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The NEC Reports

NEC Meeting - Friday 04th to Sunday 06th Decmber 2015


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.



Changes to Committees and Appointments
It is with great regret that I have to inform you of the resignation of Tim Smith CSNU as Communications Director. Tim has played such an important part in upgrading the presentation of the Union and the way it seeks to communicate with its members and the world at large; his contribution has been considerable and I would like to put on record the thanks of the whole NEC for Tim’s work over the last four years. It has been agreed that Tim will continue to support the Union as a consultant; Tim feels he needs to take some time out and step into the background for a while and the NEC supports him fully in this decision.

It has been agreed that Tim will be replaced as Communications Director by Alv Hirst; Alv joined the NEC last July and has worked closely with Tim and Penny Haywood as part of his role on the Publicity & Promotions Committee.

The NEC have agreed to defer the appointment of a replacement for Alv as Ordinary Member 2 until the New Year; Alv will continue to work on some of his key projects to ensure continuity as part of his former role as OM2 until his replacement is appointed. I give Alv our best wishes in his new role.

Memorandum and Articles
The document detailing all the proposed changes to the Memorandum and Articles was posted out to members and Churches last month. Members are reminded that a Consultative Conference will be held at the Arthur Findlay Centre on Saturday 20th February 2016 and this will give everybody the opportunity to discuss the document and the impact the changes will have on the Union going forward. Following the Conference the Union will draft the necessary motions for consideration at the 2016 AGM. This document is crucial to our future in a modern world and every effort has been and will be made to effectively communicate the importance of these changes to the membership. A circulation with details and notice of the meeting will be sent out in January 2016.

The Annual General Meeting
It was recognised that we needed to change the way we present the AGM; this is often the one time each year we meet together as Spiritualists from all parts of the country. Consideration is to be given to holding a separate business meeting to meet the demands of the SNU as a company and then re-format the remaining time to activities more appropriate to our religion. No change will be made without consultation with the membership and the earliest this is likely to see changes made is 2017.

Yearbook 2016
The NEC is aware that we live in an increasingly technological world and many of us use tablets and smartphones as part of everyday life. To support our members the Yearbook section with information about the Union's Districts, Churches, the Ministry and Award-holders will now be provided in an electronic form which can be downloaded from the website so that you can have all this valuable information at your fingertips without the need to carry your diary around.

The Ministry
The new course, entitled 'Pastoral Care Course', has now been completed and is ready for issue to new students. The course cost will be in line with all other SNU course notes and it may be purchased from Head Office. Following the agreement to remove G2 as a requirement for appointment as a Minister the Pastoral Course now replaces G2 for all new Ministers either currently in training or coming into training.

It is also agreed that all trainee Officiants undertaking Course MD1 will in future be tutored by their training Minister.

A Service of Acceptance will take place on 9th January at Fleetwood Church for Helen Taylor and the NEC would like to extend its congratulations to Helen as she embarks upon her new role.

A report was received from both the Ministers Congress and the Council of Ministers, which took place at Huddersfield Church in October.

The promotion of God in our religion was discussed and the Ministers Administration Committee has agreed to look at devising new services to include a service of devotion, with its focus on the Fatherhood of God, a Thanksgiving Service, also focused on God, and a Union of Churches Service aimed at bringing the Churches together for the act of worship.

The Continuous Personal and Professional Development course (CPPD), which was delivered during 2015, was discussed and many members of the Ministry commented what a positive experience this had proved to be. Most Ministers and Officiants have completed this requirement and the Ministers Seminary to be held in March 2016 is now fully booked. Consideration is to be given to holding a further seminary event in the autumn following the March event.

Consideration was given to extending the Ministry by creating a lay aspect which would include Healers working in the community. This matter was referred to MAC for further consideration.

MAC are asked to investigate the production of a short DVD to promote the work of the Ministry which could be shown at DC Meetings both to help educate the Churches about the Ministry and to help with future recruitment. The work of the Ministry is growing; we are now visiting 38 prisons and this is placing extra demands on the small team of dedicated people who are working in this way.

Minister Marian Bishop continues to do some sterling work and her network of friends now extends around the world and continues to grow, allowing the power of healing to touch the lives of many through healing thoughts and prayers.
The passing of the following members was reflected during the meeting:

Mr Arthur Eastman — South Western DC

Mr Len Lobban — Scottish & Irish DC

Minister Rose Percy — East Midlands DC

Minister Eric Hatton — West Midlands DC

Mr Ray Kirk — Manchester DC

It was also reported that the President had joined many other friends at the 100th birthday celebration of Minister Dorothy Hudson from the West Midlands and the first of the new Diamond Service Awards was presented to Dorothy for her service to the movement over sixty years.
Minister Eric Hatton, Honorary President Following the passing to spirit of Minister Eric Hatton the Officers of the Union and other members of the NEC joined some 350 people at Stourbridge Church to celebrate the life of a man who has made a considerable contribution to Spiritualism and the wider movement over the last 70 years. Eric will be missed by many people but we send our warmest wishes to him as he begins the next chapter of his life’s story in the spirit world, reunited with his beloved wife, Heather. A memorial service will be organised by the Union in due course.

Interfaith Ambassador
Minister David Hopkins reported that he and the President had attended several meetings throughout the year as part of our membership of the Interfaith Network. It is felt that the Union has made good progress during our first year of membership in helping to raise the profile of Spiritualism within other faith communities and creating a positive dialogue with representatives of different denominations.

The national Interfaith Service took place at Stansted Hall again this year, which was led by the President, with Minister Hopkins, Minister Simone Key and Gordon Smith all taking part. Attendance was better than last year but the NEC still felt we needed to move to engage with other faiths as part of our contribution towards National Interfaith Week.

SNU Survey of Members
A series of questions has been developed by Alv Hirst to reflect the Individual Members' view of the Union and help the NEC to develop its future policy, taking account of the views of the membership. This will be launched electronically in January 2016 but a hardcopy letter will be written to direct members to the Survey Monkey website, which will host the questionnaire.

'My Child Sees Spirit'
A final draft was considered and approved and this publication will be issued shortly in leaflet form.

Our Big Year 2018
As planning progresses for 2018 it was agreed to establish a national calendar of events which would be communicated to all Districts to try to create a structure within which the districts could work to co-ordinate their plans.

PR Prohibition will also collate a list of any events taking place within the Churches to maximise the opportunity to publicise the events on behalf of the Churches.

New Music CD for Churches
We have now received the first draft copy of the music CD and work has begun to work up the new song book to accompany the CD. We plan now to launch this in the spring of 2016.

Church Resources CD
Consideration was given to create a new Church resources CD, which would include authorised logos, letterheads and other useful templates which Churches could make use of.

Church Account Book
The Union has now produced a new version of the Church Account book, which has been updated to reflect the layout of accounts to be returned to the Union. The new book is available to purchase from Head Office from the 10th December.

Toolkit for Churches
The new publication for Churches, which is aimed at providing useful information and guidance, is now complete and will be published and distributed in hard copy to all Churches in February 2016.

Training for Support Officers
It has been agreed to hold another training day for Church Support Officers in the South of England. Once arrangements have been agreed this will be fully promoted to Districts and Support Officers.

Church Questionnaire
65% of all Churches have now returned their forms, which is developing a valuable data set to help the Union target its resources to help support its Churches in a timely and practical manner.

Church Healing Return
The new Healing Return will require details of all lapsed and retired healers and record any healers who have passed to spirit during the year. The intent of this is to help update records of healers held at Head Office.

Trainee Registration Cards
In future Trainee Healers will be required to provide passport-style photos when they register as trainee healers with the SNU.

The Training & Awards Committee plans to meet with all District Healing Representatives in the New Year to enable it to set out some guidance on support for healers.

Code of Conduct and 'Healing and the Law'
These two documents will revert to being one document and will be re-issued.

The Future of Healing
The President, Financial Director and Healing Chairman attended a second meeting with the CHO, BAHA, the Harry Edwards Healing Centre and UK Healers to discuss the future of healing in the UK; the meeting agreed to develop a 'Healing Forum' to create dialogue between the different organisations; a quarterly newsletter will also be produced to facilitate the sharing of news and experience. In addition, information on rogue healers will be shared to avoid a healer been expelled from one organisation and then moving to another. In the long term it was hoped to organise a national meeting which would encourage other organisations to take part. It was strongly felt that we did not need yet another national organisation for healers and we agreed to create a 'friendly forum' which would facilitate further research on healing, create events to raise awareness, with the possibility of a national Healing Day, and to include 'Wellbeing'. A further meeting would be planned in London in March 2016.

Healing Weekend 2016
A new poster and supporting leaflet have been agreed to promote this important date in our calendar and this will be available for Churches to download shortly.

What do you expect when you visit a Spiritualist Church?
This is a new proposed publication targeted at people from the general public who want to understand what they will experience when they visit one of our Churches. Work is underway and it is hoped to publish this in the New Year.

Hiring out of Church Halls
Following changes to Charity Commission guidance the General Purposes Committee will further investigate this important issue with a view to providing extra and up-to-date guidance to help Churches navigate this potentially important revenue stream for the future.

Safeguarding Policy
A new updated version of this important policy document, which reflects the latest CPPAS guidance, will be issued to Churches in the New Year.

Pioneer Centres
The NEC have ratified the new constitution for Pioneer Centres, which will be circulated shortly. This new document introduces the concept of Pioneer Centres allowing people to become members, which is aimed at people being able to play a full part within the Union and not being disenfranchised by not having the same status as Church members.

Church Charity Registration
The registration of 114 Churches has now been accepted by the Charity Commission and 45 Churches have been identified as exempt by virtue of their operating with an income below 5,000.

Arthur Findlay Books
It has been agreed to make the Arthur Findlay trilogy available as E-books in 2016, which follows the successful conversion of 'The University of Spiritualism' and 'The Philosophy of Spiritualism', which are both selling well.

The SNU Personality
OM2 has been working on developing the personality of the SNU, which is considered key to promoting and building membership. The quick response to the Channel Four programme, 'My Psychic Life', meant that the Union was able to speak with a strong voice that was applauded by many people and the statement by the President reached over 60,000 people within 48 hours.

Building on this, plans are underway to launch a new public-facing website and to create a new blog which will include a variety of voices speaking and commenting on Spiritualism; this will include case studies and an opportunity for people to share their own experience of Spiritualism. Promotion on social media will also be expanded and more current affairs comment will promote Spiritualism’s view of the world.

New Web Portal
The work to create new websites for the College, Centre and E-Commerce is complete and all sites are currently being populated; payment gateways have been agreed and established and the new sites will be launched in January.

Meet the NEC
We have now completed 13 District meetings over the last twelve months, which is no mean feat, and each meeting has proved to be informative and a shared learning experience for members of the NEC and the people who attended. The one final outstanding District meeting, the Southern DC, will take place early in the New Year.

Price Bailey, our new auditors
An audit planning meeting has taken place with Price Bailey and our Finance heads of department. As part of their remit Price Bailey have already conducted a VAT review and work will start soon with a view to providing Churches with an electronic solution for Church accounts and an Investment review on behalf of the Union to ensure our range of investment products are best meeting our needs.

Budget Planning
The 2016 budget is nearly complete and a review of the 2015 budget took place at the last Finance Meeting.

Gordon Higginson Scholarship
Applications are arriving for the 2016 intake and it has been agreed to hold an assessment day on Wednesday 20th April 2016 to put the applicants through their paces.

A new Loyalty Scheme for the Arthur Findlay College
‘Findlay’s’ will be launched in January 2016, which will be a card-based scheme to reward regular visitors to the College and to help promote the work of the College.

Meeting with the Local Planning Officer
The General Manger of the Arthur Findlay College has had an in-depth meeting with the local planning officer from Uttlesford District Council to help us to plan further refurbishment of Stansted Hall to ensure we plan our ongoing refurbishment of the building in line with the restrictions of the building's listed status.

Development at the National Memorial Arboretum
It has been agreed to create a plan to add a phase two to our memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum; plans include creating a raised ’mound’ around the memorial, on which we will place 16 stone benches, one for each District and branch. Each bench will have a design to reflect the District. We have consulted the stonemason to agree a design and early talks have taken place between the Union and the Arboretum.

Dementia Awareness
A request has been received from a member of the Ministry to register the SNU as a Dementia Aware Organisation with a view to helping combat this debilitating illness. The NEC agreed to investigate this further.

500 Club
Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes, with a top prize of 500, 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 on 12th, 13th and 14th February 2016. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre on Saturday 6th February 2016.


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:

 Happy Christmas
The NEC wish all members, friends and their families a very Happy Christmas and a spiritually fulfilling New Year.


Thought for the day:

 “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.””

-Mark Twain



  - Minister David Bruton




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