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.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Agenda

I scanned the agenda again to see what the schedule is for the opening days. As I expected, there are some difficulties.

The evening plenary session on Wednesday night has eight items, all of which are usually perfunctory administrative tasks. One of those is “Rules Report and Adoption.” There is no use of the phrase “and Adoption” on two other reports. Look for the presiding officer to hasten the passage of the Rules Report so that the changes being sought are passed without discussion.

One of those rules changes is assigning retired bishops to be parliamentarians in the legislative committees. Bishops who are part of the administration of the church should not have roles as parliamentarian in the legislative committees nor of the plenary, the main legislative body of the General Conference. Many bishops are wonderful parliamentarians. But they are members of the Council of Bishops even after retirement. And they tend to rule in ways that are to the advantage of the bishops’ authority.

The agenda shows that training of parliamentarians is on the night BEFORE the vote that would allow the bishops to be parliamentarians.

Legislative committees are not organized until Wednesday afternoon after more than a day of mostly ceremonial stuff. General Conference has been reduced in length from 13 days to 11 days. The legislative committees face the task of doing their work in two less days because of the schedule change.

Then the agenda announces (I have not seen a rule on this) that there are to be no meetings of the legislative committees on Sunday night (April 27). My experience is that some legislative committees need to meet to do their work until they are done and some have had to work through Sunday night in the past.

This fits into the trend that the less legislative work done, the more likely the decisions are made by the administration. Most annual conferences now are barely legislative (too boring for the lay people, we’re told) and have become celebrations and special privileges for speakers.

I always wondered how autocracies evolved out of democratic institutions.

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