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.

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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.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I spent much time last week observing in one legislative committee. On the first night, they got into a parliamentary snaggle. So the next day, a bishop walked in to help them out. He was to speak only if asked. And hopefully, his advice when requested would ease the group through any other snaggle that came along.

After the session in which the bishop was not needed but was still present, I walked with the chairperson and gave her a little historical background on that particular bishop. He had spearheaded the drive to have bishops control the complaint process ever since 1980. The committee I was observing dealt with the core of his best ideas. I implied that I thought his presence was especially problematic because of that conflict of interest.

The reference committee had moved a number of petitions out of that committee that had also been part of the bishop's contributions over the years. There remained one petition which still included the nugget that bishop had given. It was the petition from the general board which had shepherded the bishop's contributions over the years.

Two things happened when the chair persisted in having the bishop present the rest of the time.

One, the board's petition went through untouched despite a half dozen other related petitions offering a different approach which then were rejected (three were mine - what else is new?).

Two, the bishop offered an opinion which actually further confused the group's parliamentary situation, causing an hour's worth of unnecessary procedural discussions and further disruption of their work. The suggestion seemed plausible but it took two members of the group to ask the right questions and make the most helpful motions that finally unsnaggled the matter, not anything the bishop had offered.

The bishop was still riding "shotgun" as long as that committee met.

I am researching how many of the committee members were on the national board which sent the petitions in. I hope to check on how many became chairs of the sub-committees.

That may be my skepticism working overtime. But it does not appear anything is changed in the legislative committee from all those years I observed before.

By the way, since 1988, at least two of the chairs of that legislative committee went on to be elected bishops the following July.

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