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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: December 27, 2011 04:03AM

Hi Rensil

yes it is true, many of the ones who were in SMC for a few years are committed Christians, committed to God and his word. When we find what is taught in SMC does not tally with the word of God, it is very confusing. Religion is powerfull it affects us deeply and when it goes wrong it messes us up deeply, Although I am going on with God and still go to church; I have been well and truly messed up. I have had to begin reading the bible from scratch, going back to the way I was before SMC is not easy...I am still in touch with a few of the members of SMC - we exchange christmas cards and I believe these are good people who are being decieved, I find this heart breaking. I find now that it is very hard to trust anyone who calls themselves Christian. they have to earn my trust. The thing is our Christian faith is about trust when we are betrayed we may never get that trust back. I can only pray that in this New Year God will bring back the ones that are lost and have lost the trust in God and other Christians. God bless all of us in the New Year.


susie

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lintar123 ()
Date: January 07, 2012 08:17AM

I am so glad to have found this website and comforted ,in a sense, to discover that I haven`t been alone in trying to recover from my SMC experience. My husband was a long time member when I met him at work and joined in 1981. We were married there in 1986 and many times since, I have even questioned whether or not our marriage was valid! I was brought up Catholic. I was an ok person, happy go lucky and reasonably confident. However I remember as a young person throwing out clothes after a sermon by MB on vanity. I remember cutting myself off from everything and continuing to feel a failure every time I left a meeting. We went to meetings every night and I remember vividly being banned by DR for something horrible that she accused me of doing at ahouse meeting in Cumbernauld. I know in my heart I hadn`t done this action. This resulted in me being taken to Greenock to be prayed with by HB. Immense pressure was on our marriage and me personally, and ever since I have been treated for depression. No counsellor has ever fully understood my hurt. Before our engagement I had to be given the once over by Miss T. We never had the courtship nor the wedding we would have wanted. We had a bridesmaid whom I didn`t even know and we had to have everything cross checked... guests/ honeymoon/ where we were going to live. Awful! As a young married couple the pressure of meetings took its toll! and sex? Well that was taboo totally as well as any other normal life experiences. When our daughter was born in 1990..we left. No one contacted us and eventually all the contact we had was to sign of the covenant forms. I was threatened by DR who told me that I was causing my husband to backslide and that I was demonised and would never be able to leave the church. I believe there were sermons about us when we did leave. We are still together 25 years later. However what a difficult journey it has been ! i CANT look at my wedding pictures without crying and remembering the confusion and hurt caused by all of them. I remember my husband praying and praying and beating himself up praying for Gods forgiveness that we had been so bad! I remember the camps the madness of seeing people do strange things because they had to. I have flashbacks still and many unanswered questions. I remember the Greenock meeting when HB announced that money had been lost in stocks and shares and I still wonder how the School , the shops and the buildings can be funded. I have many hurts and unresolved issues and yet we are both respectable, professional people who are damaged beyond belief. I see our children grown up now and I thank God that they had a normal childhood and will have normal courtships and fall in and out of love naturally. Struthers ruined relationships and people.It cannot be right that people can be so brainwashed and made to live in fear of other human beings who assume the role of anointed leaders! God alone should be our judge!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 08, 2012 01:12AM

lintar123

Welcome to the forum! Although it should not surprise me any more, I am still shocked to hear of the depth hurt caused by smc (and not just by the leadership, but by the ordinary members of the congregations who cross to the other side of the road and walk past instead of offering support).

I too had flashbacks for years. While I never had formal counselling, I spoke to many, many people and had the same experience that none really understood the hurt. Most were quite dismissive – “bet your glad you’re clear of that” and some suggested counselling but, in my case, I somehow knew that wasn’t the answer. Not that I would put anyone off that route but, for me, it would have been admitting the fault lay with me, and I was never fully convinced that was where the fault and the solution lay.

