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 23, 2008

Re: JCD 1099


In 1951, the bishop was asked if the annual conference could nominate trustees for their Hospital Association. The by-laws of the corporation set up to handle the hospital said the nominations had to come from the Trustees. Those by-laws had been established by vote of the annual conference.

In JCD 75, the Judicial Council reported that "Bishop Werner ruled that 'Nominations by other than the Board are in order, and that inherently in the institution of elections is the possibility of choice.'"

However, the Council reversed that ruling, saying, “The Ohio Annual Conference of The Methodist Church, now being the White Cross Hospital Association of Ohio, is the source of ultimate control of the White Cross Hospital and has the right and power at its discretion to change or amend the method of electing the Trustees of the corporation; but, until the Annual Conference changes the method set forth in Art. VI of the present Constitution of said White Cross Hospital Association, it is bound thereby.”
The vote was 5 – 3. – J. T. Alton recused himself because he had recently been on that trustee body.
The dissenting members argued, “To give the provisions of Article VI of the White Cross Constitution and By-Laws the narrow interpretation insisted upon by the hospital Trustees, which in effect would give the hospital Trustees the right to perpetuate themselves, would do violence to a fundamental legal principle as to the control of any subsidiary organization of a religious or charitable body. This is recognized by the majority opinion in this case. If the Annual Conference is to elect, it must in the very nature of things have the right to ‘select by vote,’ or ‘to choose in preference to another or others.’ The right and duty of the members of the Corporation is not merely to approve the election of a slate submitted to them, but to exercise independent judgment thereon and elect or select from any names that may come before them.”

The decision in JCD 1099 is very similar in that the argument of the majority is that General Conference needs to change the Discipline in order to open up to the floor the possibility for nominations to the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM).

Such changes have been offered to the General Conference as petitions since 1984 for exactly the reasons given by Bishop Werner and the dissenting Council in the 1951 ruling. No General Conference has chosen to pass any of those petitions. Most clergy delegates have been the beneficiary of the current nominating process.

The result has been that BOMs have become nearly as self-perpetuating as Cabinets with no check and balance other than term limits, twelve years for BOM members (Paragraph 634.1a).

Too bad Bishop Werner and the dissenting Council members did not win the day and set the precedent of the primary body having the authority of nominating from the floor.

The new Council has perpetuated a blocking of a crucial institutional “check and balance.”

Note: JCD 130 was resolved around this principle of law: “The right to elect constitutes the right to make a choice.” JCD 185 reverts back to the “shall/may” Disciplinary wording as precedent. JCD 694 says, “The open nomination and election process provide the best opportunity for everyone to the exclusion of no one.” JCD 1079 stands on a Disciplinary paragraph (603.7) that says, “The annual conference shall . . . elect a secretary . . . .” There is no reference whatever to how the secretary is nominated. Does that imply the legal principle in JCDs 130 and 694 are operative in JCD 1079?

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