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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: March 19, 2013 08:55AM

PS. For those who don't know about the Latigo site the URL to the page with the 2011 accounts breakdown is [latigo214.info]
You can also find links to the 2009 and 2010 accounts on the home page.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: March 19, 2013 06:18PM

A little more info in case anyone is interested in seeing the actual published accounts. As cbarb says, SMC is obliged to provide a copy to anyone who asks in writing. I am not sure whether they are able to (or will chose to) charge, but you do have to write to them.

If you want to obtain a copy without contacting the church, you can download the accounts form the companies house website for a small fee (£1 last time I used it, I think).

The analysis on the Latigo site comments on the figures in the accounts published by SMC.

One other thought n the way funds are used, and the members are mislead. To quote cbarb:

Quote
cbarb
The amalgamated losses of the school, for the past three years, is something in the region of £300K plus. That shortfall had to have been covered by the general church funds because there was no money from anywhere else to cover it, since the coffee shops make very little contribution to overall church funds. Therefore, the money given by the ordinary members of the church is being used to subsidise the private school - which is ALLEGEDLY 'Paying for itself'.


Specifically, "That shortfall had to have been covered by the general church funds because there was no money from anywhere else to cover it" That certainly seems to be the case, but I think it then goes beyond that, as it looks like they then ran out of money in the general fund.

The Latigo article on the 2011 accounts says: "In 2008 restricted funds were £238,000, in 2011 they were £4,000." Now my understanding of "restricted funds" is just that - they are restricted in some way. They may for example be from a legacy and the restriction might be "to maintain the church buildings in the west of scotland" , "to further the gospel by providing a range of missions and activities that spread the good news" or "to help the poor in Glasgow by providing grants of up to £1000 to relieve hardship" - something like that. I have no idea what the actual restrictions were of course, but there is presumably a reason for calling them restricted.

The thing is, I can't see any "restricted" use of funds - instead, there is a strange statement about redesignating funds as this better reflects their use. I am not sure what that means, but I think it means that they have used these funds for some purpose other than the designated purpose, so want to change the records to reflect their (obviously infallible) financial decisions. If so, this is entirely the wrong way around. You are meant to use the funds in line with the restrictions, not use then however you want then redesignate the amounts in the accounts.

What I am getting at is that it is not just the general funds that may have been used, it may be that restricted funds have used to prop up the general fund, which is in turn propping up the private, fee-paying school, which is in turn buying iPads and getting lots of publicity for doing so. Interesting to say the least. If this is what is happening, I wonder what those who provided the restricted funds would think if they knew. To me, that is the point of openness and transparency - letting people know what is actually going on. I for one would love to see what the restrictions were and whether they included the purchase of iPads for people rich enough to afford private education, and I am sure that the families of those who made donations would also be interested.

It is worth noting that these questions are all there in black and white on the Latigo site, but no-one has made any attempt to answer them. SMC know about the site - they have mentioned it in at least one sermon - so they are aware that questions are being asked, but they seem to be pathologically incapable of answering questions, whether about the finances, their detailed beliefs or their values and how they should treat people.

Finally, cbarb, you say that the coffee shops make a small profit, but I think the figures show that they actually make a loss, in spite of being mainly staffed by volunteers. That means more of the congregation's unrestricted giving - or restricted giving - is also being siphoned off, this time to subsidise the coffee and cakes they provide to members of the public. Now this may be commendable -we could probably all do with cheaper coffee - but it does seem a strange use of the donations made by members. If I was putting money on the plate, I would like to know why it was being used to subsidise coffee to the people of Greenock, Falkirk and Cumbernauld.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: March 19, 2013 10:25PM

Ooops sorry! you're right ThePetitor, I did overlook the fact that the coffee shops are also losing money.

Surely it must be ringing alarm bells with the members of SMC that ALL of the commercial ventures of the organisation are losing money. If anything is sign that they are not making the correct decisions, that's a great big, fat, flashing neon red one!