What a relief it was to me to find this forum where I could see that others had similar experiences and issues. For me personally, the forum was a real eye-opener, and has allowed me to understand why I had struggled for so long. One of the reasons I continue to contribute to this forum is the hope that I might be able to help others along that road a little.

In terms of your own experience, I would like to refer back to a quote by Clive a few pages ago, where he said:

===
Kathleen Taylor writes:

"One striking fact about brainwashing is its consistency. Whether the context is a prisoner of war camp, a cults headquarters or a radical mosque,
five core techniques keep cropping up:

“isolation, control, uncertainty, repetition and emotional manipulation.”
===

Seems to me all of these elements are there in your post, emphasising once again that the leaders of the church have no conscience or interest in anything other than their own glory. There is certainly nothing in how the leaders act that brings any glory to God.

Like so many other experiences, what you describe is really horrible. There is no excuse for leaders in a responsible position treating people like that. To me that is the main reason that is cannot possibly be the voice of God they are hearing.

The point about the finances is also quite important I think. I am not sure what happened, but the church certainly lost a lot of money- possibly £0.5 million or even £1million gambling on the stock exchange. Where was the guidance of God and the secret knowledge of His will then? They can try to argue that God is telling them about what people did and what people feel, even if the individuals know it is simply not true, but they cannot argue that God led them to invest in particular stocks that led to a loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

My recollection is that it was actually worse than that – I seem to remember that some people signed documents to say they were buying shares but it wasn’t actually them buying the shares, it was the church that put up the money. I am not sure of all the details, but this might actually have been against the law. It would be good to hear exactly what happened at that time! Surely the church is not afraid of the truth!

What amazes me is that no existing member of the congregation is going to the leaders and saying, "surely this is not true, why don't we publish a statement explaining what actually happened?" It is a sad state of affairs when ordinary members have so lost their way that their fear of the leaders is greater than their desire to know the truth.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lintar123 ()
Date: January 08, 2012 01:38AM

thankyou for welcoming me. I have been reminded over the past few days of more hurts and questions. The financial one has always bothered me. How can the church be running and funding a school of excellence staffed by church members. So many members of the one family on the staff and all connected to SMC. To me , again , it is an unhealthy control of money and people. I worry about the children. Are they being groomed to attend SMC? I dont understand how the loss of congregations money could have been fixed (that of the 80s financial fiasco) and in a real world no school should be staffed in such a controlled way. Do other people not question or wonder about these issues or is that not allowed either in the SMC world? It certainly was not allowed in our time there in the 80s to the 90s.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: January 09, 2012 09:04AM

Hello lintar123 and welcome to the Forum.
I am glad that you found this Forum and that it has been helpful to you, as it has been to me since I found out about it. Reading your posts has made me feel very upset at what has happened to you and to your husband. I joined SMC in the early 80s too so I know exactly what it was like then and I stayed for many years until I saw the truth about what is really going on. It hasnt really changed since back then and people still aren't allowed to question anything which the leaders decide on or preach about. There is still control over members' personal lives and relationships. It is shocking what you have been through and the hurt and damage it has caused you and your husband, and the interference in your marriage bond. Be glad that you got out when you did and before your children became part of it.

I am sad thinking of the suffering you are still going through. (Oh dear, that word "suffering" was one often used in preaching at SMC"). I hope that now you and your husband can get the support you need to recover fully from your experiences. Maybe now you will be able to speak to others who are in the same position after being part of SMC for years and having recovered either fully or partially and ongoing. Just knowing you are not alone is the first step, I think, and knowing that you are not to blame and not guilty of anything before God, despite what you've been taught in SMC that you were backsliding and it was all your fault. Maybe now you will get answers to your questions as many of us here on this Forum have, and things will start to make sense for you both and then you can walk a path of healing and restoration. My prayers are with you.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: January 09, 2012 11:22PM

Hi Lintar,

may i add my welcome and a thanks for sharing your experiences here. I think you can at least be encouraged that every such testimony added here of the abuses of the SMC leadership helps to warn off potential new recruits and may be causing some within SMC to re-evaluate things. I think I’m right in saying that the SMC thread has been at the top of the RR forum pretty much of the last year or more activity wise. I think this speaks volumes.

