Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:20AM



As a former member of Struthers I dont believe that they are a cult.

However, having read through most of the posts here, totally agree with many of the posters here.
Having been "Saved" into this church at the age of 10, I grew up in one of the outlying branches.

Despite this fact, I guarantee that not 1 person outwith the branch I was in knew my name. Indeed when I visited the main church in Glasgow, someone asked if I was a new member (this was after being in SMC for more that 20 years!).

I was deeply hurt by many people in this church and, whilst not wishing to pull down any fellow brothers or sisters in Christ, I do believe that SMC need to look within their own walls before they can grow and move on.

I went from being an extremely happy and outgoing child [to] a deeply surly and withdrawn teenager solely because of the treatment received in SMC. This carried into my adult life causing me to have a deep mistrust of people and transferring that into a deep inability to trust God.

I was so fortunate to have a close friend invite me to their church where I met amazing and wonderful people.
I have been able to work through my issues and, with the love and support of my new friends, learnt to trust again.

As a result, my life in God has been able to go deeper. Indeed I am now a youth leader and am deeply active in my church.

SMC do need to look at how the treat members and realise that "naming and shaming" from the pulpit is not in anyway an acceptable way to run church.
The culture of fear does indeed make many people insecure and feel that they are unable to question anything preached from the pulpit.

Many times I've personally been told that I should "just get on it with and not question" when I challenged leadership - indeed being forced to preach, when I was clearly not wanting to or able to do this. Indeed once I heard it preach that if someone, after leaving SMC, says that they are growing more, you should question whether they are settling for lower walk in God.

There is definitely an elitist attitude there that they are THE church and anywhere else is just not as good. Surely, as long as God is at the helm of any church following the gospel, it doesn't matter where you go as long as you are growing in God and are reaching out to those outside of the church to those who haven't heard the good news. Indeed I don't think my whole time in SMC, I heard them saying anything about going out on the streets or supporting charities. I'm also betting that most of those who tithe to SMC realise how much of that goes towards to up keep of Cedars School!

Since leaving SMC and moving to another church, I have grown so much more and am now indeed ready and able to do so much more now that I am able to grow and become exactly what God intended me to be. Those who have been deeply hurt by practices here should take courage from this. I know personally now that God can and indeed does help you to work through problems encountered by your times in SMC.

I am willing to reply directly to anyone if they want to clarifly and of these issues. Doubt any of the leader from SMC will reply though - they prefer just to shout from their pulpits and put fear in the hearts of those who attend. I hope that this doesn't sound like bitterness and I have moved on from these feelings and now just have nothing but concern for those who are struggling to deal with this. Indeed I still have family who attend SMC albeit on one of the main branches.

Hope this helps those who have been affected and, as I can see from this forum, you are not alone.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:22AM



I discovered this forum after searching for Struthers Memorial Church. I wanted to find if anyone else had the same experiences as I had, and boy, did I find more than that.

I attended this church in the 1980s on a regular basis as a young child upto my early teens.

My family was very much indoctrinated into the SMC way of thinking. We were told that TV was evil, modern music was evil, certain clothing was evil, hairstyles were evil etc. As a result, I grew up in the belief that all these things were evil and would corrupt me and my life would be ruined. My family often told me to either bring my friends into the church or to shun them as they weren't in the church and as a result, I lost a number of good friends.

I attended Glasgow church on Sunday mornings / evening and Friday evenings. We attended Greenock on Saturday nights.
I do have some happy memories of visiting Wiston Lodge every year and 'doing the assault course' or 'doing Tinto', but as I grew older, I moved from the youth programme into the adult meetings at camp and that when it really started to get disturbing.

The pastor at the time was Mr Hugh Black assisted by Miss Mary Black and there was someone called Miss Taylor and I remember being absolutely terrified from her. She seemed to be very disturbed and almost maniacal when she preached.

The indoctrination has lasted into my adulthood and I took a lot of anger and resentment about this church. I consider myself a christian and I try to follow a christian life, but I frequently find myself in conflict with the teachings I took as a child from this church with what my beliefs are now.

There were frequent occasions when I was a child when I questioned the church and the people who lead the church. This frequently resulted in severe whippings when I got home as questioning this church is considered sinful and evil and noone should ever question the guidance of the leaders of this church.

I believe this is not what the bible teaches. Doesn't the bible teach us to question things and to love one another. Not beat them. I would then be bought before Mr Black who would then 'lay his hands' on me and 'heal me', even though there was nothing wrong with me.

Before I found this forum, I actually felt that all churches would be like SMC and, as a result, felt some resentment against christianity in general, however, now I realise that this is not the case and my resentment is only directed towards SMC. Trust me, when I discovered this forum, so many posts hit home and reading some of them had me in tears as I now realise I'm not the only one who feels this church abused it's position.

I feel that if I discussed this with my family now, the conversation would go the way of me being sinful and the motives of the SMC should never be brought into question, but I tell you, this church works on the power that a small number of leaders have over the congregation and the amount of control they exert over their lives and they will never release that hold. This is completely out of line of the bible teachings.

A surprising result of finding this web-forum and reading the posts is that I would actually like to start attending church again.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:24AM



My parents were members of one of the English branches of SMC, as a child I attended dutifully with my brothers from a young pre teen age.
We had been to churches before CofE and Penticostal, happy places in the main with happy people running them.

I thought I knew what to expect.

My illusions were shattered when the first contact we had with the leaders was a lecture on how we were to behave, sit at the front, dont look around and behave.

We went on many camps and met some truly lovely people. SMC back then seemed to attract a certain type of person, it was there I met my first drug addict, first alcholic and my first demon possesed person. SMC seemed to be a magnet for either the less fortunate or, if you look at it another way, people who previously liked to really enjoy themselves.

It always struck me that the majority of leaders were school teachers, even our English branch was run by school teachers, and they were all controlled by the fat controller himself, Mr Black, oh and his daughers Grace (if ever someone waas misnamed it was her )

My main beef with SMC was the amount of control levied by the leadership, there was no tv in our house, popular culture was banned and if Mr B could have fitted into a horse and carriage and got a horse hair shirt to fit then Im sure he would.

My Dad used to tithe a 3rd of his wages, not a percentage which would have been intelligent, a 3rd. Were did it all go ? Who accounted for it ?

Some may say that it was used to invest in the stock market.
Some may say an awful lot of it was lost in the late 80's stock market crash.

Certainly non was ever spent on the damp, miserable edifices in Greenock and Pudsey.

Is SMC a cult ? I doubt it, it wasn't then, I was given the choice by my parents of attending or leaving once it obvious I was never going to become a missionary or a devoutee of Mary Charmicheal.

Is it now ? I sincerely hope not, when I was there, as I said, there where so many happy people there who wanted to do great things.

Shame they were all in the congregation

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:25AM



It has been so interesting to read of the common experiences of many – which are, in fact, identical to mine. Sadly, it seems that predominantly we can only see how damaging SMC is once we are ‘out the other side’.

