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, May 28, 2009

Re: JCD 1113


For approximately $10 a year for 99 years, with the possibility of renewing for another 150 years, the Bush Foundation signed a lease with SMU.*

That’s the information the Judicial Council apparently did not have. They indicate in the ruling that they could not determine the fair market value for the lease of four or more acres for a facility worth 200 to 500 million dollars. It is likely they would have concluded that the lease is worth far less than market value for property on the SMU campus.

I wish I had been at the hearing (my own fault that I who live in Florida did not attend the Denver hearing) to learn if anyone on the Judicial Council asked that question of the six representatives at the hearing. Someone in the group had that information. It was the burden of the questioner to have presented it in light of the questions she asked at the conference.

A reading of the Decision shows that the Judicial Council sensed pressure of time. That's why they didn't send it back to the bishop who ruled on the questions of law.

They chose instead to study the rules of procedure of the jurisdictional conference and the SMU articles of incorporation as well as the Book of Discipline. After showing where the Bishop had erred in his rulings, they sought to answer the questions themselves.

They decided that the Mission Council of the jurisdiction acted appropriately in permitting the signing of the lease and that the vote supporting that action by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, the true owners of SMU, affirmed the action.

They did not note the action of the College of Bishops of the jurisdiction who made a judicial ruling when asked by the Bush Foundation but who then failed to forward that ruling to the Judicial Council for review as all other questions of law require.

The Judicial Council needs to be more careful about what judicial authority bishops are allowed under the Book of Discipline.

Nor did the Judicial Council review precedents in their own record. As far back as 1946, the Judicial Council ruled that no body can abandon its own powers and grant them to a subsidiary group. JCD 38 says, "No authority is given in the Constitution of the Church for it to delegate its powers in such a manner as to deprive itself of that basic or ultimate power." I was startled at how many decisions since have maintained that precedent. I do not think that the Council should have affirmed the role of the Mission Council.

Because the lease was already signed under permission of the Mission Council, those who supported it could argue it was too late to change. That would inhibit some delegates who might have voted the other way.

I commend the Judicial Council on its careful study and earnest desire to resolve this matter. I also appreciate the care shown by two members of the Judicial Council to explain their relationship to the ruling and why they did or did not participate in this decision.

But in their desire to be helpful, the Council may have provided an inadvertent appearance of favoritism.

*I have this information from a Feb. 28, 2008, copy of THE DAILY CAMPUS, an independent SMU campus newspaper.

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