The By-Laws of the Order of Saint Luke®

As Amended, October 2017

Section 1

The Order of Saint Luke is a religious order dedicated to sacramental and liturgical renewal. The official identifying statement shall be: “A Religious Order rooted in the United Methodist Church, Dedicated to Sacramental and Liturgical Scholarship, Education and Practice.”

Section 2

The Order of Saint Luke calls members to live in accordance with the Rule of Life and Service and to discipline their lives along the guidelines set forth by The Order.  All incoming members are to be inducted into The Order by responding to the following questions, in affirmation of the Rule of Life and Service [Italicized text below indicates commentary on the Rule, and is not part of the Rule itself]:

  • Will you affirm the Apostolic Hope? 

With the apostles and the Church through the ages, we affirm Jesus Christ, Sacrament of the presence of God, as the source of our hope.  We take our name from Saint Luke the Evangelist, and seek to be incorporated into the paschal mystery he proclaims.  We pray to be formed by the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, gift of the Holy Spirit and coming again of Jesus Christ.  We are sent forth to proclaim and live the hope that good news brings.

  • Will you live for the Church of Jesus Christ?

We believe the Church is the Body of Christ and we are called to worship, learning, community and service as members of that Body.  We affirm our fidelity to oneness in Christ in the Church truly catholic, truly apostolic, truly evangelical, and truly reformed which supercedes all division by denomination and which we believe God will gather from a broken Christendom.  Our apostolic mission includes calling the Church to liturgical and sacramental renewal and seeking to bring the healing grace of Christ to all Creation.

  • Will you seek the sacramental life?

We are called to become aware of God’s presence through Eucharistic living.  We seek to live out our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection.  We receive with gratitude all that God has given us, and offer it up to God.  We receive it again from God transformed to use for the sake of the world.  We join the Church through the ages and around the world in recognizing that all time is in God’s hands.  As we pray faithfully the Daily Office, and live so as to embody our prayers, we endeavor to live the sacramental life.  By doing so, we seek to be transformed as a means of grace, for all those we meet and serve in Christ’s name.

  • Will you promote the corporate worship of the church?

We believe that the corporate worship of the Church is liturgy – the work of the people on behalf of all creation – which is our response to the revelation of God’s grace.  Through our collective memory and our shared hope, the Holy Spirit acts in Word and Sacrament, making present to us the saving acts of God, transforming us so that we can be God’s people.  Through our worship, we seek the glorification of God and the sanctification of the Church.  This worship is offered in the name of the community, which claims it as the manifestation of its own identity and mission.  We seek to encourage the Church to worship with vitality and integrity, appropriating the rites and services of the Church, historically and ecumenically grounded, which enable us to worship together in the name of Jesus Christ.  We honor the worship traditions of the past and seek to be open to new ways of expressing the heritage of faith they embody in ways that speak to us and for us in the present.  We witness to the saving and transforming work of God, which renews us in Christ’s body, the Church, through the continual offering up of our lives to God.

  • Will you magnify the Sacraments?

We believe that the sacraments are Christ’s gift to the Church.  Individually and corporately, we are called to lift up these mysteries in the life of the Church as means of grace through which we are formed as Christian disciples.  Through the baptismal covenant, we are incorporated into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God calls us to live out the redemptive, liberating, justice-seeking ministry of Jesus.  We seek to deepen our understanding, and the understanding of the Church, of the significance of the baptismal covenant and the Eucharist for Christian discipleship and service.  We believe that the Eucharist re-presents the life-gift of Jesus Christ in which the living spirit of Christ is truly present to us, preserving and reforming Christ’s Body, the Church.  Frequent celebration of the Eucharist forms us in the sacramental life, empowering us to live out Christ’s healing presence in the world.

  • Will you accept the call to service?

By virtue of our baptism, God calls each of us to ministries which are a proclamation of Christ, seeking wholeness for Creation.  Through sacramental, prophetic, and pastoral ministries, we turn in openness to the world.  We identify with the whole community of humankind, especially those who live on the margins.  We invite people to touch our lives as we touch theirs.  Thus we know the perfect joy of being reconciled to God.  In community with our brothers and sisters, we will seek to discern the ways in which we are called to serve God in the Order, the Church, and the world.

