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.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

AIA thoughts

Dear Bishop,

When I entered ministry in the early 1960s, I recall superintendents saying in meetings that they had two files on their district’s pastors.  One was the personnel file with all permanent records.  The other was their notes, church newsletters, miscellaneous correspondence, and so forth that they kept to keep track of agreements and promises that would help them in their work with us.  All three under whom I served made it clear that they emptied out that second file when they left the district so that the new DS and pastor would have a clean slate. 

Then, some years later as I was working with Associates in Advocacy, I began to hear that the DS’s file was being used to do two major things.  One was to hide complaints from pastors who were being removed from office.  The other was to carry over old complaints and observations about the pastor so that all DSs who were to have them in their districts and in fact the whole Cabinet would have access to them.  And those aging notes became fishing grounds whenever a particular DS or bishop didn’t like the pastor, sometimes for reasons unrelated to the pastor’s competence and effectiveness.  And the Discipline blocked pastors from ever seeing them. 

That kind of blocking was addressed, I thought, in federal legislation like EEOC, FOIA, OSHA, and HIPAA.  The way I read them at the time, it was illegal for secular employers to block employees from seeing their personnel and supervisory files and having the right to annotate or correct them. You may be old enough to remember getting a letter on this subject from me back then. Unfortunately, my interpretation was not ever accepted.  And files have been kept secret and misused against pastors ever since. 

Attempting to renew my previous learning about personnel law led me to a recent article that I want to draw to your attention.  It is worth your time and consideration:

Whatever the law may be, there must be a wise way to deal with supervisory files and not in ways that cover Cabinet errors or harm pastors.



“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”