Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Wistongirl ()
Date: June 19, 2013 05:16AM

Hi Ifellaway. So touched by your reply - many thanks. We must know each other well & have eaten the same shortbread ;-). Effie was a frequent visitor to our household throughout my first 23 years. I guess we both know her well & i send you my love n thoughts as not easy to have divisions in a family n psychological pressure must be unbearable at times. If i have said anything to upset you i apologise as absolutely furtherest from my intention. Some members of EA's family have just had such an unbearably hard time of it through no fault of their own n i remember so much, incl the little one who was taken so young... Take care

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Ifellaway ()
Date: June 19, 2013 07:12AM

Yeah, you're cool Wistongirl you get me totally, you know. The complications and history. It's a devastating dilemma. It's exactly why I post here. And why you should. :)
The thread remains pretty much centred on prevention of more behaviour listed here that has proved harmful.
If nothing else we maybe will help avoid future lives blighted. Meanwhile many of us try and make sense of some real tricky stuff.
I am first to admit I will wander down memory lane, or (try..) to be funny, but I am constantly having to remind myself to be mindful.
This is perhaps the only outpost for some. So serious can be good too. But maybe too specific to be public ken.
Sometimes I have great difficulty reconciling my memories with horrific revelations and realizations. But in all posts, I think,
no one has said no good has come from smc.
I came here and read what was being said about people I had known in a different way. I struggled, frankly.
I was unable to defend anyone in the face of the sheer amount of damage caused by smc. I'm kind of hoping you can help, being more, dare I say it,
on my wavelength. much as we don't have much positive to say about smc methods et al, talk of your favourite shortbread is probably no less welcome a tangent than talk of black puddings and allsorts. haha, just read how often we stray from the point.
I think you might have a good grasp on this and ask you, please, to keep on reading and at least post where you know you can offer invaluable insight. It's all any of us can do... but we do try to remember, fairly, the kinder incidents.It's just that it highlights the context. Can't be a win for smc. We can be here (or there) if people need us and we can help. I do hope. Stuff is happening and I'm not settled with it, no not at all. Could maybe use ya support?
Regards Wistongirl, and of course, happy days, Ifellaway

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: June 19, 2013 07:15AM


Ok, I apologise for misunderstanding you and I am very Sorry for the comments I made. I know you chose to leave. I know you had to reconstruct your life after leaving as everyone else has. You said yourself that your life is now fulfilled and happy.

Please don't go off and stop posting though. We value your contributions and enjoy reading your posts very much.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: June 19, 2013 09:39AM


I found a great, experienced psychologist - 2 feet on the ground - who really helped me get things in perspective. In fact sometimes I wondered why I was paying her as it was me that was finding the solutions & reasons. She was very skilled at leading me to find the answers and I realised (just as I was walking today in fact) that she was discretly teaching me accountability & responsibility for myself - no longer to blame things on the past but to take the responsibility to change the future and be a responsible adult for my family. When I was in SMC it was easy - you went and got advice from xyz and then got on with it - a bit lazy really (not everyone was like this I hasten to add, but was my situation entirely). It was tough for me at first to be face-to-face with myself and what I wanted but I soon got the hang of it and it really helped me - it was for a period of about 18 months-2 years.

Hi again Wistongirl

And thank you again for being so open and honest about what you went through and how you dealt with the mental legacy of 23 years in Struthers. I think that insight into how you were helped might be one of the most useful things yet on the forum - particularly for people still in Struthers.

There are many people in the Struthers churches who are only able to remain there because of the pills they have been prescribed. (Don't just take our word for it – apparently Alison Speirs mentioned this fact in a sermon a few years ago.) They read on here of many people needing counselling and psychiatric help after leaving SMC and to many of us that makes perfect sense and we to different degrees experienced the same need after leaving to come face to face with ourselves.

And your story here gives people still in Struthers an insight to what it actually is that is being damaged in them by the control and the teaching to submit to people and rules, rather than to remain free and in a position to choose to live for God.

