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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 26, 2024 11:09PM

Wow – good to see people coming forward with their reasons for the forum. I think there is a lot of insight and wisdom in these answers and a lot of people will definitely resonate with the comment “I now realise that many people received the same treatment I did.” Seems to me that is one of the things they did a lot – convinced you that you were the only one with these questions or concerns.

To add a bit more about my own view, I personally think one of the reasons this forum is necessary is because things are so secretive in Struthers. If folk in the church were allowed to debate issues and policy (theology even!!) openly, there would be little need for this site.

To give just a few examples, do they believe the testimonies on this site that say many people have been hurt by the actions of the leaders? What do they plan to do about that? Why is no-one allowed to ask that question? That to me is an issue that they need to bring out into the open and discuss.

At this particular point in history, many people are appalled at the Post Office scandal. No-one is saying – “Oh, but it happened twenty years ago, things are different now, so what is the problem?” That is not a normal or acceptable way to react – the normal reaction is to be appalled first at what happened and then at the length of time it has taken to restore justice. Folks that are still in Struthers, just think for a moment about the Post Office Scandal – do you think it was OK for workers who knew about what was going on to sit back and ignore it? If there were people at Fujitsu changing the figures on the live system (which it seems there were) was it OK for them not to report it because they were loyal to their leaders? These are important questions that are about values and integrity.

To return to the question of why this forum is here, it seems to me that discussion and debate are wholesome (and scripturally endorsed) practices that are a natural part of life. If Struthers does not provide this internally, allowing open debate about this sort of issue, there will always be some sort of other space, whether that is people speaking in cafes, or this sort of public forum.

That is one reason I find the recent vote about the school interesting, as it appears they are now confirming that it is OK to debate some things. Possibly only in a Struthers meeting – you are perhaps not meant to discuss it outside of Struthers, but it is still confirming that discussion and debate is legitimate. That “lets the cat out of the bag” though, and people will I am sure now go on to start debating other things that were previously taboo.

To take a policy example, what is their position on women Ministry? Mr Black’s sermons and books made it clear that women could only preach if their head was covered. Is that still their policy position? If it has changed, when did it change, and what is their view of the past – was it a mistake? Also, who decided it would change? Was it the congregation, the management team or the overall leader? In any other organisation, it would be clear who had the authority to make such a decision, and there would be a minute of when the decision was made and by whom.

Theologically, there are a whole range of question. For example, where does the idea of “going deeper into God” come from? It does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Nor does the idea that you can be in a room and some people can feel the presence of God and others cannot – that has no basis at all in scripture and is indeed the exact opposite of what happens in scripture. How were these theological positions reached and how are they justified? It seems to me there is a need for somewhere these things can be raised.

So, my main point is just that there are things that need discussed openly. If Struthers would allow that internally, people would probably not need to come here to discuss it.

Oh, one other point while I am here – I see the meeting was informal and the vote was secret with no minutes taken. If that is the case, this was not an appropriately constituted meeting, so that was not a decision of the Members.

The best possible interpretation is that it was an advisory vote, providing the leaders with insight into how people felt, not a decision. As such, the leaders carry 100% of the responsibility for any outcome.

A more cynical interpretation would be that the purpose of the vote was so that people felt engaged and invested in the decision so that they would contribute more. That will not be the end of the story though, as their own accounts show the congregation has been subsidising the school for many years. I do not see how that can continue.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Daisy69 ()
Date: January 27, 2024 02:56AM

Yes they do say you aren’t holy enough if you question.
You aren’t allowed to mix with others, outside of the church.
You are warned in a polite way, that if you don’t comply you will lose everyone around you.
Mental illness is basically demons! They force deliverance on you.
Hi petitor, you got it in one with your more cynical interpretation. They lapped it all up.
You are told that Satan will try and take you away from the church, if you question anything.
It’s not true Christianity to snub former members in the street.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cheerylizard ()
Date: January 27, 2024 10:51PM

@rensil, it’s unfortunate that you are puzzled but (a) it doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong in your claims, SMC never owned “Cedars”, and you have been misled or maybe fell into an assumption; (b) I am under no obligation to explain personal details about myself to you or anyone, it is not relevant, this is a point of fact we are discussing. You can look up land registry or whatever, so I don’t know how it serves your purpose to bring “Cedars” into the discussion. It is plain to anyone with actual knowledge of the situation that while people who went to SMC lived there, not everyone who lived there was in SMC and more importantly that it was always a private dwelling. If you want to lodge a retrospective complaint, do take it to the local authorities, I am sure they will set you straight.

