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

JCM 1158


Arkansas and Northern Illinois Conferences sought to get the Council to reconsider on its own Decision 1032, the five year old ruling that has caused so much controversy, namely the right of a pastor to have the discretion about whether or not a person is ready for church membership. And you thought it was about a pastor who turned away a gay constituent from joining the church.

As I understand the facts of that old case, the pastor did not refuse the gay man. In fact, they were on very friendly terms. The man chose not to join a denomination that was so strongly against sexual activity between same sex couples.

The issue was that the bishop wanted that discretion over membership and did not want the pastor to have it.

In all my years of ministry, I always thought I had discretion about an applicant’s readiness for membership and even exercised it once with a confirmand. I never expected to have to do it and, with that one exception, I didn’t.

I could go into a long dissertation about how that weakness of discipline has so mixed our denomination that we are becoming more Southern Baptist than Methodist. But not for this review.

So I agreed with JCD 1032 on the basis of the facts and the traditional role of pastors indicated in Paragarphs 214 and 225.

I disagree with the anti-homosexual portions of the Discipline, strongly! But because I view JCD 1032 differently than the bishops and the church media, no one is paying attention to my opinions.

In this memorandum, the Council says the requests do not rise to the standard of a manifest injustice or clear error of law, and were not brought by a party to the original case. They took no jurisdiction.

The really good stuff, other than ignoring what I think the real issue was in the original decision, is in the three concurring opinions. They add humor, history, and mostly good legal thinking and are well worth reading.

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