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Soul Survivor Watford
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Soul Survivor's Andy Croft will not return to senior pastor role despite being cleared for ministry

by Kelly Valencia

Despite being cleared for ministry, Andy Croft, the senior pastor at Soul Survivor Watford, has decided not to return to lead the church.

The Church of England's investigation into safeguarding failures by Mike Pilavachi revealed that Croft failed to act on three separate occasions where allegations had been made. In September, Premier revealed that one of the allegations related to the massaging of a former intern by Pilavachi, which was disclosed to Andy Croft in 2016.

All three instances have been dismissed, and the Diocese of St Albans has approved his return to ministry. However, in a statement, the church's trustees shared Croft has decided "to leave Soul Survivor Watford".

They wrote: "We are deeply grateful to Andy and Beth for the years of love, support, and leadership they have faithfully given to this church family and the wider Watford community. While we feel a sense of loss in their leaving, we know God will continue to use them as a family in the future and pray his richest blessings on them in this new season."

The trustee's statement comes with a letter by Croft addressing the congregation. In it, he apologised for the mistakes made and acknowledged the profound impact of Pilavachi's abusive behaviour on him.

He wrote: "I first joined Soul Survivor as an intern in 2004 when I was 18. After leaving university I later joined the staff in 2008 and became joint Senior Pastor in 2016. The stories of victims that have now emerged and the work of the National Safeguarding Team have changed my perspective on much of what I have experienced from a young age. I need to acknowledge now that I myself have also been deeply impacted by aspects of Mike's abusive behaviour. 

"In recent months my own failures relating to professional safeguarding practice have become apparent to me. The investigation found that my safeguarding practice fell short on three occasions. I have had to confront the reality that errors in my judgment may have allowed others to experience pain. This has troubled me deeply. As someone in leadership, it feels like a profound failure on my part, for which I sincerely apologise".

Sharing the reasons for his decision to leave the church, Croft said he and his family "need to process much of what we have been through over these past years and we feel we can only do this by stepping away".

Rev Jon Stevens will maintain his interim leadership role at Soul Survivor Watford with assistance from Rev Canon Tim Lomax.

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