On social media, worship leader Matt Redman revealed that he was impacted by an alleged abuse scandal at Soul Survivor, a U.K. Christian youth festival held annually from 1993 to 2019.
“I feel particularly strongly on this issue as I myself experienced first-hand the harmful behaviors that have been described,” the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter wrote in a July 13 Facebook post. “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.”
Redman, 49, co-founded Soul Survivor as a 19-year-old. The other founder was Mike Pilavachi, 65, who’s currently under investigation by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST). (“Safeguarding” is the British term for abuse prevention.)
In May, Pilavachi was suspended from Soul Survivor Watford, a U.K. church he had been leading. On July 11, Pilavachi resigned from his position as associate pastor. A spokesperson said the church appreciates Redman’s “openness and honesty” and is taking all abuse allegations “very seriously.”
Matt Redman: ‘There Are Victims Here’
Matt Redman wrote that he has tried to “trust the process” and hadn’t “intended to disclose this on social media,” but Pilavachi’s resignation statement—and some replies to it—“compelled me” to speak out. (According to an Instagram screenshot, Pilavachi stated, in part: “The Church needs to heal and…my continued presence will hinder that process. I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry.”)
In his Facebook post, Redman wrote: “At this point in time over a hundred people have reported being mistreated under Mike’s leadership, and the allegations cover a whole spectrum of harm—physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.” Redman said he has “testified directly to the ongoing investigation,” adding that he and his wife, Beth, previously disclosed “being mistreated—but were ignored, patronized or gaslit by those in leadership” at Soul Survivor.
Redman alleged “a failure of care” and addressed the importance of accountability. The worship leader encouraged other victims to come forward, adding that he and his wife send all survivors “our deepest love and support.”
Some victims allege that the Church of England shouldn’t be conducting an investigation into one of its own organizations. Others, in addition to Redman, accuse Soul Survivor and the denomination of not taking the allegations seriously at first. Some people allege that Pilavachi’s behavior was an “open secret” for two decades but that church leaders failed to act.
In a May 20 statement about suspending Pilavachi, Soul Survivor Watford noted, in part: “It has become clear that this more decisive action should have been made earlier and we have acted to correct this now.” Last month, the church suspended two other staff members regarding “concerns over the handling of allegations that were raised before the NST investigation began.”
Allegations Against UK Pastor Mike Pilavachi
According to media reports, allegations against Pilavachi include grooming and abusing teenage boys and youth men associated with Soul Survivor. Victims allege that the ministry leader had them undress before giving them full-body oil massages. They also reportedly describe lengthy wrestling competitions and emotional manipulation.