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.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

JCD 1198


Our era has seen the rise of the bishop as CEO. In that movement, bishops have sought more authority than the Discipline actually provides. I’ve seen the officers of the conference (the administrative ones under the bishop) take over the determination of which mission projects to fund, taking it away from the annual conference (JCD 608). I’ve seen bishops press toward having the power to fire pastors without fair process (JCD 777, 784. et al). I’ve seen the Judicial Council turn back many reorganization plans which supposedly “streamlined” program and administration in various annual conferences, some of which even granted the bishop a vote in matters the Discipline does not allow (JCD 1171).

What usually occurs in these reorganization plans is that the conference cuts ties with the denominational resources outside the conference by slushing together Discipline mandated bodies into more “manageable” and less regulated groups. The result is that control of the actions within the conference is not “hindered” by obligations to entities outside the conference (JCD 1147) or even inside the conference (JCD 1150).

The Council provided guidelines for restructuring back in 1998 (JCD 835). It seems the bishops have not even wanted to let the Judicial Council interfere with their restructuring ideas. Or maybe, no one has instructed new bishops for the past 13 years about lessons to be learned from the Discipline and the Judicial Council.

This Council is amazingly patient with its explanations covering old ground again and again.

The bishops are going to have to realize there are limits to their power, that they are part of a connectional system that only works when all the parts are properly connected, and that connectionalism means more than “Obey the bishop.”

One other note about this decision. It includes the same rationale for a Council member not to have recused himself from voting on a decision that was used in JCDs 1131 and 1132. At least a reason was given for the sake of transparency.

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