Struthers Memorial Church and the claim of one desire






The last sermon Struthers Memorial Church made available online was preached on March 12 2011 by the present leader of the group of churches. This article looks at the middle section of that sermon - in particular the claims in relation to the motivation of the Struthers leadership.


Many people, now being more fully aware of the claims of harm and problems caused by the leadership of this church, will be wondering what those leaders rationale and justification for their conduct is. In looking at what was said in this part of the sermon hopefully what they are thinking can be clarified.



and you say “but - how can we expect that? We are not perfect. We are not Daniels that they will not find fault in?” Christ stood beside us in our degradation. He stretched out His wings to cover us even at His cross when he saw us in our ungodliness and in our need. How much more when He sees people whose one desire is for the glory of Christ? Whose one desire is to see other lives saved, healed, baptised, delivered, brought in to the deeps of God. Does He not know our hearts? Does he not know the truth of what is at the heart of Struthers Memorial Church? Does he not know? Of course He does! There is not one of us that ministers from these platforms that don't do it out of sacrifice - of obedience to God to transmit something of the wonder of the truth of the glory of God and His salvation and of Jesus Christ. We do it for no personal gain. We do it for no hidden agenda.


The claim of one desire is very important to notice and understand. A great deal has now been written and said about the effects on people of what happens in Struthers Memorial Church. A great deal has been written speculating on why they do what they do. People have openly asked and wondered how they can justify some of the harsher treatment so many have now documented they received while in contact with SMC.


The claim quoted from the sermon above is very clear. Whatever people have said - or claimed has been painful and harmful to them - the assertion is that the leader of the Struthers churches believes God approves of what the leadership do; and have done; because He knows their motivation is absolutely pure and perfect.


But the claim has to stand under scrutiny. Do the claimed pure desires result in pure actions? So we reasonably test this.








How does the focus now on education, both of time and considerable money fit with this “one desire” to see people come to Christ? The school prospectus makes it very clear that the school is not a selling ground for The Struthers view of the world and there is no published claim that the object of the school is to see the children become members of Struthers Memorial Church. In fact there is no report that any children have joined the church as a result of attending the school. So is the claim of “one desire is to see other lives saved, healed, baptised, delivered, brought in to the deeps of God” by the leaders correct?









How does the allocation of salaried jobs reflect the “one desire” of the leaders? Or are the friends and families of the leaders somewhat over represented in the Struthers paid workforce? How does that not resemble personal gain – at least in the family context? This is not to suggest that that is the main reason anyone is involved but probity and following the law in these matters is very important. Particularly so if the leadership do not want to give the impression of using their positions of power in the church to feather their own nests by allocating jobs to their own friends and families. Of course it could be claimed that this “personal gain” is a fact but is:

  • Not the only motivation
  • Not important at all - although we are not sure Scots charity law would agree
  • Not really personal gain because although their own friends and family are benefiting - that is only because God has told them those are the people to promote. No thought of that persons personal link to them has arisen.



In case that sounds too ludicrous to people there has long been in Strurthers the need for the leadership to explain away the reason for odd and unpopular leadership appointments. In the past this was mainly when people were placed in unpaid leadership roles where the oddest, most insincere, excessively young, and very often totally unsuitable people were put in charge of parts of the Struthers work. When reasons for this favouritism were sought the reply would be:


1    demands not to criticise anything the leaders did as they only act on the express..., etc, etc.

2    the extraordinary claim that the leaders had not chosen these people for these jobs - but somehow, without any act of will on their part, they had been made aware God had chosen these particular people because of their pure and holy motives.

3    how dare we suggest they have favourites


As we say this was often followed by a brief spurt of the person pushed forward into ministry in the limelight - as if they were the only person that mattered to the leaders or God at that point. Pains were taken to explain they were only in leadership because the main leaders had identified their commitment and their “one desire” to serve God.


This was often soon followed by a long embarrased silence once the overpromoted new “leader” had left the church and, in some cases, abandoned any pretence of following God.


Not like us plodders who sat watching the whole bizarre spectacle unfold from beginning to end. Sometimes some of us mentioned to the main leaders that we couldn’t see the specialness of this newly promoted leader. We could see that they had very little care or time for the least in the church; but would dance like a monkey in front of the main leaders. When we expressed such a view we were told to be more spiritual.


