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.


Friday, December 5, 2008

St. Martin of Tours Award

Associates in Advocacy

Dear Bishop,

Postponing the St. Martin of Tours Award was reinforced after my letter honoring past Bishops Dodge and Tuell and episcopal candidate Harvey Potthoff who gave up his last chance to run again because of age. Bishop Tuell corrected a bit of the information. Joining Dr. Potthoff was Richard Cain who also dropped out in deference to Wilbur Choy. I had counted five European American (EA) men elected since, but Bishops Tuell and Wheatley had been elected in the quadrennium before. There have been only three since, Bishops Dew, McConnell, and Paup. Not only is there no glass ceiling in the Western Jurisdiction, there are no EA men among the active bishops now.

One reason, of course, is that Bishop Paup resigned as a bishop in order to fulfill a program ministry to which he felt called. He chose to become an executive secretary unencumbered by any potential conflict of interest.

Some bishops I have met should have stayed involved in program agencies because that is really where their hearts lie. The self-defining nature of Ed Paup’s choice is hereby recognized as co-holder of this year’s St. Martin of Tours Award.

The other co-holder of the award is Bishop William Hutchinson.

The choice is based on not only on his incredible leadership following the twin catastrophes known as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana, but also on his passing over retirement after four exhausting years in order to fulfill the ministry of working on key issues he felt called to address.

His path was not smooth. After working with the district structure Louisiana had when he arrived, he felt it important to make a controversial decision to reconnect the churches in New Orleans with north shore churches. Following the shattering of the New Orleans churches and parsonages, the district realignment proved to be a Godsend in re-establishing the denomination in the city during the earliest reconstruction phase.

Bishop Hutchinson’s personal involvement in restoration of our ministries in the traumatized areas was an example of the highest order. No one would have blamed him if he had retired in 2008. But his concern for the other ministries to which he was committed when he was first appointed to Louisiana led to his staying on for four more years.

Then came Hurricanes Gustav and Ike! Whether he intended to be or not, Bishop Hutchinson was the right one for that time.

In the covenant of the clergy,