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.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Observations . . .

On the first full day of GC, as I posted earlier, I went to observe the Reference Committee.

When they were finished for the morning, I asked how we could get Fair Process petitions to Judicial Administration Legislative Committee from the Ministry Legislative Committee. The chairperson offered several alternatives.

I provided one, after some hours of looking through the petitions. The next day, the committee went over my request before I got there (they meet at 7 am and I can't get up early enough to travel there in time) and referred most of them to the legislative committee that will be most likely to deal with them fairly.


I had not forgotten how exhausting GC can be. From the arena where the plenary is held to Cokesbury's display and bookstore is four city blocks. My tired feet and shin splints felt all too familiar even though it has been twelve years since I last attended GC.


To get on the internet in the convention center, I would have to pay $12.95 a day. The hotels charge around $10 per day. There are no coffee shops or other stores with free wi-fi anywhere downtown.

The laptop remains at the parsonage where I'm staying.


The parsonage is about 10 miles from downtown so I have chosen to take the commuter train that runs between Dallas and Fort Worth via the airport. I drive in the rental car three miles to the station where parking is free.

I have taken time off in the middle of the day or in the early evening if I felt I was not needed. So I have seen Fort Worth stations from early in the morning to late at night.

This noon as I approached the station downtown to go home for a desperately needed nap, a ruckus began between a husky Hispanic girl of 16 (I'm guessing these ages) and a African American teenage boy who weighed "a buck fifty." She was screaming and pounding at him. He was pulling her hair and they were rolling around on the railroad tracks, having fallen the three feet to the track bed.

A tall, slender 40 year old gentleman of color jumped down and separated the two. They kept up trash talk and charging toward each other once they got up on the platform. The man stayed between them, facing the boy. But the girl stayed right there as the boy was gently pushed backward. I stepped in between the girl and the man. I said brilliant things like, "Be cool."

After lightly touching her shoulder, I decided that was not a good idea but I did put my 220 pounds in her way when she tried to follow the boy and man. My briefcase carries the GC work books so that added another twenty five pounds to what she'd have had to go through to pursue her goal of whatever it was she said in Spanish. I know some words but not those.

The boy walked away as an older woman of color let him know he was in trouble.

He may have been. Security officers finally appeared and both children were interviewed. Despite the fall to the tracks, the two kids seemed okay.

I spoke with the one who intervened. He said, "I don't go to church but I figured if God had pulled my card and I'd end up up there (pointing toward the sky), at least maybe I could keep those babies from getting run over by a train."

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