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

Summary of the Fall 2011 Session

The biggest beneficiary of this fall’s decisions is the college of bishops of the Philippines on whose side the Judicial Council ruled. As I pointed out, if the Discipline is not on their side, having the Judicial Council is even better! Of the 16 items (2 were dealt with in one decision) before the Council this fall, 6 were related to the Philippines. The result of the Council’s rulings further entrenches the power of the college of bishops and their appointment of an interim bishop. That bishop may be a nice guy and popular with folks in the United States, but his actions should be compliant with the Discipline and they may not have been.

I have watched groups in the denomination triangulated into one power struggle after another, usually causing harm to the other side and the whole Church. I hate it when it happens at the highest levels of our Church.

Compliance issues with church law, as this session’s docket illustrates, ranges from individual failure to follow the rules for questions of law (JCD 1203) to annual conferences (JCDs 1198 and 1201) to the Council itself (also JCD 1203). Is church law breaking down? Is everybody so busy they don’t take boundaries and guidelines seriously but “roll their own” because they are in a hurry? Are things so complicated that nearly everyone misses the finer points intended to help? Even when the Council shows immense patience and offers significant teaching in its decisions and opinions as it does in JCDs 1197 and 1198 in particular, there seems to be a low level of responsiveness (JCDs 1200, in re: 847).

The struggle to minimize episcopal incursions beyond their Disciplinary authority continues to go on (JCDs 1191, 1194-6, 1198, 1202, and 1204).

Homosexuality continues to haunt us (JCDs 1201 and 1202) as do questions about handling of personnel (JCDs 1191, 1199, 1202, and 1203).

Still bound by arcane rules, lack of adequate information, and the discretion about what they report, this Council sometimes is not able to perform consistently. And the Council sometimes shows some awareness of its occasional lapses.

Maybe those of us who watch and understand the significance of what the Council does need to become more vocal in commending the good things the Council does in hopes of encouraging them on to consistency and authority so people pay more attention and accept the helpful guidance they offer.

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