Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: October 27, 2017 07:02PM

Thought readers of this forum might be interested in a post in another thread on this site, where Secret Victoria mentions an interview about the Exclusive Brethren, which was the church Hugh Black was brought up in. I think there are some interesting parallels here and look forward to reading the book that is mentioned in the article referenced below.

Thought the idea of "Collective PTSD" was particularly apposite. It is not much of a stretch to read through the posts on this thread and conclude that SMC generates "collective PTSD" in ex-members.

Servant Victoria Wrote:
> Came across this article and thought it might be
> of interest for any with friends or family who
> share a history with the Exclusive Brethren and
> for anyone whose life has been touched by a
> destructive church...
> Rebecca
> Stott interview

> The article is an interview with Rebecca Stott,
> who went back into her family history to write
> about the Exclusive Brethren cult that she was
> born into.
> If you don't have time to read, this excerpt talks
> about why we need to share our stories:

Since the book came out, I have had on
> average three or four letters or emails every day
> from people who lived through this same period and
> haven’t been able to tell their children what
> happened, about the horrors, the suicides, the
> breakdowns, the people being expelled. They say
> that for the first time they’ve been able to
> have conversations with their children and
> grandchildren about why they’re a bit odd, or
> why they can’t talk about that period in their
> lives or pick up a Bible or go to church.
> What we’re really talking about is collective
> PTSD. I knew it happened to my family, but I
> didn’t know – I do know now – how bad it
> was. We need to remember that cults can flourish
> not just in the desert or remote places but in
> suburbs as well, and that people have the capacity
> to do this to each other.
> Blessings...

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rob alba 67 ()
Date: November 17, 2017 02:38AM

Hullo Henri,

I didn't get the impression from the 13 years I was part of this awful lot that anyone really cared who you were or what you thought of them. You cannot approach the leaders, they only go through their God and when I did express a struggle with my faith Jennifer Jack was shocked but not interested in asking why. That shows arrogance. I did send them an Email asking for an explanation of their hypocrisy and manipulation, but was ignored.

I don't know about PTSD, but they do like to break your confidence and lower your self esteem while filling you with guilt about normal human feelings. For that alone they should be avoided at all costs and their God dismissed as an excuse to bully and manipulate for their own feeling of power.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: November 22, 2017 04:28AM


As far as I was aware, there was no process for membership at Struthers. Every other church I went to, had such a process. Most had some kind of basic criteria i.e must be a Christian, agree with the statement of faith etc. It seemed to me that Struthers membership was decided by the minister; a privilege awarded to. I appreciate that I might be wrong on this.

My existence at Struthers isn't the reason that I'm an atheist. In all honesty it was the result of many things, many questions and observations, made over many years. My experience at Struthers didn't help, but after leaving Struthers,I rebuilt my faith. It was 7 years or so after I left, that I realised I no longer believe in a god.

I can completely understand someone leaving religion after experiencing Struthers. However, I won't give them that satisfaction. I also realise they are a very poor reflection of what most consider Christianity.

There are a lot of decent, caring and genuine people who call themselves Christian. Some of them are members this forum. Some of them are within Struthers members. I remember with fondness, one of the ladies who befriended me and whose friendship probably saved my life, when the rejection and isolation I experienced, nearly drove me to suicide.

I hope that helps people to understand where I'm coming from. Thanks for asking. All the best


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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: November 26, 2017 09:14PM

Rob alba,

I am not surprised the Jennifer Jack did not respond to your email. She has treated others the same way. I know of one person that wrote about once every five years over a period of over 30 years but has never had a response.

Why would anyone act is such a horrible, hurtful way? It seems to me that is a purely selfish, cowardly way to behave, with no thought at all for the other person - all me, me, me.

The leaders of SMC will of course use the argument - "I am doing this for your own good, as this will force you to turn to God", but that is just nonsense.

What they are doing is a bit like the old idea of "throwing someone in at the deep end". You could I suppose argue that is the best way to teach someone to swim. I guess if you threw a few people in and they all swam, you would have some evidence for that. But what if you threw a few folk in and they all drowned? Would you continue to say that was the best approach?

Seems to me that evidence about whether people are swimming or drowning might be a good way to approach this, and it might be useful to split people into two categories - those still in SMC and those who have left.

In the context of those who have left, you are not the only one to make reference to the term PTSD. Others have certainly seen that as a fair description of the trauma suffered by individuals who have left. In my view, this is something that the leaders of Struthers could easily do something about if they actually believed in helping people rather than a sort of Spanish Inquisition approach - "we will make you life so terrible that you will repent, then you will get into heaven and thank us in the end". Really? What part of the Bible says that the end justified the means in this way - that it is OK to do evil to achieve good?

