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 1203


Behind the question of law presented, there must have been a concern about an agency not fulfilling its responsibilities to pay a retired pastor. Unfortunately, the question was not tied to a specific person nor was it tied to a specific action before the conference. Consequently, by rule (JCD 799), the question was judged moot and hypothetical.

In a dissenting opinion, one member felt the bishop failed to offer an answer to the question of law. JCD 799 is clear. “The duty of the bishop is to respond with a ruling to all submitted questions of law. A ruling is required even if the ruling is simply that the question is moot, hypothetical or improperly submitted.” No such response to the question was offered.

Unfortunately, the Council overlooked its own rules (JCD 799 is incorporated into the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Council) and allowed a bishop to get away with refusing to send in her response to the question asked. There is no indication the bishop is unaware of the circumstances that precipitated the question of law. She just refused to answer it.

What if the Council had ruled the question of law was appropriate? That has occurred before when a bishop thought the question was moot and hypothetical. The Council would have to remand the matter to the bishop for an answer and keep jurisdiction until they received it. The bishop would have been in violation of the Discipline, returning the answer well past the thirty day limit. That would also have put off a resolution of the issue, a delay that could have caused harm to the pastor in question.

As the Council said of others in JCD 777 and others, that irreparable harm is done because of failure to follow the Discipline in personnel cases, so it may need to include itself among those required to obey the Discipline.

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