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.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

JCD 1188


The Rocky Mountain Conference case deferred in November 2010 (JCM 1169) was taken up. The questions of law related to his right of trial and the bishop’s right to end his right to trial. The bishop said the questions were moot and hypothetical.

The Council did not agree with the bishop. It said, “The questions presented were not moot and hypothetical; they were relevant but improper as questions of law to a Bishop.”

The Council stuck by its view that separation of powers prevents the bishop from dealing with such questions. I have argued a contrary position to that in my comments on JCDs 799 and JCMs 1130, 1145, 1153, and 1166.

The bishop is in a position, especially under the Discipline's Paragraph 415.3, to “ensure” fair process.

For true separation of powers, the episcopal office should not be involved in the nomination of the officers for the judicial and administrative committees and boards. S/he should not have the authority to determine whether a complaint goes judicial or administrative. The Cabinet members should not have the authority to place complaints on behalf of others. The Cabinet should not pick the trial court pool. The bishop should not pick the trial court presiding bishop. But the bishop is given all of those judicial responsibilities by the Discipline. Therefore, the bishop should have to take responsibility when the fair process systems break down and answer questions of law about them in order to get them reviewed by an outside entity with power to uphold church law.

As it is now, people who do the supervisory meetings, and hold the hearings for involuntary leave of absence, and other involuntary options in the administrative track tend to do as they please . . . or as the bishop allows . . . or as the bishop wants. Only if the bishop insists on careful following of fair process can harm be minimized to the respondents, complainants, churches, conference morale, and leadership credibility, as the Council has pointed out in JCDs 777 and 1156.

Bishops will get away with whatever they can get away with because the Council does not accept jurisdiction for questions of law challenges and requests for declaratory decisions (with a few exceptions).

The theory of separation of powers is great, except it is only applied to the back end of the administrative and judicial processes instead of the beginning.

With all the amateurs we have trying to do church law, no matter what the Council rules, there will continue to be attempts to get the conference leaders to follow the Discipline by the asking of questions of law and making requests for declaratory decisions.

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