Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 06:59AM


I am currently attending one of the branch churches.

I recently started attending another church too after various restrictions were placed on me. I have been told that I need to repent but I do not know of what I need to repent.
I have also felt very intimidated by control.

I was told I was putting family first when I missed a meeting to attend a family birthday party.

I am very drawn to the standards of holiness in Struthers and I enjoy the deep presence of God in the meetings and the singing.
However, I am concerned by the excessive control and the way that the discernment of the leaders is expected to be accepted unquestioningly.

Thank you ThePetitor and Treetop for your replies. They have helped me a lot. The hardest thing for me would be losing the friendships I have formed over the years but I know that in time the friendships I have begun to form in another church will deepen and you're right - there is real holiness and commitment in other churches too.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:00AM


I know many people in Struthers.

I know for a fact that several faithful and devout people – christians for over 20 years in Struthers - are depressed and have needed medication to get through normal life.

There are also some cases of serious mental breakdown in people associated with Struthers.

Maybe this isn't unusual in churches. However in over 20 years attendance at Struthers, I never once heard a message that acknowledged and addressed the needs of these people.
This may be done privately – who knows? But not addressing the general issue in a public way leads to misunderstanding for all and further loneliness for those that suffer.

I loved God's presence in meetings and couldn't accept that any criticism of the church or leadership was valid. My doubts stemmed from witnessing very little love in action towards the weak and broken in society and a selfish preoccupation with one's own spiritual walk.

I witnessed a leadership who managed to wield full authority over other intelligent adults, allowing no questioning, and who had no accountability to anyone. I heard doubts, criticisms and disapproval expressed about other churches by the leadership. None of this squares with the example of leadership given by Jesus Christ.

I personally do not know of anyone who has left Struthers happily, with a sense of calling to another church and been given public blessing on their way from Struthers leaders.

I PERSONALLY know of 50 people who have left Struthers regretfully, in deep pain, with terrible confusion.

I have written all their names down and know each of their stories. Some of them are sad, broken or bitter at the way they were treated by the Struthers leaders and turned away from God completely.

Fortunately many have managed to break free into christian life in other churches.

( On the 1980s Mr Black shares disaster )

I was part of the church at the time of the money scandal and this is what I remember.

Mr. Black approached people and asked if they would give their name for the church to buy shares. They were given a brief explanation and a paper to sign, taken away by Mr. Black, which I presume was a shares application.

Shares were paid for by the church which was to reap any profit, but they were purchased in private individual's names. Was that allowed? I found out later some of the people who were asked to give their names to buy shares.
Looking back it seemed to me that only the "sheep" who wouldn't raise questions were asked.

If this was the case it is particularly disturbing as trusting people were unwittingly coerced into taking part in a questionable financial activity.

It was all forced into the open when huge losses were incurred on shares.

I was not present at the Saturday evening meeting to hear the announcement and take part in the vote on whether Mr. Black should remain as leader, but I heard what our branch's church leader announced to our congregation the following morning at the Sunday service. It went like this:

"Mr. Black is terribly upset about a financial mistake he has made, causing the church to lose a considerable amount of money. He and his family have their bags packed, ready to leave their home, so it can be sold to pay for the mistake. He explained that he was also ready to step down as leader at the meeting last night. People stood up and voiced their support for him. A vote was taken, and he was overwhelmingly voted to remain as leader."

The branch leader tearfully voiced full support of Mr. Black and assured us it was a genuine mistake.

My own impressions are that the matter was kept in-house and was not reported to the authorities to investigate.

-I never heard that the full amount of money lost was ever revealed to church members to this day.
-I think the "vote" on Mr. Black remaining as leader was just a public show of hands, but I may be wrong on that – can anyone who was there on the Saturday evening remember?
-I don't think there was prior warning that this announcement was going to be made, so only the people who happened to be at that particular Saturday meeting got the opportunity to "vote."
-I don't think the Black family sold their house to pay for the losses
-and I don't know where the money to pay for the losses came from in the end.

Can anyone out there clear these things up for certain?

I totally agree that christians should be forgiving and that Mr. Black should have been forgiven. One can presume that learning a lesson of humility like that in life would make him a better person and more compassionate leader.

