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 23 - The Committee on Reference

In 1988, I observed at the Committee on Reference. Having sat in on the orientation of the committee led by someone from the Committee on the General Conference, I walked with him as he left after the break, questioning the rules about committee members controlling which petitions would be considered by the legislative committees they represented and that they could also determine the order in which those petitions were to be considered. I asked about the rule which said petitions could be dropped once a petition on that paragraph was accepted by the legislative committee. I pointed out just how manipulative that was. He simply said those were the rules passed by General Conference and he was only explaining them. When I tried to go back in to observe the meeting after their break, I was muscled out of the room. I learned many days later about Paragraph 721 which provides for open meetings with a very few exceptions. They really had no right to remove me. I guess my questions rankled someone, though to my knowledge no one on the committee was aware of them.

I have made it a point to attend as many of their sessions as I can ever since. In 2008, their sessions were the site of my having a kidney stone attack from which I ended up going to the emergency room. Up until that moment in Fort Worth, I had been impressed with the integrity of the group and its leadership. So leaving the committee was okay.

This Monday night in Tampa, I stayed long enough to learn that the person who chaired the committee in 2008 was elected to chair it again in 2012. I felt I did not need to return to observe any of their sessions.

Interestingly, the General Conference rules are much the same as they were in 1988 but I heard nothing like what was said back then.

Until the rules change, and if different people are elected the committee’s officers, that will be the first committee I will observe in the future.

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