I was a kid and a teenager in SMC, and although I loved the worship and the very real presence of God (totally addictive), I felt under the most extreme pressure to perform. I remember in one Saturday night kids’ meeting in Glasgow, the leader made everyone sit in a circle and asked everyone who had been baptised in the Spirit to raise their hands. (This by the way is synonymous with speaking in tongues – I was once at a camp where a poor teenage girl got verbally shot down for suggesting that even although she didn’t speak in tongues, she knew she was filled with the Spirit). Every kid raised their hand – even the tiniest ones – then everyone was encouraged to share their experiences of when it happened. Naturally, the age of ‘being filled’ decreased rapidly with each story being told.

As I remember it, there were certain places, things and brands which were acceptable, and others which were not.
Make-up, ear-piercing and (in my day)
Bebo Norman were a big no-no.

Star Wars, Lord of the Rings (Mary Black was a big fan), photography and anything made by Apple were things you should invest a lot of energy in. It seemed to lie on the shoulders of a few people in a kind of ‘magic circle’ to determine what was kosher, like foreign holidays (at my time forbidden, now ok) or strappy summer tops (oh, the embarrassment of a friend being asked to change at camp!).

It was exhausting keeping up with what I was allowed to do. I attended meetings every single night of the week and twice on a Sunday – and similar to what others have said, absence was always noted and strictly followed up.

Superiority was encouraged – working with other churches was not. And all the time I remember the fear of being found out to be not good enough, or not holy enough; not living up to what the leaders planned out was a terrifying thought. Stories filtered through to us teens (sadly can’t vouch for the accuracy of them) that certain people had been dissuaded from marrying the person they wanted to because the leaders had deemed they were not the right person for them. I was terrified for falling for the wrong person and having heartbreak heaped on shame!

I do remember a couple of people leaving the church while I was there and the whole affair being massively hushed up. There seemed to be a hardness, and a blatant lack of compassion – in a way that I have seen very similarly demonstrated by members of the Westboro Baptist Church when someone makes the heart-breaking decision to leave their whole family’s chosen way of life. My experience of leaving was very similar to everyone else leaving SMC – first questions, then shunning, then ex-communication.

One final thing I would say is that I have heard some of my acquaintances still in SMC say that it is a growing, vibrant church. Vibrant maybe, I suppose that’s in the eye of the church-goer, but I find it pretty hard to swallow that it’s growing. The ‘leadership’ team doesn’t seem to have changed for ten years as I can see it, and when I look at recent pictures of activities in the church, I recognise everyone in them. Strikes me as a big odd, is all.

Needless to say – God is no man’s debtor, and what the devil means to harm us, God only brings to prosper us. He has taught me so much through the whole experience and I have an ongoing hunger to know God at a deep level. I just pray so much I will never again be dogmatic, blinded and hard - God is just too full of love!

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



Reading through all your posts brings back a lot of memories for me, having been brought up in the church thro the 70's and 80's…..

I have to say things haven't changed very much!
Growing up in smc very much affected how i got on with other kids in school.

All the way through primary for example once the school day ended and at weekends I would not really socialise with them, the only birthday partys I would attend would be church ones and the summer holidays would usually be used going to camps.

None of us thought anything about strange about it, it was all we knew, and as i said before camp was a happy time, alltho as you got older, the amount of meetings would start to do your head in.

A lot of my generation became gospel hardened, i would switch of with the first hymn and waken up with the last prayer.

I would say that quite tellingly 95% of my peer group(including myself) are no longer there.

I have very happy memories of wiston lodge and the fun we all used to have there, although these are tempered with memories of sitting thro 5-6 hours of meetings a day, back then there were not always youth meetings as today.

If you listen to some of the flowery descriptions of Miss Taylor that you will all have heard, she was the lords anointed,
however growing up she absolutely terrified us all, very very intense with zero time for anyone not completely willing to bend to her will.

this is where the control freakery (heavy shepherding) that you talk about comes from, todays leaders learned at the feet of a dictator!

Mr Black was not in the driving seat at any time!

I was listening to Mr Black preach about 10-12 years ago when he claimed that his phobia ministry had a 95% success rate, does anyone know how he could substantiate that figure?

As regards the comments about women ministry Struthers has allways been driven by feminine doctrine, the two main founders were women, as have all leaders since,
with the exception of mr black although it could be argued he was leader only briefly between miss taylor and miss black.

Mr Black was a lovely man in many ways,and although fundamentalist in his outlook I always found him caring and approachable,
by the sound of things todays congregation don't have that luxury with their leaders.

Is television approved of now?

when i was a young teenager there was a list of things miss taylor dissaproved of,

christmas trees
any shopping on a sunday
make up
jeans (especially on girls!)
anything not bible related really

I could go on for a long time, I have seen both sides of Struthers in action, there are good people there and there are self-seeking aggressively ambitious sycophants there,
along with a few fundamentalist pharisees, I will let you work out which is which.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:29AM



I had been attending Struthers for most of my life. I had never been to another other church before that.

I had been deeply hurt. To the point where I was just about to take my own life. I didnt know the difference between right and wrong anymore.

When I was in Struthers I was in fear. I was scared to do anything. I was so self-conscious. Started introspect, and that is not always a good thing. Why was I scared, because everything you do you get watched and made you feel intimidated and scorned upon.

Thank God that He took me bit by bit. God’s love is everything to me. His Word tells me. 'There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. "

The 'Clique' :

There were a lot of young people at Cumbernauld at one point. We were at an august camp. Diana chose a clique.

One was her niece, which was a given, her nieces friend and two other girls. Everyone else was moved to the side.
The 'clique' could speak to Diana whenever they wanted to. She had time for them. Diana said if you follow God you will be in the 'clique' the 'clique' was what Diana called it.

All I knew at that point was they were different from me. I was a church filler. Now no matter what I done I could not get into the 'clique' Diana said jump, I said how high" .

I never had a TV. I never listened to secular music. I never went on holiday.

Only holiday I had been at the camps. And when I got home from the camps, I needed a holiday, lol.

I am just putting down what happened and the facts. Struthers have this saying the highway to holiness.
I was living my life and walk with God as well as I could.

Yes it is "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God". -Ephesians 2:8. So no matter what you do if you are not wanted in the 'clique' it won’t happen.


1. A teenager was 'banned' on a complete lie. At a camp she was speaking to someone.

And Diana’s son pasted her and overheard what was said.

Went to his mum and said she was speaking to him about something.

After the camp on the Sunday evening Diana preached and openly named the teenager.

And went on to say in all the years I have been to ex amount of camps ( i.e. she named how many years I just can’t remember) and this is worse camp I have ever been to.

So the teenager was 'banned' and when someone was 'banned' you are not encouraged to be in contact with them. So I lost contact. After I left Struthers I contacted the person and asked what happened back then and she told me. So she was 'banned' on a complete lie.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:31AM



Hi all, my name is Anthony.

Several years ago I was a member of Struthers in south Wales.

It is most deffinately a cult.

What happend to me, my familly and friends is appauling and most definately ungodly, but it is not something I am comfortable to share on here.

I would just like to say that I echo all the negatives mentioned in this forum, and plead with everyone out there to never get involved with this highly dangerous cult.

We are all fine now thanks. We are still partialy conected to Struthers church in South Wales trough churches together.

It is very difficlult to explain to others the problem with this church, as people think we left because we were offended in some way.

I would like to add that my real name is also Anthony and I live in Neath in south wales.

