Diakonia of the Americas and Caribbean (DOTAC) is one of the regional groups of DIAKONIA, the World Federation of Diaconal Associations and Sisterhoods.
Our member organizations of deacons, deaconesses, and those in related associations are located in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and North America. These are church-related groups that practice the biblical idea of diakonia (servanthood) and lead the church in ministry to the world.
DOTAC connects 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 practicing diakonia in the region.
Our purposes are to
- encourage ecumenical relationships among diaconal associations, sisterhoods and orders in North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America
- strengthen a sense of community among associations, sisterhoods and orders
- reflect on the nature and task of diakonia in the Old and New Testament sense and to further the understanding of it
- provide a forum for discussion of issues of mutual concern
- render mutual assistance and undertake common tasks
In 1849, the first deaconesses from Europe arrived in Pittsburgh, Penn., U.S.A., to serve in the first Protestant hospital in America. Over the next 100 years, nine deaconess organizations were formed in North America. At the organizational meeting of World Diakonia in 1947, one of these organizations was represented.
In October 1966, appointed representatives of Methodist and Lutheran Church in America deaconesses met in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, to discuss the possible joint meeting of all deaconess organizations of the United States and Canada to help them become better acquainted and consider hosting a Diakonia event in North America in 1972.
In January 1967 deaconess representatives from the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Methodist, United Church of Canada, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Lutheran Church in America gathered and began planning the first Conference of North American Deaconesses, which met August 19-22, 1968, in Racine, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
A second conference, carrying the theme “Called to Holy Obedience Now,” took place June 28-July 1, 1971, in Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.A. Participants at this conference decided to change the name of the group to North American Diakonia.
They also discussed plans to host the eleventh meeting of the World Diakonia Assembly, which took place June 14-21, 1972, in New York, New York, U.S.A. The global event, “Signs of the Church of Tomorrow,” welcomed some 400 delegates, visitors, and observers from twenty countries and representing some fifty different organizations of deaconesses, into Riverside Church.
“Diaconal Ministry Now” was the theme of the third conference, June 24-27, 1974, in Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada. This conference asked the central committee to accept as a priority the investigation of reaching out to deaconesses in South America, Mexico, and the Caribbeans.
In 1978, the group changed its name to Diakonia of the Americas (DOTA) as an expression of the desire to include diaconates in South and Central America and the Caribbean.
The subsequent name change to “DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean” (DOTAC) came at the conference in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1989 in response to the involvement of two member groups who expressed the feeling that DOTA did not fully include them.
Sister Anna Ebert, “Utrecht to Bethel 1946-1975,” DIAKONIA, 1975; Chapter: North American DIAKONIA
Deaconess Louise Williams, DIAKONIA Challenge and Response; Chapter 4, “DIAKONIA in The Americas and The Caribbean”