ThePetitor, regarding:-

Quote
ThePetitor
the leaders of the church have no conscience or interest in anything other than their own glory.

Not knowing the inner thoughts of any of the leaders I think this is probably an oversimplification of what is going on here, and such attacks on egoism and accusations of selfishness miss the point in how the psychology of cults works.

You have to remember that a key driver of what i’ll call “strong-man” religious leadership is the idea that once you think you have received the ‘truth” or “command” by means of revelation, intense spiritual experience, etc the only question remains is how sure you are personally that you have received the “truth” UNCORRUPTED, whether you are willing to serve that command, directive etc to the UTMOST or instead - whether you need to allow for your own fallibility and hence allow a certain amount of flexibility - including taking into account other viewpoints or approaches, and thus be more “accommodating” - a concept i’m sure is anathema in SMC circles.

You see the problem is that the leaders see themselves as little MOSES’es - namely they have received their revelations from their "spiritual mountain”. If you go to the old testament, you will see that the correct modus operandi - i.e. the one approved time and time again by Yahweh - is the one that suffers no dissent, does not deviate in the slightest from “mission”, and deals with dissenters and the “lukewarm” harshly.

i guess in brief what i am saying is the harmful ways of leaderships like SMC derive in fact from very one-mindedly and ruthlessly implementing things that logically follow from certain premises, right or wrong - derived by their brand of pentecostalism. The root causes of the “sins” of the SMC leadership are at heart SYSTEMIC and not simply about ego. It is about a WAY OF THINKING, not about issues of selfishness.

But maybe I can concede that there will always be a loss of pride linked to following a course of action that might result in one admitting that one made a mistake.

This reminds me of an author I once heard being interviewed who wrote the following book:

[www.mistakesweremadebutnotbyme.com]

I love this section from its promotional blurb :

Stage 1 (50 pages in)
You say to yourself: “Wow, I know quite a few people who are making the mistakes described in this book.”

Stage 2 (halfway through)
You say to yourself: “Wow, EVERY single person I know is making the mistakes described in this book.”

Stage 3 (by the time you finish the book)
You say to yourself: “Wow, I myself have been making the mistakes described in this book, and I didn’t even realize it.”

Clive.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2012 11:34PM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: January 14, 2012 09:31AM

QUOTE FROM CLIVE
Not knowing the inner thoughts of any of the leaders I think this is probably an oversimplification of what is going on here


Actually those of us who were in Struthers do have a pretty good idea what they think. They told us 5 times per week for about 20 years plus conferences.


No argument with the general point – few people set out to be egomaniacs. But as you acknowledge in your own post there is a hard to define point at which people seem to cross over and can no longer admit mistakes. And the sense of a God given superiority is not being conveyed via a gentle and serving approach but in a way that works in the interests of the person who feels superior. So it is not just about what they believe to be true, it is also about how they deal with people.

It emerges in the attitude where they ban inconvenient people from attending rather than engage with their concerns. It emerges in the way they feel the right to decide to approve certain compliant people and demonize (unfortunately the right word) those who they have decided are lesser or rebellious. It shows where they seek to spend time and energy on people like them who make them feel comfortable rather than those they personally find more difficult but who might have complimentary ministry skills to their own.

And interestingly the Struthers leaders seem to know that they can appear to be flying far on their own egos. This comes out in a couple of ways.

First is the continual and consistent use of themselves as examples in preaching: THEIR history, THEIR life events, THEIR ministries, THEIR successes. And most of all THEIR indispensibility. Noone is able to do it quite like them. Thus the platform becomes the place where THEIR ego is fed. And the place where they seek to make certain that everyone else hears about the great ministry and discernment they have.

