Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: September 30, 2015 04:58PM

Hi Cheerylizard and welcome to the forum.

I am glad that you have had time to read through all 140 pages of posts – that must have taken a while!

It is good to hear your comments, and it will be interesting to see any further info you post in future. I do not really see the current position as one of failure however, for a number of reasons. First, as Chrester55 points out, the leaders have been held to account. In many respects, the detail of that and the degree are not important, it is the fact that they have been forced to recognise another authority and can no longer claim that all they have to do is disappear into a darkened room and God will reveal to them exactly what to do.

As I said in an earlier post

There is one thing that is in some ways more important however, and that is the question of whether the leaders of SMC are infallible and have this direct line to God. Even if they are criticised on just one thing, and accept the criticism, that proves they are fallible. If they are fallible, then the members of the congregation cannot accept what they say without first testing it.

To me, that is the end of the road for SMC. As soon as it is clear that the things the leaders say have to be tested, not just accepted because they have this superior access to God, the whole house of cards falls down. It is all the emperor’s new clothes – the system only works if no-one questions it. Without their assumed infallibility, they have nothing to offer at all

I stand by that – they simply cannot survive now that they have confirmed their fallibility, as that means people have to make judgments for themselves rather than blindly doing what they are told. OSCR have sent a set of detailed recommendations to the Trustees, so SMC are still having to defer to a higher authority – great stuff!

That said, I do actually think that OSCR have failed to fulfil their responsibilities. At least one of the covering emails form OSCR to a complainant said, “You are correct that we are in ongoing dialogue with the trustees of the charity but not with the complainants”, and that rather sums it up. There is no surprise that OSCR did not really reach a balanced conclusion when they did not conduct a balanced enquiry. Might be something to follow up on there, I don’t know.

I wonder if the leaders will share the detailed recommendations they have received from OSCR with the congregation. That would be a good thing for them to do. If I was in the congregation, I would certainly be asking to see the OSCR letter, but it might be that the members are still too scared to dare to question anything the leaders do. If you are close to people in SMC, you should perhaps try to persuade them to ask to see the letter and for there to be a discussion about it in the church. Perhaps they will distribute copies at the AGM, who knows!

In terms of going forward, I am not sure that I am planning any tactics. It is not my job to hold the SMC leaders to account. I see myself primarily as a witness to events, and an encourager of other witnesses, not the prosecution. If there are more things to bring to light, I will gladly do it but as you can read in other posts, I have tended to shy away from a "tactical" approach.

And that is my second reason that the actions taken to date have not been a failure - they have led to a number of witnesses coming forward and speaking openly about their experience. SMC knows that any action they now take is open to public scrutiny, and I think that is a really good outcome.

Best of all is of course the fact that this forum has helped so many people. Contributor after contributor has said "I am soooo glad I have found this forum, it has made such a difference". To me, that is the best outcome of all.

I will leave this with one further quote, this time from the Closed Brethren Review I mentioned a while ago.

They further demonstrated a willingness to make amends for these and to do what they could as a Christian organisation to ensure, as far as it was consistent with its religious beliefs, it would act with Christian compassion in the future

I look forward to a similar statement form SMC. Wouldn't it be good if in ten years time people were saying, "I am so glad SMC treated me with Christian compassion, it has made such a difference".

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: September 30, 2015 08:38PM


Please explain your position regarding SMC.

Do you see the group as a destructive church that has hurt people?

Has SMC hurt people through its teachings and leadership? If so what has the group done wrong and which leaders specifically by name made mistakes and warrant attention?

Do you think the group is excessively authoritarian and requires democratic reform? If so what reforms do you suggest?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2015 10:34PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: September 30, 2015 10:19PM

Hi lizard

I could not agree more with your assessment of what the SMC members are hearing. No doubt they are being told that all is well and to be of good cheer. When attending many of us were fed similar tidings of joy when they were not warranted by any facts. But the general public (as you call them) seem to be taking a different view and avoiding Struthers like the plague, or going to weddings and leaving messages on here about shocking experiences.

