Current Page: 8 of 148
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CrazyMixedUpKid ()
Date: March 21, 2011 09:19PM

Hi Lorna, and glad you could join the forum,

I too can speak of positive experiences while in Struthers. My problems really began when I had questions and ultimately left.

If you have read the earlier posts, you will see that I have tried to speak to the leaders for over 25 years with no success. I don’t know if that will change now that there has been a statement that it is OK to ask questions. I presume that some one will get in touch with me if the posisiton has changed or if I am one of the “mistakes that have been made” referred to in the recent sermon.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the personal questions I have for the leaders are:

1. Do you as leaders know more about others than they themselves do?

2. If so, could you please talk to me?

3. If not, why tell people you do?

I just don’t see a way around this. Either the Leaders are claiming Divine knowledge, or they are not. If the only way to find God’s highest for my life is through Struthers, they have to talk to me. If not, they have to tell me either that I am beyond redemption or that I can find God’s Highest calling for my life through other routes.

Which is it, and what am I meant to do? I have never had a clear answer to these questions. I don’t necessarily expect you to be able to answer them of course, but I do want to make a distinction between the positive experience I had when I wasn’t questioning the leaders and the incredibly traumatic later experience when I did have questions.

I would also like to know whether the leaders do believe the verse quoted above “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to that person, then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5v23).” It seems to me this is an important precept – are we accountable for our actions to others, or is it OK to hide away and confess to God only?


All the best to you and all readers of this forum.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 21, 2011 09:55PM

Does anyone know if Struthers Memorial Church has democratically elected church government?

That is, a board elected by the general membership to fixed terms by secret ballot.

If so, can the board hire and fire staff, including pastors?

And does the church publish an annual budget distributed to all donors, which discloses in detail all salaries, compensation and expenses paid out from church funds?

If so is that budget statement or financial report audited by an outside accounting firm?

Just curious what safeguards are in place per the church bylaws to insure accountability and financial transparency.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: March 22, 2011 12:00AM

rrmoderator

I am not in a position to answer all of your questions, but I can shed some light on this. Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee. That company has charitable status and controls the churches, the school and the coffee/ bookshops. There is only one company, so all of the activities are part of the same organisation.

I am not sure how they get away with having potentially profit-making bookshops and coffee shops that are part of a charity, competing with other commercial ventures that have to pay tax, but I guess that is a matter for the Charities Commission.

I have some serious concerns about the fact that it is just a single organisation however, as some of the practices in the church services would certainly constitute bullying in an employment context (see some of the posts on page 1 and 2 of this forum). Since they are a single organisation, that means that this approach is condoned by the Board, which also runs the school. If an organisation that promotes bullying from the pulpit running a school, that has to be a bit worrying.

The organisation has 6 Directors who are the ones who select other directors so, no, there is no elected membership of anything. There is something strange in the constitution about the ability to appoint "Members" but, from what I understand, no such "Members" have ever been appointed. I don’t think anyone knows whether pastors can be hired or fired. I doubt they have any form of contract of engagement. I think one of the problems is exactly that – not only can they not be fired, there is not even a mechanism to complain against them.

In terms of the accounts, there is a set of published accounts, but they hide more than they reveal, and they raise some interesting questions. For example, they show that a considerable part of the congregation’s contributions go to fund the school, and that there are some pastors/ leaders who do get a salary.

In spite of this, Anon201062 said on 8 Dec, “I am writing this as someone who does go to one of the Struthers branch of churches” and “The leaders in struthers are not paid or appointed by themselves.”

Similarly Rensil said, on 18 March, “I went to Struthers Church for over 20 years. I honestly had no idea that money from Church collections went towards funding their School.”

Both of these prove that the members themselves do not know what is going on. From what I hear, and questions about the accounts are yet another indicator that the person raising the question is unspiritual.

Not sure if this helps in people's judgment of whether Struthers is a cult, but I did think Archbishop Laud’s comments were a bit misleading – yes, Archbishop Laud, I agree that you did say earlier that Struthers wasn’t a cult, but you didn’t actually win that argument, so I am not sure how a reference to earlier comments adds any weight to your current comments.

In my view, whether Struthers fits a specific definition or not is not really the issue. I see at least three things that people might, rightly or wrongly, associate with being a cult.