  • Will you abide by the rules of The Order and indicate your commitment by study, service, gifts, and practice?

Induction of members shall be celebrated, wherever possible, within the context of a Chapter or Association assembly or gathering of members of The Order.

Section 3

Membership in The Order resides first in the General Chapter and then in a Local Chapter, if organized.  In areas not served by Local Chapters, local relationships may reside in Associations with The Order (hereinafter referred to as “Associations”).  In unusual circumstances, a person may be in individual relationship as outlined in “Guidelines for Relationship with the Order of Saint Luke.”

Regional, institutional and local units of The Order of Saint Luke are designated “Chapters” or “Associations” of The Order.  All persons who are professed members of The Order through their acceptance of the Rule of Life and Service, and who have communicated their profession to the Chancellor General, are members of the General Chapter.  The General Chapter meets at the call of the Abbot at retreats to which all members of The Order are invited.  A meeting of the General Chapter shall always be held in connection with the General Convocation of The Order, held in the first year of every quadrennium.  A ‘quadrennium’ refers to a four-year period commencing with leap year.

Members of The Order continue their membership through an annual profession of vows.  The annual reaffirmation of the Rule of Life and Service is indicated through written response to the Chancellor-General, and may be celebrated at a meeting of the Chapter, General Chapter, or other gathering of the members of the Order.

Members making annual profession of vows have all the rights and privileges of full membership in The Order.  Choosing not to re-affirm the Rule places a member on an unofficial “leave of absence” from active membership in The Order for one year.  During this year, The Order will reach out to the member and seek to continue to support and nurture the member. Choosing not to re-affirm the Rule a second year terminates one’s membership in The Order. If a lapsed member wishes to reactivate membership, they will be asked to submit a letter explaining their reason for wishing to resume membership in the Order. Unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances, their reaffirmation will be granted. 

The Order reserves the right to terminate membership permanently when the Abbot and the elected officers have together determined that a member of the Order has exhibited harmful, destructive, or abusive behaviors that impact the mission and/or operations of the Order of Saint Luke or has made personal attacks on other members of the Order. 

The payment of gifts and tithes supports the work of The Order, but is not the basis for membership. Members are expected to provide annual contributions for the work of The Order in accord with the vows they have taken. When it is financially feasible, members and friends of The Order are invited to become Benefactors of The Order through an annual contribution of $750.00 to The Order within one year.  Members of The Order who have professed life-long vows are encouraged to become Benefactors.

[Note: In its early days, The Order established the status of “Life Member” referring to a member who made a one-time contribution of a stated amount of money. This “Life Member” was entitled to receive all the Order’s periodicals without making further contribution. When the current category of Life-vowed Members was established, these original Life Members were re-designated as Benefactors. Today the term Benefactor has expanded to include anyone who is able to make a financial gift of $750 or more in a given year. These changes do not in any way alter our commitment to our original Life Members]. 

Members of The Order who have re-affirmed the Rule of Life and Service through an annual profession of vows for at least three years may elect to profess life-long vows in The Order.  Life-long vows express one’s intention to keep the Rule of Life and Service throughout one’s life.

Profession of life-long vows shall normally take place in connection with meetings of the General Chapter.  The Abbot (or a member of the Council of the General Chapter designated by the Abbot) may witness the profession of life-long vows in community with other members of The Order who may be gathered for the event.

Members of The Order who have professed life-long vows are accountable annually for discussing their commitment to the Rule of Life and Service with another member of The Order.  The Convener of the lifevowed members has the responsibility to shepherd the lifetime spiritual formation of these members and shall oversee the process.  These members are encouraged to respond to the questions of profession services in concert with other members of The Order, and may be invited to join in the laying-on of hands for those professing annual or life-long vows.

