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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: April 18, 2012 08:46AM

Thanks to Rensil for making public this attempt to “clear some things up” in private.

Lorna came onto this forum in March 2011 declaring she was “not here to answer questions or to start an argument” but just wanted to tell us all how well being in Struthers was working for her. We would all welcome her attempts to answer questions, or argue with us, but we would appreciate if that could be done openly.

Yet I have also had a personal message from her defending herself and the regime and so it appears have others. Many people have mentioned the Struthers attempts to control via divide and rule so it is good we are able to see when that is being tried.

As Lintar123 points out the really depressing thing about this communication from Lorna is that of all the complaints now online there seems to be no response from anyone in Struthers to any of the hurt and pain people are sharing and not the slightest expression of remorse or even concern. The only thing they are sufficiently bothered about to attempt to clear up is the suggestion that they did not advertise a meeting when they say they did.

Perhaps Lorna could clear up for us all if she is speaking unofficially simply as a church member or if she is on the Struthers Church payroll?

If so is she being asked to answer these points on behalf of the Struthers charity executive?

If she is not then who in the charity is responsible to answer all the points that have been raised both online and directly over many, many years? It is remarkable that there are 31 employees and 10 non-salaried church leaders yet nobody seems to have this job.

And Rensil is quite right to point out that this is proof, if it were needed, that the postings are being read avidly by people inside Struthers. Despite the many claims that the Struthers people are too loyal to read anything on these pesky websites the reading stats, and Lorna's responses, tell a different story. As of today 50122 views. That is 50 thousand views of the 420 posts about Struthers all but the very first in the last in 18 months and for all that time the most active thread in its section. All about a church with 11 branches and about 300 attendees in total. People will wonder how so many have been hurt so much by so few.

But people will wonder more about what the continued refusal to openly answer the very serious matters now publicly being discussed says about the character and teachings of the Struthers Memorial Church leadership. It does not take a genius to realise that such widely read concerns being left unanswered and unresolved will give the clearest possible signal to the public to take great care before getting involved with this organisation.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: May 11, 2012 08:28AM

Does anyone know when the standards were changed for members of Struthers? It appears that nowadays, members can go for foreign holidays, buy expensive cars, work abroad and come home for Camps and conferences, go on Facebook and Twitter, watch television (either on TV set, computer or i-pad), have expensive elaborate weddings, get involved with outside mission work etc.

These things were not allowed for members during the 1970s, 80s and most of the 90s. We were taught to live simply, live within our means, use our holiday leave for Camps and conferences (Struthers ones, that is), not get involved with other churches or missions, not attend visiting Christian speakers unless they came to speak at Struthers and were approved and invited by Mr Black, encouraged to live near a Struthers branch church even if this was far from our family members. Have the leaders realised and concluded that the previous standards were too extreme and have put people off and that they would put current and future members off aswell? Has this been explained from the front?

Another strange thing about the 60 year celebration is this: why have such an event when maybe about two thirds of the people who were part of SMC in the 70s and 80s have left Struthers? And I'm talking about people who were deeply committed and involved in SMC and its work, not people who made casual acquaintance with the Church. Was this mentioned at the Celebration? Do members wonder where they all are and why they left? I certainly used to wonder about them. And that many have been damaged by their experiences?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lintar123 ()
Date: May 14, 2012 04:35AM

Absolutely true, Rensil, that times have changed , as have teachings for Struthers? Never for anyone of the 70s 80s or early 90s would there have been a television..foreign holidays... or the freedoms of the things they seem to encourage/allow today. For the females there were white hats.... no vanity... no fashion.. no make-up... all these things were "demonic" and "of the world". Who makes the rules now?? Who made the rules then?? Certainly not God. He would never cause damage to any of his children. Seems to me that the SMC leaders continue to suit themselves. It is sad though, that so many committed and involved people were damaged because they took these teachings seriously, believing that God and the selfless life was what they HAD to attain and strive for, believing these words of the leaders. It reminds me of a corrupt dictatorship where only those in charge are materialistically thriving whilst the genuine ones are suffering and bewildered, and not progressing. Nothing changes that way in Struthers. We still see ALL the leaders make money, thrive, and share their goods with their nearest and dearest, their favourites... nepotism? E.G How can one or two families have just about ALL the jobs in a fee paying school?? and bookshops? does no one in the current congregation wonder about that?? do the fee payers and the people who are putting money in the plate not wonder where it is going to? or are these thoughts too "demonic" and "of the world?" Since they use flicker and twitter now and I pads and facebook... Lorna should also feel a wee bit ashamed about her statement that" hundreds of people"and " past members and families" attended the 60th anniversary bash. Clearly from the picture posted by a member... she has miscounted...or exaggerated... or dare I say it... lied? I feel only sadness for the genuine people who are being duped. Please don`t be scared to question... or express your thoughts...your esteemed leaders have many answers still to provide to the many questions asked. Is that why they are still silent?....time will run out for them, I am sure and yes there will be nowhere to hide.The truth will prevail.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: mandrake ()
Date: May 15, 2012 04:11AM

