Court hears secret recording made by former Gloriavale leader

Ryan Boswell
Source: 1News

A former Gloriavale leader was accused of "following the spirit of the devil" when raising concerns about sexual offending.


Zion Pilgrim is giving evidence at the Employment Court, which is deciding whether women commune members are employees or volunteers.

He was a servant and managing a number of Gloriavale companies when he drafted a letter to the leadership team about a police investigation into abuse.

Pilgrim said Operation Minneapolis revealed sexual offending had been taking place, and so he wrote a "heartfelt plea" with ideas for positive change.

The court heard a recording that Zion Pilgrim made during a meeting with his wife and son, and the leadership team.

Overseeing shepherd Howard Temple rejected the letter, and said the family could only stay at Gloriavale if they went back on everything they'd written.

He said Pilgrim would lose his positions of responsibility and would forsake all to be "just one of the men".

In the recording, a man can be heard telling Pilgrim that he had no right to question the leadership or bring anything up.

READ MORE: Brutal work conditions inside Gloriavale laid bare in court

"You won't submit, you won't forsake all, you won't deny yourself.

"You're actually following the spirit of the devil, that's why you can not be here," said one man speaking to Pilgrim.

The meeting lasted two hours before Zion Pilgrim was told that "you've got the truth in certain areas we haven't. It's best you go".

"Even hearing it two years later to the day it's pretty hard, because I know how wrong it is. It's not Christ. It's not Christian," Pilgrim said.