1) Non-standard doctrine. Archbishop Laud is clear that the doctrine is mainstream. I am not so sure. Struthers leaders appear see 4 classes of people –

(a) people who have not accepted Christ,
(b) those who are saved (a doctrine accepted by all of the evangelical churches),
(c) those who are baptised in the Holy Spirit (a doctrine accepted by the Pentecostal churches) and
(d) those who are deeply anointed (a term that does not occur in scripture and would not be accepted by other churches or by any of the great Christian leaders they are always quoting) and who as a result must always be obeyed and never criticised.

I wonder if point (4) actually puts them quite wide of the mark in terms of having standard doctrine.

2) Secrecy and ambiguity. This is a huge part of what happens in Struthers. Apart from the examples above, the Latigo site lists dozens of questions. Even from this forum, it is clear that people have tried to get answers to these questions over the years, and that the response is always the same – divide and conquer. Make people feel they are the only one with these questions, that they have “ a questioning spirit” a “seed of bitterness” or some other fault. Doctrine is not made explicit, but is all anecdotal, and often contradictory. For example, there was a whole sermon recently about the dangers of humour yet Jennifer Jack, one of the leaders and a Director of the company, wrote the Founder’s obituary for the Glasgow Herald (search for Herald obituary Hugh Black) and in it said he had a great sense of humour! How are members of the congregation meant to deal with this sort of thing when there is no opportunity to discuss it and tease out what is meant?

3) Control. To me, this is the real issue. Whether the above 2 points are proven or unproven, and whether Struthers fits within this site’s definition of a cult or in some dictionary’s definition is not the issue. The issues is the way the leaders control the lives of the congregation, spending almost all of their time convincing them not to leave. I personally like the ten warning signs that you publish on this site [www.culteducation.com]. Whether or not Struthers is a cult, I think it meets all of these criteria and that many people who come into contact with it are damaged rather than helped. I for one have never met anyone who has left struthers without being damaged, and others on this forum have testified to exactly the same thing.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: March 22, 2011 12:01AM

Hi Lorna

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your input. I am genuinely glad that you have had positive experiences at Struthers, particularly that you found Jesus as Saviour there. In my time there I found some really genuine people who clearly love God. However since my experience I have also met or spoken to some other genuine people who clearly love God, who have been terrribly hurt bu their experiences at Stuthers.

Many are still hurting and wanting answers to what happened to them. Many, like yourselves have had a number of happy years at Struthers until it all suddenly went terribly wrong and they genuinely have no idea why.

Some were banned and others felt that under the current circumstances they could no longer attend. For some, this meant saying goodbye to long standing friends and even family contact became limited. These people felt isolated and hurt. They felt like they had no one to share their experiences with. They believed the lie that all other churches were inferior. They are often dismissed by current members as not wanting the deep things of God and to walk in Gods standard of holiness, something which couldn't be further from the truth.

Everyone that I have come across so far, has left thinking they were the only one and therefore they had to be the one at fault. However, they still had no idea what they had done, or were supposed to have done wrong. In my case I was accused of something I didn't do.

Now I am deeply grateful to God and to my Christian friends who got me through this difficult time. However I realise that some don't have contact with other Christian friends and for them Struthers was the only or main experience of church they have ever had.

I know the deep pain I felt, through my experience at Struthers and I seriously wouldnt wish that on anyone. Some people have hurt so bad that they have now fallen away from the faith. Some have been left wandering in the wilderness of hurts and 'whys'

And so its for them that Im writing contributing to this forum. I am not bitter. I have no desire to pull down Struthers. I simply want to share my experiences with others. Firstly to help raise awareness for those who are considering joining Struthers so they can make informed choices and secondly to maybe get some answers from the leaders of SMC. Most importantly though, it is to show those who have been hurt that they are not alone.

I know that I personally found it very helpful to have somewhere were I can ask questions and not be criticised or pulled down for my lack of faith and Im sure others do too.

God bless you Lorna. I hope this helps to make things clearer to all at SMC as to why people comment here

CovLass

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 22, 2011 12:26AM

ThePetitor:

Based upon your response it doesn't appear that the church is democratic and instead is essentially run from the top down without meaningful accountability to the church members/contributors.

This seems authoritarian and without meaningful safeguards concerning the leadership.

See [www.culteducation.com]

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who wrote the definitive book about thought reform (often called "brainwashing") also wrote a paper about cult formation. Lifton defined a cult as having the following three characteristics:

1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.

2. A process [is in use] call[ed] coercive persuasion or thought reform.

3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

This definition is based upon behavior and group structure rather than beliefs.

