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.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I’ve never heard the word “accountable” used so many times with regards to the elite officers of the church. Attention to accountability is desperately needed across the board. Holding bishops, agency and board personnel, and pastors accountable was a big element underlying the 2012 General Conference.

The approach by the Council of bishops dealt with only two of those groups, which is not surprising. And that was what frustrated many at General Conference. Those who are “king of the hill” do not want to have the rules apply to them. Elites are above all that.

Checks and balances have slipped. Separation of powers hardly exists as far as bishops are concerned.

Accountability comes from four key elements: one, clarity of responsibilities; two, boundaries of authority; three, enforcing those; and four, respectful but firm interactions between the bodies..

On the first one, work needs to be done as suggested above in other posts to focus on responsibilities.

On the second, the boundaries of power need to be clear. For example, delegates to jurisdictional and central conferences need to understand the limits on authority to which to hold their bishops and to elect those who will honor them. When expectations are understood, problems tend to diminish.

On the third, in human institutions there are always those who for any of many reasons, may act outside the priorities and/or boundaries. Usually the principle of accountability is to the ones who elected them.

In our system, we have exceptions. Bishops are held accountable mostly by their buddies in the college of bishops (Paragraph 413) and superintendents are held accountable only by the other superintendents (Paragraph 429.3). Superintendents are supposed to hold pastors accountable (Paragraph 421) but they are too busy and rarely even see their pastors and churches (Paragraphs 419.1j, 421, and 422). Without the back-up of superintendents helping hold the laity accountable, clergy killers and antagonists have begun ruling local churches. And pastors’ morale has dropped, especially when the superintendents finally step in and blame the pastors.

On the fourth matter, respect, that kind of belated intervention by superintendents blaming the pastor demonstrates where failure of respect leads to a serious breakdown and much harm.

While we have a Judicial Council which maintains a very high level of respect toward those approaching it, there is sometimes a sad lack of respect for what the Judicial Council rules and problems persist in those conferences who requested the Council's intervention because the decisions of the Council are frequently ignored or circumvented.

For a Church which has a deep tradition of order, we are allowing disorder in our accountability systems and that needs to be corrected.

The starting point may just be with the episcopacy committees and the respective conferences’ interviews with episcopal candidates.

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