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

Defining Superintending

Through this blog on the 2012 General Conference, I have referred to the refocusing of bishops from “the world” as their parish to that of their own annual conferences.

I contend that superintending needs to be defined so that the primary responsibilities that only they can fulfill will be identified. Perhaps some in general and some in district superintending should be using their gifts and graces in other jobs within the church. Such talent should never be wasted.

But unless there is a focusing of undisciplined enthusiasm, the crucial role of superintending will continue to erode.

A study like that proposed for defining ministry could be expanded or replicated to include the superintending roles. Again, representation at the table should be global.

I contend that this concern rates an extremely high priority if for no other reason than that the Council of Bishops has become a “shadow government,” a parallel organization to the United Methodist Church. On their current trajectory, they will require considerably more staffing in the future and vastly more funding to fulfill their growing number of projects.

While restructuring is worth considering, and many ideas of the bishops have real value, we may find that those with the great program ideas should not be bishops but be executive directors of restructured agencies that keep the best of the current structure and integrate the best ideas from the Council of Bishops.

But to get to that point, the Church must simplify and prioritize the tasks of superintendency and then elect those who are better suited to those tasks, letting current bishops choose which kind of ministry they are best suited to pursue.

Further, removing program responsibilities (Paragraph 424 should be deleted) and finding other accountability options than loading up the leadership of boards and agencies with bishops may be needed to narrow the range of responsibilities taking Cabinets away from their key tasks. As superintendents from all over the world complained to me, they spend too much time on the road going to meetings that have nothing to do with their role of supervising their pastors.

Defining the superintending role and then restructuring need to be considered very soon.

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