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, April 30, 2008

Accountability of Judicial Council members

The bishop who presided over the vote on the marriage petition asked the General Conference Secretary to read the decision of the Judicial Council on a request for their ruling on several petitions which could provide ways to hold Judicial Council members accountable if they violate judicial ethics.

The Secretary read the lengthy decision slowly and articulately for the translators to do their job for our foreign delegates.

In what appears to be self-serving, though I think they ruled correctly, the Judicial Council said that the General Conference could not pass any accountability system to cover misbehavior of the Council members. The Conference already has the right to not elect those Council members seeking re-election.

A careful reading of the constitution gives some powers to the General Conference and other powers to the Judicial Council and those strictures were clearly spelled out so that it was plain that the Council had done serious work.

But it still gave some of us a spooky feeling that self-protection was really at play even if they were right. I am sad that conflict of interest was built in to the way the Council had to operate.

The problems that the petitions for the General Conference sought to solve can be settled by how the Council views its rules of practice and procedure. Many of the concerns could be handled by appropriate rules changes. The new Council may do that as a sign of good faith to the General Conference.

They were not asked to rule on the legitimacy of the censure petitions as a way to call out a Council member for judicial ethics violations.

Dear reader, (I know of one who does take time every day to check out this blog), maybe let's not tell anyone about that.

One more observation: As the Secretary droned on giving the Conference the ruling word by word, a group of folks in the back started singing "Jesus Loves me, This I know." Visitors in the bleachers joined in. It was never loud enough to disrupt the reading. But it made for an unnerving time.


Re: the singing. It was begun by a California delegate, Randall Miller, a pastor who is pro-LGBT. I'm told he began it as a protest not to the Judicial Council Decision, but to the vote which gave the conservatives a victory over the liberals' effort to get "Conscientious Christians can disagree" language into the Social Principles. There had been an arrangement among the liberals to stand in silence, whether on the floor or in the bleachers, following that vote. I'm told Randy wasn't paying any attention to the decision being read.

I want to research it further but beginning in 1988, I was drawing attention to ex parte activities by Thomas Matheny, the president of the Judicial Council. In 1992, legislation was put into the Discipline to make it illegal. The 1996 Discipline further expanded the concept into more places.

I think the 2012 General Conference will find a way to keep a check and balance relationship with the Judicial Council if if members violate common sense.

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