Associates in Advocacy now has two sites on the internet. Our primary help site is at http://www.aiateam.org/. There AIA seeks to offer aid to troubled pastors, mainly those who face complaints and whose careers are on the line.

Help is also available to their advocates, their caregivers, Cabinets, and others trying to work in that context.

This site will be a blog. On it we will address issues and events that come up.

We have a point of view about ministry, personnel work, and authority. We intend to take the following very seriously:


Some of our denomination's personnel practices have real merit. Some are deeply flawed. To tell the difference, we go to these criteria to help us know the difference.

We also have a vision of what constitutes healthy leadership and authority. We believe it is in line with Scripture, up-to-date managerial practice, and law.

To our great sadness, some pastors who become part of the hierarchy of the church, particularly the Cabinet, have a vision based on their being in control as "kings of the hill," not accountable to anyone and not responsible to follow the Discipline or our faith and practice. They do not see that THE GOLDEN RULE applies to what they do.

If you are reading this, the chances are you are not that way. We hope what we say and do exemplify our own best vision and will help you fulfill yours. But we cannot just leave arrogance, incompetence, and ignorance to flourish. All of us have the responsibility to minimize those in our system.

We join you in fulfilling our individual vow of expecting to be perfect in love in this life and applying that vow to our corporate life in the United Methodist Church.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you have any questions or suggestions, direct them to Rev. Jerry Eckert. His e-mail address is aj_eckert@hotmail.com. His phone number is 941 743 0518. His address is 20487 Albury Drive, Port Charlotte, FL 33952.

Thank you.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

If the DS calls

What should you do
if you get a call
from the Bishop or D.S.?
The traditional role of your District Superintendent is to provide counsel and support for every pastor and congregation within his or her District. As such, occasionally a DS might give you a call for a variety of positive reasons.

However, there are moments when the DS is pursuing a complaint against you. It is therefore important that you find out the purpose of the call.

Ask, “Is this routine or do you have some sensitive matters to discuss?"

Hopefully, the call is about something where you can help the DS. If the reason is appropriate for the meeting (clearly not about a complaint) and is not vague, continue the call.

If it is about a complaint, DSs don’t like to have to say so. They tend to not be very straight forward about what they want. They usually say something like “I’d like to talk with you about career goals,” or “We are updating our files on appointment preferences.”

If you get a call something like that, here’s what you do:
Say you will call back in a few minutes. If you have to make an excuse, tell him/her that you have diarrhea or that someone’s at the door. And hang up.


Then read in its entirety Paragraph (P) 362 of the 2004 Book of Discipline (BOD).

When you call back, let the DS say whatever he/she will.

If there is no mention of a complaint but there is an insistence on meeting with you, say nothing about your fear or anger or guilt or grief (see the article on "Emotions" at our website*). The DS will ask for a meeting as soon as possible, usually at a place and time convenient for him/her. Do not make a fuss about it unless you have a serious prior commitment such as a funeral or treatment for a medical problem for you or for a family member. Quietly negotiate what you can, which may be very little.

If the subject of a complaint comes up,

1. Ask for a copy of the complaint and any supporting materials for it.

2. Ask for time to get a "person" and to study the complaint.

3. Ask if the complaint could end up in civil or criminal court so that you will know whether or not you will need a lawyer.

4. Ask who else will be coming to the supervisory response meeting.

5. Ask for twenty days minimum to prepare for it.

Cabinet officers ordinarily deny most of those requests even though P 362.1b states the interview is "administrative" and Fair Process is required in all "administrative" hearings.

Some cabinets prefer to get you by yourself, unprepared for a complaint, so they can apply intimidation and your ignorance of Fair Process for complaints. Then they can blind side you and make it easier on themselves by tricking you into confessing and/or within 24 hours giving up your credentials without a fight.
Do not be defensive or hostile during this phone call. Do not give them something else to charge you with. Just put off the meeting with the superintendent for as long as you can so that you have time to get someone to go with you.

Basically, say as little as possible. All pastors have things about their ministries for which they feel great guilt. Take those up with a professional counselor. This is no time to hope the DS will be wearing his counselor’s hat. He’s the sheriff in our system.

DSs may realize this is their only chance to get you alone and they will want you to say something that they can use against you. Hang up as soon as you can.


*Go to our website http://.www.aiateam.org/, click on "Search" and type in "AFTER the DS calls" and click on the article of that title and begin the preparations suggested there.


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