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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: August 16, 2011 06:24AM

Clive

I am not sure "the latigos" read this forum. I think you would be better to address any comments to the email address on the latigo site.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: August 16, 2011 08:43AM

Quote from Clive :
And NO - I repeat I am no SMC sympathiser, but get honestly, this Latigo site really does not paint our concerns and grievances here in a good light



Can I invite you Clive to resist the temptation to speak for other people.

If you mean the Latigo site does not paint YOUR concerns and grievances here in a good light (whatever that actually means) you are free to say that and other contributors here can either agree or disagree with you. Your use of the word "our" is inappropriate. Your views expressed here are in no way what I as a contributor to this forum feel, so please don't suggest there is a common view.

Perhaps you should speak for yourself and by that avoid the danger you see in others of sounding pompous.

Your recent private e-mails to a number of the contributors to this forum have possibly not given you the answers you wanted. Nevertheless my suggestion to you would be to stop trying to interfere with what people what to say here, on Latigo, or anywhere else and let the information that is out there help whoever it can.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chris19 ()
Date: August 16, 2011 06:15PM

Hi

As an escapee of Stuthers, from time to time I would check out their website and marvel that in the years since I left, the sermons ( I could only bear to listen to a few minutes) had not really changed. Still the same call to introspect and uncover hidden idols and unworthiness etc. It came as a bit of a surprise to find this site and although I haven't read all of the posts, I can identify with many of the things which have been said. I don't want to repeat stuff but thought I would offer the following comments

There seems to be some hurt and frustration that only a chosen few are picked out by the leadership and that they get preferential treatment. Those to whom the leaders are not drawn are just left to get on with it despite all their best endeavours. I don't disagree with this but want to offer a different perspective. I was one of those singled out. It was flattering and for a time I did seem to benefit spiritually from greater access to the leaders. However with this came greater demands. My life became completely transparent to them. Although I had little life outwith the church anything I did do had to be reported to them. If you think it's bad sitting in the congregation listening to a condemnation sermon just be glad you didn't have it on a one to one regular basis! By the time I was told by the leadership that God had destined me to a single life I was in SMC hook line and sinker. I wanted to honour God and be obedient but at the same time I didn't agree with what I was told. Over the course of several years I tried to leave several times. My absences were always followed up and pressure bought to bear. I was told that I would miss God's plan for my life and I would always feel what I had snatched (ie marriage and kids) would be second best. Most times I caved in quickly, repented and rejoined the fold, only to be sucked in even deeper. Looking back I know my reservations did not go away - I just tried not to listen to them because I genuinely and passionately loved God and wanted to serve Him. On one occasion I lasted several weeks before returning which had to be marked by me repenting in testimony form by acknowledging the error of my ways (although I didn't have to give the specifics). Ultimately I left not because of the leaders but because I realised I wanted a fuller life. By this point I was estranged from my family and had few "normal" friends. Worst of all as others have also said, by leaving I felt I was turning my back on God. I didn't cross the threshold of a church for years because I felt I had disobeyed God. Happily I now an active member in a God-centred rather than Leader-centred church. Those to whom the leaders are drawn should not be the envy of others - they should be pitied. In my case, demands and sacrifices were made which, in retrospect were not of God and as a result it took me years to recover.

Over a decade after I left I requested a meeting with one of the leaders and unlike the experience of some others, this was granted. After a bit of small talk I broached the subject of how damaged I felt as a result of some of my experiences in SMC. Whether the surprise I witnessed was genuine or feigned I don't know. I was told that they thought they had been acting in my interests. I wasn't met with hostility or anger just an incapacity to really hear what I was saying. It was then suggested we pray together. Their prayer contained the words "if by my actions I have caused hurt then I regret this but God You know this was never my intention". I suppose I should be grateful to have had this acknowledgment but I was furious at the lack of resonsibility taken- I had just spent 10 mins or so detailing the negative ways in which their actions had affected me - as far as I was concerned there was no "if" about it. I realised at this point that there was nothing they could do or say which would ever suffice.

