I am writing this statement in relation to allegations of abuse against the Senior Leader of the Church I have been a part of for the past 8 years, until my recent resignation.
I take no joy in this, and I know that there will be mixed reactions to my statement. However, after speaking to a few pastors I hold in high regard across different denominations, I decided this was necessary. I have been one of the leaders at the forefront of this ministry, and one who has been openly passionate about justice in the Church especially in relation to abuse. It would be hypocritical of me to remain silent and not share my thoughts on the matter, especially as some may have joined the Church or engaged with it because of me.
On March 24th, 2021, a member of the congregation approached me with allegations against Elijah. This was the first of two formal allegations we would receive directly. These allegations consisted of spiritual abuse, emotional abuse and sexual harassment. Due to the nature and gravity of the allegations, that day it was decided within leadership that an investigation would be conducted immediately. To ensure we were as fair as possible, the Elders and I also approached and informed an external minister — Elijah’s accountability — on the nature of the allegations. They came on board to provide advice and support regarding the investigation.
The initial investigation lasted approximately 4 weeks. It involved the Elders, Trustees, and support from external accountability. After receiving evidence from one of the individuals we concluded that there was sufficient truth in the allegations. Resolutions were soon agreed upon. There were 5 resolutions, one of which included the need for Elijah to step down for a minimum of a year with immediate effect. This was to allow for a further professional investigation into this situation and any other potential cases of abuse. The results of the professional investigation would then help determine permanent resolutions and the future of the Church. We agreed for a Church statement on the investigations and resolutions to be released on April 25th. I was however informed that the public statement would be delayed due to the finalization of some internal logistics, but was to be released on May 9th. However, this was then expedited and the statement was released on Thursday 29th April due to several allegations against Elijah and members of leadership becoming public.
Another investigation was taking place at the same time, involving someone else who had allegations against Elijah. The Elders and I were not involved in this specific investigation as the allegations were brought directly to external ministers, who then subsequently conducted the investigation. The external parties concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. When this was reported to the Elders and Trustees, we expressed that though we would adopt their resolutions, we would still need the professional independent investigators to look into the matter, due to the nature of the allegations being extremely similar to the case we were already dealing with. I was told that the person with the allegations was informed of this, however I was not in attendance at the particular meeting.
There will be (and there have been) inevitable questions, on what the leaders did to prevent this. On whether we were all oblivious to the hurt of individuals. For around 5 years, I’ve been one of the key leaders, as some of you reading may be aware. I’ve been head of the Bible School/Department of Education and an Elder over the young adults (18–25s) and later Youth and Children as well. I will now be speaking on behalf of myself from henceforth.
The structure of the leadership in the Church so far has been in the following order;
Elijah → Elders →Ministers
I was first invited to be an Elder on February 5th 2016. My duties evolved from being over students into being over young adults, and later I also started leading our Bible School. During my time as an Elder, there were cultures that I witnessed that I did not agree with and challenged by raising these issues directly with Elijah. Members of the congregation and staff in the Church have approached myself and other leaders concerning issues they have had with Elijah and his personality and character. These included domineering behaviour, yelling at staff, gossiping, etc. However, I had never been approached about anything sexual-related, until the recent allegations.
I will be honest in saying that I have seen people hurt by some of the things that Elijah has at times done or said. People have left the Church due to this. Anyone who has stayed in Qadosh long enough would have seen this. However, this was not ignored by myself or other Elders. We consistently approached him directly (informally) about this, and when we felt that things were not being addressed sufficiently, in January 2020 the Elders decided a formal meeting was needed. There was not a formal avenue for us to raise such concerns in Qadosh at the time, and so we decided to try and create it ourselves.
In January 2020, after being very frustrated by what we had deemed as a lack of change concerning many issues concerning Elijah’s character and the way the Church was functioning, we planned a formal meeting, with the aim to request a meeting with Elijah where we would lay everything out on the table.
We had this meeting on January 31st 2020, where we strongly shared concerns about his behavior and conduct and how we had seen it impact members of the congregation and staff (both current and former). We went over a lot over many hours, and we were very honest and explicit that we were expecting there to be change and in the absence of that, we would not be willing to be ordained (we had been appointed but we were still technically ‘in training’).
