Diakonia of the Americas and Caribbean
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Diakonia of the Americas and Caribbean (DOTAC) is one of the regional organizations of Diakonia, the World Federation of Diaconal Associations and Diaconal Communities. Diakonia World Federation was started in 1947 for mutual support of deaconess motherhouses after the devastation of World War II. By 1966, several deaconess organizations in North America were members of the organization. An interest developed in Diakonia World Federation in holding a conference in North America in 1969 or 1972. Meanwhile, those interested in holding a joint meeting of deaconess organizations in North America wished to become better acquainted. Afterward, they might explore the possibility of hosting a Diakonia World Federation conference in North America.
By January, 1967, eight deaconesses from seven churches and one pastor met to plan for the first conference. At the conference held in Racine, Wisconsin, in August, 1968, the North American Deaconess Conference was organized. By 1971 the name was changed to North American Diakonia (NAD). It was in 1972 that NAD served as host for the Diakonia World Federation conference in New York City.
At their fourth conference in 1977 a new name was chosen: Diakonia of the Americas (DOTA). The final name change, made in the spirit of inclusivity, came in 1989 when the name became Diakonia of the Americas and the Caribbean. In 2003, the organization was also chartered as a nonprofit corporation in Nashville, Tennessee. The membership consists of diaconal associations and communities in the region. Conferences were held every three years from 1968 to 1977, and approximately every four years thereafter. Among the purposes and goals of DOTAC are: fulfilling together their common calling; encouraging ecumenical relationships among diaconal associations, sisterhoods, and orders in the region; strengthening a sense of community among these groups; providing a forum for reflection on the nature and task of diakonia and issues of mutual concern; rendering mutual assistance; and undertaking common tasks. The DOTAC mission statement follows: “DOTAC links and gathers those engaged in diakonia, is a prophetic voice for ecumenical relations and social justice, and encourages, supports, and empowers the development of groups doing diakonia in the region.”
The administrative body of DOTAC is the Central Committee, which consists of one member from each diaconal association or community and as many as four associate members with voice but no vote. The officers, chairman, secretary and treasurer, are elected by the Central Committee from among the voting members. By 1989, the officers included a president who is also the representative to Diakonia World Federation executive committee, a vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and a second representative to the Diakonia executive committee. The officers also served as an executive committee between meetings of the Central Committee.
Adapted in 2008 from the administrative history compiled by Sister Marilyn Stauffer, Archivist Intern, October 2006.