It is just an excuse for not facing up to the evidence - people who leave are frequently traumatised. If it was just one person, it might be something about that individual, but it is clearly not - over 40 people who have been affected on this forum alone. (As a total aside, I do still wonder if one of the early posters "anon" still reads these posts as he or she said they could find 50 people that had been helped by SMC for every one that had a complaint. Where are these 2000 supporters anon? Fake news perhaps? I see no apology though, which is what I would feel obliged to offer as someone who aspires to be honest in their evaluations. Just another cowardly avoidance of anything that shakes their ivory tower. No integrity.)

Second, look at the effect on those that stay. I once heard that more than 50% of those in the Falkirk church have suffered from depression. It would be interesting to know from current/ recent members if this would appear to be accurate. Is that really the fault of all those individuals? No common cause that we might identify?

On this evidence, it seems to me that the "throw them in the deep end and they will swim" type of approach has sadly failed. Leaders of SMC need to recognise this and start to help people rather than make their life difficult so that they will be forced to turn to God. A good start would be a reply to emails and letters from those that have left, to meet with them, listen to them, seek to support and perhaps even, you know - LOVE them? "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples..."

What comes next in this quote? Is it

A) if you have love, one for another?


B) If you refuse to even answer emails and letters from others?

I think there is more love from those outside SMC to those inside than there is the other way.

I am happy to put this to the test, as I will reply in love to messages send to me over this forum, even if they are still members of SMC. Without contacting any others who post here I am convinced that would be true of others as well.

Members of SMC, feel free to try it. Use the messages on this forum to reach out to anyone here and see what response you get. Is it a caring, considerate response, and how does that compare to the response you would get from your leaders?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: GlasgowGirl ()
Date: February 05, 2018 05:22AM

I came across this site a couple of years ago but wasn't sure about posting on it. Seeing that it had some fairly recent posts, I thought I would register and post a little of my experience. It made me very sad to read posts about people suffering emotional and spiritual abuse during their time in the church.
I was involved with the church for around 20 years and was one of the folk who left when financial irregularities came to light. It was only after leaving that a number of us saw clearly the level of control and lack of love that was rife in the behaviour of many of the leaders.
There was no formal membership structure or elders/deacons elections and therefore little accountability.
Although there have been different experiences about seeking leaders "permission" regarding careers/marriage/moving home etc , many people certainly felt they needed approval for these things, often placing more store on leaders views than their own parents or spouses. This leadership style contributed to family discord and possibly some divorces.
Struthers church and its leaders were promoted as the ultimate authority and the only church in tune with God. Involvement in other churches was discouraged.
TV, film, socialising were frowned upon. I remember ducking down in the car to hide on my way to a friend's birthday party when I saw a church leader driving past on the way to a Friday night meeting - if there was a meeting on, you were expected to be in attendance, unless there was a very good reason not to be.
People questioning the leaders' authority/actions might be told this was of demonic origin and were prayed with for deliverance.
Various young people were put forward as the next rising star, putting them under undue pressure they were not ready for while many older "members" were overlooked or made to feel inferior when they may have had a lot to offer.Some of these young folk, I believe, crashed and burned rather than being loved and nurtured to grow into maturity.
When things came to a head about the finances, many folk I think could not cope with the cognitive dissonance that accepting the truth would bring and chose to believe everything would be ok.
I understand why so many folk stayed in the church. They had experienced years of being told it was a unique church,more in tune with God than any other and leaving was equivalent to disobedience to God. Leaders had been put on pedestals and dare not be questioned - yes, sadly, I believe it had many hallmarks of a cult.
That said, there were many, many humble, loving christians who were part of the church. Some of these lovely folk are still there.
It also makes me incredibly sad to hear of those who have lost their faith due to their experiences.
I was certainly shocked when I realised the church and its leaders were not what I had believed them to be and took a while to see it for what it was.I had my wobbles and struggled for a while.
I have always known, however,through all of life's experiences, that the saviour I asked into my heart as a young teenager was real. He has always been there and I have been blown away by his love and forgiveness every time I turn to him - whatever doubts, hurts, disappointments, and failures I have been in the middle of.

