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, August 21, 2008

A letter to the Bishops

Dear Bishop,

Years ago, when I was in more active circulation, I knew much more about what bishops were doing and Associates in Advocacy offered an annual “St. Martin of Tours Award” to those bishops who did exemplary ministries not otherwise recognized.

Bill Oden received our recognition for changing a tradition in the Louisiana Conference. The President of the Judicial Council, Tom Matheny who had been active in conference affairs for thirty some years at that time, was given the privilege of being parliamentarian by every bishop since he went on the Council in 1972. In 1989, Oden realized that was a conflict of interest. After the morning session with Matheny in the chair, Oden replaced him with Dorothy May Taylor, President of the New Orleans City Council. He simply said he felt it was a good idea to celebrate some of the other leaders from around the state.

In a quiet, respectful way, Oden confronted a situation involving one of the most powerful men in the denomination and did it gently and without causing embarrassment.

That was how the monk-elected-bishop of Tours, France, operated. It was one of the reasons that Martin (316-397) was made a saint and why so many Europeans are named Martin, including Martin Luther.

Another recipient of our award was Bruce Blake. After being elected bishop, it was discovered that there had been a major problem in the balloting. Blake rose to the issue and gave up his election in order to help correct the problem. That was a good reason to honor him.

St. Martin of Tours was confronted by the Roman government because, though gentle, he persisted in asking the court to release religious prisoners from secular penalties, even those he thought were heretics. The governor, under pressure from another bishop, decided to make him back off. The cathedral was closed. Martin met his congregation out in a farm field and conducted services there. The governor stripped him of his episcopal garb. So he wore his old monk’s robe. Finally, the governor took over the rectory and Martin, accustomed as a monk to a life of poverty and having lived in an exile’s cave and later the bare cell of a monastery, was able to manage in a small one room hut. He didn’t need the trappings or wealth of a bishop in order to be a bishop.

That was the other reason he was made a saint.

So I am on the alert for any stories that would give me a reason to bring out the “St. Martin of Tours Award” as a way to honor the ministry of bishops.

Feel free to let me know if you have any nominees, including yourself, and give the reason(s) for your choice(s).

In the covenant of clergy,