There is no need for us to concern ourselves too much with the motives and the “one desire” of those making these failed appointments. They possibly did have one desire. But that did not stop them getting things wrong again and again. If their desires to serve God were so pure it is a pity that they never seemed to feel God directing that selfless desire toward them picking for leadership people less like clones of themselves; or those less solidly in their close social circle.


Such appointments may have served the church better. In fact electing leaders by a vote of the membership would very possibly have worked better. Then everyone’s “one desire” could have come in to play. Not just the “one desires” of a controlling few. And the church would have been immeasurably stonger as the new leaders would have had a mandate from the whole church - rather that the need to continually use up platform time justifying and defending their roles and attacking those who questioned why they were there.








Another question is this - if the cake shops ceased to be a means of people coming to Christ - the one desire claimed by the leader here - would they be closed down and the resources and time expended there reallocated to purposes more successfully bringing people into a relationship with God? Since that is the one desire? Possibly reallocated to such things as providing leaders with pastoral training; or employing full time youth workers which have been very effective in other churches as a means of bringing people to Christ; and giving those who are in the church the time and help they each need as individuals - enabling them to become soul winners.







The language and claims of this section of the sermon are very flowery and delivered with a quavering voice in a passionate tone. That does not make the claims any more valid or true. They are true, SMC leader, if that is what you do – not just what you claim you do.  


The issue of some of the types of “personal gain” which are not financial are already covered in our article on the hogging of the platform.  The exercise of power over peoples lives, and the sense of self importance that can give a religious leader, can be a trap and a danger. That is not an unreasonable statement and it is an issue discussed at length in scripture. Struthers is not immune from this danger and it is not unreasonable for us to speak about it. The evidence that there is a problem is strong.









For example there are claims that:


people have been told by leaders they know of sins of which the person is guilty - yet of which the people themselves are completely unaware. They have been allowed to leave the church in pain and deep suffering for not agreeing to the leaders condemnation of them.


There is evidence of people having been actively prevented from marrying people they were deeply and sincerely in love with (and where there was no biblical or legal impediment) on the instruction of an SMC leader claiming that they knew this was God’s will for them.


There is evidence of the Struthers leaders using their church platform to publicly criticise and humiliate people by speaking about private and personal things other churches’ leaders, and any counselling professional, would regard as having been shared in confidence.



We have multiple reports of all of these things. They illustrate an agenda both other than that indicated in this sermon, and dangerously out of step with the servant leadership model of the new testament.


We have no doubt that God knows what is in all our hearts. And we have no duty or reason to believe the words of a Struthers leader if they are in no way compatible with their actions or the fruit of their church. Jesus instructs us to not pay too much attention to leadership declarations about the purity of their own motives. That is simply more self testimony. Jesus tells us to look at the fruit of any ministry we are dealing with. That is Matthew 7 v 16  “By their fruit you will recognize them.”



It is said of us we are a cult... there are all sorts of things being posted about us and don't go and read it – I know many of you will have by now. You'll have come on it. And I want the truth to be deeply embedded in every one of our hearts – the absolute truth!


We do not speak for others but as far as this website is concerned up to this point the only use of that particular word (other than possibly in some of the external website links) is in the Struthers sermon quote given here.


On first listening we were glad to hear that “the absolute truth” was about to be clarified here but, as often happens in a Struthers sermon, it is not followed by clarification of any truths but by another wild threat.



And I fear for those who stretch out their hands to touch a work of God.

To that we would say this.


We think the bible says much more to censure and condemn those who could look at what is happening in this situation, see the suffering being testified to, hear the stories of pain and harm done, and yet keep silent.


Or, to refer to the story of the Good Samaritan, those who see that people are suffering - but then, like the Pharisee, walk by on the other side. The teaching of Jesus condemns leaders who place heavier and heavier burdens of religious performance on their people. And we wonder what He feels about those people who continue to enable all that is happening by providing finance for it - with no promise of any intent by the leadership to resolve or address any of this.


We ask the speaker here - Do you really believe God is instructing all of you not to care about the people claiming your church and its leadership has cased them pain?


