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 1103


In a case from California, three questions were brought in the form of requests for declaratory decisions. The questions were related to a personnel matter. The Council took jurisdiction without documentation from the conference beyond a copy sent by the one requesting the ruling,

The case involved a person facing discontinuance from probation so the consequences of the decisions were time sensitive.

I commend the Council for taking jurisdiction.

The Council clarified that a hearing before the executive committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry does not count under the Discipline (Paragraph 20 – 2004 BOD) as the “appeal.” The appeal called for under Paragraph 20 comes before the annual conference clergy session.

The Council also clarified that it takes a three fourths vote of the BOM but only a majority vote of the clergy session to drop someone from probation.

The third question, unfortunately, did not identify any one Disciplinary passage so they did not take jurisdiction. The question intended to clarify whether or not the ruling of the chair on objections could be overruled by the committee.

As things stand, I would recommend that advocates (counsels for the respondent) should operate under Paragraph 2718. The chairperson of every group that is next in line to hear the matter should receive a copy of the objections and be asked to rule on them before the actual hearing. This routine comes from JCD 830. That keeps the objections alive so that no appellate body may say the objections were given up during the process.

However, as the current administrative procedure goes, the chairperson of the executive committee is the chair of the BOM. In the instant case, someone may have tried to use a Robert’s Rules of Order to overturn the chairperson’s rulings (or lack of rulings) in either or both contexts. That could mean a possible decision sooner than later. Time is a major issue in personnel matters. However, the Judicial Council has no jurisdiction over parliamentary decisions so it can provide no relief based on Robert’s Rules of Order.

I hope the matter returns for clarification so that the right of appeal of objections cannot be broken by obstreperous or biased chairpersons or committees and that those rights are preserved by being brought in the proper places.

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