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Shorelark / Alamy Stock Photo
Shorelark / Alamy Stock Photo
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Tim and Pete Hughes say they were also ‘massaged and wrestled with’ by Soul Survivor's Mike Pilavachi

by Kelly Valencia

Church leaders Tim and Pete Hughes have disclosed they too "experienced the massages and wrestling" that have recently come to light regarding Soul Survivor founder Mike Pilavachi.

In a social media post, the brothers expressed how their encounters with Pilavachi "caused years of pain and confusion," leading them to embark on a 20-year "process of acknowledging the abuse and choosing to forgive."

The brothers joined Soul Survivor in the early 2000s, with Pete serving as an associate director and Tim as a worship leader. Tim Hughes accompanied Mike around the world promoting Soul Survivor and served as a trustee of the ministry for several years.

In their statement, they described Pilavachi as "a spiritual father figure" whose "influence, investment, and teaching in our lives were significant."

However, like others, they also experienced what they now understand to be psychological and spiritual abuse at the hands of Mike Pilavachi. They state that while under his leadership, they also encountered the wrestling and massages that have been well-documented.

In their statement, the brothers also said that in 2004 they brought up Pilavachi's "damaging behaviour" to the then Chair of Trustees, but their concerns were "not taken seriously".

They said: “Our desire was to protect others who may have been impacted by this behaviour and to fight for the spiritual health and vitality of the ministry. Unfortunately, the process was not received well and our concerns were not taken seriously, leading to breakdowns in relationship and eventually to both of us leaving Soul Survivor soon after. We've both been deeply saddened to learn of the stories of abuse that have continued since that time.”

At that time, the Chair of Trustees was the Bishop of Maidstone, Rt Rev Graham Cray. The senior clergyman joined Soul Survivor Ministries in 2000 and supervised its operations for two decades. When asked about this confrontation, Bishop Graham told Premier he has cooperated with Fiona KC's report and will refrain from further comments.

He stated: “I have given a full account of these matters and my role as chair of the trustees of the annual  Soul Survivor festivals to Fiona Scolding KC, whose report will be made public. I will be making no further comment on a matter connected with Soul Survivor or Mike Pilavachi."

The brothers’ statement comes just hours after popular worship leader Matt Redman and his wife Beth published a 30-minute documentary detailing the abuse they suffered under Pilavachi’s leadership. The brothers said that after seeing “the bravery” of the Redmans, they felt it was “the right time” to share their stories.

They concluded: “ Our hope and prayer for others who have experienced abuse at Soul Survivor is that this will be a moment of healing and restoration, as things that have been hidden are being brought into the light. We also hope that this process will provide an opportunity for the Church to learn from the mistakes made in order for the Church to be a safe environment where everyone can flourish and thrive.”

Premier has repeatedly tried to contact Mike Pilavachi for a comment but he’s yet to respond.

To hear more on the allegations facing Soul Survivor and its founder, Mike Pilavachi, check out Premier's Soul Survivors podcast. 

If you're affected by this topic, contact Premier Lifeline on 0300 111 0101. It's open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

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