Do you believe God’s highest priority in this present situation is to ensure the undisturbed continuation of an unchanged Struthers Memorial Church? The maintenance of the Struthers way regardless of what the fruit resulting from your claimed “one desire” is?


Has God really (as it has been claimed by some of the leaders) told you as a leadership to ignore - and to refuse to even talk to - the hurting and confused people who once looked to you for guidance and help?


Does the fact that you go to a lot of meetings in a week and feel a lovely presence of God mean He approves of you and you are therefore free to ignore clear biblical responsibilities to your hurting neighbours - many of whom used to be your friends?  



So please do not worry for us.


As is said elsewhere in this sermon God will protect His children and we who are compiling these articles have great confidence in Him. We do not really worry about the threats from those opposed to Christianity; or the surprising number of implied threats we seem to be getting from those whose Christianity we are seeking to discuss.


Please do not worry about or pray for us. We are well covered in that respect. Our Father will not let us come to harm for seeking to speak the truth so please do not waste any time on fear for us. We believe there are many other more urgent things that Struthers leaders and members need to attend to.


Of course it is possible that this was not a statement directed at us but one designed just to frighten the remaining Struthers congregation.


Of course - we are now well over a year on from this statement of fear for us. Yet we are in a position to report that we continue to be very happy and very, very blessed.

In addition we have many new friends and had many times of joy and blessing to report from throughout the last year. And as a result of what we and others have been doing, people have been set free from at least some of the effects of inappropriate control and false teaching - as we have mentioned elsewhere on this site.

So it appears the (possibly insincere) “fears for us” mentioned on 12 March 2011 have proved unfounded.


We are not naive. We will have times of blessing and times of trial and suffering in life just as the SMC leadership will, and just as all the most loyal of Struthers members will. So will many people who never go near a church. Perhaps when SMC leaders, past and present, experience suffering (such as the suffering that is “feared” for us here) that is presented as a trial of the faithful. Or perhaps in reality it is the principle God has said he will apply in Matthew 7v2.


But to imply that particular judgement and suffering will come to us in this life as a result of our enquiries into the Struthers organisation seems more like a curse they wish would come upon us - rather than a teaching they could argue from the bible.

But SMC leaders often seek to create an impression that they have access to special  knowledge that the rest of us do not. So perhaps, if they are spiritual enough, they think they become exempt from biblical requirements like loving their enemies.



I would not try to defend it as if we have never done anything wrong. It's perfect – of course it's not! But there is nobody more aware of that than those with responsibility. Probably nobody more aware than I am – and the other leaders and ministers – of the flaws. BUT I said God knows and we know that we have no other agenda than to see Jesus Christ glorified. And he's protected us for over 50 years. I don't think He's going to stop doing it now.


Who was saying God would stop protecting Struthers? It was not us. Was it some of the other leaders? Was it some in the congregation? Or was it a fear the leader had herself?


Leader of the Struthers churches - What is the value of you claiming to be the one who most fully recognises the mistakes and flaws in Struthers? If you are indeed the most aware of this you must also be the one who has done most to rectify those mistakes and flaws? Surely if they are most known to you then you must have the chief responsibility for apologising to those who have been badly treated and correcting those things which have been flaws most damaging to the people involved with your organisation. We are not aware of any action you have taken in reaction to these flaws and mistakes - but that does not mean you have not taken any.


Surely that awareness has led to some action on your part? So please tell us all what changes you have made, and who you have apologised and made amends to, as a result of “being more aware than anyone” of these flaws and things done wrong in Struthers?


Your restatement of your claim to have faultless motives and lack of an “agenda” doesn't really provide that crucial information.



And we are not a cult. Don't let any insidious thought get into your mind when you read that or hear somebody say it. Its just a stock thing that they say about – not just us – other works of God. A cult is something secret and hidden and suspect. We are manifestly open. We are a charity. So..we are manifestly open. We have a legal constitution that is exceedingly reasonable and sensible. We are totally above board. We have nothing to hide


The definition used by the speaker here is not accurate or helpful to the Struthers congregation.


Scientology is a charity with a constitution and publishes its accounts. Like Struthers it has to if it wants to get tax recovery on donations. Yet Struthers Memorial Church would call Scientology a cult. Likewise Jehovahs Witnesses and the Unification Church are registered charities. So addressing this in the way the speaker does here does not address the problem.