Members of The Order who have professed life-long vows continue to be members of The Order unless they request dispensation from those vows from the Abbot.  If The Order is unable to establish contact with them for a period of three years, they shall be placed in a list of “Life-long Members: Whereabouts Unknown.”  The Order shall assume ongoing support of its life-long members through prayer and pastoral care in whatever ways are possible.

Section 4

The official rites of The Order are contained in The Book of Offices and Services After the Usage of the Order of Saint Luke (1988) and any subsequent volumes that shall, from time to time, be issued under authority of The Order



The Abbot is the spiritual and temporal leader of The Order.  In carrying out these duties, the Abbot shall:

a) Perform such liturgical leadership duties as specified in The Book of Offices and Services; and

b) Preside at all meetings of the Convocation and Council, and shall be a member Ex-officio of all committees except the Nominating Committee, and

c) Have authority to grant approval of formation of Chapters and Associations, in accordance with “Guidelines for Relationship with The Order of Saint Luke”;

d) Delegate responsibility and authority and appoint as needed to meet the needs of The Order, and

e) May initiate and terminate appointments of editors of publications, in consultation with the Director of Publications, and the approval of the Council, and In concert with the Council, interpret the Rule of Life and Service for the good of The Order.

Prior General

The Prior General shall

a) Perform the duties of the Abbot in the Abbot’s absence or inability to serve; and

b) Support the work of the appointed officers; and 

c) Administer the Hoyt Hickman Award; and 

d) Undertake such mutually agreed responsibilities as are designated by the Abbot or the Council.

 Chancellor General

The Chancellor General is the secretary, treasurer and statutory agent of The Order, and custodian of the financial and historical documents.  In carrying out these duties, the Chancellor General shall: 

a) Conduct the official correspondence of the General Chapter, keep the minutes of the Council, maintain financial and membership records for The Order, and attend to the legal matters of The Order. Financial records of The Order shall be available for annual audit by designation of the Council.

b) Maintain the official mailing list of members of the General Chapter and, as specified in “Guidelines for Relationship with The Order of Saint Luke,” notify the appropriate Provincial Companion of new members, and

c) Make semi-annual reports of financial and membership data to the Council.

Provincial General

 Provide spiritual support to the Provincial Companions; and

The Provincial General shall:

a) Publish and distribute recruitment and formation materials; and

b) As specified in Guidelines for Relationship with The Order of Saint Luke, work with the Abbot, Council, and Provincial Companions for the application, recognition, and change of status of Chapters and Associations, 

c) Receive and maintain copies of appropriate documents concerning the life and conduct of Chapters and Associations; and

d) Provide semi-annual reports to the Council regarding matters of Chapter and Association formation; and

e) Undertake such other mutually agreed responsibilities as are delegated by the Abbot or Council.

Provincial Companions

Provincial Companions are responsible for formation and assistance of Chapters, Associations, and Covenant Communities, within a geographic area.  In addition, they shall provide spiritual formation and guidance for those members in that area who are not able to be members of a Chapter or Association. They are appointed by the Abbot, with the approval of the Council.  In carrying out these duties, the Provincial Companions shall:

a) Serve as liaisons between the General Chapter and Priors of Chapters and Associations, and Conveners of Covenant Communities, including receiving and maintaining annual reports from these units,

b) As provided in Guidelines for Relationship with The Order of Saint Luke, assist Chapters, Associations, and Covenant Communities in matters of formation and membership, and

c) Provide semi-annual reports of activities to the Provincial General.

Section 5

The Council shall review regularly the periodicals of The Order.  Such review shall evaluate the periodicals’ appropriateness to the mission of The Order of Saint Luke, and may include reports for beginning and continuance, and recommendations from the editorial board(s), the editors, and the Board of Publications for continuation, redirection, or discontinuance.

Guidelines for Relationship with The Order of Saint Luke

Membership in The Order of Saint Luke resides in the General Chapter, and, usually, in a local Chapter. Occasionally, members find themselves living at a great distance from other members, with the result that participation in, or formation of a chapter becomes a formidable obstacle.