However, what I find astounding is that Mr. Black was allowed to remain heavily involved in the church finances – indeed that he did not remove himself from that area of church government! Any properly run organisation could have protected its financial integrity and reputation by removing someone who had committed a mistake of this magnitude from all future financial decisions. This does not even seem to have crossed the leaders' minds and certainly was not an option presented at the "vote."

The issue is not simply one of christian forgiveness. Let's be clear - the church left itself open to further suspicion and the possibility of future financial mistakes (eg the money lost on self published books) by failing to deal properly with questionable financial actions committed by its main leader.

( To poster "Uncertain" )

I agree with your unease about putting church events before your family. How are we ever going to win our family and friends for Christ if we don't spend time with them and demonstrate our love to them practically? Also, I think God wants us to enjoy the blessings of family. Struthers leaders seem to ignore the fact that the family is the model for christian brotherhood – not the other way round.

Please take heart about holiness teaching and high standards - many other churches have these too. Since coming out of Struthers I've been amazed at the level of commitment and holiness in other churches – I'd been led to believe that Struthers was special in this respect. Well, it's simply not the case!

I also identify with your heart-felt seeking for God's presence.

I was reluctant to leave Struthers because I didn't want to loose the chance to feel that presence. But I was really worried about the control of people's private lives (my own included) and the questionable Bible teaching, so in the end I did leave and I actually found myself growing in spiritual life and understanding of the Bible.

I hadn't realised that I'd been in limbo for years.

It was so scary to move out the 'fold' and try to settle in to another church, but it was the best move ever. I've now got pastors, elders and trained counsellors, who see their role as being there to support me to grow in God. I don't worry about being judged or feel guilty any more. I just feel happy and free and I think that's the way Christian life is supposed to be!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:02AM


I feel I have to comment on the question of whether people are banned from speaking to those that leave the church. I realise this will identify me to the leaders of the church, and possibly to some others, but I value truth above reputation. Apologies for not posting direct, but I already have about 10 email addresses and don't want to create another for this.

I was totally cut off from any contact when I left the church. The leader of the branch I was in refused to talk to me. I still send letters every few years to let her know I am alive and would like to talk about what happened, but I get no reply.

How can that possibly be right? You have to remember this is in a context that anon201062 says, "I have never know the leadership to be wrong" and "it is not advised taking help or advice from people we/you don't know".

OK, I am taking that advice. I am not taking help from people we/you don't know. Can anyone see a problem here? I am following the Struthers advice and not taking help form others, but my own leader in Struthers has consistently refused to speak to me for 20 years. By definition, this leaves me with no advice. Is it any wonder I am confused?


I find myself in a different position from the other contributors here, who all seem to have made up their mind either to agree or disagree with what goes on in Struthers.

I wish I could do either of these. I have been left in limbo for nearly 30 years as the leader of the Falkirk church and at least one other person I was close to refuse to talk to me.

I do not want to look back at all the detail now, but my summary at the time indicated that about a dozen “new phases” were imposed – either one person would speak to me or another would, but only in a certain place or only under certain conditions; or one time they would only speak direct and another it was only through an intermediary.

All I have asked for over 25 years is for someone to sit down with me as an equal and talk to me, to explain why certain decisions were made, what I had done wrong, what I was meant to do, and try to respond to some of the question I have about standards. Is that really too much to ask? What happened to one of Mr Black’s favourite quotes, “If I believed what you say you believe, and all England was covered in broken glass, I would crawl all over it on my hands and knees to save one soul”. I am not asking anyone to crawl over broken glass (although I would do this if the situation were reversed). All I am asking for is an adult conversation, without any pre-conditions being imposed.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:06AM


Ive had some very negative experiences of Struthers Memorial Church. Its a long story bit I'll try to bring out the main points here. It began by meeting a friend who went there, first online and then we develpoed the freindship in real life. She spoke about how the church was really 'anointed' and how holiness was a major focus for them. My first experience was summer bible camp and then a meeting at the Cumbernauld church. Here the pastor preached on holiness and staring into the congregation and Im sure at me shouted "Would you like me to reveal all of your sins to everyone here? I could do it you know."

Looking back now so much of this shouldve been warning signs but I was searching for a deepening relationshio with God and I guess I was blinded. In November of 2007 I moved to Cumbernauld and attended the church. It wasnt long before I started to notice certain things that caused me to question. Members would think nothing of asking permission to do all sorts of things we take for granted. Applying for certain jobs, taking holidays, moving house, even missing meetings in order to go for a meal with visiting family. When you questioned you were told the pastor had the best interest of the church members at heart and had been given that responsibilty by God and who were we to question that.