I know there are some wonderful people in SMC who have a deep faith. Despite my experiences I don't think the leadership deliberately set out to harm their flock. But as they have been immersed in rigid teaching for decades it is all they know and if it has been helpful to them, then they want others to come to the same place. Lack or tolerance and flexibility have always been issues though it sounds from some of the postings that this has become worse in recent years. In place of fearful introspection I now have joy in my life and that is a real gift from God.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 17, 2011 12:23AM

Quote
Chesterk55
Quote from Clive :
And NO - I repeat I am no SMC sympathiser, but get honestly, this Latigo site really does not paint our concerns and grievances here in a good light

Can I invite you Clive to resist the temptation to speak for other people.

Fair comment - i am happy to retract the above and speak for myself only. But you do get the point dont you ?

An as for the other suggesting latigo web creators dont view or post here, well sure, if your'e dealing in the land of the "possible" instead of the
"probable" of course its posible they never view or post here, but i think its highly likely they do!.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: August 18, 2011 08:04PM

Hi Chris19, welcome to the forum.

I am really interested in some of the info you have provided, especially that the leaders of Struthers did agree to meet with you when they have refused to meet with others. It seems to me this is yet another example of a refusal to attempt to provide any consistency of approach. Any other organisation would be striving to identify best practice and make sure it was applied by all leaders. What is their position – do they think that meeting with ex-members is OK or isn’t it? I suspect there will be many who, like me, are really hurt buy the fact that others were good enough to be allowed a meeting, but I was not. How can they treat people with such contempt?

I also wonder what made the difference – was it perhaps that others including me “used the wrong words” or “asked the question the wrong way” (in the eyes of the leadership)? Is that how Jesus dealt with people, only speaking to the woman at the well because she asked the right question, eating with Pharisees and sinners if they produced a nicely worded invitation or encouraging young children to approach because they used the right words?

What nonsense. Jesus was known to mix with everyone. He did not require conformity before He would engage with people. I cannot understand why the leaders in Struthers will not still meet with sincere people whom they have damaged. Seriously, if Struthers does require a particular set of set of words before they meet with people, they could perhaps publish a form on their website so that we can all see the requirements.

Leaving that rather technical point aside, I think your testimony has a great deal of insight into the way the organisation works. It is interesting that, even when you spoke to them, they could not admit they were wrong, and even more interesting that they showed (feigned or sincere) surprise.

I guess genuine surprise might be excusable if it was the only example of someone being hurt, but the testimonies on this forum now make it clear that there are many people in a similar position. I cannot believe that they could now pretend surprise at anyone explaining how they have been hurt by the approach taken by the leaders. Seems to me the situation they are now in is a bit like someone who has never seen a gun before who picks one up and accidentally injures someone. OK, that was an accident. If they then do it a second time, knowing the damage that was caused, it is much harder to believe it is an accident. If they go on to do it 24 different times, no-one on the planet would believe it was an accident every time.

On page 23 of this forum, ChesterK55 provided a useful summary of the issues that had been raised at that point. In that summary, (perhaps worth reading if you are new to the forum) he said that 21 people had come forward with similar concerns about SMC. Since then, there have been 3 new contributors, which makes a total of 24 people who have come forward since August 2010 testifying to some sore of hurt, trauma or damage at the hands of the Struthers leadership. It is very hard to believe that anyone could now be surprised at someone saying they have been hurt by Struthers.

So, they could possibly in the past have argue they were ignorant of the consequences of their actions, and I might than have been able to agree with your statement that, “I don't think the leadership deliberately set out to harm their flock”, but, whether it was true or not in the past, it is clearly no longer the case. They now know beyond any doubt that their actions have caused extensive hurt to sincere and committed Christians. If they continue to act in the same ways, they can no longer plead ignorance, but are, quite deliberately, acting in ways they know will harm their flock.

As I said in an earlier post, “The only honest and decent response I can see is, ‘good grief – I never realised that we had caused so much hurt – we will have to do something about this’ ”.

I look forward to hearing that response from the leaders - but I won't hold my breath!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Archbishop Laud ()
Date: August 21, 2011 01:35AM

Hello again. Some very interesting new posts. Can I make a couple of points:

First, I am very uncomfortable indeed with the attacks on Latigo. It strikes me as a well-informed and useful website, one which clearly involves a great deal of thoughtful labour. Erroneous and pointless (not to mention, badly-spelled!) potshots at it are totally incongruous with what I take to be the spirit and purpose of this forum.