As you say it is easier in some ways to hand over responsibility, but the point to being set free is to be able to take adult responsibility for our own lives and live in a moral and responsible way. That means we live in a place where we can question ourselves and ALL others, examine our lives against biblical teaching, and be free to follow our God given conscience – even when that goes against the will of our church leader. Struthers leaders, as fallen, sinful humans, can be as selfish and self righteous as any other normal person. Wise Christian leaders would never seek to place themselves between someone and their conscience in any case.

And as we understand who we are in God we can live positively and embrace change. Then even that change can be questioned and reviewed and making the right choices leads us towards righteous living and holiness. Letting others decide for us robs us of any chance of freedom, holiness and all our choices are compromised as they are not our choices any more.

The result is what we see all around us still in Struthers. People who have surrendered to the leaders and paid what they have been told is the required price for many years. Some of these people may have the reward of approval from the leadership but none of them are showing the fruits and world changing outcomes promised by the Struthers leadership. They are having some small impact and bringing in (in some branches) a few new people and loosing others. Though this impact often seems less than is seen in many churches Struthers criticise as “lesser” or “faithless”.

As observers we see none of the evidences we are encouraged by the Struthers leadership to look for of people living the overcoming life and transforming the lives of others and whole communities in revival-like powerful ways. This is what Struthers promise their teaching will lead to. Yet it does not happen. Still the way is not allowed to be questioned. So in spite of meeting all the requirements outwardly it must be the people getting it wrong “inwardly”.

So years of repeated sermons demand endless introspection and we end up with many inside surviving only on medication.

And those who have left still confused or finally getting psychological help after long years of pain.

But a stirring in the conscience of many – and the still small voice of God still telling people to follow Him not them. A narrow way and a painful way but also a way to freedom and adulthood and responsibility. And the only place from where people can be fruitful.

John 12:24 says:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Could it be that the grain of wheat in this picture is the (completely unbiblical) faith in the infallibility of the Struthers leadership? Is that what needs to fall to the ground and die?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: June 19, 2013 12:20PM

Hey Wistongirl, don't stop talking to us please. Sometimes we get a bit caught up and occasionally a raw nerve gets touched but there are some of us who do have mixed memories about various times in SMC and there are others who have more painful memories. The point is that, for the most part, the people we once knew so many years ago are either gone now or, if they've stayed they have completely changed over the years of complete and absolute mind-control.

Many of the remaining congregation have been there for over 30 years and that's way more time than is needed to completely control another human being, influencing every area of their lives. A while back we discussed Derrin Brown, the hypnotist, and some shows he was doing on telly to show how easy it is to manipulate people into believing the most bizarre things. You may have seen the episode where he made some poor guy believe the world had ended - that was really bizarre - but it illustrates perfectly how easy it is to influence people to make the decisions and choices you want them to make. I shudder to think about spending over 30 years in such a controlling environment.

It's when you finally wake up and realise you were being manipulated the whole time, the feeling of anger and despair at being so hoodwinked can be overwhelming but it's the start to gaining the freedom Chesterk55 is talking about.

It is good for the soul to remember some of the good things you gained from your time in SMC but you will find that most of the good memories are not about the teachings or the current leaders of the church, or the way God moved and blessed people, but about peripheral things like the activities and fun at the camps and many fond memories of Ma Jewell in the cookhouse and washing dishes in dirty dishwater.

That in itself speaks volumes about the quality of teaching from SMC that none of us have very good memories of wonderfully spiritual sermons which uplifted us and strengthened our walk with God. In fact the main thing that sticks in my mind about all the sermons I heard in Greenock was that I would NEVER be good enough for God and I would remain unclean for the rest of my life. Thankfully my father preached a very different sermon in the Port Glasgow church, which gave me a bit of balance at the time but didn't wipe out my fear of the much-talked about demons that were just waiting to pounce if you let your guard down just a little.

