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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: HappiestEver ()
Date: January 25, 2012 03:15AM

I was a child in Struthers Memorial Church during the 70's, 80's and 90's and can honestly say that for a child it was a truly oppressive environment to grow up in. Week after week, month after month, I was forced to sit through long "hellfire and damnation" sermons as well as VERY detailed discussions - and indeed physical displays- of "demon activity/possession and deliverance"! You wouldn't take a child of 8 years old to see an adult horror movie, so why was it deemed acceptable to speak of such horrors in front of children, and indeed permit them to witness the "blood curdling" screams and physical torments of someone being "delivered"? As a result of such sustained exposure I grew up with very deep-seated fears which developed into serious Anxious Depression in adolescence, and adulthood. In fact, 90% of the children raised alongside me in Struthers are being treated for some form of mental illness, ranging from Depression, Bulimia to Bi Polar Disorder and Psychosis. THIS IS A FACT.

I left this church many years ago, but it has taken me a long time to recover from the psychological scars. Now, I am happy and free and do not wish to attend any church, anywhere.

One word of advice to all the posters on this thread - " forget[ting] those things which are behind, and reach[ing] forth unto those things which are before."
Philippians 3.13



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2012 03:36AM by HappiestEver.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Marty ()
Date: January 25, 2012 07:25AM

Hi Happiest Ever and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my 'memoirs' like any family it is good to come together at times and remember the bygone era! Church camps, midges, hard pews and sore bums! 4 hour sermons that made even the most stubborn of us want to go to bed!...anyway life could have been worse I suppose, especially when I come across those who have been physically abused, suffered drug abuse and experienced many things that I was shielded from as a young kid.

It's good to remember past times good and bad and hopefully learn from them all as we move on in our journey through this life together as part of this wonderful family we are all part of in Christ Jesus. Like Happiest Ever, I too had the pleasure of growing up within the SMC and have many fond memories as well as others that i would rather forget about, and generally do.

Like most families, over time we all take different directions and journeys, we all have good and bad experiences, and we all find someone who is easy to get on with as well as those not so easy to get along with. Sadly in life there are good family role models and others that are not so good and sometimes the bad outweighs the good or so it may appear at the time.

I personally am eternally grateful to certain people within SMC who were key to me today still experiencing a close and personal relationship with the one I love so much and no prizes for guessing his name...it is Jesus Christ. I had the experience of salvation, conversion and being filled with the Holy Ghost all of which are still very memorable to me. who remembers the barn?

I also have other less pleasurable moments of experiencing the disappointing behavior of those in positions that should have known better and seen the less Christian side of people as they were more concerned about what they believed in than loving those around them despite any differences they may have.

Having been away from SMC now for over 20 years and with little interaction from those within I am surprised to hear how insular it would appear to have become from discussion on this forum, as I had the impression that it had become more open and understanding to the larger christian community around which it is only a small albeit important part of, in recent years.

Since leaving SMC I have been involved in several 'christian families' as I like to see them, and have gained much from their differences that they have, most of which to this day I still have very good friends within, Rather that conflicting, most times they compliment each other with their differences and have helped me to be more tolerant of people's different take on life.

Unfortunately in the Christian world we can still be so judgmental (or just mental!!!), forgetting that he came not to judge us but to save us, and did so by laying down his life willingly so that he could experience the joy of seeing both you and I today experiencing the freedom and joy we can have in him as we get to know him personally and not through religion.

Anyway, I could go on and on for hours, but need my beauty sleep desperately! But to everyone who reads this, and whatever point on the roller coaster of life you currently find yourself at, please don't believe the lie of the Devil which says he only loves you if...because he loves you whatever...and there is nothing you or I can do to make him love you less or more. It's called OUTRAGEOUS GRACE

Love you all, and feel free to contact me as we journey together or apart remembering we are all part of one big family with one destination :)

Marty

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: HappiestEver ()
Date: January 25, 2012 10:42PM

Hello Marty!

I enjoyed reading your post and must take this opportunity to echo some of the points you raise. My childhood memories of Struthers were most definitely not all bad. For example, some of my happiest childhood memories are of long summer days spent romping around Wiston and environs with friends. I cannot deny either, that there was a real presence of God within the church meetings. I also agree that there were some very fine spiritual leaders, and some...not so fine.