In response to members’ need to feel connected, and the desire of The Order that a member be in formation with others, the following structure shall exist:

CORPORATE RELATIONSHIP There shall be the following categories of corporate relationship: Local Chapter, Association with The Order, and Covenant Community.  The following sections define these terms and describe their functions for members, and in relationship to the General Chapter.  Members of Chapters, and Associations, shall first be members of the General Chapter (The Order of Saint Luke). Participants in Covenant Communities need not be members of the Order.

CHAPTER – Chapters carry out the mission and Rule of Like and Service of The Order, under the guidance and encouragement of General Officers.  The following are guidelines for the creation and structure of a chapter of The Order of Saint Luke.

MEMBERSHIP – No fewer than five members of The Order of Saint Luke shall generally be required to form a chapter.  This number is considered the minimum for the establishment of order and accountability.

CHARTER – A chapter may be established whenever the minimum number of members of The Order desires to be formed in this way.  Exceptions to the minimum number rule must be approved by the Council of the General Chapter (hereinafter ‘the Council’).

APPLICATION – Application for a Chapter Charter shall be made to the Council through the Provincial Companion.  Interim approval may be granted by the Abbott (or Provincial General acting on the Abbott’s behalf), subject to final approval of the Council.

PLAN OF ACTION – Application shall include a plan of action detailing how the proposed chapter intends to serve the needs of members, and meet the goals and objectives of The Order.

OFFICERS – Officers shall be Prior (President), and sub-Prior (Vice-President).  The offices of Chancellor (Secretary/Treasurer), Chaplain, and Formation Officer are optional, but encouraged. Chapters may establish such other offices as may serve their needs.

REPRESENTATION – The Chapter may send one voting member to the Council.  This may be an existing officer, or one selected especially for the purpose.

TRAVEL EXPENSES – Expenses for the representative to the Council are the responsibility of the local Chapter, with the exception that the Council may determine certain reimbursements for the representatives, in order to encourage participation.

CONSTITUTION – Each Chapter shall abide by the Constitution and By-Laws of the General Chapter, and are encourage to develop a written Constitution and By-laws patterned after those of the General Chapter, submitted to the Council, and maintained by the Provincial General.

  • MEETINGS – Chapters shall meet as a body at least twice a year.  Chapters are encouraged to meet quarterly or more often as is appropriate for each Chapter’s circumstances.
  • MEETING AGENDA – Each meeting of a Chapter shall include worship (with Holy Eucharist, if at all possible), and may include business concerns, spiritual formation concerns of the members, and a study of some issue or concern as deemed appropriate by the Chapter.
  • REPORTING – The Chapter shall report on its activities as requested by the Provincial General.
  • EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – An executive committee may be formed within each Chapter to encourage and plan the work of the Chapter.
  • SPIRITUAL FORMATION – Each Chapter shall develop a plan for the spiritual formation of its members and its chapter.  This plan should be distributed to all members of the Chapter for the purpose of mutual accountability.
  • DUES – Each Chapter may assess dues to assist in the work of the Chapter.
  • CONTINUATION OF RELATIONSHIP – The Council shall evaluate Chapters as may be required to insure that needs of members and of The Order continue to be served.

REFORMATION – Should changing circumstances dictate, the Council might recommend that a Chapter be re-chartered as an Association, or dissolved.  In either of these events, the Council, through the Provincial General and Provincial Companions, shall work closely with chapter members, providing encouragement and guidance through these difficult times, and overseeing the continuing spiritual formation of members.  Upon dissolution, any remaining financial assets of the Chapter will revert to the General Chapter.

RIGHT OF PETITION – A Chapter may petition the Council, through the Provincial Companion, to be reconstituted as an Association.  Similarly, they may petition for a review of a Council decision for reconstitution or dissolution.

ASSOCIATION WITH THE ORDER – An Association may be chartered whenever at least

two members of The Order of Saint Luke desire to be in formation together, and where no Chapter exists.  Additionally, where distance and circumstance prevent or hinder physical meeting, Associations may determine to meet by electronic means.  The purpose of an Association shall be to offer support and encouragement to persons who are a part of The Order, but not of sufficient number to create a Chapter.

