Popular singer and songwriter Matt Redman has disclosed details of his time at Soul Survivor Watford as its founder, Mike Pilavachi, is being investigated for safeguarding concerns.
In a post on his social media accounts, Redman said he spent “years trying to fully heal” from his time at the church, revealing that he and his wife Beth had previously reported being “mistreated” but were “ignored, patronised or gaslit by those in leadership”.
Revealing he has contributed to the current investigation, the Grammy-award-winning singer said his statement was prompted by Pilavachi’s recent resignation announcement and “in particular some of the replies to that on social media”.
On Tuesday, Pilavachi announced he was leaving Soul Survivor Watford as he recognised the "Church needed to heal" and his presence "will hinder that process".
In April, Soul Survivor Watford, the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) and the Diocese of St Albans announced Pilavachi had stepped down from all ministry while they looked into several allegations against him. While the nature of the claims has not been disclosed, investigators said they are neither criminal nor related to disciplinary matters.
Redman attended and worked at Soul Survivor along with Pilavachi from 1994 to 2002 and has become one of the most recognisable British Christian worship leaders in the world, with songs such as 10,000 Reasons being sung by millions of people across the globe.
The 49-year-old, based in the US with his wife and five children, had previously acknowledged the investigation and encouraged people to come forward If they felt they had been affected. Now, he has shared more details of his time there.
He wrote: “I know some are having a tough time believing the various accusations – they can create a very uncomfortable tension for those who have only ever had a meaningful and transformative experience at Soul Survivor.
“I really understand and sympathise with that. But there are victims here – and the number of people who have come forward to the safeguarding investigation is now a loud and clear alarm bell that cannot be ignored.”
While speaking of his experience working with Pilavachi, Redman also claimed over a hundred people have reported being “mistreated under Mike’s leadership”, covering a “whole spectrum of harm – physical, psychological, spiritual etc.”.
He continued: “I have spent years trying to fully heal from my time at Soul Survivor – and, painfully, I now know this to be the case for a lot of other people too. Its not appropriate for me to comment in further details at this time, and instead I have testified directly to the ongoing investigation.
“One very important thing I would like to note though – a good number of those who have spoken to the investigation, including my wife Beth and myself, had come forward previously at the time of being mistreated – but were ignored, patronised or gaslit by those in leadership. Historically there has been a failure of care in this area by those in authority at Soul Survivor – which makes this current moment even more critical to get right.
“No one is expecting perfect leaders. Brokenness is part of our human condition. And we are all advocates for grace and redemption. But accountability is so key in these moments – especially for those who have taken on the role of leadership in the Church. It simply cannot be that if a ministry is particularly gifted, or we have benefitted from that ministry, then we are willing to turn a blid-eye to the mistreatment of others under their care. Sadly we have all seen such scenarios play out before – and as the Church we have some learning to do in this area.
“I’m gratefull for the ST’s investigation and hope and pray for a swift and helpful conclusion…”
In a statement to Premier, a spokesperson for Soul Survivor Watford said: “We are grateful to Matt and Beth Redman for their openness and honesty. We recognise how painful it has been for the Redman family, and for all those who have contributed to the NST investigation - they have all displayed great courage in coming forward and we are taking their reports very seriously. As a church we are committed to the ongoing process and in addition an independent and robust review of our own culture, leadership and governance.”
Mike Pilavachi has been contacted for comment.
No formal timeline regarding the investigation has been communicated.