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.

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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 9, 2008

Lobbying by individuals

Successful lobbying at General Conference usually depends on the establishment of a very wide and strong network, often a coalition of a number of groups. I've discussed some of those in another blog.

Then there are the rest of us, each trying to bring our light to shine on some issue or other.

Some individuals have followed the rules wisely and been able to get a petition to stay alive despite much opposition and get them through the legislative process. They are usually delegates with the authority that entails. They can make motions on the floor and they have voice. Without a committed delegate on your side, you are at the mercy of the process no matter how wise nor well prepared your petition may be.

The truth and fullness of the petition to censure Dr. Holsinger helped it make it through the special rule passed early in the conference and got it as far as a sub-committee where it was debated. Without enough delegate support, it may have been misinterpreted as partisan or seen as moot because Holsinger was not even on the ballot for Judicial Council. Or it may have been misconstrued because no one provided the arguments of the reference committee about it's being within the new rules.

I don't know yet.

Petitions from individuals rarely get beyond the sub-committee.

Other individuals come in person to monitor the progress of their petitions. They usually know delegates in the legislative committees and have prepared them to sustain the petitions as long as possible so they will get full consideration.

One such colleague has successfully taken concerns to the Judicial Council where his arguments have prevailed on narrow but important matters. Having that history, his presence and his petitions carry a weight that is greater than any most individuals have. He has name recognition among many in the legislative committee.

This year he even invited the whole legislative committee to dinner at his own expense to offer a lecture on how Fair Process works and where its failings are. Only a handful came but his effort meant they were far more ready to deal with all petitions in that area.

About the only thing you can say about my efforts this time around is that I have been persistent. Knowing some of the folks in key positions hasn't hurt. But I don't see the progress that is needed.

Over the years, something of mine enters the Discipline because someone else thought it was a good idea and offered it through a general church agency or caucus. That may be the only way some good ideas are accepted: someone of stature presents it as their own. And maybe they did think of it on their own. I try to provide ideas that are self-evident.

I still have no idea how my petitions fared. The few I tracked were rejected. But some may have been incorporated into other petitions that were passed. Sorting through the petitions that passed is a major project. I have been too tired to do it yet. I'm still napping most afternoons.

One of the delegates who has heard from me since I first started trying to influence the General Conference with my 30 to 50 petitions every four years gave me a hug and teased, "Without you, Jerry, we'd be all done by now." She laughed when I replied, "Well, you can't say I didn't give General Conference a chance to get it right."

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