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World News

John Smyth's son PJ Smyth steps down as church leader following investigation into what he knew about father's abuse

by Cara Bentley

The son of an abusive Christian man has stepped down from church leadership while an investigation into what he knew happens. 

PJ Smyth is the son of John Smyth. John Smyth abused 22 boys and died before a police investigation had finished. PJ Smyth is a preacher, church planter and the pastor of Monument Church in Washington DC. He used to pastor Covenant Life Church in Maryland, replacing author Joshua Harris, and GodFirst church in Johannesburg in South Africa before that. 

Last week PJ's website was redirected to a statement by Advance - a church movement launched by New Frontiers, which reads:

"Allegations have recently been raised about the accuracy of statements made by PJ Smyth in 2017 relating to his father, and associated issues. In light of these allegations PJ has willingly stepped down from all Advance movement leadership responsibilities and the leadership of Monument Church, until both the investigation can be concluded, and thorough assessments can be made. 

"The Advance global leadership team is now engaged in a process of drawing up terms of reference for an independent and external review of the accusations and evidence. We ask that you please keep all related parties in your prayers."


Some people had raised concerns that when the abuse of John Smyth was made public in 2017, PJ Smyth also expressed surprise and said he did not know about the abuse. He had just been brought in as the pastor at Covenant Life Church a few days before it came out and was defended by their eldership. 

PJ Smyth has previously denied all knowledge of assaults and beatings by his father but has affirmed a limited awareness of 'questions' and 'issues' surround John Smyth that came several decades later. 

The investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that anyone who knew about John Smyth's abuse will be investigated. 

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