Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Date: November 19, 2023 09:26AM
In a recent post, ThePetitor was asking how and when Alison Speirs was appointed as a Struthers leader. Everything I have to say about this was spoken publicly in church meetings and will be on tapes/CDs somewhere. Nothing is secret. As far as I remember, it was in the late 1980s when Alison was recognised and promoted as a church leader. Hugh Black told us at a Summer Camp meeting that he had listened to Alison speaking and giving her testimony, and as a result, he had felt God say to him that she had a preaching gift and should be given more opportunities to preach. This came to pass. Alison was passed to Mary Black who was entrusted with training her “in the deep ways of God” because Alison had little experience of Struthers teaching, having been converted from atheism. Yes, Miss Taylor was around at this time but was badly disabled after suffering two Strokes and was hardly ever out at church. Alison was taken to meet Miss Taylor and must have passed muster.
The main leaders at this time (late 80s), Hugh Black and Mary Black, wanted Alison and her friend, Sheila, to move from their home in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, to Greenock, so that they would be closer to the main church and get involved in it’s work. Alison said publicly that Mary had told her she would have to submit to the Struthers leaders and do what they told her to do. She said that although this was difficult, she made the decision to submit.
Next thing was, SMC (as far as I’m aware) bought the upper half of a large house in Greenock, which an older Struthers member was selling, and named it The Cedars or just “Cedars”. Alison and Sheila and their children lived there along with a number of young, single folk, all Struthers members. They lived and ate together communally and everyone had to contribute financially to the upkeep of the house. A few years later, they bought the ground floor and basement, thus making Cedars into one large detached house. (Now I may be wrong about the Church buying the house. I don’t really know who was paying for what, so I stand to be corrected on this.) Anyway, over the years, Cedars was home to a variety of students and young, single people, with Alison overseeing everything. The Cedars house was sold a few years ago as there was no longer a need for it apparently. I don’t think there are as many students and young folk coming into Struthers as there once were.
Throughout the 1990s, Alison was closely involved in serving with Mary Black in the Church Youth work in Greenock, Student work and in pastoring the Glasgow Church. Alison must have had some influence on Mary, because there were some positive initiatives like annual Craft Fairs, Passion Plays and Kids Outings/Barbecues. Then came the Cedars School, which the two of them set up in 1999 in the former Larkfield church building, and Alison was appointed as Head Teacher. They served together until Mary’s death from cancer in 2004. After that, Alison had of course, far more responsibility for many aspects of Struthers’ ongoing work, as well as the running of Cedars School. The School moved to a larger building in Greenock, where they still are, (I guess the Church paid for that too) and the numbers of pupils gradually increased at that time.
So, as ThePetitor points out, SMC leaders and attendees should be looking to see what went wrong and why such a longstanding and committed Struthers leader decides to leave the Church, taking others with her. There are reasons of course, and the current leaders know what happened. I don’t think they are bothering now, after the initial shock, and I suspect they are taking the usual stance with which we are all familiar: if you leave SMC, you are cast off and eventually forgotten and it’s always your fault. The financial mismanagement crisis in Struthers back in 1987 was soon no longer talked about or considered. Those who had left the Church because of it, were deemed to have been not submissive or not loyal enough, either to God or to the leaders. What nonsense.