In any case we do not think Struthers Memorial Church is a cult. We think there is evidence that it is a Christian church which exercises inappropriate control of people and which is ruled over by a small group of chiefs who are effectively unaccountable. All have been appointed by the central controlling regime and are in their leadership position for life (or as long as they want), with no real requirement to answer questions about their words, decisions and actions. This is what a controlling church is and the effect on people of being in a controlling church can be very destructive. The features of such a church are listed very clearly here and we think much on this list is very relevant to Struthers.


It may be a little disingenuous of the speaker to try to associate Struthers with “other works of God”. It has been quite openly taught for years that Struthers see themselves as not making the mistakes and compromises they claim many (perhaps most) other churches have made. This is one of the justifications for the decision not to have many visiting speakers or ministries. That may have isolated the leadership a bit - leading to poorly informed statements like this one. As is evidenced from the RickRoss forums (and any other web searches people might like to do) very few other UK Christian churches are in receipt of such an allegation (of being either a cult or a destructive church). The only other UK church about which there are a large number of similar complaints on the RickRoss forum is Kirkby Christian Fellowship which, in the 1990s, had very close links with Struthers until the 2 leaderships argued and fell out.


To claim those things which are now being said about Struthers are “stock things” commonly and lightly said of other bible based churches is misleading and untrue.


We think the SMC leadership need to take this very seriously. What is happening here is not a “stock” anything. It is a very serious set of circumstances where things the Struthers leaders have been doing for years without any real accountability are now being called into question; and the things they have done which people say have hurt them are being – quite rightly - discussed in public. There is nothing “stock” about this. It is specific to the real problems people have dealing with Struthers Memorial Church. To suggest what is being said about SMC is commonly said of other churches in the Christian world is complete nonsense. To suggest we are throwing vague, general, ill-considered criticisms at Struthers is not going to help them deal with the reality of the pain they have caused so many people; and of which so many more have now testified so clearly since this sermon was preached.


Perhaps the SMC leadership have “nothing to hide”. It has been suggested in the past that they have used their position as leaders, and those who control information, to hide things from present and past members of the church and the wider public. Perhaps their willingness to address the following questions will tell us if it is true that they have “nothing to hide”. These are not the only questions but they would be a start.



  • How much money was lost in the financial scandal of the 1980s?


  • Who works for the Struthers charitable company and what salary does each receive?


  • Were full time salaried jobs in the shops and school allocated by the trustees awarding them to people they favoured; or openly advertised and openly recruited?


  • What is the complaints procedure for people who have felt they have been hurt or harmed by Struthers Memorial Church? What is built into this process to guarantee people get a fair hearing?


  • Have children under 16 ever been subject to prayer for exorcism in any Struthers church or camp meeting?


  • Is the school funded exclusively by its fees? If not - how much was given from church collection income in each year?


All these questions are perfectly proper and reasonable. Most well run charities would answer such things in a heartbeat. Only those with something to hide would not.








and we ..are not a cult. Do you know why people say that? Because they don't understand us. They can't understand why we're still here. They can't understand why we function still. The sense that there's something that they don't understand. They don't like it. And they don't like teaching about holiness. And they don't like teaching about the fact that there is an authority in the church of Jesus Christ. It's not a heavy handed terribly up front authority BUT it certainly is there and its there in the bible.


The leader claims (at that time) not to have read the websites. If that was true she would be ill prepared to address any of the issues and questions they raise. Yet she feels able to claim in front of the congregation that she can definitively reveal the real reasons why we and others are asking questions about SMC. It is not, it seems, for the reasons we are giving. Apparently she is aware of 4 “real” reasons explaining why the websites say what they say:


1   we don't understand them


2   we don't understand why they are still in existence


3   we don't like teaching about holiness


4   we don't like teaching that there is authority in the church


The speaker completely ignores what has actually been said on the websites, then listed these 4 things – none of which we have mentioned. These do not constitute anything that is really being claimed, but are, in ironic fact, the “stock accusation” Struthers throws at anyone who does not prostrate themselves in front of them.


However let us deal with them as calmly as we can.


