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.


Monday, November 21, 2011

JCM 1190


Having done some consulting as noted in the blog posts about the respective docketed items on the Philippines case, I have reread every related decision and memorandum rendered by the Council (JCD/Ms 1149, 1152, 1162, 1177, 1182, 1183, and 1184). I am seeing inconsistency on the Council’s part with respect to the case.

The Council accepted a petition from the bishops of the Philippines less than a month after their Spring 2010 session where the Council ruled the that the interim bishop and the annual conference over which he presided was the official annual conference rather than the one headed by Bishop Tangonan (JCD 1152).

But the Council refused to accept a request for an early decision in Bishop Tangonan’s ongoing struggle with the college of bishops. Despite identifying the actions of Bishop Arichea as “convoluted” in changing the site of the annual conference (JCD 1152) and most of the Council being bothered by the six undocumented suspensions of Bishop Tangonan over two years by that college of bishops (JCD 1183), the Council put him off by postponing dealing with his request until next Spring’s session.

Despite their unease about what was coming to them in incomplete bits and pieces, they still went along with their rulings that the Philippines bishops constituted a college of bishops and that Bishop Arichea did no legally questionable wrong. But Bishop Tangonan has been left hanging by those decisions, further deepening the split in the annual conferences which he led prior to his suspensions.

The Council appears to have taken the word of the college of bishops when the Council accepted how the bishops’ petition described the results of a committee on investigation rather than seeing that original document for themselves.

It can be argued that the Council is stuck with maintaining their rules and with parties who do not send all the needed documents. Hence, they put out decisions as best they can. But I fear that the Council, when in doubt, tends to believe those higher in the power structure and not persist in their demand for better documentation.

In JCD 1152, Bishop Arichea said he met with the Cabinet on Feb. 3 and they voted to change the site of the annual conference. Then in JCD 1162, the story changed. The DSs failed to respond to attend the Feb. 3 meeting and a final vote on the change of site occurred on Feb. 18 after he had appointed a whole new Cabinet.

A different reading of JCD 1162 might allow for another interpretation, that a request not to change the site sent in by the lay leader was what the Cabinet refused to respond to. But it is more reasonable to assume the Cabinet refused from the beginning to meet with retired Bishop Arichea because the Judicial Council had not yet ruled that the Philippines bishops did indeed constitute being a college of bishops under church law. That ruling did not occur until many months later. No one knew in February when Bishop Arichea showed up and changed where the annual conference was to be held whether or not he had that authority. The Council gave it to him retroactively. Like enforcing a law retroactively is wrong (see JCD 704), having to justify past actions by making a law change to fit the situation, which is what JCD 1149 did, may also be bad law.

The Council has a way out of this mess. It needs to undertake a review of all their decisions. And it needs to use its authority to obtain documents withheld from it or were not asked for in those decisions. Until the Council does, it may face many and sundry petitions from that group of annual conferences. One hopes that instructions have been sent to all the involved parties to send everything they have for the review of the Council next Spring. In the meantime, it might want to change its rules and find a way to review early requests in an orderly and consistent manner and respond in a timely way to Bishop Tangonan’s request.

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