Secondly they use the platform to continually explain how what looks like exploded ego is actually them behaving in meek obedience to the will of God. In this there is at least an admission that they are aware that they sometimes sound like they are puffing up themselves and their own specialness. So they feel they have to ensure that this is not seen as what it looks like which is simply using the platform to sing their own praises and that of their close friends. This is usually achieved by explanation that they do not like banning people, or public ministry, or having to give every job and role to themselves. But God has told them they have a special anointing to do these things so they must.

If that sounds unconvincing, many of us who nodded assent to this for years now think it is indeed very unconvincing.

As the saying goes if it looks like and elephant and smells like an elephant it probably is an elephant.

It is now much more clear that those who perhaps started with good intentions are now operating a closed shop which targets advantages towards a very small group within the church and ensure that the roles which channel those benefits stay tightly in their control.

Crucially they explain this is not an ego trip but okay because they are "spiritually" better than others. This has been decided by themselves.

And that is the point many of us seem to have arrived at if I have read the postings here correctly. What many of us witnessed for years was often shocking conduct as contained in most of the posts on this forum. But we defended and explained this away as people meekly following their calling. We had to defend it quite often because some Struthers leaders often sounded like egomaniacs in that they seemed to actively despise all else in the christian world but what they had to offer.

Now we are not afraid, we are capable of calling this what it is, as the Petitor has indicated, people seeking their own glory. It is simply people who have begun setting out to do a loyal job but have become so convinced only they can judge people's souls, bring the presence of God to a congregation or decide who is “spiritual” and who is “worldly”. At a certain point we now believe they have crossed a line and are now operating in something very hard to distinguish from pride in themselves and their own set up. Clive's post hints at an excellent test. Can they apologise when they make mistakes or not even then?

As I said I have no problem with the general point but I don't think it is helpful to imply either that we don't know what the Struthers leaders are thinking when we know so much of what they say and do. And we should not dismiss our direct experience that the focus of the leaders looks like it ensures many benefits to themselves and a close few. If that is not "seeking their own glory" I think it comes pretty close.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2012 09:46AM by Chesterk55.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: January 24, 2012 07:40AM

Quote
Chesterk55
QUOTE FROM CLIVE
Not knowing the inner thoughts of any of the leaders I think this is probably an oversimplification of what is going on here


To quote chesterk55 Actually those of us who were in Struthers do have a pretty good idea what they think. They told us 5 times per week for about 20 years plus conferences.

Hi Chesterk

Yes your right in what you said, we do have a good idea what the leaders in SMC think. They told us often enough over the years. Not only what they think, but it was made very plain to us, what they think and what the truth was, was one and the same thing! Thats what happens when people set their leaders up to be idols. the leaders start to believe their own publicity and before we know where we are, we have demi gods.
their church does not need the God of heaven when they can have a god right in their own back yard.


susie








No argument with the general point – few people set out to be egomaniacs. But as you acknowledge in your own post there is a hard to define point at which people seem to cross over and can no longer admit mistakes. And the sense of a God given superiority is not being conveyed via a gentle and serving approach but in a way that works in the interests of the person who feels superior. So it is not just about what they believe to be true, it is also about how they deal with people.

It emerges in the attitude where they ban inconvenient people from attending rather than engage with their concerns. It emerges in the way they feel the right to decide to approve certain compliant people and demonize (unfortunately the right word) those who they have decided are lesser or rebellious. It shows where they seek to spend time and energy on people like them who make them feel comfortable rather than those they personally find more difficult but who might have complimentary ministry skills to their own.

And interestingly the Struthers leaders seem to know that they can appear to be flying far on their own egos. This comes out in a couple of ways.

First is the continual and consistent use of themselves as examples in preaching: THEIR history, THEIR life events, THEIR ministries, THEIR successes. And most of all THEIR indispensibility. Noone is able to do it quite like them. Thus the platform becomes the place where THEIR ego is fed. And the place where they seek to make certain that everyone else hears about the great ministry and discernment they have.

Secondly they use the platform to continually explain how what looks like exploded ego is actually them behaving in meek obedience to the will of God. In this there is at least an admission that they are aware that they sometimes sound like they are puffing up themselves and their own specialness. So they feel they have to ensure that this is not seen as what it looks like which is simply using the platform to sing their own praises and that of their close friends. This is usually achieved by explanation that they do not like banning people, or public ministry, or having to give every job and role to themselves. But God has told them they have a special anointing to do these things so they must.

If that sounds unconvincing, many of us who nodded assent to this for years now think it is indeed very unconvincing.

As the saying goes if it looks like and elephant and smells like an elephant it probably is an elephant.

It is now much more clear that those who perhaps started with good intentions are now operating a closed shop which targets advantages towards a very small group within the church and ensure that the roles which channel those benefits stay tightly in their control.

Crucially they explain this is not an ego trip but okay because they are "spiritually" better than others. This has been decided by themselves.

And that is the point many of us seem to have arrived at if I have read the postings here correctly. What many of us witnessed for years was often shocking conduct as contained in most of the posts on this forum. But we defended and explained this away as people meekly following their calling. We had to defend it quite often because some Struthers leaders often sounded like egomaniacs in that they seemed to actively despise all else in the christian world but what they had to offer.

Now we are not afraid, we are capable of calling this what it is, as the Petitor has indicated, people seeking their own glory. It is simply people who have begun setting out to do a loyal job but have become so convinced only they can judge people's souls, bring the presence of God to a congregation or decide who is “spiritual” and who is “worldly”. At a certain point we now believe they have crossed a line and are now operating in something very hard to distinguish from pride in themselves and their own set up. Clive's post hints at an excellent test. Can they apologise when they make mistakes or not even then?

As I said I have no problem with the general point but I don't think it is helpful to imply either that we don't know what the Struthers leaders are thinking when we know so much of what they say and do. And we should not dismiss our direct experience that the focus of the leaders looks like it ensures many benefits to themselves and a close few. If that is not "seeking their own glory" I think it comes pretty close.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: January 24, 2012 05:12PM

Like others, I agree that we have a very good idea what the leaders are thinking, as their sole occupation is to inform others of their idiosyncratic view of life. If you actually sit under their control (I won't use the word ministry, as that means “servant” and I see no evidence that they are there to serve others) you discover that there is very little other than their continued and unfounded assertion that they are right and everyone else is wrong. No doctrine, no exposition of scripture, no good works or morality, just “we are right, it is a sin not to listen to us”. What arrogance!

I should point out that I didn't actually make a claim that this insight was some sort of absolute truth however, what I said was, “It seems to me the leaders of the church... ”. Missing out the first few words - “It seems to me...” made it sound a bit like I was claiming some sort of authoritative knowledge.

Not so! I have strong views based on my personal experience, as do others who have been part of the church. I personally do not believe any one of us (including me) has a monopoly on the truth, but I find it very compelling that so many people have come forward to say - “wow – that is what I heard as well” or, “that is exactly what I experienced”. Such a comprehensive and consistent set of testimonies is huge – probably ten times greater than then the evidence that has convicted many a murderer. While I do not claim any unique insight, I do therefore believe the question of whether Struthers is of benefit to individuals is now “beyond reasonable doubt” as they say in the courts.

What I do genuinely question is when their clearly unhelpful behaviour and attitude moves from a forgivable lack of understanding to deliberate self-delusion. As Susie says in her brilliant discourse (I felt like quoting it all, but that would be a bit over the top!),

Quote
susie
... there is a hard to define point at which people seem to cross over and can no longer admit mistakes.

...

As the saying goes if it looks like and elephant and smells like an elephant it probably is an elephant.

...

It is now much more clear that those who perhaps started with good intentions are now operating a closed shop which targets advantages towards a very small group within the church and ensure that the roles which channel those benefits stay tightly in their control.

...

And that is the point many of us seem to have arrived at if I have read the postings here correctly.


