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 25 - Dr. Chomingwen Pond

I have to break my rule about names. Just as Iva Joyce Hill is a church saint likely to be left untouched by those powers that distrust me (“I’m not really paranoid. It’s the paranoids who are out to get me.” – from a 1970s’ poster), so is the Rev. Dr. Chomingwen Pond one of those kinds of saints.

Chomee entered the Wisconsin Conference the year I was ordained Elder, a status she achieved two years later as the first woman so ordained in what was then the East Wisconsin Conference. Although women had been licensed Local Pastors for many years, she was the first to be a member of the conference with the right to vote. She earned a PhD and taught theology at Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, OH.

A missionary at heart, she served in the inner city of Milwaukee, a native American community in northern Wisconsin, and in Africa. Among her African assignments was teaching at the then newly formed Africa University.

It was she who asked me to befriend the two she knew through Africa University.

Her presence in Florida at the time of General Conference was unfortunate because her brother who lived just north of Tampa passed away and she came down for a memorial service for him. Despite that circumstance, she asked to have a chance to meet the former students and I gladly helped.

My GPS took me up crowded Highway 19 that Wednesday afternoon. I vowed to check maps from now on!

We got back to Tampa by a much quicker route. To accommodate for her arthritis, we found a wheel chair for her at the Convention Center. She kindly took my travel case in her lap and away we went. We avoided legislative committees because those rooms were already crowded. We spent part of the afternoon cruising the display area. She spoke at length with people working on inter-cultural ministries, particularly with Native Americans. She also was delighted to meet the son of one of her former co-workers and discussed United Methodist Development Fund and other GBGM projects with him and other staff.

By then it was time to meet her two friends down in my “office.”

One was unable to join us because of meetings he had to attend as delegation head, credentials committee, etc. The other was there and gave us the rest of his afternoon discussing with Chomee and me his life and ministry. It was obvious from his description of his conference that Africa University had a great impact.

The three of us went to supper and it was his turn to press us for information on various issues before the General Conference. He asked great, incisive questions and pushed us to document our information. Chomee was so proud and I was tremendously impressed. I added him to my list those who will be known as saints of the whole Church soon. (Both of them will be embarrassed with my opinion of them.)

We finished supper in time to head back to catch some of the presentation of “The Call to Action” that was intended to open the discussion of this major proposal coming from the Council of Bishops, the inter-board coordinating agency (the name of which changes quadrennium to quadrennium) and a third caucus, pastors of the mega-churches.

Rather than simply making a motion on the floor to consider the legislative committee report on “The Call to Action,” the gathering was turned into a professionally produced PR program with speeches, multi-media presentations, special lighting effects, and a quasi-worship atmosphere.

Chomee and I looked at each other after about ten minutes of this nonsense, feeling the mega-church pastors had been used, and knew it was time to leave before we either broke out laughing or started making snarky remarks. Chomee never makes snarky remarks.

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