I want to be open as I have nothing to hide or fear. People need to know the truth about Struthers, they need to be warned. I am quite happy to talk to anybody including people from struthers about my experiences.

I love God and all my brothers and sisters both in Christ and without

My only wish is that the truth be known and that people are set free. Those who are still in struthers mearly suffer the same affliction that I once did - deception.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:32AM



I went to Struthers Church for over 20 years.

I found that rules made by the church leadership can change but with no announcement of the fact or instruction to the members. For example, it used to be that women were not allowed to wear trousers, especially not jeans. Nowadays most of the women there wear trousers including, in the younger women, tight-fitting jeans. Nothing is said. The wearing of hats for women ceased also, with nothing being said; it was just that graduallly women stopped wearing them. Before then, not wearing a hat was said to be a sign of disobedience to the leaders.

Other things concerned me, one of which, not so far mentioned in these posts, is their healing ministry, so much so that people are afraid to say they are ill because that indicates that there is something wrong in your life, or you don't have enough faith or you've lost the healing you had, so basically, it's your own fault. Some people have experienced great confusion and upset on this matter.

I could write more. I know there are other people in Struthers church who are unhappy but are too frightened to leave and that concerns me greatly.

It is good to see this Forum as, yes, you do feel you're the only one.


In the early 90s SMC produced a church magazine about 4 times a year and I had kept some copies. In one of them, I read someting which I found very disturbing. The entry, which had been written by Mary Black was entitled "I will Purge the Rebels Out from Among You" (with no Scripture reference given).
In the first part she decribes how the above word is a necessary part of the process of revival and how a common pattern in the aftermath of revival was a church which gradually lost its ardour and became lukewarm and carnal and that from this grouping a remnant arose who refused to accept the coldness and who fought to maintain revival fire. This remnant are ultimately driven out by the pressure of a cold-hearted congregation and cold-hearted leadership.

In the second part she turns the idea right round and describes a church where the leadership are on fire and fighting to maintain revival despite people bent on backsliding. She then writes, "Those who exit are not the revived, but the backsliders who in the face of the growing light of truth coming through an uncompromising leadership, eventually feel under pressure to leave since their carnality can no longer be hidden. In this case the remnant are those who remain rather than those who go".
(Incidentally, the scripture reference for the above word is Ezekiel 20 v 38 and the chapter is about rebelliousness in Israel.)

The first part of her entry seems to refer to how the SMC movement came about, when a small group left a large church which they considered to be cold and backslidden. Then in the second part she refers to those who leave SMC because they are backsliding and carnal, and judged to be so by an "on fire" leadership!
If this isn't an example of twisted scripture and re-interpretation of a Bible verse to make it fit what you want, I don't know what is. Also, I know several people who have left SMC and they are on fire for God, some in Christian leadership positions, others ministering and helping the weak, living holy lives, preaching the gospel etc. How can SMC leaders justify what they say and write, because it is erroneous!


@ Lorna

Thanks for your contribution, Lorna. However, I don't think you will be able to understand the experiences which are being written about here as you haven't obviously gone through what some members, who are very sincere and loving people who committed their lives deeply to God in their youth and wanted to serve Him fully, have suffered in past years in this church.

To Archbishop Laud, you say the doctrine of the church is mainstream. Yes, it is, but sometimes I noticed that Bible verses were re-interpreted to suit the teaching, and comments were made about other verses saying e.g., "but that doesn't apply to us, we do things differently here, this is what Leader A said it means." That used to really concern me, because if Christians don't accept that the Bible is the true Word of God, then they can just add a bit or make up anything they fancy.

I was always aware that members were not encouraged to visit other churches or go to other outreaches or hear other Christian speakers. Some folk did, but ended up consumed with guilt and felt they were being disloyal. It seemed that only Struthers had the true pathway. Surely we are one Body of Christ and therefore we should be free to fellowship with other christians from other groupings. Not so, it seemed.


There have been several posts relating to the Cumbernauld branch of Struthers, but I'd like it to be known that the same controlling, favouritism and banning procedures occur in all the branch churches. Since every one of the leaders follow the same teaching and continually told us how much in unity the leaders are, then it followed that their treatment of members of their church grouping adhered to the same pattern. I was advised to cut contact with an individual if they left the church; this happened to me on 3 or 4 specific occasions. It was hard to take especially if the person is a friend and one whose company you enjoyed. I also knew of people who were banned and of course, you were told not to see them. Because you're held by fear, you just did what the leaders said on the issue.


Hello Old Skool
I also go back a long way in Struthers and can remember the previous female leaders of whom, yes, we were terrified and were scared that we'd do something wrong and get mentioned from the front (platform) either by name or anonymously. That's why I wrote in a previous post that recent problems in SMC are not confined to the Cumbernauld church. I was in SMC before the Cumbernauld church came into being and the same controlling behaviour existed back then and has been passed on. I'm well aware of how leaders intervene in situations and get things changed, often causing confusion and hurt to those involved. If we questioned this, we were told the leader was right and "knew the mind of God". So if you believed that, you submitted in remorse and kept quiet thereafter.

Yes, Old Skool, there were a lot of rules back then relating to dress, jeans, TV etc. Rules on dress were relaxed over the years, but TV was still deemed unacceptable and few members owned a television. I never saw anything on a TV for years. I didn't know what certain people in the Government or in the News looked like! What seemed a bit hypocritical to me was that using the internet or mobile phone was never spoken against, and much of the same content can be found there as is seen on television. Can't we be trusted to select that which is good and switch off the bad? If we can on the web, then why not similarly on TV?

Many cults prohibit the watching of television. Could it be yet another method of control and a means of taking people out of reality into a confined way of life where you find your way by obeying only what the leaders teach and tell you.


I have actually experienced the same sense of God's presence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit in other Christian meetings outwith Struthers. I have experienced deep and meanigful worship and singing outwith SMC. I have met other Christians who worship and sing just as strongly and sincerely and who feel the presence of God. I have prayed with other Christians just as deeply as in SMC, with or without the use of the gift of tongues. God is God and He isn't confined to SMC alone, as we now know for sure.
And, yes, I also agree that the Christian walk isn't all about experiences and feelings, which can be deceptive and linked to emotion.


[ about breaking up couples]

Yes, I've witnessed male/female relationships being broken up causing great pain to both sides, lack of teaching on SMC's views on divorce so that a relationship formed with a divorced person leads to confusion, upset and shunning by other members, marriages deemed to be less important than your service and "call" to SMC, meetings to have priority over caring for your babies and children, breast-feeding discouraged because it kept you away from church meetings. These happen in all branches, not just Cumbernauld and it goes back years so is not a new thing. I was there.


about suicides

I know that a number of years ago, a young man with mental health problems and who was a member of SMC, tragically committed suicide.

We were all very upset and so were the leaders - rightly so. It was nobody's fault; as I say, he was mentally unbalanced.

So it seems very heartless for the leaders to say to you that you shouldn't hang out with such people (who struggle with life and take their own life), when it has happened to one of their church members.

Surely compassion is in order and also support for you in your loss and shock. This is what you would find in most other churches which have a close-knit fellowship and where there is a care for the flock. If one member of the Body suffers, we are meant to suffer with them, not ostracise them.


