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.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Hard at work

Yesterday after the "witness" demonstration, it was eerily silent in the plenary. I had the feeling the event had an impact on everyone. Four bishops wore rainbow stoles and stood in solidarity with the demonstrators and their supporters in the bleachers.

When I went back last night after taking a needed long nap at the parsonage, I found the delegates still very quiet, but, if you can imagine, the 800 remaining delegates were even quieter this morning.

There were no whispered conversations. There was no restless movement of bored delegates.

Every eye was forward. Every body was fully attentive to what was going on before them.

They were in full work mode.

It stayed that quiet and intense the whole morning. And the presiding bishop worked the plenary well. They passed the budget!

But that does not mean there was no laughter. The other day, a French-speaking African delegate was at the microphone to make argument in the discussion but the presiding bishop could not hear the translation. Usually, the translators voice is heard immediately after the delegate speaks. Suddenly over the loud speaker came, "Can you here me now?" That broke up the Conference. I did notice many from outside the US wondering why we were laughing.

On another occasion, a delegate was speaking about a mis-statement which the bishop had allowed to go uncorrected. The delegate told the bishop he was deeply offended and that he would see the bishop at his (the delegate's) office at 8 a. m. the next morning.

Superintendents and bishops are known to make such demands.

The presiding bishop responded immediately, "Is there someone else who wants to speak?"

Everyone laughed.

Most of the bishops do have a sense of humor and some have a marvelous sense of timing so that they can make something come out funny in the moment.

This morning's intensity had some of those moments. I did not make notes on them, I'm sorry to say.

But as we were getting down close to the noon break, the bishop announced the winner of the auction of an autographed basketball, the proceeds of which were going to "Nothing But Nets," the now-national movement to buy mosquito nets for African children vulnerable to malaria. Then he gave the total raised during GC: nearly half a million dollars!

That drew a tremendous ovation. He rose, dribbled the basketball, and passed it to the bishop whose conference had raised the largest amount of money. He dribbled the ball to the podium as the cheers continued.

They were not the Harlem Globe Trotters! But they looked like they'd done it before.

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