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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

JCD 1208



I’ve been trying to get to that “Aha!” moment where I understand the implications of this decision. I’m not sure I got there. I have a premise shared below which you may take seriously or may take with a grain of salt but first, let me discuss what was decided.

The decision’s meaning is fairly clear even to someone like myself who is not really good at “following the money”: General Conference may not hand off its authority to other bodies to do its work. The Discipline provides that it handle the formula for apportionments and may not allow anyone else to modify that.

The proposals before General Conference were to allow the General Council on Finance and Administration to negotiate the formula for each missionary conference in the United States and with each Central Conference. This sounds reasonable in an era when financial instability characterizes the world and does so in different ways in different places, depending on the local economy.

At the hearing before the Council were four bishops and one agency head fighting against the proposals and one legislative committee chairperson who was caught up in other demanding issues to represent the response to the challenges. GCFA sent no representative. There was no representative from the missionary or central conferences either.

The Judicial Council ended up supporting the bishops’ challenges. Their rationale is clear and follows from precedent of church law.

It was the Council of Bishops who raised the question about the constitutionality of such proposals. I have no direct knowledge of the dynamics of the challenge. But I do have a premise that the Council of Bishops is setting up its own program in parallel with that of the denomination and would end up having a much more difficult job dealing with the finances for that if GCFA made many different funding arrangements among the missional regions of the United Methodist Church.

Let me expand on that premise. Many observers feel the denomination needs to “regionalize” in order for United Methodists in each part of the world to carry on their mission more efficiently, without the baggage of United States domination and control. It appears the Council of Bishops has joined the conservative wing of the denomination to retain that domination and control. “Leadership” is always easier from a centralized position. It’s called autocracy.

It appears a major change in the constitution will be needed to allow for missionally-sensitive financial arrangements. As it stands, GCFA will continue to be in the position of handling financial shortfalls by missionary and central conferences at the end of each year of the Quadrennium instead of anticipating and accounting for their likelihood at the beginning of the four year cycle.

Somehow the Council of Bishops feels that is okay. While only an accountant can figure out if they get their money first, it appears the Council of Bishops likes things this way.

It must be noted that Council of Bishops’ requests for rulings on constitutionality of proposed legislation under Paragraph 2609.2 supercede a request for additional matters of meaning, application, and effect allowed for under Paragraph 2610. The Judicial Council refused to go beyond determining constitutionality.

Further, having the authority to handle a docket item is terribly important to this Judicial Council. As can be seen by studying the Council’s own struggle to determine its actual jurisdiction and limits, those who seek rulings from the Council have got to be very careful in developing their questions so as to fit the many criteria which the Council uses to determine jurisdiction.

No comments: