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

JCM 1200


There is a lot of history behind this case. One should read JCDs 301, 665, 794, 847, and 871 to understand the issues well. The first three essentially affirmed the right of conferences and churches to consider dissent from law, whether civil or church law, if there were no mandates or regulations requiring specific actions. Hence a church body could identify as Reconciling or Confessing or Transforming. While JCD 301 dealt with conscientious objection, the others dealt with aspirations related to welcoming homosexuals. However, in the last two, the Judicial Council said that identifying with one movement or another was a doctrinal matter even if such designations were not regulatory. Hence, they argued, becoming one or another was divisive and therefore contrary to the Discipline.

Interestingly, JCDs 665, 847, and 871 originated in the same place JCM 1200 does, the Northwest Texas Annual Conference.

In the instant ruling, the Council took no jurisdiction for two reasons: one, “the request has no direct and tangible effect in the work of the petitioning Annual Conference;” and two, they already clearly ruled on the same thing before.

In a concurring opinion, three members felt that the Council had no authority to direct how a conference or church identified its mission aspirations, thus making JCDs 665, 794, 847, and 971 inappropriate. The General Conference should provide by legislation for resolving the matter. Another member noted the reason the request came was because there is little compliance. Church bodies continue to identify with one or another of the movements. He writes the Council has done its job and now the legislative and administrative bodies need to do their job to bring every conference and church into compliance.

Bishop Norris pointed out in his ruling from JCD 847 that there was no enforcement mechanism.

The upshot of this series of decisions is that, just as the Council raised parts of the Social Principles related to homosexuality to the status of law (JCD 833), so the Council has raised aspirational affiliations with movements to the status of doctrine. These are peculiar to the issue of homosexuality and no application of the decisions to anything else in the life of the church has occurred.

But the Council is not insensitive to the aspirational. Affirmed in JCM 1200 without specifying it is the following from JCD 871. “We do, however, reiterate the proposition that local churches like Annual Conferences can freely pursue principles and causes affirmed in the Discipline and by the General Conference with the mandate of reconciliation and healing being required of the whole church.” They just can’t use affiliating with a movement to do it.

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