.
Resident Agent and Principal Office
5.1 Resident Agent. The name and address of the Corporationʼs Resident Agent for service of process is: Michael Beckett, 9700 Kings Road, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572.
5.2 Principal Office. The Address of the Principal Office of the Corporation is 9700 Kings Road, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572.
6.1 Classes. There shall be four classes of membership: brother (also called a friar) or sister in Solemn (Perpetual) Vows, brother or sister in Simple (Temporary) Vows, Novices, and Postulants. Novices and Postulants are “brothers” or “sisters” who have entered the Postulancy and novitiate and are preparing for promissory vows, or members who have completed such vows.
6.2 Rights, Preferences, Limitations, and Restrictions of Classes. All members of the order shall have the same rights, preferences, limitations, and restrictions, except that Novices and Postulants shall be ineligible to vote on issues presented at local priories.
6.3 Voting. Each actively professed friar or sister shall be entitled to one vote at all meetings of the members in a local priory. There shall be no proxy or absentee votes. In the event of a tie vote, the Prior’s vote shall consist of two votes in order to break the tie.
6.4 The membership of this order shall be composed of those individuals who:
6.4.1 Have acknowledged Jesus Christ as their Savior.
6.4.2 Been baptized.
6.4.3 Have been confirmed.
Dominican Promissory Vows
7.1 All brothers and sisters of the order shall have taken or be in preparation for the undertaking of the Dominican promissory vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
7.1.1 Chastity. Chastity is defined as “the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion.” It is also defined as “morality with respect to sexual relations.” Morality is “concerned with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong.” All brothers and sisters are charged with obedience to the supreme Christian commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:19). The sexual act is the chief physical expression of this commandment. With this in mind, all brothers and sisters of the order commit to abstaining from harmful or exploitative sexual activity, or sexual activity that brings shame on the order and on the name of Christ.
7.1.2 Poverty. A brother or sister in the order shall recognize that he or she owns nothing, but that all his or her belongings belong to God, and use this personal property as the executor of God’s wealth. Thus, all brothers and sisters are to abstain from a life focused on material gain for the purpose of personal gratification and shall use their wealth to the glory of God.
7.1.3 Obedience. Our Lord charged his disciples: “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). All brothers and sisters are charged to submit themselves and their lives to Christ, obeying the Law of God written in their hearts and in the scriptures. We exhibit this by obeying our superiors in the order.
Trustees of the Corporation
8.1 The exact number of Trustees shall be prescribed from time to time in the Bylaws of the Corporation. However, the maximum number shall be twelve (12). The General Chapter shall be the Trustees of the Corporation.
Provisions for Regulation and Conduct of the Affairs of the Corporation
9.1 This order shall be organized under an episcopal form of government, and the Father General (or Mother General in case of a Sister in that position; Father General will be used throughout this document with the understanding that “Mother General” shall apply in the case of a female) shall have the right of final review in all matters of the affairs of the order.
9.2 No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in these Articles of Incorporation.
9.3 In case of division of a local priory, the property of this order shall belong to the portion of the divided priory that claims as a member the Prior of the priory. In case of the division of a province in the order, local priories shall maintain their property.
9.4 In the event of dissolution of the corporation, the property of this order shall revert to the priories that own the property, and property owned by the order as a whole shall revert to the Unified Old Catholic Church.
9.5 Other provisions for the conduct and regulation of the affairs of the corporation shall be further prescribed in the bylaws of the corporation.
10.1 The doctrinal statement and constitution, with the exception of Articles I and V, and paragraph 9.4 of Article IX of the constitution, shall not be changed or amended.
Officers of the Corporation
11.1 The officers of the corporation are the Father General, the Prior General, and the Cellarer.
12.1 The General Chapter consists of up to twelve (12) members consisting of voting Priors and the officers of the corporation. These members will be determined in order of seniority, starting with all Priors Provincial and then all Priors.
12.2 The General Chapter provides leadership to the order by overseeing the affairs of the order and managing local priories of members. It is accountable to the order’s membership for spiritual welfare, the oversight of its discipleship, and operational ministries.
12.3 The General Chapter shall meet regularly to conduct business. A quorum for conducting business at any meeting consists of 67% (2/3) of the current General Chapter voting membership. Executive sessions of the General Chapter may be held from time to time.
12.4 A Prior must be a professed brother or sister of the order and a member of the Unified Old Catholic Church. His or her character will be governed by the Biblical standards specified in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5. A Prior is a brother or sister who is the owner or maintainer of a priory and who leads the members associated with that priory.
12.5 A Prior Provincial is the Prior responsible for all Priors and their priories within a geographical province. A Prior Provincial will maintain a local priory as well as supervise the other priories in his or her province.
12.6 A priory will either be corporate or divisional. A corporate priory is a priory that exists with its own legal status as a non-profit corporation. A divisional priory is a priory that exists within the corporate structure of a provincial priory, the corporation of the Order of Preachers Independent, or a corporation that is a ministry project of a Friar or Sister who is the Prior or Prioress of the divisional priory.
