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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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 28 - The Seminarian

Legislative committees were winding down on Saturday, many having finished handling the petitions assigned to them. I was late getting to Tampa and had two appointments, one at lunch with the seminarian and the other at suppertime with a one of the translators who wanted to discuss pension rights with me.

The seminarian was surprised I was not a lawyer. She expected that because of the kinds of petitions I had written for this year’s General Conference. She asked about how I got started in advocacy, the association of which I’m a part, and how I came to write so many petitions. My answers satisfied her and what she said she needed for her report to the class.

I asked how it was she was interested in my petitions. I learned that someone close to her had been poorly treated and she had been old enough to understand how the Church had operated and how that differed from her reading of the Discipline. She hoped she would be able to help somehow to improve how personnel were handled in the Church.

Then she addressed another concern she and the rest of the students were watching closely, the possible end to guaranteed appointments.

“That was written in 1956 to protect women clergy,” she said.

I did not remember that from seminary which was just a couple years later. I thought it related to the age old Methodist practice of “A church for every pastor and a pastor for every church.” I found out later that she was right.

“Frankly, as one of my classmates put it, we’re really scared. The male candidates who are Caucasian will have fewer problems. It’s we women and ethnics that are most likely to be on the list to be left without appointment,” she said.

I offered that Cabinets are under obligation to the Discipline to include women and ethnics on an equal basis and have been assured by superintendents I know that such prejudice would not be the case.

She said her class has been meeting with superintendents and has become aware that Cabinets have lists on which they prioritize the pastors in the order of their progression for appointments. The top ones are in the “A” section. Women and ethnics are in the “Z” section.

“But you still want to serve in our denomination?” I asked.

“I was born and raised a United Methodist. I cannot imagine serving in another faith, though many of my classmates are actually aiming to do that,” she said.

She packed up her notes and papers, offered a sad smile, and headed out to write up her assignment. She stopped, turned, and thanked me for the interview and conversation.

I told her I hoped she and her classmates were having a good experience and I wished her well.

Now I was scared for that whole generation of future clergy.

Update: Not only did the removal of the guaranteed appointment occur but the General Conference did not ease the requirements to become clergy. In 2008, young pastors and seminarians came to General Conference wearing artfully designed caps that looked like spotted owls. Their caps brought to the session’s attention problems young seminarians faced. Maybe the spotted owl device should have been tried again. Even the African caucus could not bring about the desired change in 2012.

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