1   we don't understand them


This was well addressed at the time by Anonymousfornow on the RickRoss forum. Of course we understand them. This concern is coming from former long-time members of the church who worked closely with the leadership and many of whom were actively involved. We do understand what they are doing - and say they are trying to do - and we do not regard it as biblically based or leading people into freedom. Rather it leads people into damaging relationship with the leadership claiming knowledge of God's will for their lives with no boundaries or restraint. We well understand what they are trying to do and after years of concern and dealing with the fallout from their ministry we believe they are wrong. Resorting to attacks on our understanding rather than defending their teaching and actions in a coherent way from the bible only serves to confirm that they are wrong.


2    we don't understand why they are still in existence


We do understand why they are still there and we have never claimed we did not. It is because we, and people like us, poured cash into the organisation which they readily accepted from some of us long after they had decided in their hearts as leaders they no longer “felt anything for us” or had any “feeling in their spirit” for us. Yet they declined every opportunity – at several meetings each week – to let us know about this and they kept taking our money which contributed to the illusion we had pastors who cared about us. There is no mystery. They are there because we, then later others, kept them financed.


They are also there because in the late 1980s when the leadership lost a huge sum of the money donated by people like us - important information about what had happened was kept from the congregation. The amount of the money we donated which was lost in stock market speculation has never been disclosed to the members or to the public. The reason SMC did not then go bankrupt was because, it is rumoured, 7 or 8 people re mortgaged their homes and loaned (or gave) the proceeds to the church to keep it financially afloat. That is what we have heard but, again, no proper account of what happened has been made public. We think an organisation which has nothing to hide should be fully open about what happened, who was responsible, what actions were taken to protect future donations given by members, and to apologise to those whose donations for the work of the gospel were secretly squandered on purchasing shares.


It was a church as described in this sermon, and the one on Feb 12 2011, claiming that the leadership should never be doubted as they: “only move on the express command of the lord God of Hosts” who descended into this shameful misuse of donations to the work of God and this governance shambles. Please do not claim it was properly and openly dealt with at the time. It was not.


3   we don't like teaching about holiness


This claim is not true. We love teaching about holiness. We love to hear what the bible teaches about what God wants in our lives. And we love to hear what Jesus said to the Pharisees who were so proud of their supposed holiness teachings. He indicated that many of these were worthless man made rules designed to control and oppress their parishioners - and in fact their righteousness was as filthy rags. So to follow Him we can't disagree with biblical holiness teaching, but we won’t be intimidated by threats to believe everything SMC teach but have no biblical basis for. And we don’t feel a need to call failure success.


4   we don't like teaching that there is authority in the church


Authority which has to be continually and endlessly reasserted is not the authority you read of in the new testament church. Authority which can only be maintained by banning, threats of punishment and oppressive control of the membership is not derived from the new testament. Can we be very clear. We do not have a problem with any new testament teaching on authority in the church. We have problems with the teaching and actions of the SMC leadership because they take the claim of having authority without having in place the proscribed range of new testament structures around which that authority is to operate. Such as appointed elders (plural) in every church, separation of teaching, prophetic and serving and management ministries, full disclosure of spending plans before money is collected, and a loving tolerance where there is disagreement.


Also consideration for eldership involves the congregation recognising who has a thriving and well run home and family. Authority in the church can only be given to those who first merit it by their successful organisation of their family life outside the church:

Titus 1.5-9  The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.


If you have a leadership role, or a job, in the church because someone in charge who liked you (or indeed your Mum) decided to give it to you, then you may or may not have any authority in the biblical sense. It is not a right. It is earned by character outside the church and servanthood within the church.


People are well able to recognise leaders who are there because they care for them and their families good; and leaders who are basically looking out for themselves and mainly concerned about their own pet projects, sense of entitlement and status. Jesus says you can have no authority until you become the servant of all. Once you have washed some feet, and shown you have a servant heart like Jesus, then He says you can be considered as a biblical candidate for leadership.    



So there can be no claim of new testament authority and demand for recognition of that authority without the humble demonstration of servanthood – not to the leaders own friends and family (as the bible says - even sinners give good gifts to their own children) but to the least within the congregation.



So - we should all look. It’s either there or it isn’t.