12.6.1 The Father General can require any priory that is a divisional priory to become a corporate priory at any time. The Order of Preachers, Independent, whether the Father General or the General Chapter thereof, shall make no requirement pertaining to the corporate status of divisional priories within the corporations of corporate provincial priories.
12.6.2 Corporate priories will state in their charter documents that they are associated with the Order of Preachers, Unified Old Catholic Church Church, and are bound to the regulations of the said Order and the Unified Old Catholic Church.
12.6.3 Corporations subsidizing divisional priories shall have in their bylaws an article chartering the existence of the divisional priory, defining its structure, and stating the position of the priory within the structure of the Order of Preachers, Independent.
12.6.4 The order assumes no responsibility for the ministerial activities of corporate priories or their members that are not compliant to the regulations of the Order.
12.7 The organization and authority of Priors within the order over friars and sisters serves to coordinate ministry efforts and foster development of members of the order. No declaration or order by any Prior in the order shall be contradicted any established ecclesiastical authority to which a friar or sister has committed him or herself. The Order of Preachers, Independent exists as an independent body to support ecclesiastical bodies and foster cooperation among them as well as to enrich the spiritual growth of the friars and sisters and their journey.
13.1 Ministry teams shall assist the Priors by overseeing specific ongoing ministries. Each team shall be composed of two members, one of which must be a professed brother or sister of the order. These teams are accountable to their Prior for the various ministries, including all disciple-making and operational ministries.
13.2 Creation of new ministry teams within a priory shall be approved by the Prior.
13.3 The function of the ministry teams, in cooperation with the team leaders, is to initiate, develop, implement, and evaluate programs and activities within their unique scope of responsibility.
Elections, Appointments, and Dismissals
- The Father General is elected by the General Chapter for an indefinite term, usually for life. Election is secured by a majority vote of the General Chapter. The term ends when the Father General dies, retires, or is removed from office through a vote conducted by the General Chapter. A vote is held to be valid if ten (10) votes are obtained in favor of removing the Father General. The Father General must be a fully professed friar or sister, a member of the clergy, and over the age of 45. Candidates may only be nominated by a member of the General Chapter.
14.1 The Father General appoints and dismisses all Priors Provincial.
14.2 Priors Provincial appoint and dismiss all Priors.
14.3 Priors appoint and dismiss all ministry team leaders.
14.4 Written notice of all appointments and dismissals shall immediately be forwarded to the Father General.
14.5 Officers of the Order are appointed by the Father General. Their term shall be two (2) years. They may be replaced by the Father General at any time as deemed necessary before their term expires. Officers of the corporation may resign at any time.
14.6 The General Council is the Advisory Council to the Father General. This Council consists of the Prior General, the Cellarer, and 2 members elected by the Order.
14.7 All Priors, whether Priors Provincial or Priors of local priories shall request permission from the Father General to advance a friar or sister from the stage of novice to professed. The form of this request shall be a letter of justification of the development of the novice to a stage where he or she is prepared to take vows.
Reception as a Brother or Sister of the Order
15.1 Each brother or sister shall be a baptized Christian and least 18 years of age.
15.2 Postulancy. A period of time shall be spent by each new brother or sister upon entry into the Order of Preachers, Independent as a postulant, unless dispensation is granted by the Father General. This period of time is to be spent in prayer, study, reflection, and discernment. Postulants shall be invested in the formal cross of the order when sufficient proof has been given that they are in earnest in becoming a Dominican. During this time the postulant will be required to complete classes established by the Father General and to submit the required paperwork.
15.3 Novitiate. A period of time shall be spent by each brother or sister entering the novitiate period unless dispensation is granted by the Father General. This period of time is to be spent in further study of Dominican spirituality, theology and life, prayer and reflection of being immersed within religious life. The novice shall be invested in the Dominican habit at any time during the Novitiate, preferably at the beginning. He or she will, during the Novitiate, determine the course of their ministry, and the courses assigned to the Novice will be a reflection of this, and be structured to prepare them for their future ministry.
15.4 First profession. A required period of time beyond the Novitiate is not to exceed two (2) years in length unless dispensation is granted by the Father General. During this time, the professed shall reflect on his or her previous days within the order giving thought to Dominican ideals, theology, and what it means to live a “religious life” within the structure of professed vows. Serious consideration is given to further adherence to the vows of the Order, and to living under the “Dominican ideal” of life during this time. Professed brothers and sisters shall be invested in the Dominican cappa and cappuce if a friar, or a cappa and black veil if a sister. Professed brothers and sisters engage themselves in totality with daily religious life, working actively with their parish or congregation, and seeking to find meaningful ministry to the outside world and spreading the love and word of Jesus Christ to others they encounter.