Re the singing of a song/chorus over and over again, this used to concern me greatly because, as young people in SMC, we were told in the meeting that we must look straight at the leader and make eye contact whilst she was leading the singing and we used to have to sing the same words over and over again. This frankly seemed to have the effect not of bringing us deeper into God's presence. Rather, I felt we just went into a repetitive mode similar to rote learning for exams, where the actual content becomes meaningless and isn't doing anything for you spiritually. I've wondered if there was a hypnotic effect at times. If not, it certainly worked as a method of control and drew you deeper in to the Struthers ways and contributed to your desire to obey that leader whatever she said or preached.

SMC write a lot of their own songs, some of which are really lovely, but again, certain lines and words are emphasised over and over again. They also shunned some other Christian choruses if they didn't suit their purposes and frequently changed words in them to suit, or altered the timing of parts of the music.

( to Susie ) :

I understand exactly how you feel having gone through similar experiences myself - feeling so worthless and that I'd failed God, so why did He save me in the first place. It's awful that Christians should come out feeling like that, but that's what happens to many in SMC. It's not God's plan for His children to feel like that. I hope and pray you will find a supportive church and others who can help you through this. You're not alone, remember, and it takes time. I didn't find it at all easy to leave.

I perceived, (and indeed had many of these myself) fear and anxiety, paranoia, introspection with accompanying condemnation, low self-worth, indecisiveness, and even depression. These develop as a result of being constantly told in the preaching that you're not giving enough of yourself, not pressing through enough, not getting the anointing enough and being told you are useless to God until you do these things. Years passed, you did all these instructions, gave up every bit of yourself and your personal life, and you still felt you were getting nowhere and it seemed impossible that you ever would, so the result is bad fruit like the above in your life. I know we were told that people who leave SMC haven't "done it all" but this is not true - we gave every bit of our lives over, just the same as these leaders had.

What a lie that is, because when you meet other ex-SMC members who are doing well now in their walk with God and manifesting love, joy, peace, self-control, patience etc etc., you realise what you were taught was utterly untrue and totally negative.



There is certainly lots of repetition going on in the preaching and teaching at SMC. As Chris19 says above, we were constantly being told that we weren't yet holy enough, committed deeply enough to God, surrendered enough etc etc, which only led to introspection and consequently, discouragement about one's spiritual condition and future. Certain spiritual giants were spoken about again and again: Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, Amy Carmichael, Madame Guyon. They were the ones who had "made it" and we hadn't and had no hope of ever becoming like any of these pioneers. Of course we couldn't!

I also remember the following being repeated again and again:
- how SMC started and how it had its roots in the Welsh Revival because Miss Taylor was converted under the preaching of Principal George Jeffreys in an atmosphere of revival. What I never heard mentioned, or maybe only once briefly during a Bible study on church history, was that the Elim movement which gave rise to the present Elim pentecostal churches, has its roots in that revival too and was started because of the outpouring experienced by Principal Jeffreys and others. SMC was not the only church movement to come from that. Of course, Elim Churches are never mentioned in SMC because SMC leaders, and consequently the members too, look down on them spiritually as being a wordly church branch where there is lack of holy living and commitment to God. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Re Covlass's comments on deliverance and misuse of tongues, I have witnessed that happening to people getting prayer at the front. The person is instructed to shout louder and louder in tongues in order for the demon or demons to come out. If nothing comes out, the person is told to shout even louder (as Covlass has described). Coupled with this, I noticed the person being pushed back and forward in a rocking-chair motion at the same time. What is behind that way of ministry I just have no idea. The explanation I was given was that deliverance is associated with a rise in the volume of tongues, therefore if we get people to get louder in tongues then they will be delivered. What?? Where does it say that in the Bible? Funny thing is, I remember Hugh Black teaching on deliverance and saying that it happened in many different ways and the evidence could be just a sigh, cough or heavy breathing and the demon came out. Shaking and shouting surely isn't the correct approach.


CBarb, I think I remember your dad and indeed he had a great sense of humour and used to tell some really funny stories. I note that you think SMC must have changed since these days when you were growing up in it, but I don't think it has changed. It was the past leaders who trained up and produced the current leaders. Indeed, the current leaders talk about "having so and so's mantle". They kept telling us that they were following in the footsteps of Miss Taylor and Hugh Black and were proud to do so. They learned the teaching and the methods of control from past leaders and are just continuing in the same vein as past ones.

I once got instruction from an SMC leader as to how to lead a group and, looking back, I know now that I was being taught how to control and dominate in a subtle way and never to let anyone express their opinion, because I was in charge. I felt uncomfortable about it but did what I was told because the leader told me to. Thankfully, I am out now and free. But in my opinion, SMC has never been OK. What is going on now is the same stuff that went on years ago. There is a wrong spiritual continuum, a thread of twisted teaching coming right on down through the years till now.

Your parents left SMC, therefore they couldn't have been happy with things or they would still be there. So there must have been issues which troubled them back then. I just remember being told that they had left the church. I couldn't understand why, because, to my knowledge, your parents were both very committed Christians who moved under anointing of the Holy Spirit. But we were never given explanations or information about people who left the church and were simply led to believe they must have fallen away from God or slipped down to a lesser way of Christian living. How ridiculous and how far from the truth!

Re the wedding in Cumbernauld, I wasn't aware that the pastor had conducted many weddings nor that many had split up. Marriages were usually conducted by Hugh Black or Mary Black and took place in Greenock or Glasgow. I have heard some quite harsh teaching being given at wedding services and strong warnings about divorce being given, but I don't hink I've heard as bad as that which you witnessed, Religionless. As has been said already, this type of thing is not commonly found at Christian church wedding services, quite the opposite, in fact.

Just to clear up further, regarding the timing of things, in the book which Hugh Black wrote about Miss Taylor entitled "E.H. Taylor, A Modern Christian Mystic", which he transcribed from Miss Taylor relating accounts of things to him, the vision which she had about a work, i.e. the development of the Struthers movement is described. HB writes that the date of this vision was "not recorded but was between 1962 and mid-1964".

This is the vision where God told her that "no stranger would teach His people and God would raise up from the midst of the company those of His choice" and that they would "not become dependent on visiting speakers".

So I am presuming, Cbarb, that this is what you saw happening in SMC and explains the change which occurred thereafter, and confirms Chesterk55's account.

Miss Taylor was a very reserved, shy person and apparently hardly ever left Greenock or spoke to strangers. (She said so herself).

So, as you say, Chesterk55, it took Mr Black ages to get her to travel out to Camps at Wiston. At the same time, we had to scrape up our small amount of pennies and get to Camps, or we got a telling off for not attending! We couldnt say we were too scared to go!

Yes, Anthony, many of us do pray for the people and leaders in SMC. The result has been more people seeing the truth and leaving, plus the exposure which this Forum has provided. Yes, we'll keep praying because we know God is in control and He is grieved over what's happening.


when I wrote about DR's discernment and the accuracy of it compared to that of the other leaders, I wasnt meaning that I thought it was ok and that I believed her discernment was always accurate and from God. I well know that it is not always accurate and that many people have been hurt through being told things that she had discerned and that were not the case. I know people who were told they needed deliverance but that they couldnt get it because they were either enjoying the sin or were not serious about getting rid of their problem. Again, it was always the person's fault never that of the leader who was ministering.

