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, May 7, 2008

AIA as a bridge group

The laws of the church tend to slow down the way we'd rather mishandle a problem than to learn from the past how better to solve it.

As Dr. Curl and other of my Perkins professors taught, "The Discipline is made up of attempts to solve problems in better ways, 200 hundred years worth of wisdom."

Associates in Advocacy seeks to remind church people about that and seeks to facilitate working through the Disciplinary process under every circumstance.

That means we work with people whose opinions on a wide variety of issues differ greatly.

We have helped advocates defend very conservative evangelical pastors and we have helped very liberal pastors. We have helped men and women, lay and clergy, young and old.

The list of advocates I keep are also across the spectrum of belief which underlies our denomination. I have high regard for all of them even when one or another gives up on me because I happen to have a theological stance of my own which may disagree with theirs.

That still does not stop me from my first question of someone who calls, "What has happened?" We don't have a belief requirement before we will respond to a pastor or lay person in trouble in our system. One of the most liberal pastors in our group is defending one of the most conservative pastors in his conference. I have recommended one of the most conservative advocates in our association as one who can help her sort out a situation to one of the most liberal bishops.

The real problem within our system is not the width of the denomination's theological views. The real problem is injustice. And neither wing has that as its intent.

There are "controllers," "rigidniks" as they are identified by a friend, who operate on their own rules and refuse to allow anyone else including their respective institutions to give them guidance. Those kind use the conscientious of their respective persuasions to be their foot soldiers in their war against their enemies, playing on their beliefs in a cynical way to gain and keep control.

Some of our clients are those who were dumped after helping a controller get what s/he wanted.

Sometimes I avoid speaking out on the hot button issues because others do it so well and I don't want to take sides on some matters.

But as one who believes in the Golden Rule and the General Rules, I am not always content to be silent when I see my conservative or liberal colleagues being used for someone else's rise to power.

I set up this blog not for my opinions but to report what is relevant to the Church in terms of justice matters.

That sometimes opens the door for my opinions. It becomes hard sometimes to avoid crossing that line.

So I've taken a chance by offering opinions.

Excoriate me if you will but if you are in trouble with the Church, call and I'll provide the best help our association can offer.

No comments: