NEWS
20/05/2020 17:35 BST

SPAC Nation: Head Of Controversial Church Steps Down

The Charity Commission says its inquiry into the church is ongoing.

The leader of controversial London church SPAC Nation has stepped down from the helm, it has emerged.

Pastor Tobi Adegboyega has handed the reins to senior pastors Damy Balogun and Samuel Akokhia, who will jointly head up the organisation.

Speaking in a video posted from the church’s Twitter account on Wednesday, Adegboyega said: “Handing over to the next generation is what Africans or churches must now learn. How do we talk about leadership without actually putting people in leadership and let us see their mistakes and how they grow?”

He added: “SPAC Nation is now going to be pastored here in London by Pastor Sam and Pastor Damy. They’ve earned their stripes, they’ve worked hard, they’ve raised fellowship, hundreds of fellowship, and many businesses,” he added.

“I’m handing over a church that started with three people when I was 25 and has grown to over 1,000 people. It grew from the corners of Peckham, when people told me that there’s no way we could grow.” 

HuffPost UK
SPAC Nation church service

The religious leader praised the church’s impact on British society and said: “It grew to thousands of people to the most prominent offices in the UK – it has helped the police, councils and many more.

“So do not let people take advantage. Cheap tabloids will have no relevance until they speak negative because they know that negative news sells.”

It appeared to be a thinly veiled dig at the media following a slew of coverage, which came after an exclusive investigation published by HuffPost UK, detailing alarming allegations around SPAC Nation.”

Though Adegboyega says he is “stepping down” in the clip, he added he is still leading the church: “I’m still leading SPAC Nation, by the way. I have my protégés, my sons, they’re now the faces of it. I will allow [them] to make their decisions – I will allow them to make their mistakes.”

This appears to contradict a press release from the church marked with Tuesday’s date that states the pastor has handed over the leadership role altogether. 

Adegboyega now intends to embark on “more” philanthropic work around the world, according to the release.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police continue to review new criminal allegations relating to individuals associated with SPAC Nation.

Hannah Eachus
Pastor Tobi Adegboyega illustration

The force received the latest reports in February. 

It says the new alleged offences are of a similar nature to allegations of fraud and other offences made against individuals associated with the London-based church last year, as revealed by HuffPost UK.

No criminal investigation was launched into the 2019 allegations and SPAC Nation has always denied any wrongdoing.

The church had said in response to the new allegations that it has thousands of members and could not respond on behalf of individuals, and that police should carry out the review and take whatever measures they deemed fit. Previously, SPAC Nation has distanced itself from the actions of its pastors, saying “a community with hundreds of pastors cannot monitor what each pastor or leader does”.

SPAC Nation has been hailed by politicians as a pioneering church and a beacon of hope for ex-gang members, but has been hit by a slew of serious allegations.

A HuffPost UK investigation revealed in November that it had created the conditions for fraudsters to flourish within its ranks and was failing to act on allegations of some pastors financially exploiting the young people it claims to help.

We were told about shocking evidence of abuse within safe houses set up by pastors in SPAC Nation, supposedly to protect vulnerable youngsters escaping gangs.

Screenshot
Safeguarding concerns have been raised in relation to church members. The incident pictured here was later dismissed as a joke.

The church’s large congregations include vulnerable young people from impoverished areas, and some members told HuffPost UK that pastors had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials, with their fees then handed over to the church’s pastors.

The church previously told HuffPost UK that Adegboyega put a stop to the practice and said “any encouragement to ask anyone to donate blood is not done here. If Pastor Tobi ever addressed anything in line with this, it was to make sure people contribute to their community rightly and not to do so for money.”

In December the Charity Commission launched an investigation into SPAC Nation – which is a registered charity – to probe financial and safeguarding allegations. 

The Charity Commission said its inquiry into the church had not yet concluded.

“It remains our intention to publish the findings of our inquiry upon its conclusion,” a spokesperson said.

HuffPost UK has approached SPAC Nation and Tobi Adegboyega for comment.