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.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Holy Spirit and the Council of Bishops

Today's Daily UMNS News Summary carries an article about the retreat our bishops are conducting. You can access it at http://www.umcconnections.org/2012/11/02/bishops-to-gather-for-closed-retreat/.

I have posted my opinion a number of times about the Council of Bishops feeling more and more like it is the repository of the Holy Spirit for the United Methodist Church, the mistake that the Roman Catholics made and which led to the Reformation.

It seems fitting that I should respond to the article in an attempt to give others something to think about. Here is what I wrote:

"Your report on the meeting of the Council of Bishops is well done. Your quote of Bishop Wenner that they hope the Holy Spirit will guide them is in physical juxtaposition to the sidebar about the Council’s decision to hold a closed retreat. You can’t even go! So no one outside the Council will be able to be a bearer of the Holy Spirit in their midst. That kind of insularity is frightening to me and part of what is taking them further and further onto the other side of the chasm from their clergy and annual conferences and further into Groupthink. I hope they realize that things like the legislation that was turned down, the Judicial Council’s rulings, the actions of the SC Jurisidiction against Bishop Bledsoe, and critics of the Council may also be expressions of the Holy Spirit.

"The more I think about the bishops’ efforts to build their “Beloved Community,” the more I fear they will ignore the support systems available to them in their respective annual conferences. That’s why there is no Disciplinary requirement for their episcopacy committees to handle complaints. Those groups are to help the bishop in times of need, not be their judges. And rather than seek emotional support from old friends (when he served in Wisconsin, Bishop Ralph Alton and his wife frequently played bridge with lay friends who treated them like real people), they now seek solace with their episcopal brothers and sisters so they inadvertently are not tainted with opinions and ideas coming from wherever the wind blows (John 3:8)."

I sent this comment to a couple bishops I know well. I used a conversational tone in adding to their email note:

" I have a doctrine of the Holy Spirit so I am really a trinitarian! I do not give the Holy Spirit lip service. You may not agree, but I want you to have a chance to hear this for yourself from me.

"I hope you all will pay attention to Rick Rettberg's summary of changes in the Discipline. The bishops should be gathering for continuing education, especially for the rookies. But I really sense that all the other elaboration on the Council of Bishop's role seems to be a serious breach of United Methodist polity. The Council is not a program body (it has become more and more so and for ecumenical purposes, it clearly has a program function). But it has become one in competition with the denomination's own program bodies."

I do not have time right now to go further, though I am anxious to. Maybe this is enough?

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