Yes, that is certainly the point I have reached. What might be interesting to some is that I have only reached this point over the last year, which tells you two things. (1) I did not reach this conclusion because I was bitter, reacting against the truth, backsliding or anything else – it took me over 20 years to come to a considered opinion. (2) the testimonies on this site have been very helpful to me, allowing me to see an objective view from a large number of people.

My view is that the comments on this website and the questions on the Latigo site are very significant in terms of whether the Struthers leaders – and congregation – have crossed the line and can no longer admit mistakes. What might a year or so ago have been forgiven as ignorance of the impact of their actions can, in the light of comments now publicly available, no longer be excused in that way. The leaders now know that they are harming rather than helping people, they know have the means to do something about it, and they refuse to consider any change in approach, something which I believe provides objective evidence that they have no interest in the welfare of others.

Mr Black used to quote a preacher that said, "If I believed what you say you believe, and all England was covered in broken glass, I would crawl all over it on my hands and knees to save one person". Seems to me that the current line is closer to, "If all England was covered in rose petals, I would not take one step to offer you any help".

The Struthers followers now also find themselves in an unenviable position. Seeing a single sermon or even to the message over a single year as beneficial might have been credible at one point, but I cannot see how any honest person can look at the testimonies and the lack of any recognisable progress over 30 years and still pretend that the church has any purpose other than the self aggrandisement of the leaders and the creation of followers too weak to question anything.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: January 25, 2012 12:47AM

What IS amazing to me - hearing all you posters highlight your own views and experiences on this issue of discerning the leaders minds and motives is - that even though my direct experience with the SMC ended thirty years ago, even that LIMITED AND BRIEF exposure to the ways of SMC led me to form an impression of things there that is very close to what the above posters have been saying here in the last few weeks - posters who have been members for 30 years or so!.

I suppose I should be relieved that my gut feelings first formed so long ago turn out to be uncannily accurate in how things are - at least as reported by posters here.

I have many times over the years overheard recordings on CDs of SMC sermons being played back by family members. And again - overhearing these sermons only reconfirms what others have said here.


A few weeks ago i was watching an interview in the BBC with the despotic leader/president of a small Africal country - Equatorial Guinea - a country with some of the worst human rights record in Africa. The interview was quite probing, and the plainly arrogant interviewee answered repeatedly “”I answer only to god” everyone else can go to hell.

I was just taken aback but not surprised.

In keeping with ThePetitors use of “it seems to me” I will add my own:

It seems to me that any leader, religious or political - who dismisses any calls for accountability by their peers or fellow man on the basis that they ONLY have to answer to God should be treated with the greatest of suspicion.

But then this is part of the problem with religious movements and breakaway sects that place such an overtly high emphasis on demonstrating and living out a life of faith and obedience coupled with claims to hear god speak directly to you. If a person - particularly a leader has gotten the sense of their “still small voice” telling them to do something or say something, then the “hearer” has to first have enough faith in their OWN infallible facility for clearly hearing the divine message and then pursue that instruction COME WHAT MAY.

It is clear that once one has reached the point where one has absolute faith in ones own ability to discern what their god wants that this can only lead to problems.

But then how many times does one hear a pentecostal celebrity or leader utter the words - “well I don’t know for sure” ? In the modern pentecostal movement such stuff just isn’t very macho and doesn’t put bums on seats or money on the collection tray. Usually such statements of humility and seeing through the “glass darkly” only get squeezed out of such people when they have been confronted with evidence of their FAILURE and ERROR.
We only have to look to the recent example of Harold Camping to see an example of this.
Harold Camping held unflinchingly and arrogantly to his ridiculous and harmful claims concerning the end days - and only changed tack to adopt a more humble and fallible line once he had been utterly PROVED WRONG TWICE !!..

Now the problem with leaders in the SMC is that on many of the things they like to make bold and arrogant claims about there simply is no equivalent “Harold Camping” way to hold these people to account. Their talk is in the
“spiritual” realm. It all comes from a universe of unfalsifiable claims. Of such things are cults and charlatans made.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2012 01:09AM by Clive.

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