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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Been there, done that

I spent the afternoon walking around the convention center where the General Conference meets.

I wouldn't have made it without the help of two "angels unaware." I went to the train stop but could not get the automated ticket dispenser to work. Just as the train was entering the station, a Hispanic fellow who had been trying to help me get a ticket took me over to the bus stop and told me to ask the bus driver for a ticket (tickets work for both train and bus). He handed me one without charge and I raced over just in time to get on the train before the doors closed.

A third saint awaited me at the downtown station where she was so pleased to hear a good story about the personnel in her transportation system that she didn't charge me either! She sold me the weekly pass for half-price (having a Medicare card gains one that advantage here in Fort Worth).

The convention center as about three blocks from the downtown station. Very handy.

But all around the center is construction. A new hotel and one trying to renovate were both supposed to be done by now They didn't make it. So several thousand beds that were to be available across the street from the center have been replaced by lodging further away. I have no idea how much further. I hope not too far, especially for the international delegates.

The center is a good size. I will get a lot of exercise just going from the plenary area to the bookstore set up by Cokesbury.

There are meeting rooms for all of the various committees, officers of the conference, special groups, etc. Most are still unoccupied today but by mid-day tomorrow, people will be coming in in large numbers to fill the place.

Some 6 to 7,000 are expected, only a fifth being delegates. The rest are guests, lobbyists, spouses of important personages, and support staff. I'm not sure how many visitors are expected and whether or not they fit into that number.

There were a few folks I wanted to see who were already there today. I saw a couple from Wisconsin (my home state). -- The Wisconsin delegation is seated way in the back of the hall. The presiding bishop will need binoculars to see them.

The local volunteers were already organizing their hosting tasks. All that I encountered were gracious and accommodating. As I am glad to be reminded, United Methodists can be extraordinarily kind and helpful. The folks I've met from the Central Texas Conference who are hosting General Conference that I met certainly were.

Hospitality is a major Christian value!

I found the meeting places of most of the groups and officers in whom I am interested.

The one meeting room I could not find is the room where the Judicial Council is to hold its meetings during General Conference. According to the convention center map, the only doors that would appear to have access to that room sound, smell, and announce (with small signs) that they are power plant rooms!


No. More likely I just couldn't find the right room!

But it will be interesting to see if the Judicial Council can find it . . . .


I rechecked the map. There was no number on any of the doors past the restrooms. The room assigned to the Judicial Council is in what is being called "The Episcopal Enclave." The men's and women's rooms separate the Council from the Lounge for the spouses of the bishops.

The Judicial Council will find their room. I just couldn't read that map.

Further update:

There are 994 delegates. Those who are absent may or may not have their alternates present Everybody else is staff, support, spouses, observers, and hopeful ones like me who think we can influence this huge rally.

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