One of the most alarming times was when a young girl aged may 7 or 8 was dragged out of the meeting by the pastor during the time of worship. I have no idea what the poor kid did but she had to remain outside on her own for the rest of the meeting then her parents made her apologise to the pastor when the meeting was done.

Finally after me being there ust 6 weeks and not really knowing anyone else but my friend, she was told she wasnt allowed to talk to me or have anything to do with me. We werent even allowed to acknowledge one another in church. When I asked why I was told it was because I was unclean and sinful and needed major deliverance ministry. I asked for clarification as to how I was unclean as I certainly wasnt livng an unclean life. The answer I got was that she discerned it spiritually. Once agin questioning was forbidden. I was devastated by what happened and quickly sunk into depression, I even momentarily considered suicide. When I went to the pastor for help she told me that if she offered me sympathy it would be know good for me.

Thankfully I had some good friends, good church leaders back home and a good grounding in the bible and I got out of there. I aslo found out that I was by no means the only one and local ministers were quite concerned by the church. Many were afraid to leave because of the teaching that many members of others churches werent truly saved and were likely to go to hell. Leaving the church was seen as walking away from God and thus walking into the devils arms.


There are so many negative experiences and worrying things that happened in Struthers in such a small space of time. I guess one of the biggest things was how scripture and preaching from the pulpit was used to intimidate people. It was often used as a ploy for fear. The pastor at the cumbernauld church would often say stuff like "I know there are people here who have spoken against me. I know who you are and what youve said and so does God. He knows and he has told me and he will bring judgement on you."

I mentioned my experience of the "threat" of her saying she could expose all someones secret sins to the whole congregation if she wanted to. Even if she had some kind of prophetic ability and was able, what kind of person holds someone to ransom over revealing someones deepest darkest secrets to the whole congregation. I currently have a very close Christian friend and we decided to hold each other accountable. I know stuff about her that I wouldnt tell anyone. I would never dream of threatening her with the information I have in order to get her to do as I want or to be afraid of ever speaking out against me.

That brings me to another point they were heavy on. When you joined the church you were 'encouraged' to tell the leadership everything you did wrong before you came to that church. So. if you ever used to go out drinking or took drugs, if you slept around, struggled with pornography or did anything that wasn't up to their high standard you were supposed to confess it to the leaders. The result of this was you more than likely needed 'ministry' as you had opened yourself up to demonic forces and therefore needed deliverance. In many cases, even if they suspected something about you and you denied it they would still say you had a problem with it. In my case I was asked if I had ever had a lesbian relationship. I never have and never want to. I dont wish to offend anyone here but I see that kind of relationship as an abomination to God and it doesnt even interest me in the slightest.

However when I was asked about this, even after I told her I never had that kind of a relationship or felt that way about other women I was told that she discerned it anyway so it must be there. To me thats like asking someone "have you ever taken heroin?" The person honestly replies yet is met with the response "Well I feel in my spirit that you have, so you must have and you need to go to a drug rehab centre to get free from this addiction to heroin."

Im kind of embarrased now that I allowed myself to be sucked along in this for a while. Once I started confrm a little to what the pastor said she was nicer to me. She then offered me a 'ministry' session which I accepted. The session consisted of the pastor and a guy who had recently come out of a drug rehab centre and she was 'training up in the ministry' sitting in her office.

I was then encouraged to begin to pray in tounges very ferverently. After about 5 minutes of this I started to wonder what was going on as it was just me speaking in tongues with these 2 people sat either side of me praying in toungues. As I began to slow down I was shouted at to keep pressing through, keep pressing into Gods victory etc. This resulted in me shouting in toungues at the top of my voice until I started to physically loose my voice and break into a sweat. Still nothing happened, still the 2 people in the room sat either side of me, their hands on my shoulders praying in toungues. After about another 15 minutes I had to stop as I had all but lost my voice through screaming the session was brought to a close. I was told nothing had happened because I hadnt been ferverent enough and didnt really want to be delivered.

