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.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Opening Plenary

During the worship service, we sang Harry Emerson Fosdick’s hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory”

I have always liked that sung to the Welsh tune. But a different tune with a more meditative melody made certain words come out:

“From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to work and praise.”

“Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.”

On this one, I wasn’t necessarily thinking Iraq, though that sure felt relevant last night. I was thinking about a hand-out I got from one of the dozens who are on the rim of GC. It concluded, “If none of these work, then we must commit ourselves to disrupting the GC’s business.”

“Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore. . . .”

I try to avoid the use of the word “evil” because it is so hard to take back if you find out you were wrong about something or someone. But I am very concerned about the evil of “party spirit,” that frame of mind that we must separate if we cannot agree.

I am also worried about the evil of ignoring controversy instead of using problem-solving techniques to explore the parameters and depths of the issue and the people who are involved. Sometimes being nice buys time and maybe the problem will go away without us alienating each other.

But the problem has not gone away since 1972. We have to face it sometime.

So I wondered if this GC would face those two “evils.”

The opening plenary was geared to setting up the ground rules for the next nine days. I knew no serious issues would come to the floor in this initial session.

The parliamentarian issue was modified by the presenting committee so that it would apply to the 2012 GC. One delegate asked whether this GC could obligate the next one.

The parliamentary ruling was that the motion was to allow for planning and training (I laughed about that!) in case the next one upon vote of this recommendation accepted it for 2012. That bought it a pass.

I couldn’t get to anyone to ask the Judicial Council to rule on whether or not the motion violated the separation of powers between the legislative and the administrative branches of the church. But I was not prepared to send a note to someone in the plenary session.

The other major matter that was presented though not for action at this time was the idea that the GC cannot afford the expenses for a thousand delegates. So a petition has been submitted to make the maximum number 600 for our world wide denomination.

The delegates astutely raised excellent questions and brought some helpful motions. All the ones I would have voted for were defeated by wide margins.

If you know of any use a prophet in his own time can have, give me a call.


Update: “Human social problems typically don't get solved; they just become irrelevant. A prophet's usefulness is to keep alive the alternative for the time fifty years hence when the issue becomes irrelevant.”

A friend sent that quote from the 1960s as a reassurance that I should persist. Let’s see, I started working on church law issues in 1978. That means I have 20 years to go before I’m irrelevant. Here all this time I thought I was already irrelevant.

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