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

Lobbying - Connecting with Key People

For some of my previous lobbying efforts, I developed lists of 250 delegates to whom I sent by mail general suggestions about how things went and essays on the direction of the church as well as encouragement to vote for my petitions. Most I did not know, though many I did or had been recommended to me by AIA colleagues.

I discovered to my chagrin that even those I knew the best were unable to help my petitions because of the rules of General Conference, especially that once a petition related to a paragraph of the Discipline was passed by a legislative committee, all other petitions related to that same paragraph could be voted non-concurrence without any consideration even if they could have added a different idea. (Rule 31 [2]). And some sat on their hands at crucial points in discussions, leaving my petitions without support.

I figured that for this time, I would let my petitions stand on their own merit and not push any of a dozen or so delegates about any of my petitions. What I did was pick people who knew me pretty well and try to help them with things like the Publix store, how to reach me, how to preserve a petition that didn’t get forwarded to the floor, and any other helpful thing I could do for them. I sent the same materials to staff, reporters, and some friends I knew were coming to Tampa. I copied the notes to the AIA board.

My working list ended up being too short. But word somehow got around and I found a lot of folks in Tampa who somehow got that same information without my help.

I kept them posted of changes and some other things through “Brief notes” by e-mail during the two weeks of General Conference. And I got to see most of them, if only for a few moments.

Of all I sent to them, the one thing that had the most impact was letting them know about the Publix grocery store. It did a booming business while we were there.

Thanks to a $7 purchase at WalMart of a bright red jacket, I could be seen from anywhere in the plenary. That became important when delegates wanted to talk with me or when I sent notes to delegates and had the page point out me in my red coat.

One person with whom I connected is the editor of United Methodist Insight, an on-line publication project providing a wide variety of articles and views of General Conference. She invited me to be one of her contributors and encouraged me to write about what was happening the first week because she was not going to be able to come until the second week.

A friend from Wisconsin who taught at Africa University asked me to make contact with two of its graduates who were coming as delegates. I wasn’t going to do traditional lobbying anyway. So I added that to my agenda and, without my realizing it, it changed what I ended up doing at General Conference.

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