Struthers Memorial Church and the Website Admission

Since this website began we have indicated that if Struthers Memorial Church were to clarify any of the issues we have raised over the last 5 years; and seek to make public information that made its practices, teachings and beliefs clearer we would welcome that. It has always been our view that people should be free to choose to attend SMC, or not to attend, but that they should have available to them from the start all the information they would need to understand what is going on in the church and its associated groups.


While we never held out much hope that the Struthers leadership would do this - even though everyone else can see that it is patently and obviously the right and honest thing to do – they seem at last to have begun to belatedly address some of the glaring omissions and questions. We see the hand of OSCR – the Scottish Charity Regulator who have been in regular and ongoing contact with Struthers and, at the date of this article, have now been inspecting issues and concerns relating to the church and the school for three years.


Perhaps they will report their findings to the waiting public at some point. Struthers have publicly stated the following:


The Directors are in regular communication with OSCR and will comply with any appropriate recomendations from the regulator following completion of the review.

(2013 Report and Accounts page 2)


Those formerly involved with this charity will be very interested to know what those recommendations turn out to be.  


Presumably as a result of OSCR requiring it - the church website has been extensively revised in the last year and now appears to be attempting, in a small way, to address some of the criticisms this forum and others have been making – and the questions we have been asking.


Good and about time.


So as we note progress (or at the very least some change) we feel at liberty to comment.


What Struthers claims to be and what Struthers is...


When the Struthers charitable company was set up on 19 December 2007 it set out in its publicly available “articles of association” its aims - and how it would be set up to work towards those.


The articles of association on page 6 say:



The structure of the company consists of


(a) the MEMBERS who have the right to attend the annual general meeting (and any extraordinary general meeting) and have important powers under the articles of association and the Companies Acts, in particular, the members take decisions in relation to changes in the articles themselves.


(b) the DIRECTORS who hold regular meetings in the period between annual general meetings, and generally control and supervise the activities of the company, in particular, the directors are responsible for monitoring the financial position of the company



The revised Struthers church website on the page “ABOUT”

http://www.struthers-church.org/about.html   says:



Before 2007 the church was led by an Executive Council and each branch kept an up-to-date roll of its members. When the church became a company limited by guarantee, the Executive Council became the Directors of the Company and its only official members. In practice “membership” is open to those who have a personal experience of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who are living in accordance with His teaching. While officially the Executive Council has been replaced by the Board of Directors, in reality the task of overseeing the work of the Fellowship continues as it did previously with Mrs Gault carrying the overall responsibility for the work, supported by the other directors and the members of the whole Fellowship.



If people read that as 2 separate ways of operating that would not surprise us.


It is hard not to be sceptical about the pretence that the directors will give people in the church access to membership in the way the articles of association claim.



Membership of the company shall be open to any individual having a special interest in the work of the company and who has been nominated for membership by two directors of the company (page 7)



We long ago asked for a clarification of what constituted a “member” in Struthers. The confusing use is of the term “members” in these articles of association; and the contradictory use in each year's Report and Accounts which implied membership was open to many - if not all - who attended.


The new website makes it very clear – no one but the 5 directors is a member of Struthers church. All powers, rights and privileges of membership belong only to them.


Few people knowing how Struthers has operated over the last few decades would expect the now 5 directors to involve anyone who might “have an interest in the charity” by voting them into a position of “membership” i.e. sharing power and widening the decision making base by giving them a genuine say in the way the charity works.


But is it more sadly typical still to see the website not only downplay any chance of members being elected and responsibility (sorry power) be shared; but then to indicate that even the 5 directors are not actually exercising the claimed joint leadership at all - but (according to the website blurb quoted above) continue a completely different practice adopted long before being a charitable company.


In spite of what a sensible, normal person who can understand plain English might believe by actually reading the Struthers articles of association - the website clearly contradicts that. The key message from the website is that decision making power lies with one “supreme director” Mrs Grace Gault.


So we ask the Struthers Directors - why not just say that in the founding document you prepared and that won you charitable status with its many financial benefits?


Could it be that even the Struthers directors doubt that an organisation that sought to gain the benefits of being a charity might not get them if it was honest about its being set up and run for over a generation in the form of a hereditary monarchy? Or, if you prefer, an elective dictatorship? Or perhaps - in the future - an elective monarchy? Let the reader decide.


Better yet let the Struthers leadership tell us, It was often said “the church is not a democracy” Well – to be fair - thinking that was not a mistake we often made. So what is it supposed to be then? We know what you do and we know what it looks like. How would the Struthers leadership describe it?


Whatever you choose to call it  - the biblical and historic case argues very strongly that this form of church government was not in any case adopted in the New Testament church; and it is a form of leadership, where the claim of apostolic “hearing direct from God” without the Biblical church structures in place, does not allow for correction and disciplining of the leader when wayward - and hence is an open door to dreadful and damaging abuse.


Before anyone tries to argue that it is okay if the person is, for the sake of argument, a sweet harmless old lady, we would strongly recommend reading the comments of the 50+ people who have posted and shared their experiences of how this form of church government worked for them in practice. Their testimonies are on the Struthers Church discussion forum. http://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?14,11374,page=139


Still needed - consistency and honesty


So in conclusion - more information now exists on the Struthers website and roundly contradicts that in the charity’s legal documents. It has been a while since we repeated ourselves on this site so we shall do so now.


We believe there needs to be a publicly available

“Requirements of Membership” document

outlining the beliefs and teachings of Struthers Memorial Church

that people can read, ask questions about and consent to

before they will be expected to come under its conditions.


Further we do not think it is unreasonable for the public to expect consistent information between the Struthers key founding document and its main public website.


Struthers Memorial Church - if you operate as a one person dictatorship be honest about it.


If you think that is the only way to ensure the growth and expansion of the Struthers Churches then say so. (We will still be free - and in fact are biblically instructed - to look at the fruits of that approach and conclude for ourselves how it is working out.)


If you believe the checks and balances required by the New Testament to be irksome to your freedom to do what you like as leaders, and that God has told the original leader - and all following her - that Biblical standards and clearly required church structures are to be ignored in Struthers then say so.



People will find out eventually.



We all did.