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 28, 2008

More observations

I got to see General Conference from afar after seeing it from the cot in the first aid room.

I have a kidney stone lodged just above my bladder, just slightly too big to go through. It caused me enough pain in my side that I went to the emergency room at Harris Methodist Hospital here in Fort Worth.

I had intended to watch the election of the Judicial Council members. But I lay in some pain awaiting the results of a CT scan when my cell phone rang. A pastor from New York called to see if I knew the ones who had been elected. He named them. One's name was familiar but I don't recall meeting the man. I did recognize that two current members of the Council were not on the list. With those two gone and Dr. Holsinger not seeking re-election to the Council, three conservative voices for the last eight years will not return.

Anyway, my pain lessened somewhat while I was concentrating on the news I was getting about a General Conference happening two miles away, from a man who was 1,500 miles away.

That's the connectional system!


Each General Conference has a vote on something of modest consequence early in the plenary, sometimes in the first week.

I thought I saw such a moment when a rules change was proposed. (I will go into the back story and results of that rule soon.)

A referral from the floor of the plenary to the Rules Committee had asked for authority to be given to the petitions secretary to not publish petitions of censure against private citizens.

The rule placed before the assembly was to give authority to the Petitions Secretary to withdraw any petition from publication and consideration that was obscene or defamatory about a private person. The Reference Committee was to then review the decision about withdrawing or referring.

That was not a very strong rule because it was quite narrow. I figured that the conservatives would be against it and the moderates and liberals would be for it. That was my opinion.

The rule passed 600 or so to 200 or so.

Did that ratio portend a very different wind blowing from previous General Conferences?

By the time the Conference adjourns, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel political cartoonist may revisit a theme used in 1988 when the General Conference "outlawed" homosexuality. That cartoon showed a caveman entering a cave with "United Methodist Church" scratched into the rock above the entrance, carrying a sign which said, "No homosexuals allowed."

This time the caveman would come out into the sunshine and tear up the sign. Stuart Carlson, take notice!


I meant to say it above that everyone was very helpful, considerate, and "Texas prompt." Sometimes it seemed like nothing was happening but I went down for help about 8:45, was in a room in the emergency section of the hospital by 9:15, had my CT scan and blood and urine tests taken by 10, learned my condition by 11, had a chance to rest while some administration was handled, and was on my way back to the General Conference by 1, and was warmly received by the friends who knew of my distress and by the folks who helped me.

That's community as well as hospitality.


I learned that Harris Methodist Hospital has set aside funds to cover the health needs of delegates to GC so there will be no cost to anyone who needs help.

I'm not a delegate so I took on costs which may finally use up my deductable on my health insurance. But it was worth it.

I also learned that in the past, emergency assistance to GC members involved maybe four trips in 14 days. So far here in Fort Worth, they have averaged four a day.


The hospital had to change its policy on caring for all GC delegates. If any had medicare or insurance, they like me had to pay.

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