OSCR is not Struthers main problem. Ageing and incapable leaders, lack of growth, lack of any coherent vision, teaching which restricts peoples freedoms, the failed prophesies of the last 40 years, the belief in their ability to see endless demons in people in their congregations, lack of accountability leading to people being forced to leave or accept unbiblical instructions, the school replacing the vision for outreach and revival, and the impending closure of many of the tiny, declining branches.

We have been talking about all this for 5 years on this forum and none of it has changed because of OSCR.

But importantly none of this affects any of the people contributing to this forum. They have left it all far behind. The desire has been to let others know they can get information in advance about this church to help them avoid getting suckered in like many here did. Contrary to your speculation this does not come from frustration, hurt or people getting angry - all attributes you claim to detect. For the record I have never claimed on here that Struthers hurt me.

And I think your last assertion is not correct. This forum and others online have had a massive impact - both on those still in Struthers and more so on well over 100 people I know of personally who have left the church damaged and finally found answers via this endeavour. That is all I was hoping for getting involved with this forum. Some people will never leave and I have no plans to find new ways to encourage them to. They are socially tied into SMC by jobs and family and living arrrangemets. They can leave if they want to. They are better able to do that in an informed way than at any time in the last 40 years.

I want to warn other people because that is the kind thing to do. Whether OSCR says yep or nope, or people ignore the facts presented by me and others is not something that will affect my mood at all. Other than I admit to being pleased at how many from here, and other contacts I know of, have heeded the testimonies and advice on this forum and kept themselves and their familes away from Struthers.

As the Petitor has pointed out that WAS the strategy. To share information and experiences.

As you have now mentioned "a strategy" in 3 posts and seem to have something in mind that in your thinking has not been achieved. Perhaps its time you told us what that is?

It is no surprise that OSCR apologised to Struthers. The investigation took 3 years which is way beyond their guidelines. That cannot be read as an apology that they were investigated at all.

I am sad to hear of the repetition of the mental illnes slur the Struthers leadership have routinely used for 40 years. I was told by several leaders that people who left, people who had been valuable servants of God in their day, had only left unhappy because of mental illness. In other words the only reason for leaving was mental disturbance. This is a horrible and pernicious habit of the leadership and they must make it clear - in their view does mental illness exclude people from the love of God, or from speaking the truth?

I have met many of those so condemned by the Struthers leaders and they are not mentally ill. No expert has diagnosed any condition in them. Sadly some are ill and the experts diagnose that as a result of harsh treatment by church leaders they trusted and who led them to believe things that were not true.

Some people who have been diagnosed as mentally ill have posted on this forum and have made fully truthful statements about Struthers Memorial Church.

If you don't want a conflict then don't bring one here. I am not shooting the messenger. I am disagreeing with some of your interpretation of what is happening. That is allowed. And I did look objectively at some of the pro Struthers posters and questioned some of their assertions. The level of reply did not inspire me to believe much insight would come from there. That is not the same as attacking them. If called to I could defend my church - they should be able to discuss what theirs does.

Forgive me if you feel I am being harsh on you. I love and respect the Godly and honest contributions of dozens of people on this forum and I have no probelm with somone coming on and talking about building and adding to that. Reading it in a day and dismissing it as worthless (which you appear to be doing) is not a good tactic to get me engaged. I'm sure you will understand that.

To use your own phrase - if you do have a shocking story to tell then perhaps it would be more effective to tell it rather than "droning on" about how shocking it would be if you did. Perhaps that would help more than your analysis of what you think everyone else should have done. So I ask a genuine question Cheerylizzard - other people have shared and contributed. What outcome do you want to see? What are you now suggesting? What are you going to do to help people in Struthers?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: September 30, 2015 10:53PM

Cheery lizard, I have just noted your recent post addressed to Chester.

I have to say some of it seems a bit strange to me. First, you "sense Chester's frustration".

Really - do you have some sort of super power? How do you manage to sense the feelings of others in this way?

It reminds me of Struther's comments about people having 'seeds of bitterness' etc. You seem to share their ability to discern peoples motives even if they are not aware of these motives themselves.

