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: JCM 1112


This matter was held over from the 2008 Fall session of the Council and was given a very brief review in the Memorandum: the bishop ruled the presenter of the question was not a member of the conference and thus could not raise the question, which the Council upheld and therefore felt it could not take jurisdiction..

The story behind the questioning comes out in the concurring opinions.

The superintendent and pastor changed the locks on the church so the congregation could no longer meet.

The local church was summarily discontinued (P 2548.2) by the superintendent and then was called an abandonment (P 2548.3) when the Annual Conference met to vote on it. The process for each is different in the Discipline.

Besides the obvious lack of proper procedure for discontinuing the church reported in the concurring opinions, I wonder if the Council checked to see if the questioner was still a proper delegate since the abandonment was not final until after the conclusion of the conference. I also wonder if they could have taken jurisdiction despite the bishop’s ruling because the conference did have before it the matter of the closing of that church, thus making the question(s) germane to the actions of the conference.

I confess it is odd that a conference would consider closing a church with an average attendance of 40 worshippers. If the issue was theological, as I suspect, I wonder how those with a different theological stance would accept superintendents’ actions like this one.

This could be one of those things the Council missed in its learning curve.

As the ruling stands, superintendents can pull this same stunt with impunity in the future because of the precedent of this ruling.

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