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, May 7, 2008

One result . . .

As I wrote earlier, General Conference had a tendency to give something to both wings of the church. While the main body steered down the middle, the wings got an extra feather or two.

Here's one for the "right" from Riley Case in a recent newsletter from the Confessing Movement:

"One significant abortion-related petition added the phrase to the Social Principles section on abortion: 'respects the sacredness..of the unborn child.' The significance is that the unborn child is called an unborn child and not a fetus."

What I've never understood is why a Roman Catholic doctrine based on Original Sin, which says that a baby's life has priority over the mother's because the mother has accumulated more sin over her lifetime since the mother's baptism than the child and the baptized child has far less, is now a plank of the right wings' platform.

The United Methodist Church has held a balanced and wise policy on abortion for as long as I can remember. We have wanted abortion to not be used unless there was a significant medical problem that endangered the mother or child. We believe that only after serious counseling with pastoral and appropriate professionals should abortion be used.

Adoption is our first recommendation when a mother is not in a position to care for the newborn.

One of the reasons this balanced view was taken by our denomination was because of "Our belief in the sanctity of the unborn human life . . . . But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother. . . ."

Isn't the real issue not just nobly taking a stand but seeking how best to insure that abortions only follow humane counseling? And at the same time seeking what is the best outcome for any human life that is born?

The alternative is to leave everything in God's hands and not interfere with the natural course of events. But that logically leads to taking a position that says we should not intervene medically in any situation.

I believe there are folks on both sides of this set of arguments who are deeply Christian and compassionate. They would not be likely to take the extreme logical position.

What bothers me is that there are some who do not want to admit the truth of that reality and want only to have one side win, their side.

That is a symptom of "party spirit" which the Scriptures say is not a gift of the Holy Spirit!

Logical inconsistency is not the worst of sins, though it leaves us open to making horrendous mistakes. What pains me is the way it can be used to block deepening the discussion.

For example, the "evangelical" wing has been pecking away at the Social Principles a phrase at a time, focusing over the years in getting the General Conference to finally say "the sacredness..of the unborn child" without beginning the conversation about how to help individual pregnant women avoid future pregnancies that are unwanted, how to get China to stop its rural populations from practicing gender selection abortions, how to raise the economic level of families that cannot afford another mouth to feed without harming the children they already have, how to help a young woman face families bent on disowning them for having a baby out of wedlock, how to ease the "tragic conflicts of life" which make abortion seem the only way to resolve them even if it means crossing state lines to go into back alleys to medically incompetent people willing to help with an abortion.

One of the great qualities of our denomination is that it has attempted to take wise stands based on experience, reason, and tradition, and Scripture, mainly Jesus' teachings. That puts us into offering more complex answers because no simple answers take into account the harm that come can from just thinking in black and white.

Frankly, I wonder if the desire to win and to not want to face the possibility that there are Christians on the other side of the argument is to make abortion a wedge issue to undermine the denomination and split it.

But the General Conference plows on, giving one side this feather but being misconstrued so that the right wing feels like it can best help the denomination fly by beating the left wing into submission.

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