Biiig love and huge hugggggs
God Bless xxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: March 19, 2013 11:06PM

Quote
ThePetitor
By the way, if anyone is interested in reading the "witness statements" from posters here, have a look at the thread on The Refuge in Wendover, Aylesbury, as SeekingSusan created a useful summary of these testimonies there.

Since there have been some recent new additions to testimonies, if anyone wants me to add theirs to the Wendover Refuge thread, then send me a PM with the exact text you want to show and i'll post them all there when I get time.

Or better still would be if the newer posters who want to directly share their testimonies, just post there directly. That would be even better.

I would strongly suggest that anyone doing this, edits their submission first in a text editor, making sure to keep things terse and to the point. This makes for a much stronger impression when browsing the posts.

I actually have kept a personal private scrapbook of "culled" testimonies and most salient contributions from this SMC RR thread, I also separated out the stories submitted by those who grew up in SMC or attended youth groups in their teens. Doing so was quite revealing. A very consistent picture emerges.


SeekingSusan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2013 11:12PM by seekingsusan.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: March 20, 2013 04:26AM

ThePetitor

You have a point about restricted funds and you are right in your definition. My friend was the director of the UK office of a ministry that was based in Canada and much of the money that came in was classed as 'resticted.' Basically, in this case, people were responding to a request to support a particular evangelical mission i.e a 5 day gospel rally in Botswana. So any monies given to support that particular mision, could be used for that purpose only. There was a clause that people could opt into, which said if they receivied money, over and above what it cost to run that mission, that this extra money could then be used for the general upkeep of the ministry.

Even if this was agreed, it still had to be used in line with strict guidelines. For example, it could not be used to buy a new car for one of the trustees. I know that in England they are very strict about such things. In his first few months, my friend made a genuine error regarding what the money could be used for. The charities commision pulled him up on it but were able to see it was a genuine mistake, which he then corrected, resulting in o further action being taken, other than a stern warning not to make that same mistake again. Given how strict the Charities Commision in England is (I'm not sure about the OSCR) It does make you wonder how Struthers get around such discrepancies doesn't it?

I wonder how many people attending Struthers church, know that the financial information is availble through OSCR? I also wonder if people would feel uneasy about requesting such information, either due to being 'found out' and thus accused of questioning the unquestionable leaders or because they feel they would be betraying their 'anointed leaders' and therefore fear angering God.

Every church I have been in in the last 20+ years (with the exception of Struthers Memorial Church) has freely provided it's members with a full copy of the financial statement each year. This shows all monies that are coming in from collections and any fundraising events that may have taken place. It also shows everything going out, from leaders salaries (where applicable) upkeep of the church building and facilities, youth and children's work, missions, one off gifts etc. Why can't Struthers have that same degree of transparency and accountability?

I recall that in the Struthers sermon, aimed at critcising this forum and the Latigo site, the preacher said something about church not being a democracy. Whilst I agree with this in the sense of God's word should be the final authority and not man's opinion. I also accept that some situations are delicate and one cannot take a vote on absolutely every decison the leaders make. Is it right for example, to expose the fact that Sister A has been having an affair with Brother B and ask the congregation to vote on whether or not they should be asked to leave the church? (although I believe that if that happened in Struthers - or was even imagined to have happened - the leaders would have no hesitation to first expose and then ban the both of them, assuming they were not one of the 'chosen few'.)

Whether you have a democracy, a theocracy, or something else, none of this is an excuse or reason for keeping people in the dark and not being transparent in what you believe or why you made certain decisions. If I am in a transparent church and I disagree with how church funds are being used, that the leadership are for or against drinking any amount of alcohol/smoking cigarettes or I am deeply unhappy about decisions the minister makes etc, then at least I am aware of them and I can either speak to the leadership team or I can make an informed decision and not give to the church or maybe even leave. One thing the church should never be is totalitarian dictatorship.

