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.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letter to the bishops



Dear Bishop,

I’ve been distracted by and attentive to the Presidential campaign. We are learning a lot about leadership style and decision-making on a national scale. The four major candidates differ quite a bit so we have examples to follow . . . or not!

I still like the humble but wise example of St. Martin of Tours. Following up on my letter seeking input about United Methodist bishops who should be considered for our informal award, first let me go back some years and talk about examples where there has been no other recognition before I address contemporary bishops to be so honored.

Rev. Dr. Harvey Potthoff never was elected but that may be because he withdrew in favor of an ethnic person high in the Western Jurisdiction voting. The example he set led to the Western Jurisdiction having no current white male bishop and has only had five since he withdrew his nomination in the ‘sixties (Tuell, McConnell, Dew, Wheatley, and Paup). He set a precedent that changed the denomination by opening the door to the episcopacy for non-male non-European American candidates.

Bishop Ralph Dodge passed away August 8 at age 101. The story on him is that he is the last American missionary bishop elected to serve overseas. That part of our efforts to build up indigenous leadership in our missionary conferences was going to happen sooner or later. The remarkable part of his story is that under the rules of his era, he was up for re-election every eight years, if my memory serves me correctly (could have been four?).

We are fortunate to still have with us Bishop Jack Tuell, the third bishop for whom I offer a deserved moment of recognition. Bishop Tuell has been honored for many things and still is highly esteemed in our denomination. But he has had some tough assignments for which he is not well known. He was called in to preside at a church trial by a bishop who had formerly been a member of the Judicial Council. The counsel for the respondent presented four objections to the actions and case of the conference officers (including the bishop) and Tuell found for the respondent, closing down the trial.

On another occasion, Bishop Tuell was called in to attempt to sort out a situation where the resident bishop followed bad advice that could have ended in a serious law suit. His efforts led to a reasonable resolution without any further legal actions but which required a formal apology by the resident bishop.

To these who had their moments as extraordinary leaders, I want to provide long overdue acknowledgment of actions they took which exemplify the spirit of St. Martin of Tours.

In the covenant of the clergy,


(Rev. Jerry Eckert, contact person)

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