Hi Grace-girl, and welcome to the forum. Like Chris19, I found it quite tough when I left. In my case, it was largely because I kept thinking, “is it me?” I found it difficult to attend church for many years but, as I drifted back to a new church I found good sincere friends who were genuine and wholesome, and were prepared to justify their actions, not lord it over others and hide their head in the sand.
I must say I have also more recently found this forum – and Latigo – a great help. Even after over 20 years, I still had that question – “is it just me” and, although I had good friends, they had not been in struthers and so tended to just dismiss it all as totally bad, which didn’t always help. As a result, I have found this forum really helpful for me personally - as everyone might have gathered by the number of posts I make (sorry about that!) I have no doubt you will find your own way through the journey and will discover wonderful new friends and experiences.
I take your point about the outlying branches. I know there are a lot of good people in struthers, and not all would condone the abuse that goes on. I guess my point would however be that, “for evil to abound, all it takes is good men (sic) to do nothing.” If anyone in struthers recognises the issues, and does nothing, they are allowing it to continue. That might have been OK when no-one realised the extent of the problem, but, as Archbishop Laud said, to not respond now is “unconscionable” – great word, and totally sums it up for me.
Seems to me this applies to everyone, no matter what their influence. Take for example anon201062 who said, on page 2 of this forum,
For one every critic of the leadership of struthers I could produce easily and willingly 50 who would be able to tell how the guidance of the leaders has helped them to break them free, find god, heal them.
I am not wanting to be horrible about it but the above paragraph (2 above) from yourself is basically untrue... I suggest before putting criticisms in you make sure they are true.
Well, we now have 24 people (oops, sorry – 25 – it is hard to keep up!) who have been critical of the leadership on this fourm alone. So anon201062, can you produce 1,250 people (four times the entire membership of the movement) who will testify in this way? If not, you must surely explain that you were mistaken and have changed your position. Is that not the honest thing to do? Are you willing to take your own advice to make sure things are true before you post them?
I repeat: “To not respond to these issues is unconscionable.”
I think that applies to everyone – the central leaders most of all, but also the outlying leaders and the members of the congregation, including anon201062. “I was only following orders” is the oldest and possibly the worst excuse in the book. We all have an individual responsibility before God, and we cannot avoid that by saying, “but these people said…” Do the individuals in struthers value honest and integrity or would they rather have a cover-up? I guess it is up to each person to answer that for themselves.
Oh, and by the way, the only excuse the leaders could have offered for refusing to answer is that they are far too busy “following their calling” and doing spiritual things. Fortunately, Jesus hit that one on the head with the parable of the Good Samaritan.