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Soul Survivor

Founder of Soul Survivor Youth Festival Under Investigation for Safeguarding Concerns

Shocking news has emerged from the Christian community as Canon Mike Pilavachi, founder of the popular Soul Survivor youth festival.

The diocese of St Albans, the C of E’s National Safeguarding Team and the trustees of Soul Survivor, Watford, have all come together to investigate these concerning allegations against Canon Pilavachi. The investigations are being carried out in accordance with the Church of England House of Bishops guidelines.

Soul Survivor

65-year-old Canon Mike Pilavachi, the founder of the Christian youth festival Soul Survivor, has agreed to step back from all ministry while non-recent safeguarding concerns against him are investigated. The announcement was made during a Sunday morning service at Soul Survivor in north Watford by the Suffragan Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, on behalf of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, the diocese of St Albans, and the trustees of Soul Survivor.

It says: “Non-recent safeguarding concerns relating to Mike Pilavachi have been reported to the national Church and, working closely with the Diocese of St Albans, these are currently being looked into according to the Church of England House of Bishops guidelines.

The church, which was granted in 1993, held its first Soul Survivor conference in 1993 and its first festival in 1995, which were attended by up to 35,000 young people and adults, and emphasised Charismatic gifts. The festivals ceased in 2019.

The statement read by Bishop Atkinson said that the non-recent safeguarding concerns had been reported to the national Church and were being investigated according to the Church of England House of Bishops guidelines.

While the investigation is still ongoing, it has been made clear that Canon Pilavachi is not under criminal investigation and has not been suspended. However, the nature of the concerns and their non-recent nature have sent shockwaves through the Christian community.

It is not yet known when the investigation will conclude. Soul Survivor, located in two warehouses on an industrial estate in north Watford, will continue to be led by its Senior Pastor, the Revd Andy Croft. A separate statement from the acting chair of the trustees of Soul Survivor, Watford, David Mitchell, emphasized that the concerns currently being investigated related to historical matters and added no further comment to the joint statement.

“Nothing should be inferred from Mike stepping back; this is perfectly normal following the start of an investigation that has not reached a conclusion. We mutually agreed this was the best step because of the importance of correct procedures being followed.”

This shocking news has rocked the Christian community, and many will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of the investigations.

Canon Pilavachi was ordained deacon in 2012 and priest in 2013, after leading Soul Survivor for many years. He was appointed MBE for services to young people in the New Year Honours list in 2020 (News, 3 January 2020). Later that year, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave him the Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness (Gazette, 3 July 2020).

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