I'm actually not surprised that there are so many mental health problems among the remaining congregation considering how long they have remained under the absolute control and manipulation of some very unscrupulous people. As Chesterk55 points out, their waning mental health comes at a price set by the directors of SMC and these people, who continue to tithe, are paying for the privilege of having someone else rule their lives and make their decisions for them. They are so brainwashed they believe the lies told to them from the pulpits, because they have been conditioned to believe every word spoken by these people is straight from God. We know this because we were conditioned also, from birth, and it is so difficult to start Un-believing what you once believed without doubt.

It's a long road but the burden gets lighter the farther you walk and it's so much easier to walk with friends for a bit of moral support along the way. Sometimes we disagree with each other or take things too much to heart but we're all family here and we still love and support each other whether or not we agree on certain points.

I think your interpretation of John 12:24 is quite interesting, Chesterk55. It is certainly time for this crazy blind faith to come to an end, unless the people who believe so completely can actually back up their belief, in the godlike status of a few manipulative humans, with Biblical references - then they have no real foundation for their beliefs anyway.

As always biiiiiiig love and huge hugggggggggs
God Bless xxx

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: June 19, 2013 06:41PM

Wistongirl, I too remember the little one that died so young, so we might also have known each other. It was a traumatic time for all, and there are some details there that even I (well known for wanting everything out in the open) will not make public.

I am sorry you are not feeling so rosey – we are all human beings and are all affected by things at all sorts of emotional levels. I know I am, at least!

I do hope you will stay and contribute however: I think it is important that people do feel able to say their bit, even if (especially if!) they disagree with some of the things others are saying. As I read over the comments here I do see different views at times, but I also see a tolerance and openness that was denied to us in Struthers. That has certainly helped me deal with some of my own experiences.

In terms of the broader discussion about whether leaders are kind etc, I think we all have to remember that it is very hard to prove a negative statement. For example, if you say Joe Bloggs swore at me, you can call witnesses and prove that. If you say Joe Bloggs never swore in his life, that is very difficult to prove. So if anyone here says, “I found someone kind and caring” it is not a problem. I can fully accept that, and most others on the forum will hopefully accept it too. If anyone then makes a leap to saying that “the leaders would NEVER do anything wrong – offer bad advice, be mistaken in a discernment, shun someone for no reason”, then that is very different.

When I have met current members of the congregation, they have invariable taken the latter view, saying, “The leaders would NEVER do that”, and some contributors to this forum (Kelvin springs to mind) have also argued from that position. That is simply an unsustainable argument, and that is why I fully agree with ChesterK55’s suggestion that it is perhaps the infallibility that has to die. That is the false God on which they have built their structure, and it can no longer survive. If any actions are questionable, they have to be investigated, not dismissed on grounds of infallibility.

My own view on whether acts are “deliberate” ties in with that. I think that the leaders have in the past genuinely believed they are doing the best for others, even if didn’t sit well with their own conscience in all cases. I cannot however believe that anyone could read this forum and continue to believe that the approach they have taken is for the best. The Spanish Inquisition model (we have to be cruel to you so that you will repent and get to heaven) just hasn’t worked, and is of course exactly the opposite of Christ’s own teaching.

To me, this is the time that honesty, kindness, integrity and everything else will be tested. If there are good people out there – Chris, Effie and Jennifer have for example all been quoted as having positive qualities - they must recognise the trauma caused in so many lives. That is there for all to see, it simply cannot be denied. So what would a person of integrity do? I would suggest that now is the time to stand up and be counted. To be a Prophet Nathan and stand up to King David, to be an Esther and stand up to King Xerxes or even just to be Baalam’s Ass and stand up to Balaam. That is what they used to preach about, so how about doing it? Yes, the letter to Chris could be sent again, but why would it be necessary to have an external prompt if there is integrity in the organisation? If Effie is reading this, she could lift the phone and ask Chris about that letter, if Chris is reading it, he could ask DR about some of the things on this forum, if JJ is reading it she can challenge the school or ask about the accounts. It is their job as Directors to hold each other to account, not to defend the indefensible on the grounds that the leaders are infallible.

