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.


Thursday, April 17, 2008


The other day, a friend sent an e-mail that I found to be a most wonderful honor. He said the following post reminded him of Associates in Advocacy. By permission, here is what Rev. David Shearman* wrote:

"In some of my recent reading, Prof. Dave Grossman of the University of Alabama suggests in his book 'On Combat' there are three types of people on this world; There are sheep, which are the majority of us. We are productive members of society. We go about our business and build a better world.

"There are foxes; those who would destroy and tear down society. Often these are sociopaths. Sometimes they operate under the guise of religion. In this world, the sheep often blithely do not know or admit that foxes exist. The foxes, however, prey upon the sheep at every opportunity.

"The third group of people are the sheepdogs. They are not sheep but not foxes, either. They could easily be foxes, but are constrained by their innate drive to protect the sheep. They see the foxes for what they are and stand between them and the sheep they have committed to protect. The sheepdogs are a group of people we recognize as police, firefighters, paramedics and warriors. We often don't treat them well, because they see things differently from the sheep. Yet without them, we would all be prey to the foxes.

"The same parallel could be made in the church. There are foxes in the church. And there are sheep. But where are the ecclesiastical sheepdogs?"

Hey, I do not mind being part of a group of such sheepdogs! I wish it were only foxes and mostly sheep just focusing in their own jobs (until they are attacked) that we were up against. Those foxes seem more like lions and bears. Our attempts to see that Fair Process occurs is like wishing the shepherd were around even if all he has is a slingshot.

Who might the shepherds be? When Fair Process works, it is because of the bishop. When the bishop joins the lions and bears, we sheepdogs don't have much of a chance.

David's simile works for me.


*The original post came from the Midrash lectionary list. (For more information, see http://lists.joinhands.com/mailman/listinfo/midrash). It is written by Rev. David Shearman, pastor in the United Church of Canada's Central Westside congregation in Owen Sound, Ontario. His church's web page (which has a blog of sorts attached) is www.centralwestside.ca.

No comments: