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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: kelvin ()
Date: December 06, 2012 08:33AM

@rrmoderator

In all fairness, what you have just said is not true. I answered the questions clearly given the knowledge I have and gave you additional context. You seem to have an obsession with the idea of a church being "democratic", yet you haven't clarified what that actually entails. As I said, I can think of no church in the UK that operates like a liberal democracy. Having said that, being accountable to the law of the land is rather important and shouldn't be dismissed lightly.

@ThePetitor

I do believe the motivation for some of the claims on this forum are due to personal grudges (would you prefer "grievances") and are not principled, dispassionate arguments about church governance, ethics or legal matters. That's my honest opinion based on what I have read. And what of it? I don't really care if you hold that opinion or not. But ... it certainly does not follow that I was therefore calling people "liars and fakes". From what I've seen of many churches, those grievances probably are real but not necessarily accurately attributed. Just remember that being offended doesn't make you right. What it does mean, however, is that some of these posters are biased to the point of being unable to accept *any* argument which puts SMC in a good light. (How could they not be?) This has manifested itself in some, frankly, implausible accusations which by association reflects badly on decent people. BTW, an AGM where only the governors have a vote is not a "sham", if they alone are legally responsible for the charity then there is no way you would allow a free for all. Gifting to the charity is then just like gifting to, say, the Red Cross - would you expect a vote on the Board? Of course not. Try finding out what they spent your money on!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: December 06, 2012 08:54AM

Kelvin:

In fairness what you have established from your posts here is that the organization you support is nether democratic nor meaningfully transparent.

Having said that you certainly have the right to support a dictatorial regime without such safeguards if you wish.

However, it is easy to see that there is no meaningful way for people to address grievances against that organization through its internal structure.

You seem to dismiss those grievances as either "inaccurate" or "implausible".

The Red Cross has both meaningful transparency and accountability.

You can attempt to skirt the issues of accountability, but there it is.

Is there anything that Sturthers has done that done that you would acknowledge as wrong? If so please state those criticisms. What are they specifically?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: December 06, 2012 06:10PM

Kelvin

It is good to have some honest debate!

I think there is a world of difference between your earlier statement:

Quote
Kelvin
because of personal grudges… which is what is happening here
and your more recent,

Quote
Kelvin
some of the claims on this forum are due to personal grudges (would you prefer "grievances")
but, OK , lets take that as a clarification rather than a change of position.

You are now saying that some posters are biased. Well I can’t argue that some posters MAY BE biased. I don’t know them and their motivations, so can’t really make that judgment, but I read the posts on this forum rather differently. I see many, many examples here of people who are gracious, who are prepared to agree there are positive things, who believe SMC had something good in it, but eventually came to the point that the bad overshadowed the good.

Other see it as all pretty well bad, but they are entitled to that opinion – that does not make them bias. You are right that being offended does not make you right but, equally, being offended does not make you wrong. If ten people are offended then it does not follow that one of them is wrong. No, all ten might be wrong, or all ten might be right- we have to judge each case on its individual merits. (I know you are not arguing against that, but I do think we need to be clear about this point.)

With my own personal experience of not just being in SMC, but also going through the process of leaving, I relate to all the pain and angst I read on this forum so, in my view, the complaints are realistic and believable, at least to the point that there is a case to answer.

Where SMC falls down is not just the underlying issues however– you may be right that similar issues occur in other churches. The problem is that SMC have no procedure to deal with grievances (which I do think is a good word by the way). I think some of the underlying questions and issues – lets call them grievances - may indeed be similar to those found in other churches and other organisations, but other churches do have a democratic process and will have mechanisms to deal with grievances and complaints.

SMC has none of these. Their answer to complaints is that God has told them the complainer is unspiritual and that they should no longer speak to them. THAT is the difference between SMC and other organisations, and that is why a number of people have had to revert to things like this forum to express their confusion, concern, despair or whatever – each will probably have a range of reasons for contributing.

It is also why I do not see any of the issues raised here as grudges – I see almost all as unresolved complaints and grievances. If they had a proper procedure, they might find that half of the grievances were upheld and half were not, who knows? Either way, I believe that, in every single case, individuals have the right to raise the grievance and have it heard by an independent person or panel. That is actually a fundamental human right – the right to a fair trial. So, even if I read a grievance here that I personally think may not be justified, I would still argue that SMC is failing if they have not set up a process to hear the grievance.

I would welcome your own views on that one – do you recognise this distinction between underlying grievances and the problems caused by not having a process to deal with them?

In most organisations, a grievance that is not resolved at one level can be escalated, and, in a democratic organisation, there is the ultimate sanction –vote out the board and replace it with people who are more accountable. (As Mr Black used to say, quoting Churchill, “democracy is the least worst system”) In Struthers lack of accountability at the level of individual grievances continues all the way up to the level of democratic accountability. There is no mechanism to raise a grievance, no process of appeal, no right ot a fair trial, and no ability to ask for a vote of no confidence in the board.

Other organisations are not like this. If you for example look at the Red Cross site under Governance, you will see it says,

Quote

Our trustees
We are governed by a board of trustees, which consists of nine elected trustees and up to eight co-opted trustees. The elected trustees are elected from the British Red Cross' volunteers by a National Electoral College made up of two senior volunteers from each Territory. 
 
Our co-opted trustees come from various backgrounds, such as business, the diplomatic service and the health sector, to lend their skills to the board.
Note the word elected. That word is missing from the constitution in SMC. In SMC it is the leaders who appoint other leaders - no-one has the opportunity to change the way complaints are dealt with by overthrowing the board. So SMC is not democratic, it is autocratic. As the moderator says, you and others have a right to believe in this organisation and to follow its teachings, but I certainly believe that you should be aware that it is not democratic and answers to no-one.

To end on an encouraging note, at least to some readers, could the answer to the question “how could they not be [biased]” just possibly be, “by the grace of God?” I know not all here would ascribe to that, but there are many who would, and who believe the only reason they are not bitter or bias is because of the peace and joy they have found in a supportive Christian congregation.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2012 06:13PM by ThePetitor.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: kelvin ()
Date: December 06, 2012 07:55PM

@rrmoderator

I would agree with you and @ThePetitor that there seems to be an issue with the airing of grievances. I guess it is no one's interests that this forum is the route to do it. Let's remember in the grand scheme of things SMC is a young organisation and has to learn what other churches have learned the hard way over many centuries. It's easy to find fault in most organisations, and I personally have seen much worse than what has been claimed at SMC in churches with full democratic accountability and transparency. So forgive me for being skeptical that democracy is a panacea for all the Church's problems!

@ThePetitor

The "biased" argument is simply technical, not meant to be demeaning: arguing in your own cause is almost the very definition of the word. Only by properly hearing both sides can you reach a sensible conclusion. (Everyone is biased to a greater or lesser degree e.g. I am biased by my knowledge of people I respect who are in SMC.) If indeed the answer to complaints was as you state, then the leader in question has certainly not been reading "How to win friends and influence people" (understatement) . There would need to be a filter on trivial and vexatious complaints however, which is why a totally democratic process rarely works in churches. Everyone who gives to the offering thinks they have a legitimate view on the content of the sermon! (Hence my analogy with the RC.) Perhaps it's a personal thing but I would also argue that responsibility is a two-way street. If an organisation has no structure of the kind you would like, why join it, then be amazed when it doesn't turn out the way you wanted? It's a bit insulting to the intelligence of the members to imply they don't know how the church is run or what it does with its money.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: December 06, 2012 10:09PM

kelvin:

Apparently your acknowledgment that "there seems to be an issue with the airing of grievances" is as close as you care to come in any actual criticism of SMC.

Democratic government is not a "panacea", but it beats dictatorships in the history of nations as well as other organizational structures, such as churches. That's what has been "learned the hard way over many centuries". It also in large part motivated the Protestant Reformation.

Sadly, SMC doesn't seem to have learned this at all based upon your posts at this thread.

In my work over the past thirty years I have not seen the same level of problems posed by churches with democratically elected church government and meaningful financial transparency as those without such safeguards.

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Despite the fact that democratically government denominations such as the Baptist conventions, AOG, Methodists, Lutherans, Evangelical Free Churches, etc., etc. dwarf the number of churches run by authoritarian regimes I have not received complaints about them. Meanwhile I receive complaints almost every day about authoritarian independent churches without the safeguards of accountability.

The evidence is overwhelming "full democratic accountability and transparency" works.

"A totally democratic process rarely works in churches"?

You seem to prefer dictatorship and the potential for tyranny characterized by "a filter" concerning "complaints".

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: December 07, 2012 01:05AM

Hi guys

Kelvin, I read your posts with interest and can see that you believe rather differently from those who have had more long-term contact with the church. You see I remember the days when the church was 'on a roll' and the membership was so huge they had to run two different camps in summer. In those days the people on the pulpits were really blessed and on fire for God... and then Miss Taylor went off her rocker and the church changed in a most fundamental way.

It was no longer allowed to question the words of the leaders and the words 'demon possession' were said more often than I had hot dinners... the rest, as they say, is history.

To really understand why HUNDREDS (not just 40) people left the organisation between then and now, you would need to LIVE the church the way we did - attending meetings 6 days a week and giving your whole life to the ideal of SMC only to be banned or 'sent to Coventry' to the point that you might even end up in hospital and receive no visitors from the church who are supposed to be your nourishment and support, in good times and bad.

Many of the people posting here have been so badly affected, in spirit, by leaders of SMC that they have lost their faith entirely and I don't think God takes that kind of abuse lightly.

You have to realise that there are significantly more people who have been hurt by SMC than are posting on this site, I could personally list at least one hundred from the Greenock/Port Glasgow area alone and I'm the only one, I know of, who is actually posting on this site. I'm sure many others here know of other people who are not posting but were previous members of the organisation.

It's easy to attend a few meetings and be caught up in the atmosphere and enjoy the good singing but, if you seriously want to be a part of this organisation you will eventually be required to LIVE smc and that's when you discover that questioning the leaders is like questioning God and, if the leader decides not to answer the question they can make you believe that you have a bad spirit for asking the question. The idea that your church leader can tell you when to have a holiday, where to go, where to live, who to marry is a bit laughable but it happens. That kind of control is extreme and, I think, a bit dangerous in the wrong hands and Struthers' leaders are not qualified in any way to give advice or direction in these matters. They are lay people, as you rightly point out, and have various different professions... except for the leaders of course, who strangely seem to be mainly school teachers and still not qualified to give life-changing advice to anyone.

SMC leaders need to be accountable for the words they speak from the platforms, they need to be able to back-up all their claims with proper biblical references and they need to honestly answer questions posed regarding why they teach the principles they do. In our experience, where a leader cannot draw a proper biblical reference (without taking it out of context) the standard answer is to give no answer at all and admonish the questioner for their lack of faith.

In closing, I do believe that there are less than half the original membership of SMC left on the pews and that itslef should have shown the leaders that there was a need for fundamental change in the way the church is run and in the way the leaders interact with their members. Instead, they chose to stick their heads in the sand and adamantly push ahead with their twisted beliefs saying that God had sent them a test and all those who remained members would 'pass the test' while all those who left would have 'failed' and be beyond redemption. And so they carry on their cosy little lives of not being answerable to anyone because they are 'akin to God'.

Personally, I'm glad not be a part of it any more but there are many things, in my younger life, I would have done differently and saved myself a lot of heart-ache over the years - if I hadn't been so influenced by such a cultish organisation.

As always
Biiiiig love and huggs
God bless xxxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lintar123 ()
Date: December 07, 2012 04:12AM

hello Kelvin, I wonder how long you "were" part of Struthers for and I notice that you cannot be wholly committed to Struthers if you "attend other churches". Perhaps you , secretly, have your own doubts/thoughts/questions.
My experiences are well documented on this forum. Hopefully you have read them. Along with the truths and experiences that many others have posted. I can honestly tell you that I hold not one "personal grudge". I can tell you, though, how damaging it has been for those of us who were fully committed to Struthers in the 70s and 80s and at any time in our life. Like Cbarb, I would have done many things differently and stood up for myself more, had I not been caught up in the web of Struthers. Alas,my every move was questioned. Anything, I thought or felt, which wasn`t in agreement with the leaders was seen as "of the devil". Believe me , Kelvin, like many others here, I am a genuine, honest, good living, professional, intelligent and caring Christian person. When I tried to question anything to do with Struthers with the leaders, I was castigated, and at one point I was "banned". Do you know what any of that feels like, Kelvin? Do you know what emotional damage by those who tell you that God is speaking through them feels like?
24/7 life had to be Struthers. Family relationships were damaged;marriages were strained and many ruined. Life was utterly miserable and controlled by leaders. I didn`t imagine it. I lived it. I felt it, Kelvin, and I still feel it today having left the place 22 years ago. Not because I am some poor weak person who can`t cope, but because I genuinely listened to everything I was hearing under the guise that it was the "will of God". I still have flashbacks of those times. Were you there in the 80s when lots and lots of money was lost on the stock market? If not , you should find out about it. What, Kelvin, are your views about the school?Do you not think it bizarre that most of the staff are from the congregation, and related to each other. This would not happen in "real life". If my head teacher had to employ his sons and daughters-in law and relatives of relatives, I do believe that staff and parents would have a right to mention the words "nepotism" and "favouritism". In Struthers, then and now, there was never any place for asking/ disagreeing/ getting answers/ discussing. It was simply a matter of blind acceptance and submission. That was and is the way that the so called leaders operated and continue to operate. They may not drive ferraris but they certainly feather their own nests. So, Kelvin, I am neither a liar nor a fake. I am merely standing up for myself now in the hope that many others can do the same . Everyone has a right to answers.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: December 08, 2012 01:13AM

Hi guys

Another burning question. We all know that SMC stands alone and mixing with other churches was stopped about 40 odd years ago because they believed that SMC and only SMC had all the answers to living a holy life and didn't need to be mixing with 'less holy' people.

Why then is the leader of the Glasgow church's own husband visiting and attending other meetings and churches? Have they now decided that the admonishments of Miss Taylor regarding other christian organisations were wrong and that they now should mix with other congregations? If this is the case and they now believe Miss T was wrong in this respect, how much more was she wrong about? That's a rhetorical question because I personally believe she was wrong in EVERYTHING she spouted from the platform, including mixing with other christians outside of SMC.

Anyone know why DR's own husband is attending outside churches?

Big love and huge hugs to all
God bless xxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: December 08, 2012 02:12AM

Cbarb
I think you mean the Cumbernauld Church not the Glasgow one. D. Rutherford is pastor of Cumbernauld. I also heard this - that some SMC folks are now visiting and attending other churches. I was very surprised about this aswell, because, as you say, this would never have been allowed in past years, not only disallowed by Miss Taylor but by Mary Black as well. If someone visited another church, they didn't dare tell anyone, such was the guilt about doing so and the fear of getting a telling off. I asked someone, who has a connection with SMC, about it and their reply was that SMC leaders were now encouraging contact with other churches in order to build good relations with them and they thought it was something to do with all this online criticism. Well, really! We are having an effect on here! Hallelujah!

Of course, as you say, Cbarb, SMC should come out and tell people what has changed in their views and teachings and whether they think Miss Taylor's vision was wrong or is not now relevant or was for a certain period only or was a false prophecy. They should clarify it and announce what they believe now and what if anything has changed. But if Mary Black was still alive, would things be taught differently and more akin to Miss Taylor's teaching ? As usual, just another example of SMC's inconsistencies in teaching and doctrine depending on who is in charge, whom they like or don't like, who has obeyed the leaders fully or not, or dare I say it, whether they need money coming in or not. I believe SMC are now concerned about their image and are now, especially in Cumbernauld, endeavouring to build relations with other churches.

Just another point regarding something Kelvin wrote here. It's true that there are many intelligent and highly educated people amongst the members of SMC. Just because people are clever doesn't mean they are not liable to being brainwashed or manipulated by people above them in leadership in a controlling church or cult. It doesn't depend on how intelligent someone is. Many members of SMC who are in good professions joined the church when they were high-school pupils or university students. Young folk at that age are idealistic, conscientious and want a cause to which they can commit themselves. Becoming a Christian is a great thing to do at that age. But they are also prone to getting drawn into a controlling environment and having their ability to think for themselves crushed out of them in a bid to please leaders whom they look to for their guidance. It's a subtle process but it happens. Then people are afraid to leave the church because they are told they are leaving God if they do so. So people stay, some do anyway. As Cbarb said, many many people have left SMC over the years.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Archbishop Laud ()
Date: December 08, 2012 04:50AM

It is disappointing that someone should think they are entitled to invade with strident, wild accusations the muted, sympathetic and Christian discussion forum that is this thread of the rick ross website. Disappointing, but oh so typical of the Struthers approach!

However, at least, Kelvin, you had the guts to venture onto the forum, unlike the remote leadership whose ways you so unwisely whitewash. I'd like to make two points arising from your posts;

1. Your arguments commit the fundamental fallacy of being ad hominem attacks. Instead of engaging with any single statement of the hundreds--perhaps it is thousands now--that have been made, most of them factual claims about what happened or else questions and queries--you simply blacken the motives of the authors of those statements. Shame on you! Has it never occurred to you that the reason why the SMC leaders have not responded to any of these grave allegations is because they know that the claims are largely true?

2. I'd like to endorse Rensil's recent point about the presence of 'intelligent' people in SMC not being proof that the church is not manipulative.

First, my memory is that there are actually not many high-end professionals in SMC. You will find a good many health care professionals, teachers, small-time business people, a few lawyers, and the like, but they will tend to be in the less demanding areas of their jobs: if you look closely I think you will find they tend to be self-employed, or part-timers, or refugees from the NHS into cosy, less-accountable private clinics, or teachers in cheap private schools rather than more demanding establishments, etc. Or, dare I say it, church employees. I just don't think there is a huge critical mass of rigorous, confident, developed professionals. That would be far too threatening.

And there are not, to my knowledge, any 'professors' at all, as Kelvin claims, though perhaps the odd researcher here or there. I remember one such telling me they had avoided a serious academic job because it would interfere too much with their meeting attendance. And that is indeed the point: to hold down a really demanding professional or business position involves a commitment of time that SMC, in its crazy, controlling ways, is unwilling to allow.

Face it: all SMC leaders really want is docile types sitting adoringly at their feet, singing away; they care nothing at all for people's career development.

Notwiststanding all this, there are indeed many intelligent people in SMC, including many who have benefited from higher education. But that means nothing. The control that churches like SMC exercise reaches parts of the mind way beyond the cognitive. It is the emotional core that is targeted, often so successfully. That does not make SMC a cult, because as I have said before it is theologically sound, but it does make it a fragile, unhealthy and manipulative spiritual environment. My advice to people is thus to leave.

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