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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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.


Monday, April 20, 2009

AIA Reminder

Associates in Advocacy

Dear Colleague,

This is one of the three times of the year when pastors “disappear.”

You probably have not seen them at clergy meetings or cluster Bible studies or any of the usual places you see UM ministers. The last month or two, they have stopped coming and probably have not called you for anything. We are so busy we do not always notice, especially the ones who are quieter, less assertive, and/or female.

This is appointment time and the Cabinets tend to cull out the pastors that church folks are complaining about. It may be the fifth time in five years that those same complainers have wanted to run off the pastor. But now that the Discipline is more ambiguous about the right of appointment of conference members, some DSs will tell vulnerable pastors that they are no longer appointable, to tell no one about it, and to be out of the parsonage by July 1. In those conferences which have transition-out-of-ministry programs, the DS may or may not get them enrolled.

Once the pastor no longer has any hope of appointment or of legitimate critique or of positive alternatives, they tend to stop relating to other ministers, especially when they are told not to.

So, get out the map of your area (district plus others that you know nearby) and ask yourself when was the last time you saw this pastor or that one. If you haven’t seen them since February, call and make sure they are all right.

When you find one such “disappeared” pastor, check the articles in our website:
http://www.aiateam.org/. Click on the “Practical Help” and then scan for articles which are the most pertinent given the “disappeared’s” circumstances in the sections for “Pastors,” “Advocates,” and “Care Givers”. Not all can be changed, but some can.

Call me (941 743 0518) if you have any questions.

Your friend,


PS to the bishops – I send out this warning every year to the people on my AIA mailing list all over the country. I’ve been doing it for over twenty years. Same massage. Same problems with Cabinet members who are lousy at personnel work. It is usually first year DSs, but not always. I hope it does not come up in your conference. Feel free to call me if you want to talk about it. - You’d think by now someone training DSs would have figured out how to prevent this kind of persistent travesty.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring AIA letter

Dear Bishop,

Bill Stevens passed away recently, according to the postcard from the conference. Bill must have been 160 years old! He was a bright spot in the Wisconsin Annual Conference for as long as I can remember. I believe he became Conference Secretary just before I joined the Conference in 1962. I think he kept that job into the 1980s.

Those who had the responsibility of checking the journal, Bill’s minutes of the previous day, were amazed at his accuracy and completeness. That was especially remarkable because in those years, some of our sessions began at 8:00 a. m. and continued until 10:30 p. m. We actually had conferencing in those days.

Bill used a typewriter with three copies using carbon papers. Remember, to correct an error meant erasing all four sheets and typing over. During the years I was on the journal committee, I do not remember there ever being more than a single letter error correction.

And the copies were always ready by 8:00 a. m. so the committee could review them very early in the next day’s session. When we asked him how long it took, he said he was usually to bed by 3 a. m. And he never seemed tired, even after four or five days of Conference. His minutes were as error free and clear the last day as the first.

He was a hard-worker in the churches to which he was appointed. He went wherever the bishop sent him and got to serve in small, medium, large, rural, small town, and urban churches during his first forty years.

At conference in 1976, six years before his first retirement, he was unusually sad. It didn’t last long, but he still felt it deeply. “Jerry, I was looking forward to this year because it is when I expected to become a superintendent. I’ve been a pastor for thirty-four years and think I learned a thing or two that I wanted very much to use to help the younger pastors. It has been a great system we’ve had in the past where an experienced pastor became a superintendent for the last six years of his career, what with all that experience and no longer any reason to aspire to a higher office. I was all ready and they passed me up. Actually, they passed up several of us and appointed young, inexperienced pastors to be on the Cabinet. I understand the desire to move our ethnic and women clergy along more quickly but none of them are really ready yet. Everything has to happen now, I guess, before they have a chance to learn patience and maturity. Being superintendent will be just another career move instead of its culmination. What a shame.”

Bill went on to serve local churches another 21 years before retiring again in 2003. Eveready should have named the energizer bunny after him.

In the covenant of the clergy,