15.5 Life profession. At such time as he or she feels called by God, the professed brother or sister may appeal to the Prior to make a vow of “life profession” within the order. The professed shall then, upon approval of the Prior, and Father General, be permitted to take the vows of Life Profession within the order. While continuing with his or her studies and spiritual growth, he or she shall be taking on a greater role within the order as a mentor to those brothers and sisters in need of spiritual guidance.
15.6 Release from the order. A brother or sister may request to be released from his or her vows and the order by written appeal to the Father General, stating the reason(s) and need for dispensation from the Vows and Rule. The Father General shall confer with this brother or sister regarding the request, as well as the Order’s Bishop Protector, and if granted, the Father General and Bishop Protector shall release the brother or sister from the order and request that any and all property held by the order be returned to him or her at that time. The Father General shall notify the brother or sister of his or her release from the order and forward this information to the Bishop Protector.
Meetings of the Order
16.1 The General Chapter meets annually to approve the ministry plans, including the budget, for the coming year. Other meetings may take place as needed, provided they have been called by the General Chapter and the meeting is announced at least two (2) Sunday mornings prior to the meeting. A meeting shall be scheduled to deal with any specific issue or set of issues if a formal request is made to the General Chapter by at least ten (10) brothers or sisters. The meetings of the General Chapter can be in person or through electronic means.
16.2 The annual meeting shall be set at least three months prior to the start of the ministry/fiscal year.
16.3 The ministry year and the fiscal year run concurrently. They begin on 1 January and end on 31 December.
16.4 A “vote for action” shall be by simple majority of the quorum, unless determined as in section 16.5.
16.5 Action shall be taken on certain issues only if the affirmative vote is at least two-thirds (66.67%) of the quorum. These issues are to be decided by secret ballot and shall include:
16.5.1 Approval of the budget or capital items.
16.5.2 Purchase or disposal of real property.
16.5.3 Amending the bylaws (see Article XVIII).
17.1 The Father General:
17.1.1 Presides at all meetings of the General Chapter and sees that the meetings are conducted in an appropriate manner.
17.1.2 Signs legal documents for the order.
17.1.3 Issue Letters of Appointment and Dismissal, Protocol, and Dispensation.
17.1.4 Maintains all the records of the Order.
17.2 The Cellarer:
17.2.1 Sees that financial records are managed for the order.
17.2.2 Signs legal documents for the order.
17.2.3 Is the primary signer of the order’s checks.
17.2.4 Advises the Father General on the impact of his or her decisions and assists with the development of formal declarations of the Father General and the General Chapter in an advisory capacity.
17.3 The Prior General:
17.3.1 Functions in place of the Father General in case of his or her inability to perform his or her office, or in the interim period between the death or release of the Father General and the election of his or her successor.
17.3.2 Advises the Father General on the impact of his or her decisions and assists with the development of formal declarations of the Father General and the General Chapter in an advisory capacity.
17.3.3 Signs legal documents for the order.
17.3.4 Compiles, maintains, and publishes the Statues of the Order.
17.3.5 Maintains the minutes of the General Chapter meetings.
17.4 The General Chapter shall appoint an audit committee from the board membership at its annual organizational meeting.
17.4.1 The audit committee will recommend an independent auditor to the General Chapter for approval, to be engaged for the fiscal year beginning the following January.
17.4.2 The audit committee will oversee the audit process, with cooperation from appropriate staff.
17.4.3 The audit committee will receive the audit from the independent auditor and report the findings to the board of priors for approval.
17.5 The General Chapter may approve additional expenditures of funds, beyond the approved budget, of up to 1 % of the approved total annual budget.
17.6 The officers of the order shall not execute any legal documents that obligate the order, such as mortgages or contracts pertaining to the real property of the order, without the express consent by vote of the General Chapter.
17.7 The signatures of at least two of the officers of the corporation are required to execute most legal documents that obligate the order, such as contracts, mortgages, or other documents pertaining to the purchase or sale of real property. Exceptions to this requirement include signing for titles or registrations for order-owned vehicles and contracts for less that $25,000. In these cases, the General Chapter may delegate this authority to the appropriate member.
18.1 The Priory of Saints Symeon and John. This priory is the senior priory in the order and the priory of the Father General. As such, it requires no identification of province. Its chapter is the General Chapter.
Eligibility for Offices, Titles, and Addresses
19.1 The Father General is to be addressed as: Reverend Father (or Reverend Mother, in the case of a female being elevated to that position.)
19.2 Ordained members of the Order, whether ordained to the Sub-diaconate, Diaconate, or Priesthood are to be addressed as Reverend Brother or Reverend Sister.
19.3 Bishops and above who are members of the Order are to be addressed as one would normally address a Bishop.
19.4 A Prior or Prioress must be a fully professed member of the Order unless dispensation is given by the Father General.
Amendments to the Bylaws
20.1 These Bylaws (Articles X through XIX) may be amended by a two-thirds (66.67%) vote of the General Chapter at a meeting as described in section 16.1, provided there has been at least a one-month period between the introduction of such an amendment and the General Chapter’s vote.