I left the church that night in bits. They had broken me down and I so wanted to be accepted by them and by God. I feel so foolish to think I belived them when they told me the only way to get close to God was to go through this silly yet dangerous process. They had me believing for a good while that I actually was demon possesed and that the only way I could get free was through that church.

Another policy of theirs is that they do not permit members to have ANYTHING to do with ex members. There was a man who was quite involved in the church for some time. He had a few disagreements with the pastor of Cumbernauld and decided to leave. Before he left he was 2 renting rooms in his house to 2 guys from the church. As soon as he left the 2 men were tod they had to leave his house immediately. As there was no alternative accomodation they were told they could live in the church. It had a showe and a kitchen and they had to sleep on mattresses on the floor in 2 of the sunday school rooms. One of the men had recently come out of a teen challenge drug rehab centre and was readjusting to life. However within 1 week of this move he went back on the streets and back onto drugs. A tragic case of putting their policies before people.


Also there appears to be no accountability of leaders. Elders etc are hand picked by those in leadership and one of the strongest beliefs in the church is the pastor is always right. So if a member had a grievane with the pastor where do they go? To an elder who is also held in fear to never disagree with the pastor? They are not part of the evangelical alliance or any other umbrella organisation. I know in Cumbernauld many of the other ministers have had issues with that church. I joined a different church and shared my experiences with the pastor there and although he was very supportive he was not surprised by what I told him as he had seen it several times before.

Again there is more I could say. I hope this doesnt sound like a bitter person having a gripe. Im doing fine now although it did take a while for me to be able to forgive those who hurt me. There are many lovely people in struthers with a genuine heart to serve God but it troubls me that they are held by this fear. I really hope that me sharing my experiences will help others. Yes I am 'over it' as much as its posible to be over something like that. However my concern is for those who are still being hurt or for those who have the potential to be hurt in the future and if my experiences will help stop that then praise God.


I can relate to the experience of prayer for healing/deliverance at Struthers. I'd often see people go out for prayer as the result of a genral "appeal" to receive "ministry" and them be totally passed by from the leaders or made to stand at the front for ages whilst the leaders prayed for others who hadnt even come forward and as an after thought they got one of their "underdogs" to pray for the person right at the end. Of course the justification was that they didnt feel "drawn" to pray with that person mainly due to the person having terrible sin in their life or not being ready to receive what God wanted to do, even though they had responded to an appeal for ministry. This was just another attempt to belittle people and keep them in their place. Many would be greatly upset that the key leader hadnt prayed over them. I for one felt extremely awkward and embarraed the time I went forward for prayer on a saturday night in Glasgow and was left standing there for over half and hour, being by passed whilst others received prayer and was left until last. Maybe people may think Im paranoid but Im sure it was used as some kind of statement against me.

I also experienced a "deliverance" session and again can identify with what others have said. The session took place in Dianas office with her and her young protege. There was little conversation at the start and I was told to begin praying in tounges. As time progressed I was encouraged to pray more ferverently (louder) and I ended up shouting tounges until I lost my voice. There was no prayer in English as the other 2 also prayed in tounges and nothing happened. After about 20 minutes Diana brought things to a close and told me that the reason othing had happened was because I still had sin in my life and I didnt hate my sin enough. I was then encouraged to confess more sins as this was they key to being "set free" (and being allowed to actually talk to and befriend other people in church) Im almost embarrased to say that I was scouring over my past with a fine toothed comb, recounting stuff I did when I was 12 and 13 before I was ever a Christian. It was at that point I contacted my old pastor from an Elim church and was advised to get out of their as it was spiritually abusive.


they dont practice the covering of heads for women now alhough I know they used to. Basically it refers to a passage of scripture in 1 Corinthians 11v 1-16. This basically says that f a woman prays or prophesies with her head uncovered it is dishonourable and she should have her head shaved. In that culture it was dishonourable for a woman to have a shaved head. It also says that for a woman long hair is her covering and doesnt mention a hat or scarf.

There has been an ongoing debate over this passage for years. Many churches used to insist on women wearing hats. When I became a Christian in 1986 women were required to wear hats but this has since phased out and only a few churches insist on it now. It seems funny to me that a church leadership team that is so close to God has many opinions on women leaders. Like I say I dont have a problem with it personally but they seem to chop and change their mind over it.