Pointing out people in a public gathering and speaking about their sin and need of deliverance, which has been discerned by a leader, is very upsetting for people. In most other churches where discernment and revelation gifts are in operation, the person in need will be taken quietly aside and counselled and ministered to in private. Again, on the matter of other churches, I have felt a strong presence of God and a strong anointing of the Holy Spirit in other churches. This is in no way confined to SMC, as the leaders and many members believe it to be and say it is. There are other Pentecostal churches around and other churches which pray for revival to come. SMC is not the only one.

Yes, I know that DR received training and counsel from Mr Black aswell, but for the more spiritual aspect of things, it was Miss Taylor and Mary Black because they both claimed to move in the discernment and revelation knowledge realm too. I remember we were told that Mary was never wrong in her discerning of things in someone or her predictions about people's futures. What a claim to make and what a terrible pressure to put on someone in ministry. I know for certain about situations where she was wrong and about judgements she made about people which proved to be incorrect, but this was never mentioned.

The story you have related about Person A and Person B rings very true for me too. That kind of thing was common in the Glasgow Church when Mary Black was the leader and I think I have heard of it happening in some other branches too.


Just a few comments:
Cbarb, do you know, I have never heard about the lady you call Ma (Mrs) Jewell. There's one reason and only one to explain this and that is because she left SMC for good and as you say, spoke up and questioned things. A lady like you describe, who appears to have worked tirelessly for the Church and given spiritual help and encouragement to young people, should have been celebrated. Instead she was never mentioned publicly by any of the leaders and I am certain that she was not mentioned at the 60 year celebration event. She should have been! I remember your parents and your uncle and aunt and I missed them after they left SMC. I'm sorry if this hurts you, Cbarb, but we were told in sermons in the late 80s that people who had left had fallen from "the high road" or the "high calling of God." When I left SMC, of course, I was able to see that this was totally untrue. As Lintar123 points out, she was spoken about publicly from the platform after she left aswell. This is how SMC leaders behave and this is what they pass on to the members who in turn believe the lies about people.

Calvary, I remember the 10 Cities vision of DR and, to my knowledge, you're right that it doesnt seem to have come to pass. She boasted at the time that God had given her the towns which make up North Lanarkshire before local government had called the area North Lanarkshire. It reminds me of Miss Taylor's vision of the Fountain where she predicted the Struthers movemnt spreading out from Greenock over the central belt of Scotland and beyond and leading to branch churches being set up all over the place. As you can read in Latigo's article about "How many menbers does SMC have?" many of these branch churches which were set up in the 70s and 80s eventually closed and are no longer in operation. Latigo show that the numbers attending present branch churches are not that high and that the movement is not spreading out all over the place from Greenock. So what's happened regarding that vision? What are the leaders' thoughts on that one?

Yes, I think you're right that Mr Black did not always agree wiuth DR's ministry style and the pointing out of people in a meeting. I felt though, that he was always over-ruled by Mary Black and Diana because they were felt to have more spiritual insight and revelation, so he let them have their way often. It stemmed back to him being over-ruled by Miss Taylor for the same reasons. Again, it's this concept of women being in charge and getting their way. Of course, after Mr Black's death, they didn't have to worry about that anymore. The other leaders must think DR is OK to do as she does.

@Clive, It was hearing things in sermons and prophecies, which I did not feel comfortable about, which first led me to question the validity of the teaching and realise that a lot of what I heard did not equate with the Bible. So lets hope that present members of SMC do what you suggest. Not sure they will though, if they are content with things as they are. Often it takes a specific occurrence which tips the balance and leads to a person deciding to leave. Yes, Clive, the teaching and atmosphere in other charismatic and pentecostal churches is not the same as that found at SMC. There are some super churches out there.


I noticed that there were many people in SMC who take on the traits of the leaders and become controlling aswell, in their relationships with others. That is frightening too because it means that people's personalities could be changed just by being controlled by abusive leaders. I did see personality changes and I probably underwent some too, which explains why it can take years to re-adjust to normal life after leaving SMC. It's a type of mind control.

I don't think it's a simple matter to expect people to take responsibility, if they have become embedded in an abusive church for many years. Let's hope that more do question things and decide that they want more for themselves out of life and discover that there is life out there. For young people who have been brought up in SMC by their parents, they have to decide if this way of being is OK for them or not. Many kids did leave when they reached their mid-teens, so these ones have been able to take resonsibility for their own lives.


That is so good to hear about Ma Jewell again. I am amazed but not surprised really that she has been air-brushed out of the Struthers story and was not mentioned publicly or privately after she left. I have a story involving a wet dish-towel too but not a happy one.

Myself and another young person were washing the communion glasses, after the meeting, in the church kitchen at Greenock. We were working away, talking a bit, but not laughing or larking about.

Miss Taylor came into the kitchen and glowered at us. We then heard her speak to another adult who then came to us and said that Miss Taylor wanted us to leave the kitchen because for some reason, we werent fit to be handling the emblems of the Lord. Emblems? We were washing small communion glasses! So, filled with fear, we left the sink and went out of the kitchen.

The other adult then said to us at the door that Miss T wanted to handle the emblems herself and wasnt happy about us doing so.

A verse oft-quoted in SMC is "Be ye holy, who carry the vessels of the Lord". Maybe this was an application of the verse by her. (By the way, I'm sure that is not the meaning of the verse).

Of course, we knew, or had been told, that Miss T could see things that we couldn't, so we thought she must be right. We were left with the impression that we must be so sinful and impure that we weren't qualified to wash these glasses, as they were communion ones. It kind of reminds you of the Pharisees and their cup-washing regulations, which Jesus condemned. The incident just made us feel under condemnation. It was years later before I volunteered to wash the glasses again.

Furthermore, I would never dream of treating young people in that manner especially young people who are well-behaved, committed to the Church and helping out in the kitchen.


Yes, lots of us decided to forgive Mr Black and continue to be loyal and support the church when that shares crisis hit. It was truly an awful time; it was like some disaster had hit the church and everyone was upset. Many people left, some lovely and very spiritually-gifted people who were much missed. It took time for the church to recover from that - maybe it never has, as someone was saying.

The other terrible result of this crisis, though, was that we were told again and again, over the ensuing years, by the leaders that the people who had left had had something in them - a weakness in loyalty or commitment to God - and that was why they couldnt weather the storm when it came and had left the church when this crisis hit. The teaching was that if you were totally loyal and sold out completely to God (God, although they meant to themselves, the leaders), then no matter what happened or who made a mistake, you would rise above that and stay in the church and still submit to the leaders. Because they were right, as The Petitor points out. And I believed all that at the time. It wasnt until years later that I saw that was a total lie. Many of those who left because of that crisis went on to excel in christian service and leadership elsewhere and are still doing well. One could say that they were the ones who showed integrity, honesty and moral uprightness by not supporting a wrong move. Like Cbarb, I didn't know for years either, that people had been asked to sign forms so that the church could buy shares. This was kept totally secret (unless you were asked to sign a form).

Clive, that is why it was wrong what Mr Black did. We are talking about a church, not a company or family. Church members give their money freely. The problem was that he controlled all the money and there wasn't a group of other elders or whatever to sanction it, as other churches have. I believe SMC set things right after this crisis happened because of pressure from other professional people in the church. A salutary lesson was learned. Maybe God allowed it all to happen so that it was brought out into the light.

