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.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

JCD 1286



At the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, members of the Board of Ordained Ministry included several pastors who were reported to be willing to do same sex marriages.  Someone raised a question of law based on his reading of JCD 980 that those pastors unwilling to obey the Discipline on that matter should not be allowed to be on the Board.

The bishop offered the opinion that JCD 980 related to judicial processes and not to nomination processes, though he suggested that those in disagreement with the Discipline on same sex issues should consider not accepting nomination to groups where their opinion might not lead to following the group’s disciplinary responsibilities.  He added that nominations cannot be arbitrarily limited.

Remember that the members of the Council giving JCD 980 strongly leaned against same sex issues.  The current Council has to be ready with legal arguments fully weighted to give rulings that legitimately change those precedents,

This docket item was not such a case. 

There were several problems with this case.  There were no elections or other actions of the conference to which to tie the request for a ruling.  That made the questions hypothetical.  

Further, the Council points out, the question was based on reports of previously held opinions of people on the Board.  This is as close to  the Council considering a matter being based on hearsay as any decision of which I am aware.  The Council rejected the questioner’s use of such a basis for his questions.  

Finally, the Council said none of the people in question was under complaint for any action and could not be put under complaint for something they had not yet done.  That made the request hypothetical as well.

The bishop also was chastised on two points: One, he should have recognized the questions as hypothetical and so ruled.  Second, his response to the questions bore the weight of law for his conference and if upheld by the Council, it would be the law  of the church, and not just an opinion.

Under stress of time and not being present at the annual conference session led the Council to again be short with a bishop caught in the dynamics of the annual conference (see JCD 1284 above).  The tone of the questioner was “bold” (I’d say he was angry and even defiant) so the bishop, following the universal rule of lowering the “temperature” when there was a confrontation, chose to soften his response to be pastoral and parliamentary.  And seeking to avoid the appearance of disrespecting the questioner, the bishop sought to provide a reasonable answer.

Previous Councils dismissed many questions as moot and hypothetical without explanation and refused jurisdiction.  This Council noted the procedure for submitting a question of law had been followed, and when the bishop ruled, the conference was asked to vote the question and rulings to be reviewed by the Council.  

My fussing about some concern or other with Council actions should be considered as relatively minor compared to the Council’s usual patience and clarifications in decisions like this one.

No comments: