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

JCM 1221



A layperson raised a request at the North Alabama Conference that the Judicial Council review a bishop’s dismissal of a complaint against a superintendent.

At issue was the fact that the Cabinet had failed to consult with a local church
about a number of pastoral changes that had occurred, were angered that the bishop dismissed a complaint against the superintendent who failed to consult with them, and when church members pursued a complaint against the bishop for failing to deal with the lack of consulting, their case against the bishop was also dismissed at the jurisdictional level.

However, unfortunately, the dismissal of charges against the superintendent and bishop were not legislative matters before the annual conference and therefore, since they had been dismissed in the complaint process under the Discipline (P 413), no matter whether or not those dismissals were fair, the request was ruled by the Council to be moot.

There are times I hate church law. This is another of them. It is especially difficult to sort out just how a lay person can seek redress when something unfair happens, especially when the adjudication process is put into the hands of the closest colleagues of the respondent Cabinet officials!

This is one of those situations where the “Pharisee” in church leaders can take over.

The effect of this decision by the Council to be legalistic is to allow Cabinet members to avoid accountability for clear violations of the Discipline. Bishops will feel they can continue to make arbitrary appointments unilaterally. The Council of Bishops will feel it can continue to ignore holding bishops responsible to consult in appointment-making.

Maybe what might be tried is to take the complaint about failure to consult to the Council of Bishops to see what would happen. The Discipline gives them the responsibility to inquire annually about it (P 431.2). The question then becomes, “Where do the complainants go from there if justice is not done?” The Discipline is inadequate so only people of integrity among the bishops can do something about it if the law does not.

In the current administrative culture of the Council of Bishops, it appears taking the easiest way whether it is legal or not and protecting one another are their priorities. Obeying church law is not.

Update: In researching for JCD 1230, I found that the annual conference episcopacy committee is also responsible for implementing the consultation process. See Paragraph 637.3f. That might also work in getting accountability about consultation since JCD 1230 directs such concerns go through the annual conference committee as well as the jurisdictional committee. - No mention of the Council of Bishops....

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