No, Squareone, the people in SMC aren't mindless. There are some very intelligent folk in the church. And we've all been in it ourselves! As Cbarb explains, it's mind control in a subtle way which keeps people looking to leaders and gives them a kind of false sense of security. Anyone of any intelligence level or any personality type can be subjected to manipulation and mind control through fear. It is often people who are seeking for the best and the highest who fall victim to it.


What happened to lintar123 and her husband was appalling. I agree that they should receive an apology. Theirs is about the worst case of its kind.

But many people in SMC were told not to marry a certain person, others were advised to stay single, and others who did marry experienced interference in their marriages from the leadership.

There were a lot of broken hearts over the years in the area of relationships. The advice given was to see this as the Way of the Cross and to suffer because Jesus suffered and because going through it would lead to a deeper walk with God. But many were left hurting and many left SMC as a result.

I'm just so glad for you, lintar123, that you both got out before anything worse could be dealt to you in your married life.

Yes, there were double standards in many areas, as Cbarb points out, and there probably still are. For example, we were continually told not to keep company with the opposite sex and yet the leaders kept company and went off on ministry trips with a person of the opposite sex to whom they were not married. Young folk were told not to mix with the opposite sex and yet leaders' families were seen mixing and hanging about with youngsters of the opposite sex. OK for some; depends who you are then.

The callousness I mentioned previously seemed to spread through the church because people would receive instruction on how to handle a situation with somebody in need and would only do what the leader told them to. So if a leader said, 'dont visit that person' or 'let them be, theyre just attention-seeking', then the person would take that on board and not help someone. Whereas if they were thinking for themselves, they would choose to help, visit, care for someone in need etc. I was caught up in that thinking myself and that is how I know it exists. Neglecting those who needed support or friendship was always justified in some way and that's how it spread through the church.


It wasn't/isn't only the unclean and those out in the world, who we were told not to associate with or let into our home. I was told on two occasions that I remember (there may have been more) not to have certain persons who were members (not new to the church, I add) of the church i.e. SMC, come to my house. I queried this because I found it hard to understand, as we like to welcome people to the home, but I was not given a very satisfactory answer. I was just told that these persons were "not quite with us in spirit" or their "behaviour had not been Christ-like". Being steeped in the SMC way at the time, I listened and didn't have the persons to the house. I regret it now, but I was simply indoctrinated into the SMC way of thinking.

I myself have also been told not to visit certain persons, who were (not new) members of SMC at their house. In two cases, the persons had illness/disabilities and needed support! When I queried this, again, I just got a similar explanation to that above. I remember not feeling very happy about this but, again, I just went with the SMC flow. That's why I can understand why members behave as they do and don't think for themselves but just go by what their leader tells them. The lack of love and care is passed on and infects others there.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2013 07:38AM by Clive.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:39AM

( On Cedars School )

I vividly recall the announcement on a Saturday night that SMC had been led to start a private school. The speaker that night, one of the main leaders, took the opportunity not just to talk up private Christian schools but also to talk down mainstream state schools, suggesting they were seriously compromised by Satan.

I was horrified, for the following reasons:

1. I believe it is God's will that Christians should be 'in the world but not of it'.
2. Putting Christian children into a holy huddle seven days a week is not in their interests.
3. Evacuating Christians from mainstream schools can only damage these schools and make them even worse than SMC was saying they were.
4. I personally believe that private education is wrong. Rich and poor (as well black and white, Christian and Muslim, etc, etc, should be educated together. That for me is the meaning of 'education' (leading out of ignorance).
5. It was actually not the Struthers way. One of the strengths of the church had been its teachers and headmaster serving out their vocations in mainstream schools. Suddenly a new policy was in vogue...

I put these points to the leaders. They rebutted me. They were certain they had been led to start Cedars. Therefore, my points were of no account; indeed, I was the voice of opposition, of Satan.

Whoever was right on the substantive issue, the leaders' response was, I suggest, the opposite of Christian.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: August 27, 2013 07:44AM


The persistent message over decades from the same few platform speakers is that the long term committed Christians of Struthers Memorial Church are failing God (in more and more hard to detect ways) because, despite 5 meetings a week and all their holidays given over to church camps, they are not doing enough "holiness".

Not surprisingly this can have a corrosive effect on people. This change in people is alluded to in the first post on this discussion where Ohio asks about a dramatic negative personality change in her long term friend. This is not unusual.

The regime tends to produce people who think they have to outwardly mirror the behaviours and attitudes of the leadership to be acceptable. If people have ambition to be in leadership themselves (or just want to emerge as approved by the leaders) they will also start to mirror their lifestyle and speech patterns.

In most healthy non Struthers churches you might expect some difference between the lifestyles of the pastorate and that of the members
but in Struthers in many cases they go to the same number of services, pray publicly and in the agreed mode of language at each one (often in the same order),
hold to the same belief that their mystic spirituality is special in the Christian world and dress alike as long as it always remains 20 years out of date.

Sadly, it is also sometimes the case that people confuse putting God first with putting leader pleasing and 100% meetings attendance ahead of building healthy, Godly marriages.

As might be expected some people can only manage to maintain this outward show with the support of pills and anti-depressants. This might be because the promised spiritual breakthrough in life the leaders claim will happen if you can maintain this holiness activity seems to never arrive for any but a well connected few.

Re: Cbarb

Being a part of this forum has led me to cast my mind back further and remember days I had long ago forgotten. My own feeling is that the church changed drastically AFTER Miss Taylor became a part of the congregation and, subsequently, a higher leader than Mr. Black. Am I right? Is there anyone here who remembers what SMC was like in the days prior to Miss Taylor's leadership?

The Struthers members reading this forum will all be saying to themselves that you are wrong about this because Ms Taylor was part of Struthers from the beginning. She and Mr Black were among the 5 who originally split from Elim in Greenock (a church which continues to prosper). 3 soon split away as the original 5 had a disagreement among themselves about the nature of faith. This left Mr Black and Ms Taylor soon, as you say, joined by your dad and some younger people. Based on the fact that there was a recent 60th anniversary week night meeting this schism with Elim happened in 1952 and the Greenock church was purchased in 1955 when I think the congregation was about 12.

Then for the next few decades the church ran outreach and mission, expanded and was very active in inter-denominational activities. Mr Black claimed that at one time he had virtually every church in Greenock involved in a joint inter-church outreach. And the Struthers youth frequently travelled to other churches, often with Mr Black or some of the younger leaders, to sing and take services. Visiting speakers at Struthers meetings were more common and the church grew to around its peak of 17 branches.

But then at some point (which I think was probably in the mid to late 70s) Ms Taylor decided that God had spoken to her and instructed her that Struthers was now to cease involvement with other churches and proceed on its own. The claim was ministries and leadership would appear from within the congregation and this would meet all the possible future needs of the members. The mission focus remained but became Struthers exclusive (such as university Struthers groups set up to compete with the Christian Unions). Having visiting speakers from other churches was not encouraged and people were pressured not to attend meetings outside of Struthers. You may not remember the Maurice Cerullo visit to Glasgow but many people still do and the leaders indicated that “good” Struthers people would never again miss a Saturday night meeting to go to something like that – good or bad. As ever this was claimed to be not what they wanted but what God wanted.

