Soul Survivor Watford has suspended Mike Pilvachi “with immediate effect” as the investigation into safeguarding allegations against him continue.
The Soul Survivor founder stepped back from all ministry last month after the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) and the Diocese of St Albans announced a non-criminal investigation was being carried out in response to the allegations.
Now, in a new update on the church’s website, the Soul Survivor’s leadership says the “more decisive” decision to suspend Pilavachi should have been made “earlier” and has therefore “acted to correct this now”.
While it was initially claimed the potential safeguarding failures related to “non-recent events”, the church has since acknowledged more recent complaints have come to light.
Since the announcement of the investigation, a group of individuals who raised safeguarding concerns have called for an independent investigation claiming they "don’t trust the church to mark its own homework".
Several high-profile church and worship leaders have also made statements acknowledging the investigation and urging people to come forward if they have been affected by this situation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby said he was “deeply conscious” of the reports’ impact on people and clarified that the ongoing investigation is being conducted independently from Soul Survivor with his “full support”.
Matt Redman, who worked alongside Pilavachi for eight years, also acknowledged “the bravery of those who have come forward” and prayed “for all those who have been affected”.
Soul Survivor’s latest statement continued: “We want to reiterate that we are especially aware of the responsibility we have towards those who reported their safeguarding concerns to the Church of England and of how much they are suffering. We regret this was not clear in our initial statement made on 2nd April and are sorry for the pain caused as a result.
“We are continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation. We are assured that anyone affected will continue to be given the opportunity to contribute to the investigation and given the support they need. We are also committed to reviewing the culture of Soul Survivor Watford and are determined that lessons are learned to ensure a strong, healthy and supportive environment for anyone who calls this church their home.”