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.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Surprise! Surprise!

I was worried about how the Reference Committee was going to be oriented and instructed. My past experience as described on the website (http://www.aiateam.org) has not left my understanding of how General Conference can be manipulated. So I made it a point to observe their session this morning.

The General Conference Secretary convened the group. He helped them elect officers and he left.

Because she was the only one on the whole committee who had been on a reference committee before, a former Judicial Council member that I know was elected to the chair.

She took charge, led the group through its tasks, and mentioned none of the potential abuses the committee could use at its discretion. The group tackled everything in as fair a way as I could have dreamed.

The Petitions Secretary then brought a bunch of requests for referrals of petitions to different committees and some requests for withdrawals.

The one that already has made news, withdrawing petitions to divest from Caterpiller, was funny in that the Reference Committee had the authority to not grant that request!

It did not, of course. It hopes that people learn that once a petition is published for General Conference, it is the property of the Conference, and therefore of the Reference Committee, with regard to actual referral of the petition for legislative action or not.

There were a few comments made in asides which indicate that the matter would have had a fiery floor fight. But those opinions were expressed after the vote to allow the petition to be withdrawn.

The committee and the Petitions Secretary seem to be doing their job in a straight-forward, fair way. I do not expect any political shenanigans. That shouldn't be a surprise given that we are a church. An old warrior like me who has seen it all sometimes does not expect that to be a factor when power is being shifted toward a smaller and smaller number of leaders.

The other surprise was definitely unexpected. I stayed on for the evening training session for parliamentarians, located in "The "Episcopal Enclave" (it is called that in a working conference document) next to the Bishops' lounge. I met a pastor from New York who was there to observe as I was, and learn a little more about parliamentary procedure. But there wasn't another soul around! The starting time came and went with no one showing up.

Finally, another pastor came along and reported she had overheard a conversation that the session had been called off. It seems that only two of the ones invited to be a part of the pool were willing and no one else was.

She thought they said something about amending the rules tomorrow night to try it again next General Conference.

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