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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Changing of the guard

During the years I've been a clergy, seminaries have faced serious changes in their student bodies.

When I went to seminary in the late 1950s, we were almost all young men straight from college with no work experience of any length in the secular world. We followed a generation of World War II veterans and of conscientious objectors (and some not so "conscientious" but who chose ministry to avoid the draft). We had a few women who tended to be training for the mission field or for Christian Education.

Within ten years, the seminaries began to see the age of their students growing precipitously as second career people, a growing number of women, sought refuge from the secular job market, where they had no control over their jobs or futures, to the ministry where they at least could work on their own without a boss breathing down their necks. They also tended to be more contemplative, more individualistic, and less inclined to be collaborative. That led to a generation of isolated clergy content to be operate on their own but more vulnerable to bad administration of the complaint process.

More recently, young women and second career women have come into the seminaries, becoming the majority group gender. In my conference in Wisconsin, the groups being ordained contain only one or two men and the rest are women. The gender of our conference is shifting. Almost makes me feel like a "spotted owl."

Will making it easier to become a pastor bring more young men as well as young women into ministry? Will that change the demographics in the seminaries? We'll see.

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