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.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

JCD 1108


I disagree that the manner of preparing petitions is clearly defined in the Discipline and the General Conference Rules of Order. I am surprised that the decision includes this line: “When a petition could potentially affect several Discipline paragraphs on a closely related topic, it should be presented as one petition.”

Having sent in petitions over the years has taught me two things: If you are not a general agency or the Council of Bishops sending in petitions, you must break up related issues into separate petitions with cross-reference to the others so that they are individual and yet so they can be seen as part of a larger issue, as the Council says. Otherwise, it is next to impossible to be sure each portion of an “omnibus” petition is put in the proper pile for distribution to the respective legislative committees of the General Conference. Petitions Secretaries much prefer that clarity.

The other thing I’ve learned is that despite what the Discipline and Rules say, only those who are not part of agencies and the Council of Bishops face this requirement. It is not uniformly enforced.

In practice, individuals are very fortunate to get something through General Conference because the agencies’ petitions tend to be handled first by the legislative committees. Their breadth and complexity are taken for granted, usually accepted, and nearly all other petitions are dumped into non-concurrence. That is not unexpected because the legislative committees tend to be structured in parallel with the church’s agencies and the members of those agencies elected to General Conference from the annual conferences sign up to be on that legislative committee.

This is partly a matter of institutional culture of the General Conference. And it is partly bad provisions in the Discipline and Rules of Order for preparing petitions. It works so well for the agencies that they would fight changes tooth and nail to prevent the Discipline and Rules from becoming more open and fair.

Finally, this ruling which says, “When a petition could potentially affect several Discipline paragraphs on a closely related topic, it should be presented as one petition,” supports what the requesting conference did.

But for the reason I noted above, ease of handling the referral of the various parts of the petition, the Kansas petition was divided up by the Secretary. The first sentence of the decision, “The secretary of the General Conference has the authority to determine when 507.2 is applicable,” supports that!

In my opinion, it is clear that neither the Discipline nor the Rules of Order nor this decision really resolve the handling of complex, inter-related petitions and leaves them subject to the politics, competence, and/or structures of the General Conference.

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