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 27, 2008

Lay Address

Whenever General Conference meets, some of the best talent in the country comes forward to help.

That occurred when the lay address was presented by a . . ., well, person of great eloquence and plainness and spirit!

Before us stood the lay leader of one of the Georgia conferences. The voice was that of a tenor. The suit was black, the white shirt was open, a small gold necklace sparkled and bore a modest cross, and the earrings were barely noticeable. When the audience gasped at a reference to Lynn speaking to the Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops, I would have laughed at the irony involved, but the speaker had me enthralled,

The message was hopeful and insightful.

Lynn urged the Church to evangelize in these ways:


One member one mission

Witness while in mission

On the first, Lynn said that more than half of new members joined because someone in the church invited them. No big questioning about being saved, no long testimony, no using the Biblical language, just a plain invitation with the addition, "I'll be there waiting for you at the main entrance of the church." That's something anyone can do.

I liked the second one a lot. After I retired, I committed myself to three missions. Locally, to give blood and support that effort; denominationally, to work for fair treatment of lay and clergy employees; three, study and speak out about the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Pastors should not just view new members or constituents as prospects for church jobs like ushering and committee work but should also ask what the person saw in her/his experience that needed attention, something s/he could do to help someone. It could be planting flowers to running for city council or encouraging people to give their hair for making wigs for cancer patients to being a lay chaplain at the jail, hospital, nursing home, or other venue.

I learned in my first year as a pastor that nearly everyone in the small churches I served was involved in doing something for others either through the women's group or in the community. I remember having a terrible time trying to persuade a man who coached little league baseball that he was conducting mission work!

Every church is a mission station and every Christian is ALREADY a missionary or on the verge of being one in their everyday lives.

The biggest mistake I see being made by pastors in our denomination is forgetting all the good our congregation is hard at work doing in their every day life. We tend to presume they are not being Christian enough mainly because they are not giving enough to the church or not taking part in the church organization.

Nearly everyone who attended church everywhere I ever served really had on their heart to do no harm and to do good, and to get the church, even the ones who tended to be hypercritical or even hypocritical on some things.

How gratifying it would be to have the pastor praying for us for strength and help in the ministries we struggle to do every day. How rewarding to be looked at as someone who was wanting to be better and hoped we would be, the next time we had a chance.

The pastor's job, our speaker insisted, was to help us be better, was to prepare us for our respective ministries.

If that was done, by sermon, by special study courses and training sessions, and by example, the spirit of the congregation would flow in new and exciting ways! The dominant view of the United Methodist Church as a sleeping giant would be shattered. We would not be sleeping anymore!

And "witnessing while in mission" (explaining what we were doing and why) would be so much easier.

I got all fired up and more hopeful.

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