An Ecumenical, Spiritual, and Charitable Community
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is the Order of Christian Workers a ministry of a particular church or denomination?
No—although our Companions throughout the world represent many spiritual backgrounds and beliefs—we are non-denominational Companions who are attempting to follow the Christ as best we can. As the Irish rune says, "The Christ often comes to us in the stranger's guise."
So what do you believe in?
We have found a beckoning to God and God's realm through the words, acts, and life of Jesus of Nazareth, our Teacher; we claim no special powers or authority as "professionals" and/or "experts" in this ministry and work; as volunteers—without salaries—our incentive is the mutual learning and encouragement of community, and that is enough...We welcome all sorts and conditions of people to join in our liturgy and in our shared life as Companions, including, but not limited to: committed pilgrims and questioning skeptics, heterosexuals and homosexuals, females and males, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and differing talents, as well as the wounded, the outcast, the despairing, and the hopeful—without imposing on any of them the necessity of becoming anything other than their sacred, true selves... We believe that the way we treat all people—and ourselves—is the honest and vital way that we declare our beliefs... We find more grace in the spiritual journey of understanding and acceptance than in predetermined destinations... We perceive that work and ministry which involve the sharing of hospitality, shelter, food, clothing, spiritual intimacy, healing, mutual learnings, and the special needs of children are at the very heart of life... We recognize that our journey together entails costly discipleship: mutual forgiveness, joyful solidarity, responsive and responsible behaviors, servant-leadership, conscientious resistance to evil, and renunciation of privilege, as has always been the tradition and the risk of followers of Jesus.
Are "non-Christians" welcome in your Community?
At all times...as Jesus of Nazareth modeled. How does O.C.W. raise money to support the work and ministry? We beg.
But don't you seek funds from religious and civic organizations? We believe that if we continue to do the work and ministry—attempting to follow the Christ within us as best we can—in everyday lives in everyday situations, we will be supported in many ways.
Are you approved by the I.R.S. to receive tax-deductible donations?
Yes, we have been registered with the I.R.S. as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization since 1996; we were reviewed in 2001 through a standard, five-year-audit, and our approval was continued with a "good audit" report. Tax-deductible donations to the Order of Christian Workers are gratefully received...
If I wished to, how would I make a tax-deductible donation to this work and ministry?
If you would like to donate to this work and ministry by check, please send to: Order of Christian Workers, P.O. Box 4155, Tyler, TX 75712-4155. If you would like to donate by credit card or bank-draft, please click on the PayPal button below. Great thanks!
Do you have a Board of Trustees? Yes, our Board operates on a basis of consensus—as did the early Christian community. Present Board members include longtime Companions—as well as ex officio Servant-Leaders, Resident-Companions, and advisors—all of whom work in solidarity with the Abbot, who in turn supervises the work and ministry of the Order. Are any of these Companions paid? No, there have never been any salaries from the Order for any Companions, including the Abbot; virtually all Companions have other vocations, and so their work and ministry are done as "Servant-Leaders," Companions, and Volunteers. Many of us share houses and food. Are there "members" then? The Charter does not call for formal membership; we are members by our presence, our work, our mutual support and solidarity. What is a "Servant-Leader"? Over these many years of intimate and demanding work together, Companions of the Community sense that there are those who have, perhaps, a special vocation in servant leadership; consequently, the Community—through the Abbot and fellow Servant-Leaders—will ask that person if they wish to be Blessed; in the tradition of such Blessings, we give the Companion a spiritual name, and then refer to that person as a "monk" or "nun" ("Brother" or "Sister") in the Order. Our present Servant-Leaders in Tyler include: Fr. Thomas L. Jackson, Abbot; Sr. Patricia Maria Magdalena; Sr. Jane Frances de Chantal; Sr. Mary Joseph; Sr. Elise Marguerite. Other active Servant-Leaders who have been Blessed by the Order include: Sr. Carla Therese Lisieux; Br. Charles Sezze; Br. Tobias Joseph; Br. Robert Sergius, and Sr. Erika Clare. Beloved Servant-Leaders who have died include: Sr. Cindy Angela (2004), Br. O'Neal Joseph (2005), Br. Michael Simon (2009), and Br. Gregory Francis de Sales (2016)
Do you have any literature which relates to your Community and your history?
Yes, please go to Publications, where you will find a listing of several related publications, as well as the means for ordering.
What is "The Poster," and how might I obtain one?
The poster—"To Follow the Christ"—was designed by Fr. Tom Jackson in the weeks prior to the opening of St. Dismas House in 1993, and about 2,200 have been shipped. You may see a sample of it by going to The Poster What is your liturgy like?
After reflecting on the many forms of community spiritual expression—and the great diversity of our Community—we began writing our own versions of the communion rite in 1990; that remains the central focus, and, although we refer to these liturgies as "Mass," they are, in fact, non-denominational, sacred meals (including a Healing Rite) in our life together.
ALL people are welcome at our Table...in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth, who offered "open eating" and "free healing" to all. These Rites—and many others—are found in A Book of Prayers, Liturgies, and Learnings, which can be obtained (postpaid) by sending a suggested donation of $10 or more to Order of Christian Workers, P.O. Box 4155, Tyler, TX 75712-4155, including your name and postal mailing address (US only)...OR download our Prayer Books by clicking here. Who was "St. Dismas"...and why did you name the Community in his name?
According to legend, Dismas was the name given to the common criminal who was crucified alongside Jesus of Nazareth...and the only person in the entire New Testament who was told by Jesus, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." Over the years, we have come to realize that all of us are "criminals"...and all of us are "saints."
What is the ribboned Cross in the photo on the History page?
The Cross was made out of common wood in 1993; the ribbons carry the names of those who have lived and died with us, including over 100 ribbons of Companions who have died of HIV/AIDS in the past 15 years.We carry the Cross during all Community rites.