Second, and this is my main point, I like others was hoping and praying for an official SMC response, some acknowledgement, even one miserable post...but no. Nothing. It seems clear now that the SMC leaders lack either the humility, the decency, the courage, or something else, to respond publicly to what is now a significant public body of very serious charges. This is not acceptable in any organisation; it is unconscionable in a Christian church.

So, if this website (and Latigo) are not going to shift things perhaps we need to adopt a rather more proactiive stance? Perhaps in addition to sharing thoughts with other exiles here, we need to take practical steps to rescue some current victims...Maybe we need to send a spiritual SAS squad undercover, right into their territory...But now I am getting carried away...

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Grace-girl ()
Date: August 21, 2011 04:59AM

Hi all, i have recently left struthers,i was in one of the outlying branches and i have to say that the people there are kind and loving,and nt like the leaders being described in this forum. I do have issues with the main leadership in the west thou,which is one of the reasons i left the smc movment! I have had experience of feeling inadaquet and not part of the "in crowd" i was in smc for over 20 years. Although God blessed me greatly during my time in smc, i always felt i never quite made the grade! I am now looking to where God will take me in my walk with Him,although i do still have to deal with the fact i have no friends outside struthers and will have to almost try to rebuild my life!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chris19 ()
Date: August 22, 2011 05:51AM

Hi Grace-girl.

It must have taken a lot of courage to leave SMC after investing in it for 20years. Giving up the known for the unkown can be scary and often stops people from changing their circumstances. I am glad this wasn't the case for you despite realising some of the costs which would be involved. I can idenify with having to rebuild life after leaving - I found it tough but I can honestly say that I have never regreted making the move. For a while life felt a bit empty as my normal routine of 5 meetings a week disappeared. People who I would have counted as good friends never made any attempt to contact me which I found disappointing though not surprising.

One of the biggest surprises for me has been finding a church where fun and fellowship are positively encouraged and where the leaders lead with a light touch rather than with a hand of censure. We all need to feel that we are a useful and valued member of the body of Christ not just an inadequate onlooker or a spare part. An exciting new chapter in your Christian life has now opened and I pray that you will find a new and supportive Christian community soon.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: August 22, 2011 06:57PM

Hi Grace-girl, and welcome to the forum. Like Chris19, I found it quite tough when I left. In my case, it was largely because I kept thinking, “is it me?” I found it difficult to attend church for many years but, as I drifted back to a new church I found good sincere friends who were genuine and wholesome, and were prepared to justify their actions, not lord it over others and hide their head in the sand.

I must say I have also more recently found this forum – and Latigo – a great help. Even after over 20 years, I still had that question – “is it just me” and, although I had good friends, they had not been in struthers and so tended to just dismiss it all as totally bad, which didn’t always help. As a result, I have found this forum really helpful for me personally - as everyone might have gathered by the number of posts I make (sorry about that!) I have no doubt you will find your own way through the journey and will discover wonderful new friends and experiences.

I take your point about the outlying branches. I know there are a lot of good people in struthers, and not all would condone the abuse that goes on. I guess my point would however be that, “for evil to abound, all it takes is good men (sic) to do nothing.” If anyone in struthers recognises the issues, and does nothing, they are allowing it to continue. That might have been OK when no-one realised the extent of the problem, but, as Archbishop Laud said, to not respond now is “unconscionable” – great word, and totally sums it up for me.

Seems to me this applies to everyone, no matter what their influence. Take for example anon201062 who said, on page 2 of this forum,

Quote
anon201062
For one every critic of the leadership of struthers I could produce easily and willingly 50 who would be able to tell how the guidance of the leaders has helped them to break them free, find god, heal them.

...


I am not wanting to be horrible about it but the above paragraph (2 above) from yourself is basically untrue... I suggest before putting criticisms in you make sure they are true.

Well, we now have 24 people (oops, sorry – 25 – it is hard to keep up!) who have been critical of the leadership on this fourm alone. So anon201062, can you produce 1,250 people (four times the entire membership of the movement) who will testify in this way? If not, you must surely explain that you were mistaken and have changed your position. Is that not the honest thing to do? Are you willing to take your own advice to make sure things are true before you post them?

I repeat: “To not respond to these issues is unconscionable.”