Many supposedly "bible-based" groups that fit this behavioral definition are also considered "heretical" on a doctrinal basis.

There are also groups that may be within the mainstream doctrinally, but outside the mainstream and "cult-like" in the way they operate.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: March 22, 2011 08:57AM

Thanks for your contribution, Lorna. However, I don't think you will be able to understand the experiences which are being written about here as you haven't obviously gone through what some members, who are very sincere and loving people who committed their lives deeply to God in their youth and wanted to serve Him fully, have suffered in past years in this church.

To Archbishop Laud, you say the doctrine of the church is mainstream. Yes, it is, but sometimes I noticed that Bible verses were re-interpreted to suit the teaching, and comments were made about other verses saying e.g., "but that doesn't apply to us, we do things differently here, this is what Leader A said it means." That used to really concern me, because if Christians don't accept that the Bible is the true Word of God, then they can just add a bit or make up anything they fancy.

I was always aware that members were not encouraged to visit other churches or go to other outreaches or hear other Christian speakers. Some folk did, but ended up consumed with guilt and felt they were being disloyal. It seemed that only Struthers had the true pathway. Surely we are one Body of Christ and therefore we should be free to fellowship with other christians from other groupings. Not so, it seemed.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Chesterk55 ()
Date: March 22, 2011 05:31PM

Reply to Lorna:


Fortunately many of us have now found that all of the positive things you describe are also being experienced by us as we serve God in other growing churches.

As others have said, when we were first in Struthers many of us felt exactly the same as you before the addition of many extra heavy burdens and extra requirements were heaped on us by the Struthers regime.

That said there were often those in Struthers who felt as Lorna describes for a bit longer. They were the favoured elite who some claimed were more “spiritual”. These people seemed to get much more personal mentoring from the leaders. They got hours of the leaders time and attention while most people got little or none. They had plenty of opportunity to get their questions answered because they were close to a leader. As they were frequently asked to share testimonies things did seem to be going well for them. They were favoured - though that there were any favourites was always denied.

It is a long time since I was in Struthers and I don't know what is happening now in that regard. But there is a clue in Lorna's posting that there might still be some who get special treatment for whatever reason. In the 12 March sermon the leader of the church apparently warns the members to not read anything on this website. Yet a couple of days after this sermon goes online Lorna has not only read it but feels free to post on it.

Perhaps one reason you are getting on so well in Struthers, Lorna, is that some of the restrictions and controls that are placed on the ordinary members - including instructions from the Saturday night platform - don't seem to apply to you.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: March 22, 2011 09:32PM

rrmoderator

Thanks, good to have an authoritative source to correct my waffle! I would certainly not want to argue that struthers is a cult on the basis of the above.

What is however beyond question is that people have been and are being hurt, and the leadership has no interest in doing anything about that.

Whatever the definition and doctrine, that to me is fundamentally wrong. I know I have suffered a lot of pain because of the selfish and callous line taken by the leaders of Struthers, and I am glad that I have at least had the chance to let people know they are not alone in how they feel.

Like CovLass, my aim is not to pull down Struthers, but it is to do all in my power to stop people living in fear - fear that they will offend God if they criticise the leaders, watch TV or go to a meeting without a hat (oops, sorry, that was the unchangeable rule 20 years ago, I forgot the unchangeable rules change from time to time), and even greater fear that they will be cut off for all eternity if they leave Stuthers and go elsewhere.

As you say, the organisation is totally unaccountable to anyone. They will of course claim accountability to God, but that is incompatible with the evidence. The evidence is that pretty well everyone who leaves Struthers has been hurt by the experience, and many of those still in Struthers are obviously having a tough time. As Rensil says - "Other things concerned me, one of which, not so far mentioned in these posts, is their healing ministry, so much so that people are afraid to say they are ill because that indicates that there is something wrong in your life, or you don't have enough faith or you've lost the healing you had, so basically, it's your own fault. Some people have experienced great confusion and upset on this matter."

Well indeed. Confusion and upset, and it is always the fault of the people, never the fault of the leaders. That is why I think Matt 5v23 is so important. It shows that Christ did not say to people - "ignore any wrong to those around you, just go into a corner and pray. As long as you can feel My presence in meetings it will all be fine." He said that you were accountable TO OTHER PEOPLE for your actions, and you had to respond to their concerns. Mr Black frequently confirmed this when he spoke of Cain and Able, "Cain asked 'Am I my brothers keeper' and God's answer was yes, you are."