As Mister Black often used to quote, “All that is required for evil to abound is for good men to do nothing.” (attributed to Edmund Burke, I think)

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Wistongirl ()
Date: June 19, 2013 09:07PM

Hello Everybody & especially a big kiss to Rensil :-)

Do you think that the brain has a mechanical trigger which, in order to protect/defend us makes us for a while forget certain (traumatic) experiences in our lives? Anyone a psychologist/doctor? Sometimes I've read that eg. someone who had been abused as a child "forgot" and it was later in life that a trigger brought it all back. It's just a thought as, although I have been trying to see the good side, believe me the bad side is in the "bottom drawer" but I guess I just don't want to bring it up any more and I can fully understand that I've probably been getting on some of your nerves by being little miss bright girl, but if I can explain and again I don't want to jump in with my 2 feet (it by the way is my speciality so I'll have to watch that one).

When all the financial stuff erupted in Struthers, severely knocking several of us off-balance as we idealised Hugh Black, and then again for some time after I left SMC I was - let me call it - "Chewing on the bone" - How can this happen, why, unbelievable (not just for the financials but for a multitude of stuff). Then one day myself and some others decided that this (chewing the bone) was sucking us deeper into the depths of despair and getting us no-where and we decided to go out get a life. Said like that it sound easy but it was not - it took courage and evolved step-by-step. Anyway, 25 years later I am glad we took that decision and not only do we not talk about the stuff when we meet, if we did happen to talk about SMC there is absolutely no bitterness there any more - it's gone but I qualify that statement by saying that that doesn't mean that I think they are right in their methods - THEIR METHODS ARE DANGEROUS - both psychologically and socially (in the sense of families, couples etc.). What kind of organisation (never mind a CHURCH) would encourage a young, vulnerable person to turn against their own family in the name of God? And yet that is what I was encouraged to do as they had not "chosen the high way" - I have my part of responsibility in that too as I was already a young adult at the time. I have regrets, my parents have even more regrets having brought us up in that environment, but we have agreed that it's over, no point in living in regret and we got on with life and don't mention it, as living in guilt is not an option. My relationship with my parents is tight - we have a mutual respect for each other's lifestyle - they went on to serve God in another sphere and I went on to live my life in a different way. Even although they have stayed deeply religious & I not they never try to stuff it down my throat as we each value our relationship and family life today. I also emphasize that it took many years before it became just "water under the bridge". This whole period was a watershed in our family life and it's just great that we managed not only to salvage our family life, but make it 10x better and enjoyable. I know that others have not had this experience, but again just want to share that A SATISFYING LIFE IS POSSIBLE AFTER SMC. SMC in the big picture is so tiny, they have made themselves an island and it is just ridiculous & sad that they think they have found the only true way to God (and extremely arrogant).

Cbarb - I remember the dixies too - nearly fell into them trying to scrub them up with the brillo pads - the interesting thing that just came back to me is that we couldn't afford to eat the church-cooked food in the (then) tent - we ate in our caravan and then came down to help with the dixies/eyeing of potatoes - hmm - methinks we were very good little soldiers!!!!

I now need to tell you a story which will show you the extent of my fear of SMC just after I came out. I was visiting Greenock with my soon-to-be-husband (now my husband of 20 years :-) :-). It was very important for him to see where I had spent the best part of my life until then and he wanted to visit SMC Greenock. By then there was a coffee shop (which wasn't yet there when I had left) and so the building was open to the public. My husband's nickname for SMC was "the sandwich makers" as I had told him about the mega-sandwich making efforts for the church conferences (with Dorothy Jennings, Irene Morrison etc. - again we had a good giggle with them as they had such a sense of humour and again was in the olden days). Anyway, we parked the car a few streets away and I said "ok go on then" and he was so surprised as he assumed I would go with him! There ensued our first conjugal argument there in that car - me crying my eyes out and him torn between incredulity that I could not pluck up the courage to go in with him and the fact that I was in such a state about it!!! Off he trotted to have a look around and see for himself the environment which I spent most of my week in. Even although I feel I'm way passed that today, I don't think I could go back to have a look at the SMC in Greenock - perhaps I could but no inclination to try and anyway geographically not a possibility. I've never been back. Now my husband is a cool guy (luckily as he has to deal with me) but on the one occasion he met HB he could not bring himself to shake his hand due to the adverse effect SMC had on his intended.