I absolutely agree that it is hypocritical of the Pastors of Struthers church when it comes to wordly goods. a case of do what I say not as I do, kinda reminds you of the pigs in Animal farm. AND you are right lintar 23 the leaders do suit themselves and seem to be doing alright materially thankyou very much out of the tithes of hard working members of their church.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: June 08, 2012 03:32PM

mandrake,

I think you are absolutely right that there is a bit of animal farm about this - "all animals are equal, it is just that some are more equal than others". It is very interesting that all the leaders are comfortably off, and many of the ordinary members are giving their money to pay for the salaries of the "two families who have all the jobs" as lintar123 says.

Can you imagine what some of the Struthers heroes would say to that? What would CT Studd, who gave up a fortune and a life of luxury, say to people who were always encouraging others to give more money to the salaries of a select few? These pioneers went out into the world and suffered hardship to help others, they did not hide away form the world and ask others to help them.

Lorna, if you are so keen to "clear things up" you could perhaps clarify one thing. Of the 250 or so members of Struthers (less than a single congregation in many churches) how many are net givers (i.e put more money in than they get out) and how many are net receivers (i.e get more money out, whether this is in salaries, expenses or any other way)? Are there ANY others who gain from the money that goes in? Any poor, homeless, drug addicts, starving children throughout the world etc?

If not, is it just a way of transferring money from the ordinary members to the select few - presumably a select few chosen by the leaders with no accountability at all?

I think this applies not just to the financial side, it also applies to the "spiritual" side. How many of the congregation are net emotional givers - turning up every week, giving time to the bookshops or other events, telling the leaders how wonderful they are by deferring to every word, and how many are net receivers - hogging the platform and gaining a lot of validation form their superior position and the respect from others in the congregation?

I come back to the apostles and people like CT Studd, George Muller, Hudson Taylor and others. These people had strength of character and sacrificed their own comforts to help those in need. The Struthers leadership are exactly the opposite. As can clearly be seen by the comments in this forum, they drain others of their emotional energy, leaving people empty and depressed.

They do not give to others, they receive from others. They cannot even stand in front of their own congregations and allow one person out of a hundred to disagree with them as that would mean they were not getting the adulation they need. Instead, everyone has to be part of the one-way flow of emotional support from the congregation to the leaders. To me, that is 100% the wrong way round - the leaders should be able to support the congregation, not take from them, whether financially or emotionally.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: mandrake ()
Date: June 10, 2012 05:15PM

To the Petitor,
Very succinctly put you summed up the whole ethos of Struthers so well. To me it seems as if the church has lost its way and strayed too far from the core objectives of the founders. We have the self seeking cult of leadership now. This is not new obviously as we have had people on the forum from the 80s and 90s expressing concern also. The original concept of house meetings of like minded christians sharing a common spirituality has been replaced by an almost feudal heirachy where an elite few families dominate the meetings and are not accountable to the other church members. Members do not have a voice rmotipnsll, spiritually or financially.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: June 16, 2012 06:54AM

Here is a link to some information which may be of help to people who are wondering whether the posts on this Forum are just a load of bitter complaints or are genuine expressions of hurt and a seeking after true Christianity and correct church life.

Probe Ministries, a Christian information ministry, at www.probe.org have some excellent articles on Abusive Churches by Patrick Zukeran. He outlines eight characteristics of an Abusive church. These are:-

:Control-oriented leadership
:Manipulation of members
:Rigid, legalistic lifestyle
:Frequent changing of group or church name
:Denouncing all other churches
:Persecution complex
:Targetting young adults aged 18-25
:Painful exit when leaving the church

Ring any bells? Yes, I thought so. Except perhaps for "frequent changing of name", all the above certainly apply. We are not alone. There are other abusive churches out there and these are their main characteritics.
The article on "Abusive Churches: Leaving them Behind" is also very helpful. Also one entitled "Does 'Touch not the Lord's Anointed' mean that Abusive Pastors can't be Challenged?"

