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.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summary Remarks for JCDs 1205 – 1211

The group forming the Judicial Council for the past four years showed its poise and maturity during their work in Tampa. They were not caught in controversy between the left and the right wings of the church as the previous Council had. However, they faced off with individual bishops and the whole Council of Bishops many times and sustained their stance that reorganization has to remain within the guidelines provided by the Discipline and could not be “streamlined” in ways that put more power into the hands of the bishops. They did it by playing by the book without prejudice.

The group got better and better at getting full disclosure from the respective parties bringing or contesting referrals to the Council. The General Conference has directed them to post all requests for their rulings on line so that everyone can see what has been docketed and would therefore be in a position to aid the Council get adequate information to do their work. The items docketed for the fall session have all been posted. Now everyone can see just how difficult their work can be, especially when all the facts are not available. Hopefully, the Council will get the benefit of friends of the court making sure all the facts are brought forward.

And the group has become adept at teaching the Church through its decisions and memoranda. Church law scholars and advocates have much more specificity, consistency, and clarity with which to work. Hopefully, bishops will avail themselves of this form of “continuing education” that comes to them in the form of rulings to them twice a year. Their track record has been terrible when it comes to knowing about and following Judicial Council decisions.

This General Conference elected two African legal scholars, thanks to the successful caucusing by the delegates from that continent. The Central Conferences provided other gifted candidates as well so there is an enlarging pool of good church law people watching and learning and helping. That should give good support to the new Council and assure competent candidates for future Councils.

A word of thanks needs to be expressed to the outgoing president of the Council, Rev. Susan Henry Crowe whose quiet, patient and professional leadership brought many newly elected members from 2008 into becoming a fine team, despite many bumps in their road. Thanks to Judge Jon Gray for his enthusiastic service on the Council. Rarely did a significant decision come out to which he did not add insightful concurring or non-concurring opinions.

Finally, the coming four years may lead to some interesting decisions. With three members now coming from overseas, visa and travel problems may mean differing mixes of members and alternates at times. Will they vote along conservative lines? Liberal? Will the overseas members help the Council be less susceptible to manipulation by other overseas parties? Chances are greatest that the Council will tend to be cautious about taking jurisdiction and that they will stick with what the Discipline actually says. I believe their work will continue to be educational as well as judicial.

Now if only the rest of us pay attention and provide insights and information useful to this new Council, the denomination will benefit the most.

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