There’s a lot of good info on this forum but unfortunately when you can’t get basic facts right and are willing to engage in idle speculation about things that are not relevant (such as the legality of private members homes) it rather undermines the credibility of everything else, so maybe a good idea to retract your claims now that you have been corrected by someone who does know the details.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/2024 11:00PM by cheerylizard.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: January 30, 2024 10:02PM

Don't think anyone was asking about the legality of private homes - whatever that means.

Did the people that lived next door in Fidra which was owned by the church participate in meals and chores rotas in the private house Cedars?

Is Rensil correct that the church leaders took a great deal of interest in who could and couldn't live in both houses?

Was there inappropriate control and interference in the lives of those who lived in both the church owned house Fidra and the private house next door Cedars?

Cedars was - as you say - owned by one of the church leaders, who was also on the church executive board and was the head of the church school. That person also frequently preached that some of the church leaders were infallible. That person has now left Struthers with a bunch of others and the situation around that has been damaging, shambolic and led to much recrimination and long overdue examination of decades of poor decisions by the leadership.

Has the church taken any steps to examine whether there was emotional or spirital damage caused to anyone living in these homes?

If so what was the outcome?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: January 31, 2024 09:54AM

Hi cheerylizard
Our discussions about Cedars House took place on this Forum in November 2023 and if anyone wants to read those in order to understand what cheerylizard is getting at, they are on Page 158 of this Forum. I’m wondering why you want to reply now to my queries which I wrote in posts here in November 2023.

I accepted your corrections that Cedars House was not owned by SMC, as I and most Struthers members thought. We are free to discuss things on this Forum. I may get my facts wrong but that’s because I and most Struthers members, have been given erroneous information. To me, it’s not “idle speculation”. It’s what I knew, saw and witnessed on my visits to Cedars House.

I don’t normally bother wondering about people’s private homes, but Cedars WAS a residence for communal living for members of SMC. I really can’t recall anyone who wasn’t in SMC living there. I’ll rack my brains but for now, I can’t think of one person. I know that someone in Struthers asked if they could bring a drug addict to stay for a few days at Cedars. But they were told, No. That’s understandable but I do know that entrants to Cedars House were vetted by the leadership before being allowed to stay there. I was told this by two young women who were refused a place.
Yes, it’s a private home now, I know that. Or two private homes, upstairs and downstairs. I’m not interested in who lives there now.

Chesterk55, if you read the discussions on Page 158, you’ll see that I was corrected at that time by cheerylizard who said that Cedars House was never owned by one of the church leaders, ie the leader who was Head of Cedars School and on the Board. It was according to cheerylizard, a “private home”.

Yes, residents of Fidra ate their meals at Cedars House and contributed to rotas etc. Yes, there were some concerning incidents of spiritual abuse, which happened to some young folk staying in Cedars and Fidra. I know of cases but can’t give details. The folk concerned would need to come on here and tell their own story.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Daisy69 ()
Date: February 01, 2024 04:59AM

Hi can you clarify what sort of spiritual abuse happened?
I myself was bullied that if I didn’t attend, the devil was controlling me.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Daisy69 ()
Date: February 01, 2024 06:01AM

I wasn’t at cedars. I was bullied in general at the church. Reading about things here, has made me see that I wasn’t wrong and right to leave.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: February 03, 2024 07:38PM

I find the story/ stories about Fidra and Cedars very interesting - possibly because I know very little about them and their purpose. Thanks Rensil for your insight, and CheeryLizard for your correction regarding the ownership.

It seems to me there are still a lot of questions about these two properties however, not least of which is what sort of link there was in terms of decision-making. If a board member of an organisation is personally involved in a project, normal practice is to “declare an interest” and then take no part in the relevant discussion. It seems to me this is the least that should have been happening.

CheeryLizard – can you shed any light on how these properties worked, their purpose, their decision-making processes, any link between them etc? You seem to have a lot of knowledge of these properties, but the only information you have provided is that the actual ownership was not with SMC which does not really tell us a great deal about how these places worked.

Even knowing the owner would help. You say that:

Alison Speirs certainly did not "oversee it all". It may have appeared that way to you based on the misrepresentations of the church leadership, but that very unfairly diminishes the agency of the actual owner.

If I read that correctly, you seems to be saying that Alison Spears was not the owner and there was some other person who had agency. It would be really helpful if you could simply name the owner (which is, as you say a matter of public record, so not at all confidential) and provide your insights into the purpose, organisation and achievements of these properties so that we have information to consider. I presume that, like most people on this forum, you do believe that openness and transparency is important.

If you believe there was “misrepresentation by the church leadership” (see above quote) would it not be good to set the record straight? How should it have been represented?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: February 06, 2024 11:11AM

Welcome to the Forum, Hugh-black and Daisy69. It’s good to hear fresh stories from people who are new to the Forum.

