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.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Letter to the bishops

Associates in Advocacy

Dear Bishop,

I will make my announcement about the St. Martin of Tours award after Thanksgiving. There are two active bishops I am considering and need a little more data.

When I mentioned the courageous actions of Bishop Tuell to negotiate settlements of conflicts which were counter to the preferences of two bishops, I realized that he was the first since 1984 to bring successful unbiased mediation into conflicts in which bishops had a clear stake. That example has “trickled down” (bishops’ examples are more significant than they sometimes realize) in several places in the country.

On the east coast a number of years ago, Wescoat Sandlin successfully mediated a settlement on behalf of a bishop in a case involving a young layman. Mr. Sandlin and his wife have a mediation law practice in South Carolina (Wescoat is licensed in Texas and several east coast states) and can be reached through the AIA website.

Finishing his training in mediation, Spencer Turnipseed has used his skills in the Alabama-West Florida Conference for a number of years. He too can be reached through our website.

Just from sheer practice, Tom Griffith has been helping bishops in his California conference for a number of years. Starting as either a counsel for the respondent or counsel for the church, Tom has helped resolve complaints frequently by noting the mental or physical health of the respondent and gaining resolution through dealing with the real problem rather than the perceived complaint. He has been asked to handle cases not so clearly defined and has successfully worked out resolutions accepted by the bishops and respondents. Tom can be e-mailed at griffith@megapathdsl.net.

Also beginning as an advocate, John Grenfell has been able to work out resolutions in difficult cases based on his years of experience as a DS and working on behalf of Good News. John can be reached through our website.

Finally, let me remind you that JUSTPEACE not only works in restorative justice situations where the respondent admits guilt. They also facilitate discussions between conflicted parties. Stephanie Hixon and Tom Porter can be reached at www.justpeaceum.org.

The wave of the future, mediation, is very much more possible now than ever before.

In the covenant of the clergy,


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