As a report in the United Kingdom confirms the abuses committed by influential preacher Mike Pilavichi, the Evangelical Alliance United Kingdom urges leaders to “put integrity above ease and popularity”.
“The evangelical church in the UK must do better”, and abuse of power must disappear from their congregations, has said the CEO of the Evangelical Alliance United Kingdom (EAUK), Gavin Calver.
His words came as a reaction to a report published by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, after an investigation into the behaviour of Mike Pilavichi, an influential Christian leader known for founding the youth ministry Soul Survivor.
After listening to victims and other sources, the investigation concluded that, for decades, Pilavichi “used his spiritual authority to control people” and had engaged in “inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths, and massaging of young male interns”.
Gavin Calver, leader of the Evangelical Alliance, which unites thousands of churches, organisations and individuals in the UK, has said “there can be no place for abusive behaviour in our churches; we must ensure our communities are healthy and thriving in the days ahead”.
“Too often we are hearing stories of misuse and abuse of power in our churches and by our leaders”, he lamented. “Too often we are hearing that individual power is being protected at the expense of victims being heard or believed. Too often we are seeing accounts where faithful service to the gospel is being exchanged for platform and self-promotion”.
To “eradicate abuse” in “environments, cultures and structures” that have allowed it, “we must not resist the work of God's Spirit to bring to light that which has been hidden in the shadows”, said Calver.
“The evangelical church in the UK must do better”, he continued. The change must start with leaders that “walk humbly with Jesus, putting integrity above ease or popularity, and listening to those with experience and wisdom on what needs to change and how”.
A few thoughts on the concluded NST investigation into Mike Pilavachi’s ministry. Praying for all those affected by what has taken place pic.twitter.com/J4FKiMR2bl
— Gavin Calver (@GavCalver) September 7, 2023
The Evangelical Alliance will “support those who have been victims of abuse”, says its CEO. “I am so grateful to those who so bravely came forward to share their stories with the investigation, those who diligently investigated the accounts and those who had the courage to say ‘enough’”.
The case around Mike Pilavichi, who resigned in July 2023 as associate pastor of his church in the city of Watford, is one of a number of evangelical leaders from several denominations (including the Church of England) who have been investigated in the last years for having allegedly abused people under their spiritual authority.