The so called 'discernment' is a big one for me too and the fact that they wont or cant tell you what it is they actually discern. I mean why would God show them and them not tell you or give you the help you need. See this is how I see true discernment working.


To "Anon" - a defender of SMC..

You say

"Many people do not stay in struthers. This is ok. It is not forbidden to talk to them or anything such as. People are given advice at times. Never told to do anything. Or never told if you don't do this you'll be asked to leave etc. We are encouraged to find fellowship with other christians, regardless of denomination, who are finding god as this will bring us closer to god."

My friend was FORBIDDEN to have anything to do with me and I was FORBIDDEN to have anything to do with her. This was confirmed by the Pastor of the church. And this while I was still in attendance. I was also told and I roughly quote "If you don't like this perhaps its best you go back to Coventry" This was said to me by the pastor at Cumbernauld church.

You say "Often at times people leave because of reasons such as Clive has mentioned (women ministry) but at times it is because they do not wish to TRY to live to the standard of teaching that is brought (all biblical). No one is asking for perfection. But one wonders why people come to church and sit and listen to a sermon preached from the bible about teachings that jesus brought us yet still behaves, knowingly, in a manner contrasting the bible."


However in my case I was trying to live for God when I was accused of being unclean. I challenged the leader to tell me in what area I was unclean and she couldnt tell me. Her response was "I discern it" Discern what exactly? Im sorry but that is a total cop out.

I have a good relationship with my minister and several other ministers and no one else has 'discerned' uncleaness in me. Does this mean they are not as righteous or close enough to God? Or could it be they are right

I could go on about several ther points you have brought up. One thing that comes to mind is the almost 'god like' status of the leaders among the congregation. Several members have told me that what the leaders say is right and anyone questioning them is looked down upon by the vast majority of struthers memorial church members.

You also say that "People are allowed to leave and are not in any way regarded in a negative way because of this." yet I have heard people who have left being spoken of in negative ways such as "they were never with us" or they were not truly part of us" I recently met a lady who was 'with' Struthers for over 40 years and has now left. It took her several years to get over the way she was treated.


I brought into the promise that I would only find true freedom if I joined Struthers Church. Then only after I had moved to Scotland I began to get the message that the leaders should be obeyed and that certain things were expected. When what they asked was way off, I felt or was made to feel that if I left I was somehow walking away from the promised freedom I could have in God into a lesser spiritual walk. Yet with retrospect I have been a Christian for 24 years and I had never felt so bound and restricted in my faith and towards God as I did in the time I went to Struthers Church.


I think that what is going on in Struthers is emotional blackmail. The leader says - "I know something about you that is really bad - but Im not going to tell you unless you do this that and the other - and even then I wont tell you until I think you're ready" Whats worse they often threaten to expose 'it' to the whole of the congregation and yet you still have no idea of what 'it' is.


I was thankful that I did have healthy church experiences to compare with what was happening. I also knew church leaders I could speak to and get some advice. The first time I spoke to my previous pastor, an Elim minister, she said "I dont often advise people to leave a church, but my advice is get out. What they're doing is spiritual abuse."

( @ Uncertain )

Just to encourage you, since my experience of Struthers church and losing my then closest friend due to what happened I was very upset. I missed her friendship and still do. This was made worse due to the fact that I was living in Scotland, over 400 miles away from family and friends back in England and she was the only friend I had at the point I left Struthers.

However I made some good friends in Cumbernauld when I joined another church. Since moving back to Coventry I have now formed a friendship with another lady whom I would now consider to be my closest friend. The best thing about this friendship is I know it is not dependant on what church I go to, how 'spiritual' I am perceived to be or anything else. As a Christian, if she feels I need pulling up about a faith issue (as we all do from time to time) she will speak to me about it and do her best to encourage and support me. I know that whatever I say to her in confidence will remain so and likewise I would not share anything she tells me.

Yes it is hard to leave long standing friendships behind and it is sad that this should have to be so. However there is 'life after Struthers' Not a lower level of life or a lesser walk with God. I know that I, along with many others here will testify to the greater freedom to serve and worship God and experience his love and grace, coupled with a freeom from undeserved guilt and condemnation.