I think in all situations where leaders try to take or are given an authority that doesn't rightly belong to them, God's heart is broken for the hurt and harm it causes. Those who were meant to point the way to healing, hope and freedom in God were actually preventing people developing a mature healthy relationship with God and each other.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Henri ()
Date: August 07, 2018 09:54PM

One serious matter that SMC leadership needs to address - counsellors, those used in ministry, leaders, whatever, have no training in how to counsel victims of abuse. Any TRAINED counsellor knows that abuse victims CANNOT unpack & unload a whole childhood or lifetime of abuse in one brief session. For many reasons, misplaced loyalty, shame, fear, pain, it takes time (& gentle patience) to gradually open up & speak about things never before given voice to. It takes an immense amount of courage & trust in the counsellor to open up. You get one chance to get it right. Betray that trust even a little & you've shut that victim down for the rest of their life. Also, counsellors who have no personal experience of any type of abuse, on top of zero training? Recipe for disaster. Speaking from personal experience here but can't be too specific.
I'll never trust anyone again. God forgive you SMC!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rob alba 67 ()
Date: August 25, 2018 10:07PM

Counsellors ? They never had counsellors when I was there, their idea of counselling was to surround you and shout over your head in some weird hysterical language. I'm not surprised you struggle to trust anyone after suffering these bullies. Nae forgiveness here, just hope you can get some professional counselling from a patient competent professional.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: September 10, 2018 10:31PM

Some brilliant points made in the recent posts that really hit the nail on the head. I think the point about training and professional counselling is particularly relevant. Seems to me that the SMC leaders divide everything into two categories - things that have immediate observable outcomes and things that do not have outcomes that are easily observed.

Things in the first category include physical illness, a car breaking down or a roof that is leaking. In these cases, they recognise the importance of having someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with the problem. They do not quote many examples of simply praying over these sorts of issues. Of course they may pray as well, but they do recognise the benefits of “human learning” when an outcome is easily observable.

Things in the second category include advice about careers, relationships, stress, depression etc. In these cases, no human knowledge, experience or training is recognised. Leaders in SMC are not really allowed to undertake personal development in these areas. Seems to me this is because they think the outcomes cannot be as easily linked to their advice, so they can say what they like.

I do happen to believe that God speaks to us, but I also believe that he provides us with the opportunity to learn skills, whether roof-fixing skills or brain surgery. He also gives us the opportunity to develop things like leadership skills and counselling skills. Just as you do not normally ignore human learning when fixing a roof, you should not ignore it when developing leadership skills or counselling.

The thing is, the fact that it is hard to link some advice with outcomes is true in the short term, as you often do not know whether you have made a good career decision immediately - it may be years later that you realise it was a poor decision. Similarly, you will not know whether you are taking the right steps to manage depression within just a few days. These things do often become visible in the long term however, as people looking back over decades can see the impact of decisions about jobs, relationships, personal issues, mental health etc. When you apply that test to SMC, it is abundantly clear that the advice they give is a sham - advice about what job to take, what relationships to have how to spend time, how to manage mental health etc have NOT led to good outcomes. Many marriages have failed, lives have not managed things like stress and depression well, everyday decisions about friendships have led to isolation and despair, Christian commitment has not led to any serious attempt to address social justice (a key theme throughout the Bible) and, most important of all in the SMC hierarchy, the teaching and practice has not led to deep and effective spiritual life.

A quick review of the posts on this forum confirm all of that in spades, as do the lives of many of those still in the church. It simply is not a healthy organisation.

As others have said, that does not mean they are all bad people - many are kind and sincere, but they have been trapped in a world of make-believe rather than truly examining what they do in the light of the evidence. So, if you are still a member of SMC, why not try to develop some skills in these areas? There are good Christian materials and programmes available, as well as secular ones.

If anyone wants a starter for ten on leadership they could for example like some of the recent webinars at [].

Seminar 6 in that series is quite interesting: an interview with Ian Coffey, an ordained Baptist Minister who has had responsibility like organising Spring Harvest and is now a Director of Leadership Training at a Christian College.

Webinar 5 is also worth a listen - a discussion with Elaine Duncan who is Chief Executive of the Scottish Bible Society.

Surely even the arrogance of the SMC leaders would not try to discredit people with that sort of experience so, if you are still involved in SMC, have a listen to these wise Christian leaders who have a lifetime of experience. Can you seriously make any sort of argument for not listening to things like this? You may not agree with all that is said, but you will benefit from listening.

I won’t quote extensively from these seminars, but do want to include just one line: “If Scripture completely agrees with us, the chances are we have domesticated it.”

