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 27 - My Biggest Impression of General Conference

When I got to Tampa on Friday, red jacket on and travel case in tow, I went to observe the Superintendency Legislative Committee. They were a little more adept at parliamentary procedure but the tempo was terribly slow, not just for the translators but just to get through the business.

I felt no inspiration to stay so I quietly left the room. At the door outside was a page from overseas, from a country I had some knowledge about. I asked her a few questions and she pointed to the person watching the other door, saying I would get some answers there.

I addressed my questions to the other one guarding the main entrance to the committee room and learned things I had not ever known or considered before. Most of that came when she described her tasks back home for the church. I knew the American church was organized, “To Beat the Devil,” to quote the name of a book on Methodism in the US.

She gave me the title of all the different positions and tasks she had. I recognized the titles but was stunned to realize her third-world country had all the elaboration ours had! She spoke of ecumenical relations which included Catholics and Islamic groups. They are so far ahead of the US, it seemed, than I could have imagined.

My view of the resources, the sophistication, and the range of ministry in countries outside the US changed rather abruptly. When it came to competence, breadth of responsibilities, and insight into the workings of the United Methodist Church, she was far more than a peer. She outclassed me!

Talking with her reminded me of a conversation I’d had with an African delegate following their orientation session Sunday. He argued for the current anti-homosexual stance in the Discipline very cogently. Instead of challenging his understanding, I asked what he did for a living. He said he was a physicist, a scientist running his own business. He was articulate, American-like in assertiveness, and clearly at home in international circumstances.

Again, he was more than a peer. He was multi-talented, globally aware, and could hold his own with anyone I knew.

Those moments shattered any sense of paternalism still operative in my psyche.

Sadly, that aspect of my psyche took that same hit as if I had not already learned it when I had discussions later with other foreign delegates.


I have no idea what that will mean in the long run other than it will probably lead to Regional Conferences, changing the shape and scope of General Conferences in the future. The dominance of the Church in the United States is coming to an end. Even dependence on our financial strength will end as countries like Brazil, Angola, and Korea will be able to step up.

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