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.


Friday, July 25, 2014

JCD 1262



The Desert Southwest Annual Conference passed a resolution, in light of a Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in California.  Because the conference includes part of California, same-gender marriages ought to be conducted in the churches and by the pastors of the annual conference.  When the resolution was challenged, the bishop ruled that it was aspirational and therefore legal under church law.  See the full text of the resolution in the body of the JCD.

The matter came before the Judicial Council.  It disagreed in part (in large part!) with the bishop, acknowledging that the opening of the resolution was indeed aspirational, but that the resolution further called for not following church law in order to hold same-gender marriages.  They quoted from JCD 1111:

“An annual conference may not negate, ignore, or violate provisions of the Discipline with which they disagree, even when the disagreements are based on conscientious objections to the provisions.”

This decision reflects the changing values occurring in the denomination but accentuates the difference between church law and the changes that are coming.

The church, which is allowed freedom under the separation of church and state, is not required to follow civil law.  Church law may prevent gay marriage within its own denomination, including making it contrary to church law for its pastors to be conducting such ceremonies.  When United Methodist pastors have violated that law, and it has become public, those pastors have faced sanctions by the church, mainly through church trials.  As time has gone on, the guilt has been found but the punishments have varied from forcing pastors to withdraw to brief suspensions or community service (see JCD 1215).  

So in practice, resolutions of the sort passed in Desert Southwest are in violation of church law and serve no direct function.  Indirectly, they show the growing will of the coming generation to overturn church law and they aggravate those who feel current church law is legitimate.  The Judicial Council is the arbiter of which side wins in this confrontation.  They okay resolutions that aspire to changing church law but they do not allow calls for violating church law.  

This pattern will be repeated until church law changes, unlikely at the 2016 General Conference.  

When an argument cannot be settled but ends up in a circular pattern, that usually means that is not the real argument but is symptomatic of another problem.  On the surface, that would appear to be how each side views the priority of Scripture (only) versus Experience, Reason (science), and Scripture.  (Tradition is claimed by one side but that is a whole other argument.)  Unfortunately, the Judicial Council cannot resolve that conflict, even if it wanted to.  The resolution of that issue in the Church, similar to those related to things like slavery, women, tobacco and alcohol, divorce, and civil rights, will ultimately work itself out, but outside of the Council.  

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