I also came across the phobia ministry at Struthers. You were basically told that if you had phobias you were not trusting God so I imagine some people just shut up about these phobias afterward and dare not admit it. Its not that I dont believe God can take away fears. I know that after I left Struthers God totally took away my fear of thunderstorms. Its interesting that I heard that one of the 3 main leaders of Struthers has or at least in my time, had a fear of big dogs, that is rarely mentioned. Yet others are made to feel they dont trust God if they struggle with a phobia.


I think the obvious one regarding repetition being a form of control is the over emphasis of speaking (or shouting) in tounges. Often in services we were encouraged to 'push through in the Spirit' My recollection of prayer meetings were that about 80% of the time was spent actually speaking in tounges with about 20% of the time used to pray in English. Don't misunderstand me. I personally do pray in tounges in my own personal prayer life and occasionally when with other believers but this was to the extreme.

Hearing others talk of tounges being used as a form of a mantra to induce hypontic states, does make sense when you look at how Strthers used it. I think it is very apparent when anyone goes for 'ministry' My experiences of Struthers 'ministry', especially on a one to one basis, was there was very little speaking, advice, biblical counsel or prayer in English. I was told I needed deliverance (of what, is anyones guess) and just needed to pray in tounges earnestly (i.e shout at the top of your voice until you became hoarse) You really are taught that doing this brings you freedom from whatever it is they decide you need to be free from. I really do think that it was akin to the Buddhist chanting in order to reach 'enlightenment

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2013 07:06AM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:09AM



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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:11AM



It feels strange to be actually posting on this forum after over a year of observing the postings of those formerly involved in SMC or, like me, someone who grew up in SMC.

I have felt many times that I wanted to post, if only to agree with so many of the comments that have been made.

Cbarb’s recent postings have inspired me to write as, I think, we share very similar experiences, although I was an 80s-90s SMC child.

Thankfully my experience of Struthers ended around the late 90s / early noughts,
so the more recent stories I have read with great interest, although my own experience was a little longer ago.

I have been reflecting on my SMC upbringing (in the Inverclyde churches) in recent months because I came back to God within the last year or so.

This has been life-changing and fulfilling in ways I could never have imagined.

However it has also caused me to re-open memories of SMC and caused me to think about my past in more detail than perhaps I have been comfortable with.

Truthfully the realisation of the impact of being ‘brought up’ within SMC is only really hitting me now and it is hurtful and painful to think of it all.

I am amazed at the human brain’s ability to package things up and bury them deep.

However, I am now at a point where I need to make sense of it all as I know that my constant measuring of my current experience against previous SMC experiences can be consuming and unhelpful.

There is an anger at having been polluted in this way by this church, no matter how much I don’t want to feel angry or dwell upon it.

I might add that, similarly to Cbarb, none of my family is still involved in SMC, some are happy in churches elsewhere
and some are not Christians – a big part of this is down to SMC I am sure.

Through recent conversations with my parents, they are regretful in retrospect that we did not move to another church at some point.
However, I want to underline that there is no blame from me to my parents for this, who always did, and still do, exactly what they believe to be right for us as a family.
Although we have spoken about it recently, I feel that it upsets them to do so and I have no wish to cause them upset at all.

Yes there were good times at wiston lodge and there were good people and good friends within Struthers.

My overriding memories however are of being ranted at, particularly on Saturday nights, and being made to feel like the lowest of the low.

I don’t have any specific anecdotes, my prevailing memory is of being told that you are unclean and unworthy and that every aspect of you needs to change in order for you to be acceptable to God.

Maybe that doesn’t sound very terrible in itself, but as a child getting that message several times a week for more than 16 years is destructive. I am now realising exactly how destructive although I am getting through this slowly.

I am part of a church now, which is proving to be a good experience. However, I really relate to Cbarb’s comments about having a personal relationship with God and focussing on that. There is a lot be said for time alone with God.

I can't comment on the present day workings of SMC, however it doesn’t sound healthy at all. Personally I wish I could just blank the whole experience from my mind, but
failing that I need to continue to deal with it and ask God to help shape my mind and my thoughts away from it all.

In contrast to those on this forum with more recent experience of SMC, I don’t feel like I need answers to questions or to understand why SMC operates the way it does.

I totally understand others needing answers but all I really feel is sad about the whole thing. Sad that I grew up in the SMC environment and simultaneously amazed that I now have a relationship with God again despite this upbringing.