Well, my message to the leaders is that there are a lot of people hurting out there. You know this, and you know Christ's command to do something about it. Either you start to look to what the Bible actually says about church leadership and responsibility, or you remain in your fantasy world where you believe that God controls all of your actions, even when these are the opposite of what is said in scripture and the result is more and more confusion and upset. Are you really saying that is what GOd wants?

I couldn't agree more with you on that score Archbishop Laud - fantasy Christianity indeed!

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: March 22, 2011 11:11PM

I just wanted to pick up on another couple of points. The first is the persecution complex in Struthers. The Petitor mentioned this in an earlier post. Basically the argument put forward by SMC is that - We are right and we stand up for what is right - People don't like what we say or do so they persecute us - Persecution only goes to show that we are right.

I have monitored in a Christiasn chat room for over a year and in this time we have had individuals with very strange ideas indeed, including people who thought they could discount the whole Bible based on a series of 'personal visions' they claimed were from God. They too claimed that any 'persecution' only proved that they were right, quoting John 15:20 (Jesus said .. "If they persecuted me they will persecte you also") as a basis for this argument. Not all opposition is persecution. The apostle Paul opposed Peter and rebuked him publicly for being double minded and two faced with regard to eating with the 'Gentiles' This was deserved and the purpose of Pauls opposition was to bring correction. However in rder for correction to occur, one must concede that it is possible for them to be wrong on occasion, which a Struthers leader has now done on March 12th sermon. Perhaps this will mean they will be seeking reconciliation and forgiveness from those they have hurt (We can live in hope)

Another question on the persecution complex is, why I have been blocked from accesing any of the Struthers websites. I suspected I had been for a long time as I couldnt gain access on my computer but could on others. Then last night I tried to gain access via a proxy server and lo and behold it worked. The Struthers leader made a big point about the hiding of identitiees on the March 12th sermon, making th point that if its true why hide who you are. I would ask the question. If you have nothing to hide, why block people from your site?

The second point is regarding the question of whether Struthers do hold to the core values of the Christian gospel. I would argue that in one of the most key elements - salvation and forgiveness of sin - that they don't. Without wishing to preach, the Christian message is that salvation comes through faith in Christ and his work on the cross and that for the Christian, if they sin they can go to God in repentance and their sins will be forgiven.

However my experience of Struthers is a somewhat different. Leaders have been known to refute a persons salvation based on something they can (or can't) see. This is often something that only they can see. A bit like the Emperors new clothes perhaps. More obviously though, is the process of forgiveness. SMC teaches that if you have commited a sin (particularly a very grave sin in their eyes) it doesnt matter if you have confessed that sin to God and repented of it (turned away from it) many years ago, you are not counted as 'clean' until they say you are. This forgiveness and cleansing is often not instantaneous. A person may have to go through a number of prayer, deliverance sessions and tests of obedience, before they can be pronounced officially clean and able to be a fully active member of the church (Hmm sounds a little bit like the legal restrictions placed on the Israelites that we read about in Leviticus and numbers) - except the requirements here seem rather abitrary. It also appears to question the core teaching of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lovealways ()
Date: March 23, 2011 04:02AM

Hi everyone,

I had been attending Struthers for most of my life. I had never been to another other church before that. There are many areas that can be discussed. Everyone will be accountable to God. And He is the judge. I had been deeply hurt. To the point where I was just about to take my own life. I didnt know the difference between right and wrong anymore. I red what it says in the bible, but when I went to the church the pastor/leader preached completely differently, from the exact scripture. Example, and God knows this is true. Love one another. John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

5368. phileo fil-eh'-o from 5384; to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while 25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as 2309 and 1014, or as 2372 and 3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specially, to kiss (as a mark of tenderness):--kiss, love. Now phileo fil-eh'-o is the greek of love. This is of the exhaustive concordance of the bible. Also Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; and Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And there are many other scriptures, but you get the point. The sentiment or feeling. We had been told dont go on your feelings. So then where is love? Love is action? Is its not? Love does NOT hurt someone. I understand we MUST forgive from the heart. What happens if you keep on getting hurt? You keep forgiving. That does not mean that people continually hurt you. Of course you go to the person and speak with them about the issue. The person denies it. Gives you a scripture that is as close as Australia is from the UK. It leaves you knowing tht the issue is not resolved. Through must praying and asking God. He has guided me and helped me. There are many things that can be discussed. God will judge. Anyone who wants to add a comment or question be free to ask me. Love one another.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 8 of 148


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.