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

General Conference Is a Big Deal

Many that I know from my work as an advocate are really skeptical that everything institutional in the United Methodist Church is at best a show and at worst a cynical distribution of power and money to the elite with no thought to the mission or the saints (most local church people) of the Church. Our experience seeing the underside of the denomination gives my friends solid grounds to be skeptical.

I am inches away from their skepticism and would disregard General Conference myself for the same reasons except for one thing. I met a saint in 1984, my first General Conference as a lobbyist for church people in trouble with church leaders. His name is Richard Wright, then a superintendent from West Virginia. He encouraged me to keep on with what I was doing. But he suggested I consider working on more positive things like writing about better ways to do things, like being more supportive of those trying to do things right, like discussing responsibilities along with rights of pastors.

By the way, Rev. Wright is alive and well in retirement, a delegate from West Virginia told me.

Every General Conference since then, I have met some other remarkable people whose very existence keeps me from despair.

The big deal about General Conference is that there are a lot of those kinds of folks and they are meeting each other! Somehow, annual conferences elect not only the ambitious and cynical who know how to game the system but some real caring, insightful, capable people.

And I knew this General Conference was going to be big because I would have a chance to meet some of those kinds of people from outside the United States.

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