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.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

JCD 1278



It took awhile for officers of the Philippines Central Conference to get around to sending in all the proper minutes and records related to questions raised about authority of an elections commission.  The process began in 2012.  Fortunately, the bishop’s rulings became law for that Central Conference meeting and elections so the fact that the Judicial Council could not act on it (JCD 1249) until now is not the problem it could have been.

A proposal to have an elections committee to receive nominations and make sure the candidates were qualified was ruled as okay.  What was ruled as not okay was the authority the proposal made that the committee also cull out candidates they did not think should be a nominee.  Also not okay was the requirement that all nominations be made four months before the Central Conference meeting.  Another element that was struck down by the presiding bishop was that the committee could take off from the nominee list any candidate that did not get at least 10 votes on a ballot.  The Judicial Council supported all of the rulings of the bishop.

Someone was bound and determined to have a way of keeping competitors off the list of nominees and of eliminating them by rule.  Fortunately, someone spotted this kind of manipulation, got it before the presiding bishop of the Central Conference meeting, and he saw the violations of the Discipline in a timely fashion so the elections could not be manipulated.

Election of bishops is terribly politicized as it is.  What the Discipline allows in Paragraph 405 is that nominations may come in on the floor at the time of elections and that some nominees who do not do well early in the balloting may do very well toward the end.  While those elements of election may mean a little extra time and money, the intent of the law is to allow the work of the Holy Spirit.  The elections committee could have been authorized to deny the Holy Spirit!  By means of reasonable judicial processes, that was avoided.

The other big story here is that the Council pursued proper documentation from the secretary and presiding bishop and acted only when that material was forthcoming.  It was over a year and a half late.  In this case, the bishop’s rulings were in order and the proposal to set up a bad policy for episcopal elections was nullified before it could cause harm.  

If a bishop fails to rule correctly and if the necessary documents are not sent in in a timely fashion in a future case, I hope the Council will consider nullifying actions taken based on bad rulings pending full documentation.

I can name some cases where they would have been wise to have done just that.

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