Personally I think this may have been the worst thing that ever happened in Struthers. It left people with no recourse to help from the wider Christian world. The leaders theory was that God was going to provide all that the congregations needed from ministries within Struthers.

In practice it meant you were now on your own.

If a leader did not have the marriage advice, child-rearing knowledge, bible understanding, or answers to difficult questions to help you in your life and faith you were not going to get any.

To look outside was seen as betrayal so people had from this point to pretend they had everything they needed. As a result, for example, people did not get the marriage counselling available in the wider Christian world (and provided by trained people in most churches) and marriages suffered as a result. It meant isolation from much help that was available and which people genuinely needed.

Worse it led to the bizarre situation that when you went to the leadership for help but did not feel the help you got was sufficient you found yourself at odds with what Ms Taylor had said would happen. So now you were the problem! It was a self fulfilling road toward lives remaining in weakness and confusion and decline in Struthers. All with the purpose to isolate and control the membership.

But done as ever claiming God had told them “spiritually” once again to do something the bible did not support.

As you say something did change at that time and many people with a mission focus and who understood and valued the wider Christian world would not want to be involved in a mystical and blinkered version of Christianity and may well have decided to leave at that point. Many certainly did in the years following. It did coincide with Ms Taylor's increasing platform presence. Mr Black once said it had taken years for him to persuade her to even attend the church camps. As you say later she dominated these occasions.

“when the self-flagellation and thunderous doom and gloom became the norm.”

You have a great turn of phrase.

As you say some of those who left “were the guys who gave up their blood, sweat and tears to build the Port Glasgow church... plumbers, builders and electricians.” These people, and many of us on this forum who also gave a great deal of time, effort and money are not really the right audience for the Madame Guyon and Jesse Penn Lewis type of mystical feelings based fanciful overcooked alleged spirituality they substituted for New Testament Christianity.

It was of course all claimed to be for a purpose to see in a revival that would change Scotland. You haven't been around since the early 80s. I can confirm that 32 years later no such revival has yet taken place. And the focus of the leaders time and energy and the money in Struthers has moved on to running a private fee paying school and 2 coffee shops. Meanwhile the number of churches, the number of members and more recently (according to Latigo) the income have all declined.

And the revival the leadership promised would come as a result of people remaining unquestioningly loyal to the Struthers way appears to be less on the lost horizon than ever.

The experiences being shared indicate that the SMC leadership have been observed by many people to act in the following ways:

extreme controlling behaviour and plain nastiness
abuse of position and power in church
use of the pulpit to belittle and humiliate people deemed to be misbehaving
banning people from attending public church meetings
damaging relations between parents and children
damaging marriages
arrogant resistance to mixing with non Struthers people
financial folly and lack of clear accountability
accusing people of sin on the basis of no evidence
abuse of scripture - always in the direction of shoring up the power of the tiny elite at the top of the organisation
avoiding accountability by claiming questions are always criticism and teaching God will punish it
no record whatsoever of any act of understanding, sympathy or acknowledgement of any fault, wrong or failure by anyone in leadership.
resorting to lies to avoid having to answer legitimate questions
publicly accusing people who have left the church of multiple sins and faults up to and including witchcraft
claiming to be fully open and have no secrets a few days before removing public access to all online Struthers sermons

And in all these things claiming that if someone doesn't see things their way that is proof that they are Godless and unspiritual.


( Reply to Lorna's positive experiences of SMC )

Fortunately many of us have now found that all of the positive things you describe are also being experienced by us as we serve God in other growing churches.

As others have said, when we were first in Struthers many of us felt exactly the same as you before the addition of many extra heavy burdens and extra requirements were heaped on us by the Struthers regime.

That said there were often those in Struthers who felt as Lorna describes for a bit longer. They were the favoured elite who some claimed were more “spiritual”. These people seemed to get much more personal mentoring from the leaders. They got hours of the leaders time and attention while most people got little or none. They had plenty of opportunity to get their questions answered because they were close to a leader. As they were frequently asked to share testimonies things did seem to be going well for them. They were favoured - though that there were any favourites was always denied.

It is a long time since I was in Struthers and I don't know what is happening now in that regard. But there is a clue in Lorna's posting that there might still be some who get special treatment for whatever reason. In the 12 March sermon the leader of the church apparently warns the members to not read anything on this website. Yet a couple of days after this sermon goes online Lorna has not only read it but feels free to post on it.

Perhaps one reason you are getting on so well in Struthers, Lorna, is that some of the restrictions and controls that are placed on the ordinary members - including instructions from the Saturday night platform - don't seem to apply to you.


And interestingly the Struthers leaders seem to know that they can appear to be flying far on their own egos. This comes out in a couple of ways.

First is the continual and consistent use of themselves as examples in preaching: THEIR history, THEIR life events, THEIR ministries, THEIR successes. And most of all THEIR indispensibility. Noone is able to do it quite like them. Thus the platform becomes the place where THEIR ego is fed. And the place where they seek to make certain that everyone else hears about the great ministry and discernment they have.

Secondly they use the platform to continually explain how what looks like exploded ego is actually them behaving in meek obedience to the will of God. In this there is at least an admission that they are aware that they sometimes sound like they are puffing up themselves and their own specialness. So they feel they have to ensure that this is not seen as what it looks like which is simply using the platform to sing their own praises and that of their close friends. This is usually achieved by explanation that they do not like banning people, or public ministry, or having to give every job and role to themselves. But God has told them they have a special anointing to do these things so they must.

If that sounds unconvincing, many of us who nodded assent to this for years now think it is indeed very unconvincing.

As the saying goes if it looks like and elephant and smells like an elephant it probably is an elephant.

It is now much more clear that those who perhaps started with good intentions are now operating a closed shop which targets advantages towards a very small group within the church and ensure that the roles which channel those benefits stay tightly in their control.

Crucially they explain this is not an ego trip but okay because they are "spiritually" better than others. This has been decided by themselves.

And that is the point many of us seem to have arrived at if I have read the postings here correctly. What many of us witnessed for years was often shocking conduct as contained in most of the posts on this forum. But we defended and explained this away as people meekly following their calling. We had to defend it quite often because some Struthers leaders often sounded like egomaniacs in that they seemed to actively despise all else in the christian world but what they had to offer.

Now we are not afraid, we are capable of calling this what it is, as the Petitor has indicated, people seeking their own glory. It is simply people who have begun setting out to do a loyal job but have become so convinced only they can judge people's souls, bring the presence of God to a congregation or decide who is “spiritual” and who is “worldly”. At a certain point we now believe they have crossed a line and are now operating in something very hard to distinguish from pride in themselves and their own set up. Clive's post hints at an excellent test. Can they apologise when they make mistakes or not even then?


the school debate: )

One of the things we perhaps need to acknowledge is that the reasons why Struthers Memorial Church are running a school are genuinely quite hard to understand. The reason for this is that the Struthers leaders have publicly given at least two different versions of the thinking behind the school.

