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, November 7, 2012

JCD 1215



A Wisconsin Conference pastor was put on trial for two charges, for being a self-avowed practicing homosexual and for conducting a service of union for two gay partners. The trial court found her not guilty of the first charge because it would have required a third party to observe whether or not the “self-avowing” was actually true and not just a political statement. She was found guilty of the second charge, was suspended for twenty days, and instructed as part of the trial court decision to prepare a report exploring the issue of reconciliation among those who disagree over the church’s stance on homosexuality.

The report is worth reading because it shows considerable research and is well written. The entire text is found at http://www.loveontrial.org/pages/covenant.document,pdf/.

The report was presented this June at annual conference. After they accepted her report, church counsel from the trial rose to challenge that action. He presented two questions, one related to the report’s calling for ending discrimination against LGBTQI folks in violation JCD 1111 (no conference may ignore the Discipline even for conscience sake); two, relating to funding a group to work on that project, does that funding constitute promoting homosexuality contrary to P 613.20?

If the respondent in a church trial appeals a decision of the trial court, church counsel then has a chance to argue the case upon appeal. Otherwise, church counsel has no appellate rights except in a case that is handled egregiously (P 2715.10). He chose not to make that kind of challenge, though there are some who wish he had. In my way of thinking, he would have had a hard time proving his case since the pastor was found guilty and the trial court had determined penalties. The Council had been very clear lately that it does not want to overturn the decisions in a church trial (JCD 1094, particularly).

So church counsel chose to raise questions about the report as a way to get a modest kind of review by the Judicial Council.

The bishop responded that the Discipline calls for an end to discrimination so the request in the report for a committee to explore the concern is in order and until the committee assigned with the task has delivered its report in 2013, the first question of the church counsel is hypothetical and need not be answered. The bishop said the second question is also moot and hypothetical because the funding of the study committee enables it to function but does not require a particular answer to how to end possible discrimination.

The Judicial Council concurred. Until the study committee reports next year, the questions asked by the church counsel are hypothetical.

Again, those who feel strongly about homosexuality as contrary to Scripture may see this decision as evading the question. Is any examination of the issue of homosexuality legitimate in the denomination simply because treating any form of study about it is encouraging it? But that issue is long settled in a number of previous Council decisions. Innumerable studies have been supported as within church law.

Those who feel that there is discrimination in the church over homosexuality may be heartened that these kind of studies may legally continue but they know the Council has struck down any actions taken as a result of the studies because they violated the Discipline’s current strictures about homosexuality.

Maybe this Wisconsin effort will find a new path toward reconciling the differences. The United Methodist Church needs help on this divisive issue. Until the General Conference finds a better solution than it has during the past four decades, this conflict will be with us for awhile.

Note: The pastor’s report adds a new wrinkle to the size and shape of the LGBT community. She adds a “Q” and an “I” (LGBTQI). She includes a glossary at the end of her paper. The “Q” represents those who are “questioning” their own sexual orientation and the “I” represents those who are “Intersex” (having both sexual organs at birth – see http://www.isna.org/).

One of the more recent scientific findings is that homosexuality may be a matter of degrees in some people because it is based on the hormones of the birth mother. So, while many gay people are gay by genetics, many are more or less homosexual based on the level of hormones of their mother at their birth. So for many people, their potential confusion over homosexuality may be seen along a spectrum rather than either that they are or they aren’t.

That would underscore the addition of the “Q” to the pastor’s identifying initials of the community.

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