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Charity founder resigns as Church of England investigates safeguarding allegations

13 Apr 2023 News

Rev Canon Mike Pilavachi

Soul Survivor

A Christian charity founder accused of giving “inappropriate massages” has resigned from the charity he founded.

Mike Pilavachi founded the Soul Survivor Watford charity in 1993 and was made an MBE for services to young people in 2019. 

Documents filed with Companies House show that he terminated his role as a director of Soul Survivor on 4 April this year, the same day the Telegraph revealed he had stepped back from Church of England ministry following the “inappropriate massages” allegations.

His stepping back from ministry was confirmed in a statement read to the congregation at Soul Survivor Watford, a Church of England place of worship where Pilavachi is senior pastor, during a Sunday service. 

‘Not a criminal investigation’

A joint statement on behalf of the Church of England national safeguarding team, the St Albans Diocese, and the Soul Survivor Watford trustees, said “non-recent safeguarding concerns” relating to Pilavachi were reported to the national church and that these were being looked into.

It said it was “mutually agreed” with Pilavachi that “he would step back from all ministry, while this investigation is carried out”. 

The statement continues: “We would like to stress that the police are not involved; this is not a criminal investigation and Mike has not been suspended. It is also not currently a clergy disciplinary matter.”
 
A statement from David Mitchell, chair, on behalf of the Soul Survivor Watford trustees said: “I would like to underline the point that Mike is not under criminal investigation, has not been suspended and that the concerns currently relate to matters which occurred a considerable time ago. 

“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. 

“The investigation is being conducted by the Church of England and is – rightly – independent from Soul Survivor Watford and the trustees. We will of course assist in any way we can. 

“We understand this may be very difficult information to absorb. We will be emailing these statements to those in our church family and making them available on our church website.”

Charity Commission data for the financial year ending 31 March 2022 puts the charity’s total income at more than £1.4m.

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