DOC originated in the summer of 1945 when over 100 clergy and laity met at Albion College in Michigan for 10 days under the leadership of Dr. Albert Edward Day. They caught a vision of what life can be under Christ — a life of ethical sensitivity, spiritual insight, social concern and deep devotion to the kingdom of God. They searched for the kind of life Christians experienced in the first few centuries of the Christian era, life that challenged the world and launched the church. 99 persons took the “Vows of the Order” at a service of Holy Communion. Officers were elected. However, at this early point in its history, the DOC lacked even the most rudimentary organization.
To those gathered at Albion, it seemed that nothing less than a life lived in and through Jesus Christ would be adequate for the moral confusion, personal dilemmas and social crises of the modern world.
By January 1, 1946, membership had grown to 194. Twelve of these were women and 35 states were represented, mostly by Methodist ministers. Black Americans, Chinese Americans, and American Indians were included in the pioneer membership. Indeed, the Order took up what in 1946 was an advanced and courageous position on racial questions, calling for “brotherhood among races and nations.” The DOC announced that it was “defying convention whenever convention forgets the dignity and sacredness of human personality.”
The first six annual retreats were held at Albion College. By 1951, the membership had grown and was divided into four regions which is what it is today. Since 1952, at least one annual retreat is held in each region. A national retreat is held every five years.
This excerpt is from the published history of the DOC, pages 34-35. Complimentary copies may be obtained from the National Office of the DOC.