One thing that has really struck me since returning to God and attending another church. Until now I had never understood the concept of grace. Grace is the foundation of Christianity, the foundation of our relationship with God and yet I spent the first 17-18 years of my life attending a church which did not communicate this message to me. Like I said, it makes me very sad to realise this now.

There is definitely something cathartic about finally posting my own experience and it brings me a lot of comfort to realise that I am in good company on this forum.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:11AM



Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my 'memoirs'. Like any family it is good to come together at times and remember the bygone era!

Church camps, midges, hard pews and sore bums! 4 hour sermons that made even the most stubborn of us want to go to bed!…

Anyway life could have been worse I suppose, especially when I come across those who have been physically abused, suffered drug abuse and experienced many things that I was shielded from as a young kid.
It's good to remember past times good and bad and hopefully learn from them all as we move on in our journey through this life together as part of this wonderful family we are all part of in Christ Jesus.

Like HappiestEver, I too had the pleasure of growing up within the SMC and have many fond memories as well as others that I would rather forget about, and generally do.

Like most families, over time we all take different directions and journeys, we all have good and bad experiences, and we all find someone who is easy to get on with as well as those not so easy to get along with.

Sadly in life there are good family role models and others that are not so good and sometimes the bad outweighs the good or so it may appear at the time.

I personally am eternally grateful to certain people within SMC who were key to me today still experiencing a close and personal relationship with the one I love so much and no prizes for guessing his name… it is Jesus Christ. I had the experience of salvation, conversion and being filled with the Holy Ghost all of which are still very memorable to me.

Who remembers the barn?

I also have other less pleasurable moments of experiencing the disappointing behavior of those in positions that should have known better and seen the less Christian side of people as they were more concerned about what they believed in than loving those around them despite any differences they may have.

Having been away from SMC now for over 20 years and with little interaction from those within I am surprised to hear how insular it would appear to have become from discussion on this forum, as I had the impression that it had become more open and understanding to the larger christian community around which it is only a small albeit important part of, in recent years.

Since leaving SMC I have been involved in several 'christian families' as I like to see them, and have gained much from their differences that they have, most of which to this day I still have very good friends within, Rather that conflicting, most times they compliment each other with their differences and have helped me to be more tolerant of people's different take on life.

Unfortunately in the Christian world we can still be so judgmental (or just mental !!!), forgetting that he came not to judge us but to save us, and did so by laying down his life willingly so that he could experience the joy of seeing both you and I today experiencing the freedom and joy we can have in him as we get to know him personally and not through religion.

Anyway, I could go on and on for hours, but need my beauty sleep desperately!

But to everyone who reads this, and whatever point on the roller coaster of life you currently find yourself at, please don't believe the lie of the Devil which says he only loves you if...because he loves you whatever...and there is nothing you or I can do to make him love you less or more.


Love you all, and feel free to contact me as we journey together or apart remembering we are all part of one big family with one destination :)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2013 07:12AM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:13AM



I was a child in Struthers Memorial Church during the 70's, 80's and 90's and can honestly say that for a child it was a truly oppressive environment to grow up in.

Week after week, month after month, I was forced to sit through long "hellfire and damnation" sermons as well as VERY detailed discussions - and indeed physical displays- of "demon activity/possession
and deliverance"!

You wouldn't take a child of 8 years old to see an adult horror movie, so why was it deemed acceptable to speak of such horrors in front of children, and indeed permit them to witness the "blood curdling" screams and physical torments of someone being "delivered"?

As a result of such sustained exposure I grew up with very deep-seated fears which developed into serious Anxious Depression in adolescence, and adulthood.

In fact, 90% of the children raised alongside me in Struthers are being treated for some form of mental illness, ranging from Depression, Bulimia to Bi Polar Disorder and Psychosis.

I left this church many years ago, but it has taken me a long time to recover from the psychological scars. Now, I am happy and free and do not wish to attend any church, anywhere.

One word of advice to all the posters on this thread - " forget[ting] those things which are behind, and reach[ing] forth unto those things which are before."
Philippians 3.13

My childhood memories of Struthers were most definitely not all bad. For example, some of my happiest childhood memories are of long summer days spent romping around Wiston and environs with friends. I cannot deny either, that there was a real presence of God within the church meetings. I also agree that there were some very fine spiritual leaders, and some...not so fine.

