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.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plenary sessions

The most grueling part of being at GC has to be a toss up between handling petitions in the legislative committees and grinding out their results in the plenary session.

I've described one period in the legislative committee in an earlier blog that illustrates why they meet well in to the second week. Despite the rules, some legislative committees were still finishing up last night. Those long hours are exhausting.

The times I sit observing the plenary have been among the least productive times I've seen. The worst example was when the presiding bishop called upon the body to prepare to vote.

Each delegate has a remote voting device much like a simple TV remote control. Press the "1" button for a "yes" vote. Press the "2" to get a "no."

However, the device has to be activated so the bishop told everyone to touch any button to turn on their remote device.

That's when the crummy thing happened. Not all of the devices work. So the bishop asked those with faulty devices to stand so the pages could exchange for good ones.

Two were quickly taken care of in front but one man remained standing in the back, apparently unnoticed by the pages. He had on a white shirt and being a large man, was very visible to the bishop. The bishop directed a page to the man and then gave a running commentary on what was happening because no one else could really see so far back in the arena.

I could see from my vantage point near the front.

The man was seated in the middle of his row and the page could not get to him so he moved toward the page. That somehow did not settle the matter because the man continued pressing toward the side aisle through the narrow space between those seated at his table and the table behind his. When he finally got to the aisle, he engaged in a long conversation with the page, gesticulating, persisting over some unknown matter as the conference and the bishop waited for him to get a working device so the voting could proceed.

The bishop commented, "Brothers and Sisters, I am told that there are no electronic systems in heaven." The comment did not draw much of a laugh.

The man in back remained oblivious to the fact he was being allowed to hold up the whole conference. But he finally returned to his seat.

The second worst I observed was when a delegate rose to speak and withdrew an amendment he had made and requested the chance to make it in a different way at the right time. The bishop ruled the amendment had to be voted upon and then he would recognize the man. The motion was rejected (notice the term; we change vocabularies every four years!) and the man returned to the microphone. He made another motion much like the one just rejected but attached it at a different place in the main motion. The motion was several sentences.

On the screen behind the bishop was a text which I thought might be the man's new motion.

After a lengthy statement in support of the motion he had just made, someone sought the microphone.

The bishop acknowledged the second person who then asked if the text on the screen was what the man had put in his motion. The bishop turned and saw that it was the previous motion and asked the techs to remove it from the screen.

I was lucky. I could leave at that point and go home to supper. The delegates could not.

They had already eaten theirs so food was not their problem. Facing another three to five hours was what lay before them.

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