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.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pastors, Be Prepared

When I joined the Wisconsin Annual Conference in 1962, there was quite an amazing feeling of closeness among the pastors. I learned one of the things which led to that was the support they gave each other back during the Depression, almost a quarter of a century before. Although it later seeped away as those older pastors retired, that "institutional memory" of the better off pastors contributing to a fund so that the pastors of very poor churches got financial help to survive the economic problems of that time was a very powetrful community builder in its day.

There are two signs of some serious financial problems ahead.

One is the huge national debt resulting from our war in Iraq, a debt that will be far more of a problem than the current mortgage problem.

The other is the diminishing size of local church budgets in most places at the same time that salaries of church officials and pastors have grown to where they can no longer be afforded in many places.

When I came into the ministry, I expected it to be a lifetime employment right on into retirement. But withn a few years, it became obvious that pastors had better have skills that could help them get jobs if the church could no longer afford them. That reflected the real situation of everyone else: have more than one marketable skill and expect to change jobs several times during your career.

Seminary students had better be aware of this dynamic. Many are coming over from other employment as mid-career changees. They would be wise to keep their certifications for employment in their former fields.

Other pastors need to be thinking about what kind of work they could do to support themselves and their families as the churches diminish in their financial capacities.