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: JCM 1107


This decision is also a disappointment. It gives us a clue as to how hard it is to raise questions about behavior of church leaders, particularly bishops.

Looking at the background material given in this memorandum and its predecessor, JCM 1106, it is clear that some people see that bishops are ready to disobey the Discipline whenever it suits them.

I know from experience in many cases that direct complaints against bishops for failure to follow the Discipline, a chargeable offense under Paragraph 2702.1e), are usually dropped . . . by a small committee of two bishops from their jurisdiction. It is not strange that they do not want to challenge their episcopal brothers and sisters about how they handle their own conferences. Our “live and let live” culture occurs on that level too.

So what’s left?

Bishops are so busy they don’t usually have time for people who want to complain that the bishop isn’t operating under the Discipline. The bishop has the final word in the conference on what the Discipline says (Paragraph 2718). The only way to challenge that is to go to annual conference to present a question that can then be reviewed by the Judicial Council. JCD 799 makes that virtually impossible.

The next option is to make a fuss at conference as the questioner in this case did and hope that the Judicial Council will report it out some way.

Beyond this, there is the possibility of going to the local press who usually aren’t interested.

That leaves the challengers to tell their family and friends about the gross behavior of the conference.

Those folks are interested and often vote with their money (resolutions not to pay apportionments or just plain stopping contributing to the local church). If withholding money has no impact, that leaves the option of walking away.

Does this Council feel obligated to back the bishops’ bad behavior?

That remains to be seen.

But the fact that they tell as much of the back story behind the cases, something not all previous Councils have done, could be a warning to bishops that maladministration may not be tolerated in the future.

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