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

April 22 - The Orientation Session

By the time the session started Sunday afternoon, all the tables in the room were crowded with delegates and others who had different colored name tags. The people at the table with me wore blue ones which I quickly learned designated translators. They were also getting oriented so they would be more effective when they worked in the legislative committees or in the plenary.

Unfortunately, the delegates appeared not to be getting translating during the first part of the orientation. The introductions, the worship, and some information about some of the issues were all in English. The translators were all at the tables in the back where I was and there wasn’t anyone in the interpreters’ booths. The leaders up front soldiered on with good UM stuff and the delegates were all polite enough not to look inattentive.

At the break, ear phones came out and interpreters filled the booths behind me.

Among other bits of information passed along, the delegates learned that the UM church world wide is 58% women and that only 33% of the delegates were women, The world median age for United Methodists is 26 but in the United States it is 57. Delegates were encouraged to speak up during General Conference. They were to use only the “holy handshake” and avoid any other kind of personal contact (no hugging, touching, commenting on clothing). Respect was to be shown to each other.

The delegates were then broken up into language groups, the French and Swahili groups were huge. The Portuguese was very large. The rest were much smaller. Each went to separate rooms. I decided not to go with any of them but went to see if I could register and get a colored name tag. I left a voice mail message for my African friend about what I was doing and when I would be back to the hotel.

At one of the tables on the first floor of the convention center, I saw a delegate I knew from several prior General Conferences. We talked about my petitions and about his experience as a superintendent. One of the most interesting stories he shared was about a fellow Cabinet member who shut down a church for six months. He said the pastor, a part-time Local Pastor with his own job and home, was okay with it. The congregation was too. The ones who couldn’t handle it were a clique of antagonists. They joined another church after about six weeks. When the congregation resumed, the antagonists did not come back and the church did just fine after that.

Registration was not open so I returned to the hotel without a name tag, looking for my friend. There was no answer to his phone at all, this time, not even a chance to leave a voice mail. Upstairs in the ball room, everyone had reconvened there for supper. One of the translators invited me to stay so I did.

At the table were one of the marshals and one of the pages whom I knew well from other times and places.

Having been up early that morning to make the 100 mile drive to Tampa and facing the return trip, I headed out after trying one more time to call my friend’s room, again leaving a voice mail about being back in the morning and attending the continuing orientation.

There would be no blogging tonight. I was very tired.

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