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.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tedium and fantasy

GC is at that tedious stage. It takes forever to work through a petition that gets to the floor.

I spent an hour or so trying to see what might be done to speed up things, like spread the tables out so the large-bodied delegates can actually get from their seats (always in the middle) to the aisle where the microphones are, like putting one parliamentarian next to the presiding bishop instead of two at a table behind her/him, cut the number of delegates, increase the number of microphones, etc.

As things are now, it seems like the bishop is driving a 40-mule team and she's a city girl! (Or he's a city boy!)

A symptom of my trouble earlier this week popped up so I made a hasty but ginger exit to come home. On the way, as a way of coping with the pain (fortunately not enough to need a pain pill yet), I started a new fantasy, the General Conference of the near future!

In it, the only thing on the table before each delegate would be a laptop with built-in camera and microphone. The screen of the lap top would provide a space for the motions being worked on, sent to each laptop by the conference secretary.

On the key pad would be the voting buttons.

In addition, if a delegate wanted to amend, the amendment could be written on the laptop and forwarded to the secretary and, if the presider recognized the second to that amendment, it could then be broadcast. With the touch of a button, the delegate would transmit his/her desire to speak as well as who s/he is and where s/he is from so the secretary would get it immediately and the delegate would not have to repeat name, conference, status, and region twice as they now do.

When the delegate wishes to speak, s/he speaks into the laptop's mike which then goes into the loud speaker system, has the laptop's camera put the delegate's face on the large screen, and the statement can then be made.

The presiding bishop would have a console which would light up when someone wanted to speak, would have a way for them to be prioritized by when they come in, and have the names of the delegates come up on screen with the signal requesting the floor.

The laptops would probably belong to the convention center and not be open to e-mail, games, porn sites, etc.

The tables could be as close together as they are now but no one would have to squeeze out just to speak.

The need for bulky books and papers would be minimized (they might still be needed for legislative committees - my fantasies have not extended to those just yet.

Ah but what of the break which is always more than a half hour and gobbles up a lot of time? I'd suggest personal or group exercise trainers who could take the stage at a moment's notice every half hour or so and conduct a minute or two of stretch and isometric exercises with everyone remaining at their tables.

The worship and celebrations would probably not change but they wouldn't have to except to be sure that the participants of processionals and leadership would need to be more carefully choreographed to come and go a little more quickly.

You get the picture. And I think this is possible now with current technology.

Should I pass this thought on to the Committee on the General Conference?

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