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.


Thursday, May 1, 2008


Because of my medical issues and because I have set for myself certain tasks to be done while I am at GC, I have spent little or no time attending the special celebrations and events used to inspire and waste time of the delegates.

I think a little too much time is devoted to ceremonial activities, but I am probably in the minority on that.

I did attend the celebration of Rural Life Ministries on the second night of Conference. I've mentioned that some of the best talent in the world is brought in to share their gifts with the delegates. I was impressed with what happened that night.

Frankly, I was tired and walking outside the plenary arena headed for the train station but could hear the preacher. He was so well-spoken and yet down to earth that I decided to go and listen for awhile.

He would have gotten a thumbs up from the editorially minded writers' group to which I belong.

He built his sermon on the story of his three year old granddaughter who was helping his wife plant zinnias.

The little girl followed along as Gramma carefully dug small holes in the flower garden and showed her how to put three seeds just so into those holes.

"These flowers will be so pretty when they come up," Gramma said.

When they finished the row, Gramma went inside to fix lunch. The little girl took the basket of zinnia seeds and thought it would be a good idea to have pretty flowers in other places too so she took a handful and spread them across the yard. She took another handful and spread them across the driveway.

Two months later zinnias were growing under the oak trees, in the vegetable garden, in the lawn, in the cornfield next to the flower garden, and even in the cracks of the driveway.

"Exuberant generosity," is what the preacher called it. And he went on from there to encourage such a way to be in the sharing of our talents in our ministries as a church.

As he finished (I learned later that it was Bishop Kenneth Carder), the lights went up and a grand processional began with banners made up of pastel-colored paper butterflies, 25,000 of them representing the number of tiny churches in all parts of our country, waving in the air above dozens of standard bearers (a lot of banners can be made out of 25,000 paper butterflies).
In the procession were other banners identifying the many special rural ministries sponsored nationally and regionally in the United States.

Circling around and back and forth among the procession were eight tricycles which were powered not by foot pedals but by hand pedals. We were told that these tricycles were being used in all parts of the world to help people travel when they had no legs or feet from disease or injury from land mines.

After the processional, a series of people of stature in our denomination took turns saying a word about who they were and what tiny rural church and town they came from. Among those celebrated that way were Richard Petty and his wife.

I got home two hours later than I had expected and was thrilled to have had the chance to witness that special time.

It isn't a bad idea to have some of these kinds of things going on.

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