The first is the one mentioned on this forum by Archbishop Laud as the initial justification presented to the church as a fait accompli - bolt out of the blue - this is happening & how dare you question it. The claim was that God (not some bored unemployed and retired teachers but God) had decided a school should be set up to provide an education but mainly a haven for church children (and others sensible enough to enrol) away from the spiritual dangers the leaders claimed were to be encountered in pretty well all state schools. These it seems were rubbish - failing and damaging to children – a fate this new school would avoid by being a God focussed spiritual centre of educational excellence.

Never forget these people could have taken this private school idea and set it all up under a different charity and let it sink or swim. But they chose to set it up as part of the existing Struthers Memorial Church charity (and later the Struthers charitable company) which is why their school is getting pulled into this public conversation about the damaging actions of the church and its leaders. In making the school part of Struthers it is reasonable to expect the treatment of children in one part of the charity will be similar if not identical to the treatment of children in any other part of the charity. That idea is not radical. It is a very reasonable thing for all of us to assume.

But there were not enough kids and the expansion of the school (given the meagre number of families in the few Struthers churches) meant that there would never be enough kids in the church to keep it filled. So the emphasis changed and the documents available for the last few years on the school website stress the general Christian mainstream non denominational nature of the school (honestly! go and read it) and that the only religious and moral education would be that in the national curriculum – the same curriculum, in fact, as these children would get in any state school. The original reasons given for setting up and running the school and why God wanted it (as they were presented to the church congregation at the time) are not mentioned anywhere in any official document either published by Struthers or the Cedars school.

So the Struthers leaders have given us all two incompatible versions of the Christian philosophy of the church school. Fortunately the reasons for this are very easy to understand.

When wanting funding from the church for this venture the leaders tried to tie it into the existing and long unfulfilled “vision” for the church to try and persuade people that financially supporting it was consistent with what the church had been trying to do with young people for years i.e. turn them into committed followers of the Struthers leadership and the Struthers way. People in the church were told this would be a private school with the philosophies of the church at the centre so some members gave money for that. Some were not convinced. Most of the money to set up and run the school came from the collection plates of the 11 churches anyway.

The church school was originally mainly attended by church kids. But after the school relocation and roll expansion the school needed to attract more non Struthers children. So a completely different story and philosophy was created and sold to non church parents significantly de-emphasising the church link. No one reading the present school marketing material could possibly believe that the church ran a school in which children would be treated in any similar way to that which young people would be treated in Struthers church meetings. The public documents make the school procedures and approach very clear. A large number of witnesses on this forum make some of the ways young people have been treated in Struthers church meetings also very clear.

The Struthers special spiritual place idea was gone replaced by very clear statements that Cedars is a mainstream Christian private school where no odd Struthers things about hair-dye, jewellery (which is allowed), holiness, unquestioning obedience to everything said by those “in authority”, letting church leaders choose their friends for them, or their need for exorcism would be taught to the children. And (as far as I know) they are not. As squareone says if the parents got a whiff of the possibility that the more bizarre bits of Struthers teaching (all teachings which are still presented to young people in the Struthers churches as spiritually essential) they would care and be rightly outraged and would likely swiftly take their child and their money elsewhere. The Cedars school management and teachers seem to realise that Struthers teachings and approaches to young people do not work in the real world. So, either because they believe that, or they don't but they just want to keep the school financially afloat, the teachings of Struthers Memorial Church do not seem to much trouble the kids in the school.

If these church school kids then go to young peoples meetings or summer camps then they will be exposed to those particular Struthers teachings and the likely results of that exposure are well covered in this discussion forum.

So can I suggest that if we have differing views being expressed here of what is likely to be happening in the Struthers school there might be very good reasons for that. The SMC leadership have presented at least 2 (and for all we know possibly several more) versions of what the school is for depending on the audience and whose financial support they are chasing at that time.

In support of that claim can I mention one of the more bizarre episodes in relation to all this. There is an annual collection in March/April for the Struthers churches to donate to the school. It normally raises (I gather) about £15000 to £20000. But in the end much more than that seems to be given from church funds to the school. When this collection was being taken in 2011 the head teacher of the school presented the Struthers congregation with an utterly nonsensical and laughable reason why the school was about to invest thousands of pounds in Apple ipads. She reminded the congregation of the revival vision Struthers had been speaking about since the 1970s and announced that the ipads deployment in Cedars school is what would at last lead to that revival vision being fulfilled. Now – pass round the collection plate......


( on the pastor Black stock purchase finance fiasco )

It is important that people understand - nothing is being said on this forum in relation to the serious financial losses which was not publicly admitted and profusely apologised for by Hugh Black in 1987 – other than (I think) The Petitor's entirely appropriate guess at how much money was lost. We know about all this because the Struthers leadership stood up and confessed once the damage had been done and their was no way to hide it any longer. We are not the source of the claim something bad and illegal happened – they told us all that something bad and illegal happened and that the leaders of the church were responsible for a huge financial loss.

This is not mainly important in relation to the late Hugh Black. He dealt with and lived with the consequences of this for the rest of his ministry.

This is important still today because people in leadership roles in Struthers Memorial Church at the time this happened could have known about this by asking, or “discerned it” and prevented it from happening, and they failed to. Yet these same leaders still today sometimes seem to claim effectively flawless divine knowledge only available to “the spiritual” and dish out this “knowledge” which affects key decisions about the direction of the church and, most alarmingly, seeks to control the specific direction of peoples lives.

This incident demonstrates that the leaders in Struthers, many of whom were leaders in the church at the time of this financial shambles, are not divinely qualified to do any such thing. Their guidance, understanding of God's will for the church and for members is as prone to mistake, failure and utter disaster as is that of any other flawed and fallen human on God's green earth.

Almost all of the present executive were in a position to know about the mishandling of finances, and hear God's voice, and shut down the problem and if they had would have protected Mr Black in the process. They all failed to do so. By not asking questions, by trusting where trust was not warranted, by ignoring (and disrespecting) those who warned them, and by failing to discern the voice of God about the danger they were placing the church in they let the church down and, by failing to protect him from his own folly, they let Mr Black down.

These are not people who should be regarded as infallible or be giving anyone specific advice about how to live their lives (claiming it is - as if - it is from God). This incident demonstrates their shortcomings were, and remain, extremely serious. Since that time the church has contracted in number of branches, number of members and has become a charity focussed on a school and shops rather than one driven by the gospel and outreach. (Apparently the Glasgow church leader – she of “the ipads will bring revival” - has also indicated that the Cedars School is now their outreach – though this is not mentioned anywhere in the school handbook and may be alarming news to some parents). And, according to the most recently available figures, Struthers is, 25 years later, once again in significant debt of £400 000 with no plan to repay this borrowing given in their 2010 charity report and accounts. But perhaps when the 2011 accounts come out shortly this will have been resolved.

I too attended a branch church the next morning to hear the leaders who were charged to tell the congregations the money they had been donating in good faith for years for the work of the gospel had been foolishly squandered. Not seeming too concerned about this the leader then literally bawled and howled about how unjust it was that Mr Black was suffering when he had set out to do no wrong. Not the usual Struthers leader reaction to wrongdoing (real or imagined) of those in their congregations. A double standard which continues perhaps?

So if that means that people, including their own congregations, now get their information about the teachings, practices and the moral and financial mistakes of Struthers Memorial Church from here that would seem to be entirely their own fault and entirely their own responsibility.

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