MEMBERSHIP – Except in unusual circumstances, an Association shall have no more than six members, six members being deemed sufficient to form a Chapter.  Application for exception to this provision must be made to the Council through the Provincial Companion.

CHARTER – An Association must be chartered with the consent of the Council of The Order. Application for the charter for an Association must be made to the Council through the Provincial Companion and must include a proposed plan of meeting and structure.  Interim approval may be granted by the Abbott (or by the Provincial General acting on the Abbott’s behalf), subject to final approval of the Council.

STRUCTURE – An Association shall be led by a Prior.  It may establish such other officers as may meet its needs. An Association shall be defined by the following provisions:

MEETINGS – An Association must meet at least once a year and report that meeting to the Provincial Companion in whose Province they reside.

ORGANIZATION – The organization of an Association shall be determined by its members, consistent with the goals and purposes of The Order.  This plan of organization shall be presented to the Council for review.

REPRESENTATION – An Association shall be entitled to voice and vote representation on the Council of The Order. 

TRAVEL EXPENSES – Expenses for the representative to the Council are the responsibility of the Association, with the exception that the Council may determine certain reimbursements for the representatives, in order to encourage participation.

REPORTING – The Association shall report as requested to the Provincial General.

CONTINUATION OF RELATIONSHIP – The continued existence of an Association shall depend upon periodic review and approval by the Council, as it shall deem appropriate, particularly when changed circumstances seem to indicate the formation of a Chapter.

REFORMATION – Should changing circumstances dictate, the Council might recommend that an Association be re-chartered as a Chapter, or dissolved.  In either of these events, the Council, through the Provincial General and Provincial Companion, shall work closely with members to assure their continuing spiritual formation.  Upon dissolution, any remaining financial assets of the Association will revert to the General Chapter.

 RIGHT OF PETITION – An Association may petition the Council, through the Provincial Companion, for chartering as a Chapter, following the guidelines established for Chapter chartering.

C. COVENANT COMMUNITIES – From time to time there may be established groups, composed of members of the Order (and, depending on circumstances, including also non-members), developed for specific purposes. Examples of Covenant Communities include (but are not limited to) the Cyber Chapter, and/or other presence of the Order on the Internet, the organization of Lifevowed members, and groups that gather, in person or by electronic means, for worship, study and/or spiritual formation. Leaders of these organizations are known as Conveners. Since members of the Order who participate in Covenant Communities are already represented in the General Chapter, and the Nominations Committee, Conveners of these organizations are not included as representatives, unless they serve based on some other position held in the Order.

INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIP – In certain circumstances it will be impossible for any type of corporate relationship to exist.  For members living in such circumstances, it is understood that their spiritual formation will become the responsibility of the Provincial Companion for the Province in which they reside. Further, it is understood that such persons will seek to affiliate with a Chapter or Association whenever changed circumstances permit.

IMPLEMENTATION – The following guidelines are for the purpose of assisting members of The Order of Saint Luke with determining best meets their needs, and initiating that relationship.

 NEW MEMBERS – Upon receiving affirmation of a new member, the initial determination of relationship shall be made by the Chancellor General, who will initiate the following contacts:

 PROVINCIAL COMPANIONS – Should the new member live in an area not served by a Chapter or Association, the Provincial Companion assumes primary responsibility for the spiritual formation and guidance of the member.

 FORMATION OFFICER OF CHAPTER – If a Chapter exists in the area of the new members residence, the Formation Officer of that Chapter shall have the responsibility for inviting the new members participation in the life of the Chapter.

 PRIOR OF ASSOCIATION – If the new members residence is within an area served by an Association, the person responsible for the Association shall have responsibility for the new member.

 NEW CORPORATE BODIES – In addition to assisting individual members with their spiritual formation, the Provincial Companions shall maintain contact with members in geographical proximity to each other with the goal of assisting them in forming Associations or Chapters (these need not be along judicatory boundaries).  Such contact may be initiated by the Provincial Companion, or may be in response to contact by individual members.