Hugh-black, you mentioned the issue of grooming. I don’t think this issue can be easily dismissed and described as a falsehood, as some here are saying. Although there was never a sexual element to the grooming, I think that the other signs of grooming are and have been present in SMC. The main signs of grooming, according to are: targeting an individual, emotional manipulation, gaslighting, reinforcement of instructions, exploitation of trust and loyalty and gaining control over the target.

If training and mentoring and giving lots of attention to a young person to take on roles of leadership and ministry in the church, to the exclusion of all others, is a type of grooming, then yes, Mr Hugh Black, Mary Black and Alison Speirs all engaged in it. For example, Diana Rutherford was singled out by Hugh Black when she was a teenager and still at school. Her intense training for leadership meant that she spent a lot of time alone with Hugh Black, he would give her lifts to and from meetings and she would be chosen to minister and to lead groups. She had to get it right and do things just as he wanted her to. Incidentally, he should have known, even before child protection rules came in, that as a Minister and a Headmaster, it is unwise and a bad witness to travel alone in a car with a young girl.

Then a few years down the line, Hugh Black did the same with another teenage girl who was still at school, giving her special attention, training her for leadership and ministry too. We all thought that these girls must be so holy and super-spiritual and that was why he had singled them out. This caused many of us to strive and push in order to try to achieve what these girls had and to try to gain the approval of the leaders. Of course, this never worked, we got nowhere and we believed that we could never “make the high grade for God”, simply because we did not get chosen by a leader.

There are two contributors on this Forum who felt they were singled out in this way by the leaders back in the 80s. Chris19 and wistongirl have posts on page 95 and 102 respectively if you want to have a look. One of the conditions which they were both told must apply to their lives was that they had to remain single and never marry. Why, you may ask? Anyway they both disagreed with this pronouncement.

As I see it, Mary Black also singled out certain young people, mostly girls, whom she believed God had chosen and anointed for leadership. What you’re saying, Hugh-black, about her spending hours praying with and counselling a young girl rings true with me. Looking back now, all this seems abusive, because the training was strict and intense. They weren’t allowed to miss any meetings or they’d get questioned. Their lives were closely monitored and they received a lot of prayer with laying on of hands. Even if they had a child, they had still to attend meetings and arrange for babysitters.

I don’t think this selection and grooming, if we can call it that, goes on in Struthers anymore, thankfully. Maybe there aren’t the narcissistic type leaders in charge now, but I don’t know. I don’t believe that Struthers has completely changed in all of its aspects. Allowing makeup, foreign holidays and hair dye won’t change what’s going on at the roots.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: February 06, 2024 08:39PM


You are right. I have often noticed that hair dye does not change what is going on at the roots!

There are more serious points there as well though, as there used to be sermons about not wearing makeup and not going on foreign holidays. Were these sermons correct? Was God "anointing" the speakers at the time? Was this God's word? Does God's word change? What happened to God being unchangeable?

There are a huge range of issues here with no attempt to reconcile contradictory statements or doctrine. It would be good if someone from SMC would at least make an attempt to explain these things.

Even if they did not want to do that here (probably because they are "Chocolate Soldiers" as Mr Black would say, quoting William Booth) they should be explaining to their own members, and as well as that, individuals should of course also be clear in their own heads how this works. Christians are each meant to "search the scriptures diligently to see if these things are true".

You also say that the sort of selection and grooming (as described in your post) no longer happens. So, again, was that wrong? Is that not the way to run a church? Surely it is either the correct way to act, in which case they should be continuing these practices, or it is the wrong way to act, in which case they need to come out and say that. Which is it?

No wonder folk are confused.

One other thought. If I have tapes of these early sermons, is it OK to play them to people? Would it be OK to post them here? If not, why not? Services all used to be taped and there are many copies of Mr Black's sermons still around. These talk about my favourite topic (why women must wear hats) and other matters including not having television and why the pope is the Antichrist. I think it was probably more Miss Taylor who preached against makeup, and it might take a bit of time to find the appropriate passages, but they are also there.

Behaving as the leaders do does not demonstrate a sincere Christian commitment. There is no way you can be sincere and preach that:

(a) God speaks through you in a very specific way
(b) God is unchangeable
(c) God at one point told us that makeup and holidays were wrong and hats were compulsory for women when preaching
(d) Holidays and makeup are now OK and hats are no longer required
(e) You must always obey the leaders (examples being when they say holidays are wrong or that holidays are right, or whether to wear a hat) irrespective of what the Bible says
(f) Anyone who questions a Struther's leader is questioning God
(g) Anyone who questions church leaders from other churches is very spiritual
(h) Struthers was set up by incredibly spiritual people who had a special anointing from God
(i) The current leaders however know a lot more than the original leaders did, as the original leaders got the bits about hats, makeup and holidays wrong

That is not a sincere attempt to provide people with an understanding of the Christian faith, that is a game of "follow the leader".

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