Go to www.probe.org Search for "Abusive churches" or scroll to Theology and then Church/Missions.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: cbarb ()
Date: June 16, 2012 11:36PM

Hi folks

It's been many years since I attended SMC and it's quite alarming to me to read about the church in so many sites and confirming what I have secretly felt for years!
The church was founded by Hugh Black (then a teacher at Port Glasgow High school) in the 1950's. The original church consisted of Hugh Black (known as 'Totty Black' to the school kids) and a bunch of kids from his RE class. My dad was one of those kids and he eventually ended up as pastor of the Port Glasgow branch. It's worth noting that the memebers of the church built the Port Glasgow branch themselves, being from all different trades. I should also point out that my dad is an excellent and very funny preacher and was nothing like the present leaders of the church. He didn't preach doom and gloom but taught love and respect for each other and allowing God to be present in our daily lives (all very normal stuff interspersed with enough funnies to keep even the youngest kids interested).

As a result of my Dad being pastor, of course I was brought up in the church and lived for my first 16-18 years of life in constant fear of the main church leaders in Greenock finding out how bad I'd been and announcing my atrocities to the whole church, from the platform (yes, that did actually happen to many perople who attended the church and 'strayed from the path of righteousness'). It was particularly difficult being a young girl in the church in those days because the leaders would watch you like a hawk and if you so much as said 'Hello' to the good-looking boy on the next pew, you were damned and in need of excorsising of your demons, furthermore there was no redemption for the 'harlots and Jezebells' so you were ulitmately doomed anyway no matter how you cut it.

My closest friend left the church when she was 16 under a cloud of 'Demon Posession' because she had become pregnant and wasn't married and I was left with no one really who understood the oppression and guilt the teachings left me with. Some of those sermons could last for three or more hours solid and that's not a jokey way to spend your Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights! (Actually we attended church six days a week, Tuesday being the only night off because it was the adults prayer meeting).

I would say the church is very totalitarian although I'm not sure I would go as far as to call it a cult but they do drum into you that SMC is the only church with the TRUE answer to life; but many other churches, temples and holy houses believe the same thing of themselves.

I do believe god works in SMC (or did back in those days) because I can't ignore the spiritual experiences I had while in the group but I also believe that the leaders of the church (who are all completely different from the days when I attended between 1963 and arounnd 1980) are quite full of their own self-importance and tend to dictate to the members of the congregation how they should live. But we are being dictated to by governments, royalties, leaders of this group or that every day of our lives anyway.

The point is that, although SMC teaches that you should not question anything you are told because it comes from God in the first instance, it is natural and sensible to question absolutely everything in life. How else can you learn what is right for you?

I should point out here that there are very few of the original members left in the church congregation today and I would probably not recognise anyone now apart from a couple of the leaders.

My own decision to leave the church permanently was made because the pastor refused to marry me and my husband since my husband was not a memeber of the church and this meant that we were "unequally yolked" (not sure where in the bible that one comes from but it was a favourite sermon of the day). It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth as I'd known the pastor and attended the church all of my life and yet, a few weeks prior to my asking him to perfofm the ceremony, he married a young couple and neither of them belonged to the church. I often wondered if that meant the couple were "equally yolked" because neither were members of the church and obviously 'on their way to hell' anyway? I don't know, I never asked for the reason - I just left the church and didn't go back.

Anyway, I'm older and wiser (I think) now and I know that you can be close to God and a very spiritual person even without attending any church at all. Sometimes religion gets in the way of God and spirituality and we see that every day where wars and terrorism are begun in the name of God (now that's shameful).

None of my family attend SMC anymore and instead they attend a different Evangelical church where the people are REAL and the pastors don't put themsleves up on pedastals to be revered by their adoring congregation and I have to say, my family are all so much happier and fulfilled in life than they were in those days of constant self flagellation and guilt about not being good enough for God.