Just a last thing: from what I've been reading here recently - especially about DR - it seems that the intensity level has multiplied with each new generation of leaders. It seems they have bred a monster as I am horrified by what I read here and it is sure that she will be held accountable for her actions one day. What we sow .... I SO believe that.

Loving greetings to all!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chris19 ()
Date: June 20, 2013 07:17AM

I need to figure out how to quote people!

Wistongirl wrote, "Do you think that the brain has a mechanical trigger which, in order to protect/defend us makes us for a while forget certain (traumatic) experiences in our lives? Anyone a psychologist/doctor? Sometimes I've read that eg. someone who had been abused as a child "forgot" and it was later in life that a trigger brought it all back."

Maybe not a mechanical trigger but difficult and potentially overwhelming material can certainly be repressed in order to allow the person to continue to function in the present. Memories of past events can be recovered if something in the present strongly resembles an experience in the past. Don't want to get too technical - private message me if you want me more info - and yes I am a psychologist - and believe it or not I work in the field pf psychological trauma!

I applaud you for how you have managed to turn your life around. Some of us have managed to do so too while some of us are still trying to figure out the best way forward. For each it will be a journey and there will be ups and downs and times we get stuck and need the support of others. One of the key things is to have a forward focus and not become so embroiled in the past that the present slips through our fingers. There is a very interesting newish therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It encourages people to consider what their values are and how they can begin to take steps to move in this direction so that energy is directed towards living rather than struggling ie how to live well despite our difficulties. This approach wouldn't necessarily suit everyone but it gives food for thought and can be very helpful.

I think SMC encouraged black and white thinking and shades of grey were often seen as worldly were not tolerated. This encouraged rigidity of thinking, merciless introspection and a judgmental attitude - not good for one's mental health. Having felt scarred by my time in SMC I went through a stage where I saw my involvement as totally negative. It's only years later that I can allow myself to see that some stuff was okay and that for the most part, the leaders did not set out to intentionally do harm. Their lack of response and indifference to expressed hurts and questions is however another matter.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Wistongirl ()
Date: June 20, 2013 05:35PM

Hi Chris19
Thanks a lot for your helpful reply. I identify so much with the black & white thinking - shades of grey are difficult to cultivate when used to thinking in black & white!! I tried to send you a private message for more personal information which wouldn't be interesting for everyone on the blog & a bit perso but doesn't seem to work (as I already tried to do this earlier in the week and got no reply - if I look in my "sents" it's empty). Hmmm!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/20/2013 05:53PM by Wistongirl.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Ifellaway ()
Date: June 20, 2013 09:15PM

Wistongirl, just write a few more brief posts and when you have posted 25 (I think..) times; you then earn the privilege of pming. :) So just pop on to say hello to 10 people, individually.
I'm chocabloc busy right now but I'm going to try to pm a hello to you. If you receive it and reply your private messaging may get bump-started. I'm sure that happened to me.
Plus, I think rrmoderator is not checking our thread so much now. Again, I think this also is an earned privilege and a sign maybe that the moderators trust us not to be offensive and sort out some of our own differences. Which we do rather nicely, if I may be so bold to say so.
Oh! Chris19, I'll be looking into that Acceptance Therapy, thanks for the heads up. (Though, frankly, I'm tired of accepting, maybe it's not for all, as you say, but I have to try things.) Incidentally, your question about triggers and buried stuff.
A harmless, comical and unrelated incident where Bill Clinton had compartmentalized his affairs so well that he spoke truthfully when he denied to the world that he had done anything inappropriate. I bet he would have sailed through a polygraph. But when the trigger/evidence appeared his apology and remorse was again genuine. I think he was even shocked at how he could lie so blatantly. But I could be fooled!! Anyway...relevance, nah, not really. :)
Regards, Ifellaway

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