Later on you demonstrate this same super power again, saying to Chester "I am not saying… you have not been hurt". You comment towards the end of your message on SMC tarring everyone with the same brush, but is that not what you are doing here? I would like to see the reference you are using that indicates Chester has been hurt by SMC. Is your comment based on a contribution by Chester to this forum (because I can't find one that says that), is it another manifestation of your superpowers, or is it just a lazy assumption on your part that everyone on this forum has had the same experience?

Finally, still with regard to Chester, you say "Fair enough, all that does sound a bit harsh to you". How do you know that your words are going to sound harsh to another person before they have even read them? Sorry, but that is ridiculously condescending. Your comments are going to seriously lack credibility if you continue to invent feelings of the other contributors at random in this way.

You then change tack a little, going on to say that"CheeryLizard is not your problem." which I presume is an exhortation to make SMC, not yourself, the subject of forum posts. (Yes, that is a presumption on my part, but it is a presumption about what the words mean, not about what your motives, emotions or experiences are. Feel free to correct me.) That is a reasonable position to take, but hang on a minute, this is in a message you have addressed not to SMC, but to Chester. So Cheery Lizard is not Chester's problem, but Chester is Cheery Lizard's problem? How does that work? Are you saying we are able to comment on other's posts or not? You can't have it both ways.

I am also disappointed at the totally unjustified comment that others have got angry at people who don't agree with their point of view. As far as I can recall, only one person was ever rebuked for getting angry or making personal attacks on this forum. That person was a Struther's supporter who was subsequently banned by the Moderator for not following the forum rules. As well as inaccurately describing the behaviour on this forum, this is once again attributing feelings to others that they have not themselves expressed.

Cheery Lizard, I would love to hear your stories about SMC, whether good or bad. I genuinely think one of the great functions this forum has been able to achieve is a sounding board for all views of Struthers. I think you will find that positive as well as negative stories have been welcomed by the contributors of this forum. So, if you have stories to tell, as a witness to events, I am sure that will be appreciated, along with any personal views or even counter-arguments or proposals regarding the points of logic made in other posts. Please do not demean this forum by making up what you think are the motives behind other people's arguments and positions however.

On another note, I am also quite concerned about the idea that people are being dismissed due to mental health issues. Is that really the case? That, instead of showing the love of Christ for all people, whether well or ill, a particular group is being dismissed as unworthy? Irrespective of whether it is true and any people do have issues that sounds a bit un-Christian to me. Steven Fry is known to have mental health issues, yet is considered by many to be one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent people on earth today.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: October 01, 2015 12:22AM

FYI -- I just did a search results test to see how prominent this thread is regarding Google search results. It is very prominent. So anyone searching for information about SMC is very likely to find it and probably read it.

That is why certain people at SMC may be upset about this thread and angry about the information made public through it.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cheerylizard ()
Date: November 11, 2015 06:22AM


The report on SMC from OSCR is here.

The important part is this:

As we have previously publicly stated, the review of the charitable status of Struthers Memorial Church was suspended for some time to allow us to conduct a separate inquiry into various aspects of the operation of Struthers Memorial Church, including any private benefit or disbenefit arising from its activities.
Among other things, the inquiry considered allegations of unfair recruitment and selection of teaching and other staff at Cedars School of Excellence based on family connections. It is not disputed that there a number of related staff at the school, but the inquiry found no evidence of inappropriate appointments or of private benefit to individuals beyond what is necessary for the effective running of the school.
The inquiry also considered whether there was any public disbenefit arising from the operation of Struthers Memorial Church, prompted by allegations of the exclusion of congregation members from church services or activities and concerns about harm that may result if an excluded member had a child attending Cedars School of Excellence. The inquiry found that although there are occasions when members leave the Church of their own free will, formal exclusions are rare and are justified by trustees as being in the interests of the charity. The majority of pupils attending the school are not from families attending one of the charity’s churches and no evidence was found to suggest a risk of disbenefit to school pupils from exclusions.
This inquiry is now concluded, with no further action required by OSCR.

