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

JCM 1217



A counsel for the respondent in a case from California-Pacific Conference requested an urgent ruling on whether the respondent was due compensation during appeal. The Western Jurisdiction, which had not elected a committee on appeals, turned the request over to the committee which was elected in 2004, whose chairperson refused jurisdiction before the urgent request could be argued. The counsel then forwarded his request to the Judicial Council to get them to urge the jurisdictional committee to hear the request and consider it.

The Council also refused jurisdiction and supported the jurisdictional appellate committee chairperson’s right to refuse authority to make a decision.

The Disciplinary issue behind this request is the problem of which paragraphs to take as having priority.

Is the Conference obligated to help a pastor found guilty by a trial court by providing pastoral support during appeal as seems clear from reading P 2701 (“The judicial process terminates at the end of any appeal or right of appeal.”) and P 2403.3c (“…the bishop may suspend the person from all clergy responsibilities pending the outcome of the judicial process”)?

Is the right to pastoral support terminated by the trial court’s finding of guilty as stated in P 2711.3 (“The penalty fixed by the trial court shall take effect immediately unless otherwise indicated by the trial court.”)?

The Council’s decision says that this question, while it clearly shows a difference between the two passages on one side and the passage on the other, is not properly before them or before the appeals committee of the jurisdiction. The ruling is that the question should have been raised with the trial court presider and trial court itself at the time of the trial.

The Council said further that it will not enter into a legislative decision, choosing between the disparate passages, but urged referral of this matter to the General Conference to sort it out through the legislative process.

Meanwhile, the even though the trial court’s decision was mixed like the case in Wisconsin (JCD 1215), the pastor is left on his own with no means of support to be able to afford to appeal, let alone to survive. Something is wrong with this picture.

Note: In a case I worked on, this issue was said to be resolved by a member of the Judicial Council who asserted the priority of P 2711.3. The Council refused to deal with my objections at the time. The counsel in this case is well known to me as one of the most astute advocates for clergy in the denomination. But neither of us thought to consider that part of P 2711.3 which says “unless otherwise indicated by the trial court.”

This is why church law drives many of us crazy. It is a mix of church and civil court practice not always clear in how it is handled.

At least now there is a precedent which directs advocates to the place to raise this issue. In this case, the trial court would have had to face the two alternatives the Discipline provides. It could have deferred to the General Conference as the Council has done here. Or it could have made a decision based on the mixed results of the trial it had just concluded.

Hopefully, advocates will learn from this.

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