Pastor at centre of Soul Survivor abuse allegations resigns as he asks for forgiveness
Pastor at centre of Soul Survivor abuse allegations resigns as he asks for forgiveness Story by Gabriella Swerling
Rev Canon Mike Pilavachi, who was the associate pastor at Soul Survivor Watford church, also founded the Soul Survivor summer festivals, known as ‘the Christian Glastonbury’ which attracted around 30,000 teenagers each summer© Provided by The Telegraph
Christian youth festival founder Mike Pilavachi has resigned from his church saying he “seeks forgiveness from any whom I have hurt” after allegations of abuse were exposed by The Telegraph.
Rev Canon Mike Pilavachi, who was the associate pastor at Soul Survivor Watford church, also founded the Soul Survivor summer festivals, known as “the Christian Glastonbury” which attracted around 30,000 teenagers each summer and ran for 26 years until 2019.
In May, this publication ran a series of interviews with victims and former Soul Survivor staff members came forward to speak out for the first time about his alleged abuse.
It is claimed that a “conveyor belt” of young, attractive men were encouraged by Rev Canon Pilavachi to receive full body-oil massages in their underwear on his bed, as well as vigorous wrestling matches, which sometimes took place in church, that could last as long as 20 minutes.
Many also claimed that they suffered “toxic” spiritual abuse, bullying and psychological torment.
It was claimed that due to the vicar’s international mission work as the popular Soul Survivor brand went global, he “left a trail of broken, young male adults scattered all around the world”. Rev Canon Pilavachi has never before publicly commented on the allegations. ‘I don’t want to face trial by media or social media’
However, it has emerged that he resigned on Tuesday from his post of associate pastor of Soul Survivor Watford as he suggested that he did not want to be subject to “trial by media or social media”.
In a message on his private Instagram account, which was subsequently reposted on open social media accounts by others, he said: “I have taken this step because the Church needs to heal and I have realised that my continued presence will hinder that process. “I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry. I have, on advice, made no comment on the allegations and will not make any further public comment as I do not believe it would be good for anyone if I took part in a trial by media or social media.”
He added: “I pray for God’s blessing on the Church it has been a privilege and joy to serve these past 30 years.” Victim says pastor’s statement makes him ‘incredibly sad’ His victims have criticised his comments, claiming that he is “making himself the wounded party” David Gate, a US-based poet and writer who was a former leader of Soul Survivor and a victim of Mike’s spiritual abuse, said: “I expected any statement to be toothless but this doesn’t even have gums.
“It offers nothing more than a tepid, blanket apology on a private Instagram account.
“These are not the words of someone who appreciates the scope and depth of the pain and trauma they’ve inflicted. It also has the temerity to suggest that he would be a victim himself of ‘trial by social media’ continuing his decades long practice of making himself the wounded party of any criticism in order to elicit sympathy and deflect from his actions. This statement makes me incredibly sad.”
The update comes just days after the Church of England denied accusations of being overwhelmed by the “magnitude of the Soul Survivor inquiry”, despite criticisms that it is not independent and amid refusals to comment on its progress.
As a result of the allegations made against him, Rev Canon Pilavachi was suspended from Soul Survivor Watford in May, while the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) and the Diocese of St Albans carry out an internal investigation which has repeatedly been criticised for its lack of independence.
It is also understood that more than 100 people have already come forward to accuse Rev Canon Pilavachi of abuse. Internal investigation to continue as planned
A spokesperson for Soul Survivor Watford said: “Today Mike informed the trustees of his decision to resign as associate pastor, which will take immediate effect.
“We have informed the NST of Mike’s resignation and they have assured us that the investigation will continue as planned until it reaches a conclusion.
“We remain committed to seeking a just, truthful and transparent outcome to the investigation for all those who have bravely stepped forward to share their concerns and experiences with the NST and the St Albans Diocesan Safeguarding Team.” The spokesperson added: “We recognise that many people feel hurt and confused as they process all that has been reported in the media and shared on social media. It takes a great deal of strength to report abuse and we are grateful to all those who have come forward.”
A Church of England spokesperson said: “We have been informed of the resignation of Mike Pilavachi from his employment at Soul Survivor and want to stress that the safeguarding investigation will continue in line with House of Bishops guidance and we will continue to listen to and offer support to those who come forward.”
John Bellamy - as usual - has a comment:-
This man needs to go to jail.
Once again we hear of someone working with children and working in / with / for the church and all the while, abusing the very children under his care. When found out, he makes himself into the victim. Once again - a religious institution is caught with its fingers in the cookie jar - or rather - its finger somewhere it shouldn't be... and once again we all know very little will come of this and the church will pray for the souls of those abused, the man will get a slap on the wrist and nothing will change. Religious institutions will continue to abuse. Nothing will change as we hear more and more about how many are sexually assaulted at the hands of those teaching about good and evil.
He deserves anything and everything that comes his way in order to prosecute and destroy this so called 'Man of God.' - as what he has done is once again - destroy a church - destroy faith in those supervising and destroy any previously held religious beliefs because the guy in charge is a paedophile, mass abuser , a liar and a deceiver of young guys.
This man used his position to abuse.
Jimmy Saville did exactly the same thing.
He is a serial abuser and needs to pay the price for his deception and blatant misdeeds.
I have absolutely no sympathy for him but tons for those who were abused, and however the abuse took form and shape, it is abuse of your position when fun - turns sexual - and only one side of the partnership sees it that way. Taking advantage of your position is nothing new, look at Hollywood's Casting Couch - and how many important Bishops and high ups in the church have used choir boys and girls and abused their position of trust.
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