The seventh recommended spiritual disciple of the DOC is ecumenical fellowship.  In the DOC “Basic Brochure” ecumenical fellowship is given a broad definition: “recognition that all persons are created by God and are therefore worthy of Christ’s love.” 
 
            The Order began at a retreat at Albion College in Michigan in 1945 as part of an initiative by the Methodist Board Of Evangelism (The New Life Movement) under the leadership of Dr. Albert Day.  From the beginning a broad concept of ecumenical fellowship was present.  “Black, Chinese, American Indian and the white race were included” among the 194 persons who joined the Order during its first year and a half of existence (E. H. McKinley, A History of the Disciplined Order of Christ, p. 35). 
 
            A second retreat was held at Albion in 1947.  And even then, while the organization still was officially a Methodist organization, persons from other denominations were present.  The New Life Magazine, the short-lived magazine of the New Life Movement, reported that the Albion retreatants “represented ‘all shades of theological opinion,’ including Christian Science and Unity” (History, p. 49). 
 
            By 1947 the larger Methodist movement headed up by Dr. Day, The New Life Movement, ran out of stream.  He left the Board of Evangelism to return to the pastorate in Baltimore; and the Disciplined Order, no longer an official Methodist entity, moved with him. 
 
            That change made possible an explicit manifestation of what already had been implicit; namely, that the Order was an ecumenical fellowship in the sense of being interdenominational.  Although the membership remained primarily Methodist due to its origins, the Order now saw itself as a fellowship of Christians from any and all Christian denominations.  The only commitment necessary was to support the mission, goals and disciplines of the Order.  And through the years the Order truly has been ecumenical in that sense. 
 
            My personal involvement with the Order goes back nearly forty-three years.  I have been associated with the national board for about twenty of those years.  I have attended many, many retreats and meetings at both the national and regional levels.  And I never have seen anyone fail to recognize “that all persons are created by God and are therefore worthy of Christ’s love.”  Nor have I ever seen anyone’s denominational affiliation questioned in a negative way.  The members of the DOC have been remarkably successful in keeping their attention on the vows and disciplines of the Order, rather than on personal, narrower commitments.  It truly is an ecumenical fellowship.

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