One of the things I like about the Latigo site is that they often ask the question, "Is this what the leadership team at Struthers believe? If so, why not come right out and say it?" If the leaders at Struthers believe that it is 'the will of God' to use money collected from the congregations to subsidise Cedars school, then why not just say it? This goes hand in hand with other beliefs such as the 'right' of a leader to tell you who you can marry (if at all) who you can be friends with, where you can go to university, what career you are allowed to pursue, how much time you are allowed to spend with your family (if any) and all the other areas of one's life that a Struthers leader feels she/he is allowed to control without any question. It would certainly clear a lot of things up for both current and any future members. Until that happens I suppose these forums and websites will always nee exist, in order to shine the light into the dark places.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: March 21, 2013 08:27AM

I gather that this is the time of year (March) that SMC take their special annual collection from the church specifically to go towards Cedars School. This collection takes place at a Saturday night meeting when, of course, the maximum number of SMC members and visitors are present. Amounts raised in the past have been £15,000 or more, that is from that one-off, special annual collection. This, as far as I am aware, is the only occasion on which people are specifically asked to give to the School and therefore, most SMC folks think this is the only collection-plate money which goes directly to the School. This is deceitful when you consider what has been outlined above in the recent posts on here and when you read the analysis of the Church accounts in Latigo. Where is that big collection mentioned and where are the details about what it has been used for?

We know they've taken Church money to pay for the iPad deployment because they said so publicly, more or less. I have it on good authority from someone in the Church that the Head Teacher said she had asked the Church Board of Management if the School could purchase iPads. The Board said, Yes, if the experts thought that would be a good idea. So the Board approved it. Does this not suggest that money was taken from church funds to finance the project? Looks like it to me. If they are now telling the congregation another story or explanation, then either they were lying the first time and are now telling the truth, or they are now lying to cover things up and make themselves look good, perhaps because they are concerned about the exposure on here or the scrutinization from OSCR.

There's a previous post by Chesterk55 on here, written in August 2012, which covers finances concerned with the School. Have a re-read of it as This will clarify things further.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: squareone ()
Date: March 21, 2013 02:32PM

could the church have paid for the ipads initially and the parents now be paying them back over a period of time?


sorry if this is annoying, but if the accounts etc are checked by outside bodies and nothing untoward is found does that not make it likely that nothing untoward is going on?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: March 22, 2013 01:36AM

squareone

certainly not annoying - I think the whole point is to get clarity.

Yes, as far as I know, the church could have paid for the iPads and the parents could now be paying them back. That doesn't change the fact that the members of the congregation are subsidising the school however. If the parents are not paying back the cost of the iPads, then the equation is:

1) School expenditure including ipads = school income from fees + £300,000 from the church in the last 3 years.

If the parents are paying back the cost of ipads then the equation is

2) School expenditure including iPads = school income from fees + parental contribution towards iPads + £300,000 from the church in the last 3 years.


In either case. the church has contributed £300,000 over the last 3 years.

If it is scenario 1, this contribution may have gone to the iPads or salaries or something else. If it is scenario 2, the £300,000 has not gone to iPads, it has gone to salaries or some other school expenditure.

Oh, and by the way, if anyone is looking for the earlier comments by ChesterK55, yo can find them on page 55 of this forum.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: squareone ()
Date: March 22, 2013 03:19AM

if the £300,000 has gone to the ipads and the parents are paying it back is that not all square??

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: March 22, 2013 04:43AM

If the parents are now paying instalments and thus paying back the iPads, then why was this not said to the Church at the time the iPads were introduced? That isn't what the Head Teacher told the members of the church. If the members had been told that the parents would be paying up, fine, but they weren't told that. There was nothing said about the parents paying up the iPads in instalments at a later date, i.e. now. If they ask the congregation for money, they have to tell members where the money is going and not change their minds at a later date and produce a new explanation to cover themselves. I am not convinced. Seems like more deceit, to me.

What about the parents? What were they told? If they weren't told to pay before and are now being asked to pay up the iPads, I cant imagine they would be happy about it. The majority of the pupils now come from non-Struthers homes so what are the parents thinking about all this? What if one isn't able to pay now, because of job losses?

What about the used iPads that they are taking to Africa because a whole new set is being bought or leased in? Who is paying for the new set?

Thanks for the page reference to Chesterk55's post, The Petitor. I was going to check it and put it on today. Thanks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2013 04:47AM by Rensil.

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