It was a thorough meeting, with many grievances discussed. We asked for many things, with one of the key things being the need for new policies to be established in the Church including for safeguarding and for when people had any sort of issue with leadership. Not just with Elijah but ourselves too. It wasn’t clear what people ought to do when they had issues with leadership. We went back and forth, and the meeting included agreements and disagreements, but by the end of it, we were told that there would be reflection on what was said and that we would be given an official response. Was there change following the meeting? Some. Was it sufficient? No.
Months after the formal meeting was held, we were all told that we were no longer allowed to address concerns as a collective anymore. Rather, we were instructed that any issues we had, we were to address them with him 1:1. This was something I disagreed with as it felt like a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, however, we had no option but to agree due to the leadership structure.
The formal response was sent to us on May 15th 2020. In it, there was the inclusion of many proposed resolutions to make things better. However, a lot of it ended up not being actualized. Below is a key screenshot that relates to what is happening now.
This wasn’t a culture where leaders were oblivious to what was wrong and ignored it. It was a culture where we knew a lot was wrong, but though we tried to address it, the system did not allow us to be effective in doing so.
This lack of internal accountability and an establishment of effective policies has unfortunately contributed to the situation we now face.
The End of the Matter
Following the conclusion of the recent investigation, I sent in my resignation letter to the Trustees on April 22nd, informing them that I was leaving the Church and vacating all of my positions. My hope was to have a handover period until the end of June.
However, on April 29th, I sent a follow-up email making it clear that I was expediting my resignation and that I was stepping down from all things concerning the investigation with immediate effect. This was because though I believe (and still believe) that I and the leadership team share the same heart for justice, I had different ideas on how I believed some things should have been and should be taken forward. For example, what communication with the Church ought to look like.
During my time in leadership, I have tried to confront things that I did not believe were right. At times this was accommodated and listened to. That must be said. Other times, it was not well received and either ignored or excuses were made. Following the recent situations where it became clear that despite the formal and informal meetings we had with Elijah, there wasn’t sufficient change, I knew I had to leave.
Another one of the key issues and reasons I left, was the leadership structure. Doctrinally, I no longer believe in a structure with one man on top, and Elders below. I don’t think that allows for efficient accountability. I firmly believe now in the Plurality of Elders leadership system, and I believe that there is sufficient evidence in the Bible for this system. It is hard to keep someone accountable when everyone else is below them in the structure. Ecclesiology is important and must be questioned. It is a weird thing to live in a world where Presidents can be impeached if they do wrong, but there are Churches where Pastors can stay in position if they do the same. As part of the current ongoing process, I believe the accountability structure of Qadosh is being reviewed, and I pray that effective change happens.
Being a part of Qadosh and under Elijah for the past 8 years (almost a 3rd of my life) has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me become the man that I am. However, I can’t deny that I have experienced hurt, and witnessed people being hurt. I have tried to challenge things that were wrong, but where I have not challenged enough, I take full responsibility and sincerely apologise. I tried to challenge things, but became demotivated when after consistent challenging I saw no change or felt like leadership was being stifled. I hold many regrets because of this.
I’m praying for anyone who has any allegations against Elijah and any other leader (even if that includes myself). Though I am no longer in leadership in Qadosh and can no longer speak on the internal process, I believe that there are still plans for an independent party to examine the Church structure and the allegations, and when that is announced, I ask that people do come forward. If that is not satisfactory, anyone with any allegation has a right to go to the relevant authorities.
My wife and I have recently found a Church that we believe could be our new home, and we are currently visiting.
This is one of the most painful seasons I have experienced in my life, as it is for many who have been members of Qadosh, and I am going to take a bit of time off social media to heal, process and be with my loved ones. Nevertheless, my wife and I are trusting in God’s grace for our future and for him to lead us. I believe when one has experienced a bad experience in Church, God uses good experiences for healing. I believe I’ve already started experiencing that in the Church I am visiting.
Though it is hard, I ask those who have been affected by things to please not give up on God’s Church. Though you may have had an awful experience and it seems there are constant scandals being announced, there are humble leaders willing to wash your feet and serve you as Christ intended. They exist. There is still hope.
I apologize to anyone who was hurt during their time in Qadosh. Anyone who has had a bad experience, that could’ve been avoided. I am no longer an Elder or Pastor, but if God ever allows me to become one again, I pray I am able to serve His sheep more wisely and faithfully in a Church that does right and that I believe in.