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The NEC Reports

'The Presidents Blog'

SNU President Minister David Bruton

NEC Meeting - Friday 05th December to Sunday 07th December 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.

 

 

Changing legislation for the rating of Church property
The Union is currently working in conjunction with one of our affiliated Churches to challenge the decision of the local Rating Office which has declared that parts of the Church property are now subject to business rates following changes to legislation in November 2014.
Basically, charitable registration affords the Church an 80% exemption from business rates and registration as a place of worship affords an additional 20% exemption, subject to discussion with the Local Authority, which all Churches should aim for.
The Union will defend this individual case strongly but we counsel all Churches to ensure they are registered as a place of worship and should they be contacted either by their local council or a representative from the Rating Office they should contact Head Office without delay.

 

Physical Mediumship Protocol
It has been agreed by the NEC to issue a protocol for the conduct of physical sťances at both the Arthur Findlay College and the Arthur Findlay Centre; this will take effect from 1st January 2015 and is aimed at protecting the reputation of the Union, the College, the Centre and the medium conducting these activities.

 

Protocol for Physical Sťances at the Arthur Findlay College and Arthur Findlay Centre

 

The purpose of this policy is to protect the reputation of both the Arthur Findlay College and the Arthur Findlay Centre, and tutors working at these establishments. Most importantly, it is also to safeguard the wellbeing of any mediums working with physical mediumship within both the College and the Centre. In compiling this important protocol we received guidance from the spirit world, as we recognise that no two mediums' abilities function in the same way.

 

  1. In principle there should be no sťances held in total darkness. Subdued lighting, including coloured lights or natural light, is preferable at all times. If there is to be consideration given to ‘dark sťances’, then the following is required:-
    (a) They must be filmed with infrared cameras. It would be invaluable if the AFC invested in a video system that uses multiple cameras that could be linked not only to a recording device but also to a monitor outside the sťance room.
    (b) Night-vision viewers are made available to watch events live during the sťance and so have independent witnesses acting on behalf of those present. With these conditions in use there would be no need to secure a medium to the chair with cable ties.
    Cabinets are of course permitted to be used but should be searched by independent sitters prior to the sťance commencing. Trumpets and planchettes may also be used if requested by the spirit operatives. Sometimes percussion instruments may be utilised in the sťance and small lightweight balls; all requests for equipment by the spirit operatives should be considered if sensible and appropriate.
  2. All physical mediums should be assessed under test conditions before being allowed to work at AFC and a register of approved physical mediums is kept, just as for all College tutors.
  3. Rooms where physical sťances are to be held should be prepared correctly. It is essential that the room has a good clean if ectoplasm is being produced. All clutter is to be removed and as much metal as possible, as this depletes the energies being used. It is known that soft furnishing used to disintegrate over time in rooms used for physical sťances, thus showing that everything in the room affects the conditions.
  4. Sound is always important in a physical sťance. Silence does not provide the right energy for physical mediumship. It is important to have vocal responses from the sitters about what they are experiencing or what they are not experiencing, so that these can be compared. We must remember that physical mediumship is witnessed by all present through the physical senses, therefore all should be perceiving the same thing at the same time. Music can be a great help in building the energy but should not be so loud that it is distressing to the sitters and is not required to be played throughout the sťance.
  5. No sitters may bring into the room any type of telephone, camera or recording device.
  6. Entry and exit to and from the room should be monitored at all times, as someone entering or leaving without permission can have detrimental effects on the medium.
  7. Finally, it must be remembered that a physical sťance is not an entertainment or a fun show but provides the opportunity for the intelligent minds of those in the spirit world to provide evidence of their survival in some quite amazing ways.
  8. The medium or chairperson at a sťance must give a pre-sťance briefing to the sitters with details of what can and can’t be done during the sťance, tailored to the individual medium who is working during the sťance. All Course Organisers including physical mediumship in their programme and tutors presenting physical mediumship must sign an agreement to accept the protocol, facilitated by the addition of a section at the end of the protocol document to include name, signature and date.

 

Meet the NEC 2015
Invitations have been sent to all District Council Presidents to hold a day during 2015 which will afford members of the District a chance to meet with representatives of the NEC.

 

The timetable will be as follows:
Morning : DC Executive meet with the NEC.

 

Afternoon: Churches and members of the DC meet with representatives of the NEC.

 

Evening: A fund-raising activity to promote ‘Spirit in Action’. This will not be the usual demonstration of mediumship.

 

All funds raised will be allocated to the District to support the ‘2018 - Our Big Year Initiative’.

 

To date the NEC has agreed the following events:
17th January 2015 - West Midlands District - AFC Stafford
8th August - Northern District - venue to be arranged
5th September - South Western District - venue to be arranged
26th September - North Yorkshire District - venue to be arranged
Dates for the Scottish District are under consideration.

 

The Communications Director has designed posters and leaflets which will be customised for each event and provided to the District Council to support the promotion and marketing of the events.

 

Three representatives from the NEC will attend each event and all accommodation and travel costs will be met by the Union.

 

Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship
The Scholarship currently has seven students from the first two intakes. The NEC has agreed to make the application process for the scholarship a biennial event, so the next intake will be in December 2015; application forms will be available as usual from the website.

 

Overhaul of the Memorandum and Articles
The working party tasked to look at this project will meet for the first time on 17th December 2014; the working party will be chaired by Minister Judith Seaman, and Robert Meakin, the Senior Partner at Stone King, the Union's solicitors, will be in attendance. Robert is a former Charity Commissioner, so his advice will be crucial as we embark on this project.

 

Conflict of Interest Policy
The Finance Committee has drafted a Conflict of Interest policy for use in the Churches with a view to supporting Committees; this will be available on the website or from Redwoods.

 

A new Minister
The NEC wishes to congratulate Janette Cookson from the Manchester District Council, who was ordained on 22nd November at Salford Religious Centre; we wish Janette well in her new role.

 

Arthur Findlay College
The Arthur Findlay College continues to perform strongly; the College will be closed during January 2015 to enable a major refurbishment to take place which will see a new CCTV system installed, the parquet floor in the Library will be totally refurbished, repairs to the roof in the Sanctuary and the Pioneer Centre and a refitting of the Blue Room cloakroom. Plans to completely refurbish all rooms in the main building are ongoing and plans are underway to upgrade the tutor accommodation, which is long overdue.
The 2015 Programme is selling well and sales are above the same point last year; final preparations are being made to the 2016 Programme, which will be launched in the New Year.

 

Teaching within the Union
A new flowchart has been produced which charts the pathway of teaching within the Union; it will shortly be available on the main SNU website and also the AFC websites.

 

Arthur Findlay Centre
The Centre has now been completely redecorated and new blinds fitted in the conservatory. Work to develop the commercial side of the business continues whilst still providing a range of Spiritualist courses and internal training provision and meetings space for the Union.

 

Guide to Education

This Union publication has been updated and covers the Training & Awards Committee, Education Syllabus, Appointments of the SNU, Platform Accreditation Scheme, SNU Awards and all the documentation required with application and for final assessments.
Work is currently underway to place the foundation courses on to CD to support those with learning difficulties.

 

A new G1 course
The G1 course has been rewritten to bring it up to date and provide future students with a greater insight into administration within the Union.

 

SNUi
SNUi currently has 966 members from 33 countries and is fast approaching the 1,000 members mark. The website provides three services per week for PAS students and in addition the site hosts two divine services every weekend, one for the European time zone and one for the North American.

Plans are well underway for the SNUi PAS week, which will be organised again next year at the Arthur Findlay Centre, to include a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum for the Annual Peace Walk in early July.

 

Spiritualist Healing Day
Resources are being provided to promote the new Spiritualist Healing Day due to take place on the third weekend in January 2015. PR Prohibition are also working to promote this new initiative with local and national media.

 

National Memorial Arboretum
It has been agreed to update our Spiritualists' memorial at the NMA with the new SNU logo. The work has been commissioned from the original stonemason and will be complete, ready for the Peace Walk, which will take place on the first Saturday in July 2015.

 

Church Signage
A leaflet has been produced to promote the newly available external Church signage; this now completes the range of Church resources, together with the new internal logo signs, lightboxes and the new Seven Principles signs, which are all available from Redwoods.

 

Publicity & Promotions Committee
Penny Haywood and Alv Hirst have now visited West Midlands, East London and South Western Districts and Alv provided a presentation for the Council, which has helped increase newsworthy stories from our Churches and Districts which can be used by the PR Company to help promote Spiritualism in the local and national media. It is hoped during 2015 to visit more Districts with a view to encouraging Churches to engage with PPC in promoting events in their Churches. Any District that would like a visit should contact the PPC Committee.

The Youth Ambassador is also currently working on a research project with Dr Mandy Nelson, an Individual Member, to produce a survey to focus on the needs of people and their reaction to Spiritualism. This will be launched shortly via the Smart Survey platform with the aim of capturing 1,500 responses per month for the next three months with questions aimed at younger people, thus providing a statistically viable and robust set of data which we can use to develop the work of the Youth Ambassador and the Union.

PR Prohibition continue to work to promote the Union with the local and national media. Many articles and case studies have appeared in newspapers and magazines and the President recently took part in a discussion programme, 'Beyond Belief', for BBC Radio Four, which is available on the BBC I-player.

 

Pembroke Dock
The Union is pleased to announce that following its closure in October Pembroke Dock Church in South Wales is due to reopen before Christmas. We wish the new team at the Church our good wishes to continue flying the flag of National Spiritualism in Wales.

 

Ordinary Member Two - National Survey
Minister Alan Rawnsley is working to develop a survey for all Union Churches to establish ‘The State of the Union’ and identify Churches which might need help or support in the near future. The survey has been piloted in North Yorkshire, with an 84% return to date. It has been agreed to roll the survey out to two more districts before taking the survey nationwide in 2015.

 

Guidelines for Church Support Officers
Alan has drafted a guide to help Church Support Officers develop and understand their role; having been agreed by the NEC, this will now go to the Print Technician for finishing prior to issue to all CSOs in the New Year. A new template for the CSO’s report will also be provided electronically, which allows data fields to expand to reflect the necessary information needed by the Union.

 

Science in Spiritualism
The next Science Weekend has been arranged at the Arthur Findlay Centre from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd February 2015.
The three-day course aims to apply current experimentation methodology to the phenomena of mediumship and healing today and will include work with Ganzfeld, RV, BEMs, EDA, psychophysiology and parapsychology.

Students will be actively encouraged to take part in the research and record their findings in this fascinating field where science meets Spiritualism.

The course organiser is Minister David Bruton and we will welcome back to Stafford Chris Connelly MSc, CSNU and the team from Northampton University led by Professor Chris Roe, David Saunders MSc and Rachel Evenden MSc.

Places are limited and to book you should contact the Arthur Findlay Centre. 01785 615513

 

Minimum Schedule of Insurance for Churches
A new minimum schedule of insurance has been agreed by the NEC and following consultation with our brokers this must include £100,000 Trustees Indemnity Cover as required by the Charity Commission.

The Schedule will be issued shortly and will replace the current schedule issued in the Treasurer's Manual.

Many of our Churches insured with Ecclesiastical are now being required to have an asbestos survey, full electrical survey, PAT Testing, Health and Safety Policy and Safeguarding Policy; Churches which fail to provide these documents are facing large increases in premium or refusal to renew. Churches are recommended to check the insurers' requirements and the criteria for renewal well in advance of the renewal date to avoid facing last-minute problems and the prospect of having to close the Church should cover be refused.

Every SNU Church was issued with a copy of the Safeguarding policy by the Union in 2012 and a revised version of this policy will be issued in 2015 to reflect changes in legislation. Any Church which becomes aware that it has a Registered Sex Offender in attendance should contact the National Safeguarding Officer for immediate advice. Contact Redwoods for the dedicated telephone number.

 

Interfaith Service
The SNU marked Interfaith Week this year with a special service held in the Sanctuary at the Arthur Findlay College, which reflected words, music and prayer from a variety of faith groups; a representative of the National Interfaith Organisation was in attendance. It was disappointing that despite invitations going to every faith group in the Stansted and Bishop Stortford area no representatives from other religions were in attendance to share this special service but this illustrates that there is still much work to do to build a dialogue with other faiths.

 

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.

 

Next NEC Meeting
The next meeting of the NEC will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th February 2015. The next Council meeting will take place at Attercliffe Church, Sheffield on Saturday 7th February 2015. The Church will organise an evening event on Friday 6th to allow visitors to meet with the Council and Officers prior to the meeting. Further details will be published shortly.

 

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: president@snu.org.uk

 

 

Thought for the day:

 “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.””

-Chinese Proverb

 

 

  - Minister David Bruton

 

Q&A's

If you have any question for the SNU President please email:
president@snu.org.uk