Soul Survivor Ministry Under Investigation Following Founder’s Resignation

Soul Survivor Ministry Under Investigation Following Founder’s Resignation: The Charity Commission for England and Wales has opened an investigation into sizable contributions made to a gap-year program Mike Pilavachi directed, which comes amid a continuing Church of England probe into the well-known youth ministry leader.

Pilavachi, who founded the Soul Survivor ministry and led it for over two decades, stepped down from his leadership role in July amid a denominational investigation into allegations claiming he engaged in “inappropriate intimate relationships” and behaviors with young people.

The Charity Commission, a watchdog that oversees registered charities in the U.K., will investigate significant contributions made to Soul61, formerly known as Soul Time and the gap-year program run by the former Pilavachi, which aims to “identify and train future Christian leaders,” according to The Telegraph.

The newspaper reports that the charity received various donations, including nearly $900,000 from a Malaysian business tycoon, leaving much of it to be used at the discretion of Pilavachi rather than the normal mechanisms of oversight.

The Church of England investigation, in conjunction with the Diocese of St. Albans Safeguarding Team and the National Safeguarding Team, was launched in the spring after The Telegraph reported allegations spanning several years that Pilavachi engaged in inappropriate conduct with young people participating in Soul61.

Pilavachi was accused of coercing some participants into receiving full-body oil massages on his bed and engaging in wrestling matches.

In 1993, the inspirational 65-year-old former pastor and founder of Soul Survivor founded the organization. The group was well-known for holding summer events that drew tens of thousands of youths. As the organization now concentrates on events for all ages from its church in Watford, both festivals were discontinued in 2019.

The ministry leader had previously been recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury for “his outstanding contribution to evangelism and discipleship amongst young people in the United Kingdom.”

Pilvachi was suspended in May by the charity’s board of trustees. In his resignation statement in July, Pilvachi said his continued presence in the ministry would hinder the Church’s ability to heal.

“I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry,” Pilvachi wrote. “I have, on advice, made no comment on the allegations and will not make any further public comment, as I do not believe it would be good for anyone if I took part in a trial by media or social media.”

The Charity Commission’s investigation was spurred by revelations from The Telegraph, highlighting details about the Watford-based gap-year program’s high-profile donors. The newspaper contends that the new information sheds light on the Soul Survivor’s global influence. Soul Survivor has offshoot ministries in countries like Malaysia, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand.

Donations to Soul61 have reportedly reached a sum of nearly £750,000 ($962,910) during the years 2016 and 2019.

In three years, two different donations of roughly £100,000 ($128,388) and another of roughly £500,000 ($641,940) were made by YTL Utilities UK.

The Telegraph reports that YTL Utilities Holdings is registered in the Cayman Islands. Its grandparent company, YTL Corporation Berhad, is the Malaysian infrastructure conglomerate led by Tan Sri (Sir) Francis Yeoh and consists of six listed entities.

Soul61 accounts suggest that YTL Utilities has made three donations to Soul61, the largest donations the program has ever received since its founding in 2011.

During the three-year period, accounts display the donations were to be used “at the discretion of the charity trustees” and that they could also serve as a gift “to be used at the discretion of Mike Pilavachi.”

The Charity Commission announced an ongoing compliance case into Soul Survivor Watford after The Telegraph reports were released. The vast amount of money donated by YTL is also currently being examined by the watchdog.

“Charities have very clear legal obligations in terms of how they expend charitable funds, and the role of trustees in making these decisions,” Richard Scorer, a solicitor at Slater and Gordon who represents some complainants of abuse in Soul Survivor, told The Telegraph.

Image and Content Copyright - CLICK HERE

Leave a comment