Struthers Memorial Church has many, many faults- but show me a church that doesn't. I think we have to be careful that this forum does not become a platform for the spewing forth of bitterness. Let go and move on with your lives - I did, and am the happiest I have ever been! :-)

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: January 25, 2012 11:04PM

HappiestEver:

Your comments come close to violating the rules of this message board.

"Spewing forth bitterness"?

Attempting to attack the people posting complaints here is not within the guidelines you agreed to before posting here.

The rules state, "Vitriolic posts that personally attack people, will not be tolerated and are grounds for banning the author from this message board...Any person that is here to cause trouble, start arguments and/or intimidate people, will be banned."

Key issues to consider about Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church would be:

1. What did the leadership there do wrong to alienate people and cause complaints?

2. Are church leaders at Struthers accountable in any meaningful way, through democratically elected boards, church bylaws, etc.? Can they be fired?

3. Is there meaningful financial transparency of Struthers church funds, though independently audited and published budgets distributed annually to all contributors, which disclose in detail all salaries, compensation and expenses paid out from its church funds.

Consider these issues rather than attacking members of this message board.

People have a right to complain. And complaining about church abuses isn't an expression of "bitterness", but rather a meaningful way of discussing what's wrong with a church, organization and/or its leaders.

Paul criticized church leaders in Galatians and disputed Peter's techings in Acts.

Jesus warned that many would come in his name, but he would not know them. He also advised to inspect the fruits of a group or leader, and that a good tree does not bear a bevy of bad fruit.

Pointing out a consistent pattern of bad fruit is not "bitterness". but rather a consistent response to the advice of Jesus' advice and the critical analysis of church leaders as offered by Paul.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: HappiestEver ()
Date: January 26, 2012 12:15AM

Dear rrModerator,

I think if you read carefully you will see that I neither attacked nor accused anyone "PERSONALLY" of "spewing forth bitterness", indeed I included myself by using the collective "we" when suggesting that care ought to be taken, lest accusations of "bitterness" be levvied against "us". However, I can see how the wording of my post may be construed as inflammatory, and for this I do apologise.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: January 26, 2012 12:56AM

@HappiestEver re "I think we have to be careful that this forum does not become a platform for the spewing forth of bitterness."

yes, i’ll try and take that point to heart. Unlike the moderator suggests, I dont in any way take your words as a personal attack on us fellow posters. I’m guilty as charged of posting far too many rants etcetera, and much of this does stem from an anger nearing bitterness even.

But to me the most moving and effective posts here are those by posters other than me,
who in very few words simply tell their own stories. What stands out to my mind is how in the recent months there seems to have been a steady stream of these simple to the point testimonies.

@marty - welcome to our board.


@rrmoderator, you begin your post by stating three principles. 1-3 which any person here can agree with. And other general information published by RR concerning cults also focuses on leadership issues which are non-denominational or theological and therefore can be agreed upon by all victims of any cults. You then go on and quote scripture. Surely you know that all sides do this.
I think it would be more helpful if - as the moderator you avoid bringing in your own personal interpretations of scripture or theology, whether or not people agree with it or not or whether your passages happen to endorse RR or this thread.

[ As an asides - If we go back to the days of Paul, the Ebionites would have taken up the cause of Peter and not seen eye to eye with the Pauline view of things. No doubt they would have been called heretics or even cults by Paulinists of the day.

And it could be said that the “works vs faith” issues raised between Paul, Peter and “James” are still at play in the SMC. Just like the early baptists and reformed xtians strove to work hard and succeed in business - in order to convince themselves that they were the “elect” - on similarly gets the feeling that the SMC movement strives towards “works” of holiness in order to convince themselves too that they are truly saved - even - worthy of being saved - or maybe to soften things - to convince themselves that they are holy enough to “enter into the presence of God”. The Faith vs Works tension will always rear its ugly head eventually :) .