That really resonated with me, as my experience over the years has been that scripture shocks and challenges me. I never saw that in SMC however, I always saw them picking the verses that fitted with their own experiences and perceptions - “domesticating” scripture is not a phrase I have come across before, but it seems to me that is exactly what they have done. As Mr Black would say - "If the shoe fits…"

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: September 14, 2018 07:32PM

I have been having some discussions about “the guidance of the spirit” recently and thought some of you might be interested in one of the ideas in particular.

The SMC view is very much that it is possible to be in such a relationship with God that He guides you at every moment. That is very clear from the preaching that is quoted on the latigo site.

They see this as the way the early church operated, but I see some problems with that. Sure there are examples of God speaking to people and leading people throughout the Bible, but there is also a great deal of guidance and advice about things like how we should understand and represent the faith, how we should live, and how churches should operate.

If the early church was simply able to “follow the guidance of the spirit” why did Paul have to write all his letters? Why did he not simply say, “I am not going to give you any advice at all, all you need to do is seek the anointing of the Spirit and everything will be fine”.

That is quite obviously not how things work. Throughout the old and new testaments, there is a whole range of advice and instruction about how to live. This includes how to behave at a personal level, and the obligation to work for social justice at a societal level (something that SMC simply ignores).

Jesus himself spent a great deal of time teaching people, and his message was not just to follow what you think God is saying to you as an individual, but that there are key principles in life. Jesus for example asks (in Mark 3), “Is it right to do good or evil on the Sabbath?” Jesus did not say, “just follow what the spirit tells you and you will be fine” he argued from scripture that there is a right thing to do, and that judgements have to be made based on knowledge and understanding of what is right.

There are of course also moments where supernatural guidance is given, but I return to my main point. If that is ALL that was required, then we would not have the new testament, as none of the letters would have been needed. That is not what happened though, as “guidance from the spirit” was never meant to exist in isolation, it was supplemented with guidance and advice that included the interpretation of scripture and principles that could be used to make judgements.

You can argue a bit about how much emphasis to put on different ways God guides us, but you cannot deny that God does not simply ask us to follow our fallible internal feelings of how He is leading, He also asks us to study, learn and understand what is right. The original Alpha Manual for example suggests that God guides us in five ways:

Commanding Scripture
Compelling Spirit
Common Sense
Counsel of Saints and
Circumstantial Signs

This is actually very important, as it stops people simply saying “God told me to do this” as a justification for unscriptural actions. As I have argued before, if the reliance on the Compelling Spirit to the exclusion of all other methods led to outstanding success, we might have to sit up and take notice. This is not the case in SMC however, it repeatedly leads to abject failure, confirming that this is not the path God would have us follow.

That is why I am appalled at the continued indifference of the leaders to the real suffering going on in the church and in many who have left. This is a moral, scriptural and Christian issue. It cannot simply be dismissed by saying “I know God says to do good and not evil on the Sabbath, but He told me not to talk to this person, so I am not going to talk to them. I do not care what the scripture says, as God has spoken to me.” Really? Read the book of James. “If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

James did not say this was okay as long as you felt you had the anointing, he said it was wrong. Leaders of SMC just ignore these sorts of verses, simply stating (not even arguing, just stating) that they are anointed by God and have no need to justifying any of their actions in any other way. That is unkind, unscriptural and ineffective.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 10, 2019 07:28PM

I thought some readers of this forum might be interested in the article below [] which highlights some problems with the book called "Jesus Calling". I have not read the book, but thought there were some general points here that are quite applicable in other contexts.

For example, the first concern raised about the book is that,


She speaks for God. Far and away the most troubling aspect of the book is its very premise—that Sarah Young hears from Jesus and then dutifully brings his messages to her readers. Jesus Calling makes the boldest, gutsiest, and, to my mind, most arrogant claim of any book ever to be considered Christian.

and later


Her deepest experience of God comes through a practice God does not endorse. Young does not only endorse her practice of listening, but goes so far as to elevate it as the chief spiritual discipline. “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.” Notice that her solution to addressing the desire for Jesus’ Presence and Peace is not Scripture or any other means of grace, but the very messages she provides in her book.

Seems to me this could be said of others who claim to have a unique experience of God, with no evidence to back it up.

SMC for example claim the leaders hear God speak directly to them. There are a number of problems with this, including issues raised in the linked article on "Jesus Calling". There is also the ultimate test of whether it actually grows the Kingdom of God.

SMC was started in the 1950s, peaked around the 1970s and is now say 200 people.
Hillsong was started in the 1970, and now has 130,000 members in 21 countries.

I am not saying Hillsong is better than anyone else, but you have to ask how leaders of SMC can hold to the claim that they somehow have this unique access to the "deep things of God" when other allegedly inferior groups have such visible success.

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