THE Christian musician Matt Redman has said that he experienced “harmful behaviours” from Canon Mike Pilavachi, the founder of Soul Survivor.
Canon Pilavachi resigned as Associate Pastor of Soul Survivor, Watford, on Tuesday, having been formally suspended in May (News, 26 May). Since the church first announced that he would “step back” from ministry while a safeguarding investigation was carried out, allegations have been published in national newspapers, including accounts of wrestling and full-body massages (News, 5 May; 19 May).
Mr Redman was a teenager when he met Canon Pilavachi, and began leading sung worship at Soul Survivor when he was 20. His compositions include “Blessed be your Name” and “10,000 Reasons”, and he has won two Grammy Awards.
On Thursday morning, Mr Redman posted a statement on social media, in which he said: “Out of respect for those conducting the current investigation into Mike Pilavachi, up until now I’ve tried to say as little as possible, and to trust the process. Having seen his [Canon Pilavachi’s] resignation statement this week, and in particular some of the replies to that on social media, I’ve decided that now may be a good moment to say more.”
Mr Redman does not refer to specific replies on social media; but Canon Pilavachi’s Facebook post announcing his resignation drew supportive replies from the evangelist J John and the founder of the New Frontiers network, Terry Virgo.
Mr Redman goes on to write that “the number of people who have come forward to the safeguarding investigation is now a loud and clear alarm-bell that cannot be ignored.
“I feel particularly strongly on this issue as I myself experienced first-hand the harmful behaviours that have been described. I had not intended to disclose this on social media, but much of the recent narrative following Mike’s statement has compelled me to do so. 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.”
He writes that he will not comment further while the investigation is ongoing, but says that “a good number of those who have spoken to the investigation, including my wife Beth and myself, had come forward previously at the time of being mistreated — but were ignored, patronised or gaslit by those in leadership. Historically there has been a failure of care in this area by those in authority at Soul Survivor — which makes this current moment even more critical to get right.”
Mr Redman concludes by calling for church leaders to be held accountable. “It simply cannot be that if a ministry is particularly fruitful, or a leader is particularly gifted, or we ourselves have benefitted from that ministry, then we are willing to turn a blind-eye to the mistreatment of others under their care. Sadly we have all seen such scenarios play out before — and as the Church we have some learning to do in this area.”
Mr Redman has spoken of having had a “quite turbulent childhood”; his father took his own life when Mr Redman was seven (News, 12 August 2016). He has spoken of how learning to sing the songs and play them on the guitar “kept me stable”.