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.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

JCD 1212



This matter was deferred from the spring session by JCM 1209. I repeat the summary of the case from my comments on it posted last May.

For years, attendance at annual conference sessions has usually been around sixty percent laity and forty percent clergy. The formula for trying to balance membership between the two has been one lay person for every clergy member. As clergy have lived longer and had resulting health problems which interfere with their attendance, the percentage of laity present at annual conferences has risen.

A petition removing those elderly and infirm pastors had three arguments against counting them toward the balance formula. Clergy have no alternates who may attend in their place if they cannot come; those infirm pastors are still counted toward the balance even though they don’t attend; and the extra lay members add to the cost of annual conferences. This item was quite thoroughly discussed in plenary on Thursday, May 3, the day before the end of General Conference (pages 2730 – 2732) and was passed.

At the beginning of Thursday’s evening session (p. 2737), a motion was made with no discussion to refer the action on this matter to the Judicial Council and it passed nearly unanimously.

But the Council was busy sorting through the very long and involved decision they needed to make about denominational reorganization as well as the matter they were working on for JCD 1208 so they deferred this item to this fall’s session.

When they took up the issue in this fall session, the Council found two other places in the Discipline that relate to the balance between clergy and laity. Neither entered the discussion on the floor but they may have been a part of the discussion in the legislative committee. The request for referral to the Council was made based on the first of the two, P 32 of the constitution. Neither P 32 nor P 334.5 provide for clergy to give up voting rights. They would both have to be changed as well as P 604, subject of the request for a ruling.

There are two parliamentary implications and one of a political nature to this decision.

Parliamentarily speaking, first, the original petition came from an individual and such petitions will not take up the time of the General Conference in the future, thanks to the passing of a petition eliminating an individual’s right to petition. Second, the Disciplinary rule restricting petitions to only one paragraph (P 507.2) needs to be revised to encourage searching for other relevant passages, not just parallel ones.

The political implication is that laity will eventually dominate annual conferences because they will eventually get smart and realize they do not have to take the bishop’s or a big church pastor’s word about what is in the best interest of the laity and conference. They will realize their power and utilize it.

As respect for authority continues to diminish in our culture and church officials are seen to be human and not divine, the laity will become the voice of the conference. Church leaders who love to dominate will think the blind are leading the blind since they will no longer have control! I’m thinking the Holy Spirit will return to where it belongs in the life of the United Methodist Church, out of the Council of Bishops and back into the annual conferences.

Sometimes little “side issue” decisions of the Judicial Council could change the life of the Church.

No comments: