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The NEC Reports

'The Presidents Blog'

SNU President Minister David Bruton

NEC Meeting - Friday 11th April to Sunday 13th April 2014


The President's Blog was established with the aim of keeping members fully updated about the work of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and developments which affect the Union and the wider movement.

Much of the work of the NEC is by its very nature confidential but every effort will be made to keep members up to date where appropriate.



Chief Administrative Officer

The National Executive Committee are pleased to announce the appointment of Shirley McGee to the position of Chief Administration Officer. Shirley took up her post on 31st March and is based at Redwoods. Her background is the law and until recently she worked for a top international firm of lawyers based in the City of London and has a BA Honours degree in the humanities and the classics. Shirley’s role is to work closely with the General Secretary and learn his role, providing support and assistance both for the General Secretary and members of the NEC. She will attend NEC, Finance and General Purposes Committee meetings and will help to provide a closer and stronger link between the NEC and Redwoods. One behalf of the NEC I would like to welcome Shirley to the Spiritualists’ National Union and we all look forward to working with her to support the development of the organisation in the future.


General Secretary

On Wednesday 16th April the General Secretary will celebrate his 70th birthday and during our meeting the NEC made a presentation of an Ipad and a birthday cake and card to Charles. I am sure all members will join me in wishing Charles a very happy birthday.


Consultative Conference 2014

This new event was held on 8th March at AFC Stafford and proved to be a success, with over 80 people in attendance representing Churches from all over the country. The range of debates covered many areas close to the hearts of Spiritualists, which included healing, Interfaith, the Youth Ambassador, topical issues and much more. There is a link from the website home page to some resources from the meeting, which include session recordings and presentations made. It was requested that this become a more permanent fixture in our annual calendar with a view to strengthening the bonds within the movement and allowing members to discuss and debate current issues outside the normal business meeting of the AGM. With this in mind two dates were provisionally set for 2015, 4th April or 9th May; it was agreed that the Conference would also be held in the opposite end of the country to the AGM, so, as next year the AGM will be held in the North, the Consultative Conference will be held in the South. Stansted Hall is currently under consideration as a possible venue but members' views will be sought at the AGM in July as to the final date and venue.


Blue-Sky Meeting

The NEC held a blue-sky meeting on Monday 17th February 2014 to discuss the strategic direction of the Union moving forward and further develop the 'One Union' Action Plan.

The following items were raised from the meeting:-

  • The service held to celebrate the appointment of a new Officiant will be known as the ‘Officiant Ceremony’ to differentiate it from the Ordination of Ministers. This was agreed.

  • It was proposed to rename the scheme of supervision for Churches and replace it with ‘Support for Churches’. Supervisors will now be known as ‘Support Officers’ and a national training day will be provided later in the year to provide the Support Officers with clearer guidelines for their role and the necessary training to deliver more effective help and support to the Churches.

  • It is also hoped to provide greater training and resources to help Church Committees and people who are interested in joining a Church Committee in the future.

  • Key performance indicators were discussed and agreed for the new PR company.

  • Introduction of SNUy - The Youth Ambassador will be consulted on the introduction of SNUy, which will be a version of SNUi targeted at young people, this with a view to producing a feasibility study prior to future planning.

  • The establishment of Circle Link was discussed to help and support both established and new circles for development throughout the country.
  • The 'Arthur Findlay Brand’ - The development of the Arthur Findlay College Brand was discussed, with the possibility of rebadging some course notes for the external markets; this was referred to the Principal for further consideration.

  • Spiritualists' Wordmark - It was felt that ‘The Spiritualists National Union‘ needed to be reviewed for the 21st century, as for many outside the movement the word ‘Union’ sent the wrong message and clearly we were now much more than a national organisation. This discussion is ongoing and the views of members will also be canvassed at the appropriate juncture.

  • Testimonials - Members were to be encouraged to prepare testimonials both for inclusion in SNU Today and also for use with the PR Company as part of raising the profile of Spiritualism within the media.

  • Lyceum - the Future? The Central Committee have been invited to produce a presentation at the next Council meeting looking at the future of the Lyceum and the challenges which lie ahead in developing the organisation and making it appropriate for the 21st century.

  • Issues were discussed around parents nurturing their children and what support we could provide to parents whose child sees or senses spirit; this matter was referred to the Philosophy & Ethics Committee with a view to producing an appropriate leaflet.

  • Extending CPD (Continuous Personal Development) to the Ministry and Training & Awards was discussed and referred to the relevant committees.

  • Accreditation, setting the standards and the development of MediumSure were also discussed and it was agreed that following the 2014 AGM a meeting would be held for all Standing Committees and sub-committees with a view to setting goals and creating continuity throughout the Union for the coming year.


PR Agency

Work is well underway on a number of fronts with the newly-appointed PR agency, PR Prohibition; a working programme for the next six months has been agreed, together with key performance indicators allowing us to measure and review performance. Several press releases have been issued and media interviews arranged with regional press and radio. Work to promote the new Curriculum pack, which is currently being posted out to schools within the RE press, is also underway. Key messages are agreed and work in this area will lead up to the Peace Walk to be held in July at the National Memorial Arboretum. A questionnaire is also in preparation which will seek to elicit the views of the general public about religion in general and Spiritualism; this will then be used as a tool to generate media coverage.


World Congress

Plans and preparations for the World Congress are well underway; a specially designed banner to promote the SNU is being manufactured in the USA to reduce shipping costs.

The following key subjects are to be proposed for debate during the Congress:-

  • Establishment of a World Council for Spiritualism.

  • The creation of a universally agreed set of Principles; this will not affect those used by member organisations in their home country.

  • Establishment of a World Peace Day.

  • The need to focus the Council on philosophy, not necessarily phenomena.

  • Delegates to discuss how we can best unite Spiritualists around the world.

There will be three keynote speakers for the Congress, one of whom will be the President of the Spiritualists' National Union


A service will be held on the Friday, with Minister Brian Robertson from Canada as the speaker; the NSAC will provide the Chairman and an NSAC medium and Mavis Pittilla OSNU will conduct a demonstration.

A Candlelight Service will also be held during the Congress and on the Saturday morning trees will be planted on behalf of the various organisations taking part at the Fox Cottage. The foundations of the Fox Cottage will also be uncovered for the laying of ceremonial wreaths.


Open Week

Preparations are well underway for Open Week at the Arthur Findlay College, which will take place between 3rd and 7th May. The event this year will have a very different feel and on Wednesday 7th the SNU will host a Church Committee Day. Invitations have gone out to all Churches inviting two Committee members and a guest to attend. The subjects will include the change to charitable status, a focus on Church buildings, Accreditation presentation and the usual Question and Answer session, which always proves popular.

For details of Open Week visit the AFC Website:


Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship

Applications have now closed for this year's scheme and successful applicants will be contacted shortly to arrange the assessment day, which is scheduled to take place in May.


Membership Services Centre

Three members of staff are now based full-time in the new centre and the NEC would like to welcome Siobhan Harvey, who joined the team on 18th March. Siobhan has taken over the processing of Education and Training & Awards and is also supporting the processing of Healing renewals which were due from 1st April. The old healing database from Otley has now been fully incorporated into the main SNU database after a considerable amount of work by our IT Chairman to render the data fit for purpose and renewals are well underway.

Healers should be aware that we have confirmed with Balens, the insurers, that healers are able to continue healing in the Churches pending receipt of their new cards, provided, of course, that they have posted their renewal form.


Estate Signage

Work will commence on 17th April to replace all existing signage on the Stansted estate in time for Open Week; this will include a new-style logo in the Sanctuary and new signing at Redwoods Reception.



Work is well underway on the 2013 audit and a new insurance policy for Churches without their own building has finally been negotiated with Mercury Insurance (formerly Glen Insurance).

It is agreed that all the Union's policy documents will now be produced in a hard-copy format and, in addition, copies will be maintained and updated electronically, with an annual review of these taking place at the first NEC meeting following the AGM. Where appropriate, the main SNU policy documents will be adapted and provided for Churches via the new Church Trustees Handbook, which is currently under construction.


AFC Stansted Hall

Work has now been completed on the Annex refurbishment and it has been agreed to redecorate and provide a new carpet for the Pioneer Centre ahead of Open Week. The 2015 programme is all but complete and selling well.


AFC Stafford

Several rooms have been remodelled and redecorated and further plans are in place to redecorate the Church, corridors and toilets. Planning permission has been agreed for the new Conservatory and it is hoped that construction will start shortly. The 2014 hard-copy programme has now been published and is available either on-line or in hard copy from the Centre and work is well underway for the 2015 programme.


Ministers Administration Committee

The NEC were pleased to acknowledge the Ordination of Alan Rawnsley on 22nd February and Jennifer Peacock on 22nd March.

In addition, the following Officiants held their Services of Acceptance; Kitty Woud on 15th March, Ashley George on 9th February, Dorne Hall on 8th February and Christine Gregson-Sharpe on 12th January. This service was conducted by Minister Steven Upton via Skype, as Christine lives in Australia; the service was a great success and marks another first for the SNU. Congratulations are extended to all these new members of the Spiritualist Ministry.

Contact MAC Email:


Biannual review

The biannual Review forms have now been sent to all Ministers and Officiants with the new edition of MAC News.


Same-Sex Marriage

The new procedure for Churches to register has been confirmed and is available from Redwoods, together with the new format of service which will be needed; this will also be sent out in the May circulation to Churches.


Updated Services CD 2014

The new Official Services CD is now available from the Members Service Centre at Redwoods.


Church Presidents' Training

The next session of training for Church Presidents will take place on 12th July; any Church President interested should contact the secretary of the Ministers Administration Committee.


Thought for the Week

This has now been established on the Spiritualists’ National Union Facebook page and is published each Monday morning; why not visit the site and 'like' the thought to share it with your Facebook friends?


SNU Almoner

Minister Marian Bishop is now well established in her new role as Almoner and has already established a wide network of contacts with a view to providing help and support to Spiritualists around the world. If you would like to contact her the details are below:-

Contact details for Marian
21 Sandgate Road
Tel: 0117 977 1629



A request from the Interfaith Ambassador to provide resources for use at Interfaith events was agreed; a kit will be prepared and, once agreed, will be available from both Redwoods and the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford. This will include leaflets, a dedicated banner and other appropriate resources; additional kits will be produced depending on the demand. Any Church needing support with Interfaith should contact the Interfaith Ambassador, Minister David Hopkins.



A range of seasonal cards will be produced for sale by the SNU, drawing on work from Tim Smith, Alan Stuttle and Stella Upton; these will be available on sale at the AGM.


The booklet, ‘Introduction to Spiritualism’, is now available and will be on sale at Open Week, specially priced at 2.50; copies have been sent free of charge to all Churches and District Councils.

A new version of the logo and a light-box version have also been commissioned for Churches and it is hoped to have this available shortly; for further details contact Redwoods. Work is also underway to provide a new Seven Principles poster for use in Churches.


Retirement Membership Proposal

Concern was expressed that many people who have served the Union and the wider movement over many years often get forgotten or lost in the system, including many award-holders who perhaps owing to age or illness are unable to keep up their membership. Much work is already done through both the Almoner and the Fund of Benevolence; however, the NEC are considering introducing a scheme where members become ‘retired’, which allows us to retain a contact and reassure members that they have not been forgotten.


Pioneer Centres

The latest Pioneer Centre at Yapton and Barnham was dedicated by the President on Monday 14th April.

Dedications and Celebrations


The new building at Aberkenfig was dedicated by the President on Sunday 6th April and the 100th Anniversary Service for Leigh Temple will be celebrated on Friday 18th April.


IT Committee

It is hoped to launch the new E-flets on the main SNU website in April; this provides an electronic version of the SNU suite of leaflets, which will also be available to use with tablets and smartphones.


The sales of E-books are also developing nicely across all platforms and work is underway to launch 'The University of Spiritualism' by Harry Boddington as an E-book.


Plans are progressing for the installation of the new fibre-optic line into Redwoods, which will dramatically increase all of our digital bandwidth and help to support the vital work of head office on the communications front.

Following a request from the PR company we are installing Google Analytics, which will enable statistical gathering on key areas of the website; this will help support development of the website and focus our limited resources.


500 Club

Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Claire Shores at the Members Service Centre. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.

Have your say
As part of an ongoing policy of openness the NEC would welcome your views; please feel free to email your comments to me at

Thought for the Day -
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill


- Minister David Bruton



If you have any question for the SNU President please email: