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.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

JCM 1177


This is one of those kinds of rulings that drives advocates nuts. Arcane laws disrupt what should be a clear decision. Having done some consulting on this case, I share the advocate’s frustration.

This Philippines case has been brought to the Council three times before on other matters (JCDs 1149, 1152, and 1162).

What the Council does not (or cannot?) say relates to the six items the committee on investigation acknowledged. The committee simply said that those six items identified that someone brought accusations. When it came to the specific items that were the allegations, the committee did not accept them as true and so they dropped the case and did not forward it to trial.

That would ordinarily end the matter. The church may not appeal a decision favorable to the respondent unless egregious errors were made. The Council figured failure to report the committee on investigation’s ruling on the two other charges was worth something. I wish they had specifically remanded the case back to them. By being unclear about that, the advocates and the church were left in limbo.

The college of bishops used a request for a declaratory decision on the legality of the committee on investigation’s failure to forward the charges instead of appealing to the central conference appellate committee, essentially circumventing the Discipline’s block to a church appeal.

Instead of calling the action of the college of bishops an inappropriate way to get around a decision in the judicial process, the Council used their jurisdiction requirements to avoid a decision.

Again, the Council did not call upon anyone to report back to them, though that would have been hard to justify if they felt they had no jurisdiction. And if they had no jurisdiction, they could not really comment in a ruling about the end-run the college of bishops was trying. I wish someone had written a concurring opinion which spelled out in a little more detail some of the problems within this case. But who had time given this busy docket?

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