And in addition - to be frank, speaking personally, it seems to me very odd that Peter, someone who supposedly actually knew Jesus personally and spent months maybe years in his company - should have been so utterly mistaken on the issue of Jesus’s position on the Torah and its observances, whether by Jews or Gentile converts. One only has to look at Galatians and Acts side by side to see that the Acts depiction of this conflict contradicts Pauls view of the events - as written by him in Galations. The Acts telling of this story is an attempt by the emerging catholic orthodoxy to smooth over differences of views between different pro to-orthodox sects such as the Ebionites, Marcionites and others. All the early religious groupings who claimed Jesus as their focus had major disputes - often vitriolic. And if one looks at the writings of the early church fathers we find that the writings of Paul where not immediately taken on board. Many of the epistles we now see in the NT, were denigrated by early writers such s Tertullian and accused of being the work of Marcion. In fact it is generally held by many historians that Marcionites war the first congegarations to use the epistles, and some parts of what became Luke as we know it.

It was only after Constantine that gradually - largely thanks to the financial largesse of Constantine - that one group emerged the stronger of these and grew to become the Catholic church. ]



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2012 01:17AM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: January 26, 2012 01:36AM

Clive:

As you point up the "leadership issues" and "can be agreed upon by all victims of any cults."

The pivotal issue is behavior not belief.

My only point in referring to the New Testament, is that it is alright to criticize leaders regarding their behavior and ideas.

There is no debate regarding this amongst most Christians.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Clive ()
Date: January 26, 2012 01:42AM

Quote
rrmoderator
My only point in referring to the New Testament, is that it is alright to criticize leaders regarding their behavior and ideas.

There is no debate regarding this amongst most Christians.

I think many Catholics would disagree with that when it comes to their main leader - the Pope ! :)


You should have seen and read the vitriol poured out by Ratzinger and his supporters when critics such as I and others took to the streets to protest his visit to the UK a while back. This leader even saw fit to make comparisons between his detractors at that time and the Nazis. Which was a bit rich considering he used to belong to the Hitler Youth !.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2012 01:45AM by Clive.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lintar123 ()
Date: January 27, 2012 07:32AM

I may not come across as an intellectually spiritual person or as someone knowledgeable about spiritual things but I am a victim of Struthers teachings. Professional, as I am, I was vulnerably taken in by everything said, under the guise of God`s word. Maybe.. I am literal, certainly not gullible, but very genuine and a reasonably good person,I have been damaged for 25 years, since I left the place. Made to think that I was so bad.. I ended up clinically depressed and have been on medication for most of my life. I have never felt good about myself,have been haunted by flashbacks of sermons and words of cruelty said to me. Insecurity has always been there and feelings of failure. of inadequacy and of rejection. These leaders are dealing with all sorts of people and have exerted damage beyond belief and repair. Can`t they not see that they are causing damage and hurt to fellow human beings who trusted that under the guise of Godliness everything MUST be right?? Was I so naive? or did they just catch me because I was a good person? What an impact they had on me! Damage beyond belief !I WON`T get that time back. I am not bitter, but I am wary and scared about what they are still doing to VULNERABLE decent people .

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: January 27, 2012 08:11AM

Welcome, HappiestEver
In your first post, you've written about your knowledge of the psychiatric problems suffered by a large number of people who were brought up as children in SMC. That is a shocking piece of information but I have no doubt of its validity. Surely such information should cause all of us great concern because it involves children, minors, in the care of their parents and church leaders, in a supposedly safe, wholesome environment. Playing around at Wiston may have had its fun times, but there was always that shadow hanging over you, of the next meeting to come and you being watched closely by the adults. That such children should grow up and be plagued by fears and depressive-type illnesses, as a result of SMC teachings and conduct, is very sad. A number of posters here, including recently, lintar123, have told us how their experiences in SMC have damaged them and led to depression. I could say the same.

This problem is not confined to people who grew up in SMC. Over the years, I noticed a great number of adult members within SMC who have depression, anxiety, mild eating disorders, ME and Post-Viral syndromes (which are physical but often stress-related), many of whom are on medication but would not like to admit they are. I have never known such high numbers of such in any other church. In addition, I noticed strange ways of conducting friendships, with a lot of control involved, which only leads to upset and hurt. I know what you're saying, lintar123, and such treatment of good-living people should not occur in a Christian establishment but it HAS happened to us.

That's why this Forum is so helpful to all of us who are trying to recover and get back to a normal way of living, thinking and believing. We have each others' support and understanding. Welcome, Marty, aswell.

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