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.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

JCD 1148


The Baltimore-Washington conference issue that could not be reviewed when JCM 1139 came down is again before the Council in good order.

The majority of the Council accepted jurisdiction (see the concurring opinion) and made it clear that lay people were not authorized to conduct church conferences in the place of superintendents or Elders assigned by the superintendent.

The bishop had chosen to say that the question of law was moot because it did not deal with any business of the conference. The dissenting opinion supports the bishop.

I welcome the flexibility of the Council to accept worthwhile questions of law as they did in JCD 1126 because they are in harmony with the intent of questions of law as described in the constitution (Paragraph 56.3).

This decision also reminds us that the tendency of Cabinets to minimize their personal contact with each congregation is not Disciplinary. Superintendents are getting to be fewer but with more responsibilities. Consequently, the rift between the conference and the local church grows wider and the clout of superintendents becomes nearly minimal in local churches. We do not have a congregational polity. But that is the direction we are headed.

I do not want to detract from the gifts and graces lay people could bring to conducting of charge conferences. As in preaching, they could outshine us professionals. But what is at issue is the relationship between the congregation and the superintendent whose main role is knowing the churches and the pastors in order to make good appointments and make sure those appointments succeed for both the pastors and the churches. Anything that disrupts that crucial connection needs to be set aside. The further superintendents are from their churches and pastors, the more interchangeable pastors will appear to be. The whole purpose of appointments is undermined when the Cabinet members do not feel they have to try to match the differing skills and experiences of the pastors with the needs of the respective churches.

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