I think that applies to everyone – the central leaders most of all, but also the outlying leaders and the members of the congregation, including anon201062. “I was only following orders” is the oldest and possibly the worst excuse in the book. We all have an individual responsibility before God, and we cannot avoid that by saying, “but these people said…” Do the individuals in struthers value honest and integrity or would they rather have a cover-up? I guess it is up to each person to answer that for themselves.

Oh, and by the way, the only excuse the leaders could have offered for refusing to answer is that they are far too busy “following their calling” and doing spiritual things. Fortunately, Jesus hit that one on the head with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: August 23, 2011 08:45AM

Hi Chris19

And thank you for your story which (29 pages into this forum) is a new angle on what Struthers do to people. The obsession with controlling people is twisted scripture and wrong. Then to threaten those who resist that they will never again find “God's highest way” is just sinister manipulation. The last thing it will bring people into is freedom.

But the worst part of your story is how they can sit and appear to be listening to you but then dismiss your pain completely. In that many of us seem to be testifying to the same thing. They are not listening. They are just waiting for us to stop talking so they can try to crush us with their never varying take on how we must be the ones at fault as nothing they ever do could possibly be wrong.

How did they end up here? When did it become impossible for them to listen and hear with their ears and understand? As The Petitor says: how can they continue to pretend that they have no idea how much they are hurting people? And no idea how many people they have hurt? Many of us have told them this in detail before we left, and this has been going on for years. It seems each one of us they mentally dismiss as a failure and move on to the next selected person trying the same failing approaches to control and clone people into their image. No question or pause to see if that is what God wants. No check to see what the bible says. No accountability to anyone. If you complain who decides if it is legitimate? They do themselves! And the very fact you are complaining shows how unspiritual you are. If they are criticised it is spoken of as “opposition” and proof they are doing God's work.

This is delusional, self serving, shameful Pharisaical nonsense.

Thank you for speaking up and sharing your experience. I think it will be very helpful to a lot of people inside and outside Struthers. Like you I thank God daily that He brought me out to a healthy and real faith with the support and guidance of people who actually know what they are doing.


And welcome to the forum too Grace-girl.

Chris19 is so right. There is a life beyond SMC and there are so many healthy churches out there where qualified and trained people will help you become who you were always meant to be in God. Struthers pretends that is their goal but they leave most people in the pew literally for decades to sit and listen while they and their favourite daughters (mostly) drone on. As far as I know not one Struthers leader has ever attended a bible college or received pastoral training. (If they have let's hear it.) Before they complain that this is unnecessary let's ask the teachers and nurses who are in Struthers how many of them would have those jobs with no formal training whatsoever. Not one. Yet the Struthers teaching is that the church doesn't need this. All a leader needs is to say they are called by God to leadership, then everything they do after that is beyond question and criticism.

Well the damage to people lives reported on this forum declares that leadership approach in Struthers is not working.

This forum has been running for months now. Since you left more recently, Grace-girl, do you have any insight into what is happening in Struthers at the moment? Is there any sign at all that the leadership are realising that there is a serious set of complaints now in public and that they have to do something to address these – or are they just dismissing it all and trying to explain it away? Or worst of all are they pretending it is not real as long as they ignore it? Anything you can tell us would be interesting. Some of us left a long time ago!


Finally The Petitor - well done for calling out anon201062 to bring forth his promised army of 1250 happy Struthers people. I hadn't remembered he had made that point about checking facts before posting! Covlass should get an apology.

It does draw attention to the fact that the real enablers in Struthers are the members who support it financially. Until they take responsibility for what is happening, and has been happening unchallenged for many years, then the harm is very likely to continue. My view is that like most organisations the leadership will not change because they recognise the hurt they are causing, or because it is the right thing to do. They will change when they are obliged to by the congregation who will no longer finance the leaders until they commit to change and addressing the problems.

Unless that happens, as the Petitor says, they are simply “following orders” funding more problems for more people. If they believe in God then they will presumably believe they need to be ready to explain to Him one day why they enabled that. Those who have posted on this forum cannot directly change anything in Struthers but at least we will be able to say we spoke up and told the truth and did not pass by on the other side while people were hurt and suffering.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/23/2011 08:51AM by Chesterk55.

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