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.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

JCD 1156


The Council assigned some of its most assiduous members to review a case from Baltimore-Washington Conference. A pastor in trouble worked out a just resolution and avoided being forced onto involuntary leave of absence. When she requested return to appointment status believing that she had fulfilled the requirements laid on her under the just resolution, the bishop’s assistant determined that she needed to do more to get back in. Her advocate submitted a request for a declaratory decision, despite what JCM 1048 said.

The Council tends to go along with what happens at the annual conference level so it was a moment to rejoice when they clearly ruled in favor of the pastor.

This decision is clear. Conditions set prior to a leave of absence may not be amended by the Cabinet at the end of the leave to prevent a pastor from returning to appointment status. The only way to add new terms is to restart the supervisory process and follow fair process.

Unfortunately, that can be done in conferences where the bishop’s influence over the Board of Ordained Ministry is very strong. After all, most Cabinet members are appointed from the ranks of the BOM. All on the BOM were nominated by the bishop in the first place with no nominations from the floor possible. And all are subject to the appointive power of the bishop so their careers are on the line when Board members balk at what the bishop wants.

This decision points out the separation of powers that the Council perceives to be in effect. In this case, the Council enforced it. Hopefully, it will continue to do so.

The Council is to be commended in this case for the care they took to identify the polity properly and save the Conference from further embarrassment for their treatment of the pastor.

I wish the Council had asked for the Conference to report back on what happened. Frequently, in these kinds of cases, conference leaders find ways to punish the pastor rather than follow up in a reasonable way.

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