Struthers Memorial Church has many, many faults- but show me a church that doesn't. I think we have to be careful that this forum does not become a platform for the spewing forth of bitterness. Let go and move on with your lives - I did, and am the happiest I have ever been! :-)

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:15AM



I have read with much interest all of the postings on this site and having been in Struthers church for a number of years, then left, I feel I can identify with many of the experiences shared here.

First of all, as a teenager I started to go along to meetings with a few of my friends and very quickly changed from a happy outgoing child who belonged to various groups and organisations, to a teenager who felt worthless and inadequate and never quite good enough.

The messages that came from the front via various people were that God's love only came through a lot of human effort which involved giving up friendships, hobbies and attending every meeting.

This is how I tried to live my life, even as a very young teenager, but it was never good enough. I remember paying a lot of money to attend church camps and have some memories of the games and “fun times” being fun however being utterly miserable during the services where the message being forced upon us by testimony and preaching was condemnation and a need for deliverance.

Often there would be an appeal for all the demon possessed to go to the blue room!! Then would come the Friday night service where the” breakthrough” would come.

The immediate meetings following the camp would be the same faces testifying to the amazing change to their lives by receiving ministry, advice and often from the experience of the camp.

Within a short period of time these same people often suddenly came across other issues in their lives that stopped them “getting through” to God and had to repeat the same process of more deliverance, ministry etc.

I don't remember at any time being taught of the grace and the mercy of God's love.

I don't remember being taught of the unconditional love of God nor do I remember this ever being displayed by any of the leadership or by those “in training” for leadership.

I do however recall harshness and heavyhandedness and an awful lot of unhappy, miserable and very burdened christians.

The word of God tells us that “there is now therefore no condemnation in them that love Christ”

I thank God for my salvation.

When I did leave Struthers I learned about the whole gospel of Christ and read the word for myself.
I listened to teaching that was driven by both a love for God and others and was not judgemental.

A leaders job is to deliver the unadulterated word of God not enforce it, it is to guide and to lead by example by allowing their ministry to be an extension of the lives they lead.

On reflection on this website, it makes me sad that the Struthers leadership has not responded to the testimonies of many people who have taken time to record how they were affected by poor leadership and poor representation of the gospel.

I suggest that when these leaders are alone, perhaps before they go to sleep at night or even as they look back over their lives they may realise the harshness and poor treatment they have given out to others was wrong.

This site is giving the Struthers leadership a chance to respond to peoples hurts and confusion and to change their ways.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:18AM



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 responsibility 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.

@ 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.


In response to Clive's question about how "repetition" could apply to SMC I'd suggest that hearing the same old message again and again would tick this box i.e. that you're not good enough, that hidden sins are lurking, that they must be sought out and confessed, etc etc. As sermon after sermon touched (or hammered) away on these and related topics even if one initally had a different opinion ultimately it was hard to retain independent thought especially if several leaders who were looked up to were all saying the same thing.

I don't know if it is still the case but testimonies used to play a key role in reinforcing and repeating platform messages and indeed sometimes they went further by giving specific examples of how a principle had been applied. By implication the action taken had been approved by the leadership given that they had requested the testimony be given eg giving away all your popular music CDs having decided they were a hidden idol. I look back on all the introspection and think what a waste - God didn't want me to be rule bound and sacrifice driven but I was too blinkered to see it.

My understanding of the shares scandal was that a professional with a financial background outwith the tight leadership group heard about the scheme to have members apply for shares on the church's behalf. He was appalled and indicated an intent to involve the authorities over the questionable legality of what had happened. From what I heard Mr Black was distraught about the whole thing, not just the losses but the possibility of legal action over what had turned out to be a costly and naive plan.

Like others on this forum I can forgive an error of judgement but what was much more damaging to me was the relentless teaching which encouraged the erosion of any sense of self-belief and confidence.

Mercy was not bountiful in SMC but condemnation was.

I never fully bought in to the leadership claims that they knew what God's plan was for my life and that failure to obey would mean I would never find true happiness, but even as the doubts strengthened it was difficult to leave.

As is the case in the secular world, sometimes it's hard to bring a relationship to an end, even when it is an abusive one. It was only after I left that I began to realise the extent of the lies and manipulation. That realisation was a bitter pill to swallow but worth it for the freedom which ultimately resulted.

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