Associates in Advocacy
Reconciliation and Restoration Where Possible
In the early 1980s, I received a call from a pastor. He needed help. He had been put on Cabinet-initiated leave of absence (suspension without pay) and had to be out of the parsonage by Friday (the call came late Wednesday night).
This pastor had an average of 300 every Sunday in his small church, more than filling the sanctuary week in and week out. The leadership of the congregation, upset by what they saw happening, tried to get the ear of the Cabinet but were given no credence. Much of that congregation attended the trial. When they saw the prejudice against the pastor that led to his conviction and realized how he was being treated by conference leaders, they left the church. Attendance dropped to fifty and the church never recovered.
Under the unwritten rule that the customer is always right, many Cabinets have responded to complaints about pastors even with many years of effective ministry by forcing them onto leave of absence or saying they were unappointable because they angered people in their churches. Cabinet members in too many places disregarded all the books about antagonists in the church and clergy killers and removed the minister, not the unruly complainers.
In my role as contact person for Associates in Advocacy, I have received calls from an average of ten different pastors every year since 1984. When the pastors were removed from ministry, they, their families, and close friends tended to leave the church. Sometimes church members who had watched in horror as this "antagonist" clique or that "clergy killer" took all of the Cabinet member's attention leading to the pastor's removal also left the church. These were not the elderly members. They tended to be the younger, more enthusiastic members with kids.
I estimate that such unfairness may have led to as many as two hundred thousand members lost to the church over that period of time. In a denomination of 9,000,000, that was hardly noticeable, especially dribbled out over thirty years. It obviously caught no one else's attention.
Most bishops did not let their Cabinets operate this way. But too many did. More tomorrow.
In the covenant of the clergy,
Rev Jerry Eckert, AIA contact person
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.