It is good to remember that religion (no matter what it is) is a man-made institution and, for the most part, is designed to keep people apart rather than bring them together. The bible tells us that God lives inside every one of us and not in a brick building with a spire, clock and weathervane. We all have the power of God inside us, if we are willing to recognise that fact. We are not just human bodies, the body is just a space suit which allows us to survive on this planet, our essential self, the true us is spiritual and it's the spirit of us that carries on after the body dies. There is no church, temple, synagogue etc. in the world which can keep the spirit inside its walls and my ultimate conclusion over the years has been that what really matters is that we live the way God intended us to live by loving and caring for each other and helping each other through hard times.

We don't need a church or a pastor to tell us this, it's common sense... "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or differently "An' it harm none, so be it" these are phrases from two quite different teachings - the Bible on one hand and the Book of Sorrows on the other. The point is, they mean the same thing - live a good life and don't cause anyone any harm and, if you do hurt someone, ask for their forgiveness and make things right with them - that, I believe is the true teaching of the Bible, the Koran or any other holy book you care to mention; regardless of what the religious groups or cults try to teach you beyond that very simple rule for living a spiritual and fulfilled life.

I can't, in all honesty, comment on SMC as it is today but judging from what I have read here and on other similar sites it seems to be actually worse than it was back then; although when I was 16 years old it felt like a millstone round my neck on a daily basis because I could never be good enough to be truely loved by God... now I know better and I hope this is helpful to whoever reads it.

Thanks for your time and letting me get it all off my chest!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Religionless ()
Date: June 18, 2012 03:33PM

I attended a wedding last week of two friends of mine in Cumbernauld and had to stop myself from walking out of the ceremony, the female minister basicaly launched a character assassination of the bride, the couple have a young baby and the entire ceremony was based around how they had had sexual relations before marriage, done everything in the wrong order but atleast now they were putting things right, she even informed the congregation that the couple had been having problems but she wasnt going to tell everyone exactly what they were but the groom had to pray more!!!! She then informed us that half of the marriages she had conducted had now split up and people dont take marriage seriously any more.... it was a sick parody of a wedding service and I was so angry that I came online to try and find out who the ministers church is and who her superiors are to make a complaint about her..... instead I found this website and I'm absolutely shocked, I'd never heard of Struthers before, but everything I've read on hear is basically everything we witnessed at the wedding, I am now seriously concerned for my friends and their young family. I was raised as a Roman Catholic and although I left the church many years ago and I don't believe that organised religion is a particularly good thing, I know that I am a good person with a good soul and God know's it too.... I know this to be true of my friends also, it really concerns me that they are in a religion that thinks it can tell them when and where they have God in their lives. She mentioned several times that the bride had "fallen from the path of God" because she had stopped attending the church for a while... last time I checked, God is with all of us wherever we go!

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: June 19, 2012 01:09AM

Hi Religionless

Firstly let me welcome you to the forum. Secondly let me say how sorry I am that you had to witness such an outburst at your friends wedding, something that should have been a happy occasion. Despite any mistakes or regrets from the past this should have been a new start for your friends, where they can put the past behind them and look forward to the future. God is a God of forgiveness and I'm sure your friends would've had been through all this before with the Struthers leaders. They didn't need to hear it again, especially not on their wedding day.

Its quite ironic that this minister has been known to tell many young people not to get married and has often got involved in the marital affairs of others in the church. I think I remember hearing on this forum, how she has on at least one occasion 'encouraged' a wife to separate from her husband (please correct me if I am wrong on this)

However please do not think that Struthers church is typical of all churches and Christian organisations. I have been in church for around 20 years, attending a several churches during that time and never have I come across a group of people with such a skewed view of God, the bible and what a Christian community should be. I think the majority of posters in here who used to attend Struthers, are now part of wholesome churches who give love, support, guidance and encouragement. A place where the church ministers would be just as outraged, if not more so, by what you witnessed.

You are right that God is with us wherever we go. Unfortunately the leaders of this church mistaken believe that if you are not attending one of their churches then you not following God. This is not what the bible teaches and it is not what 99.99% of Christian churches teach. Unfortunately there is a minority who think that the word of God can be twisted to meet their own need for power and then used to control others through fear and intimidation.

You sound like a good friend and it must have been hard for you to witness this. I used to be a member of this church and I was accused of terrible things, that even though I vehemently denied them and the leaders had no reason to believe they were true, (no evidence) the accusations and of course the sanctions attached to the accusations remained. I will pray for your friends and their family. Please stay in touch here and let us know how things progress and if we can be of any help.

God bless

Covlass

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