Can you clarify how this relates to your post of September 30, 2015 03:19AM? Is there another document or report that the general public would be unaware of?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: November 17, 2015 02:12PM

Yes there is.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cheerylizard ()
Date: November 17, 2015 06:47PM


Perhaps you should post it then so that these apparent contradictions can be resolved. As I said before, the official letter does appear to exonerate SMC. One might reasonably draw the conclusion that your private letter is not quite as damning to SMC as you made out.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cheerylizard ()
Date: November 20, 2015 05:10AM

This forum was supposed to be about putting info about SMC into the public domain. If OSCR are not doing their job and there's contradictory information on SMC shouldn't it be put in the public domain also? I don't really follow what's happening with this investigation. On the one hand we have a public report which says there's nothing to see. On the other Chester has a note telling him about the special measures. Can someone clarify please.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: November 22, 2015 01:33AM

It is strange how agitated this seems to be making you. And meanwhile the Struthers leadership are not coming on to this forum - as they easily could - to publicly challenge the claim. Chris Jewell, the well paid church administrator, could sign onto the forum and make a clear statement OSCR did not give them a letter with a “very detailed set of recommendations” and that OSCR required no changes to be made by Struthers. That would not only undermine that particular claim by me, but also everything I have said on this forum.

But, Cheerylizard, since it is you who is worrying about this for them, lets do it this way:

You go to one of the 5 trustees – the only 5 “members” of Struthers Church – the only people with any vote or rights. You approach them with your influence and your credibility (to use your own words) and ask them if the “very detailed letter” from OSCR exists.

If they say YES – then I accept your apology.

If they say NO (and obviously we need to know which of the trustees made the claim) – I will publish the letter from OSCR which was sent to the people who had complained. I have seen two of the replies and I have a copy. People could then decide if the Struthers trustees are being honest about this.

As I said in my post on 30 Sept the reply from OSCR says they were sent a long detailed letter with changes to make to the charity. Why would I make that up? It is one of the mildest claims among the 1400 posts from over 50 people on this forum indicating people's horrendous experiences with Struthers.

However if you do ask it is most likely the Struthers trustees will find many reasons to vacillate, prevaricate and invent excuses why they have a policy of not telling you YES or NO.

40 years of experiences from hundreds of people who have asked SMC questions makes it most likely they will invent a reason not to answer. This would clearly show yet again that they believe a publicly accountable charity can decide to not answer questions for whatever reason it invents in that moment.

And there have been many invented reasons
the person is asking with the wrong spirit,
we don't answer questions from anonymous sources,
we don't answer questions from people who have left,
that person is only asking because they are “not really at the heart of what God is doing here”
that person got no answer because they were only asking as they are mentally-ill / secretly gay/ paranoid / un-spiritual / demon possessed
We should produce a “why we don't answer” pro-forma so they can speed up the process of not answering from the list of standard Struthers excuses.

Struthers confirming there was no letter would be easy to do if it did not exist. If there is no clear answer from them I (and I suspect most rational people) will assume they are hiding something.

At that point, Cheerylizard, you can think what you like.

There is a forth notion which is your bizarre conspiracy theory. If they say NO and I publish the complaint reply letter from OSCR and it turns out the government inspectorate lied – a complaint can be raised against OSCR and any outcome published here.

I don't think OSCR sent out a deliberately false claim. I think is is more likely, and entirely consistent behaviour, that Struthers have talked a lot about what was okay with the regulator and conveniently pretended all was okay; and the things they have been instructed to change in the long detailed letter are not being spoken about. No surprise there.

Finally if you are not willing to do this that does not matter. The trustees are free to sign onto the forum, publicly identify themselves as required by law when acting on behalf of the charity, and answer the question. If there was no letter they would do so like a shot.

As I say so far not one of the 5 charity directors within Struthers has disputed my post of 30 Sept or, indeed, challenged any fact published on this forum. They are free to do so. If they want your help I'm sure they will ask for it.

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