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.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

JCM 1205



At General Conference, not all of the Judicial Council decisions were world-shaking, well, denomination-shaking anyway. In this case, reconsideration was sought for JCM 1176, 1184, and 1192, all related to the closing of a local church without consultation, but all based on the fact that the original concern was raised as a parliamentary question rather than as a question of law. This memorandum patiently clarifies why the Council took no jurisdiction. It is as though the Council read my blog post about JCM 1192 and that the one raising the original concern never saw my blog post on JCM 1176. It can be also seen as my failure to contact the concerned parties to consider a petition to General Conference as a means of working on this matter as I promised in my comment on JCM 1184.

For JCM 1192, I chastised the Council for just declining reconsideration without explanation. For JCM 1176, I suggested a question of law that would have engaged the Council’s jurisdiction but apparently no one in California-Nevada Conference followed my suggestion. I need to take responsibility for that because I know pastors in that conference and should have pressed them about my suggestion. And I must thank the Council for its providing a careful rationale for its memorandum

The Council states here as in JCM 1176 that the vote by the conference made moot the challenge that was brought. This might not have been considered final if the proper question had been brought.

Had the following question been asked at the time when the parliamentary challenge was made, “Was the process of closing this church consistent with Paragraph 2548 of the Discipline and if not, is our action to declare the congregation discontinued a valid action?” even a vote by the conference to close the church should not have made the concern moot. Current guidelines for questions of law require an action of the conference in order to provide a non-hypothetical ground to raise the question. The vote of the conference to discontinue the church provided the grounding in conference action that would have supported the Judicial Council taking jurisdiction for that question of law. The Council has previously ruled such conference votes invalid even where the Discipline allowed it when the process leading up to the vote was flawed. JCD 777 is one example.

In this case, the judicial practice that an action by annual conference was made and not properly challenged at that conference session makes moot any such questions of law made one or more years later.

The matter, if I read it correctly, is still devastating to the local church that was closed by fiat of those in power without proper consultation with the church itself. May future closures be done following the Discipline. And if not, then those who are concerned need to be prepared to refer the matter to the Judicial Council at the time of the vote by questions of law or by seeking declaratory decisions.

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