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The NEC Reports

'The Presidents Blog'

SNU President Minister David Bruton

NEC Meeting - Friday 13th February to Sunday 15th February 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 Personnel
Following the resignation in December of Chris James CSNU on health grounds, given that nominations have just gone out it was agreed to appoint a replacement for Chris and the NEC is pleased to welcome Minister Steven Upton back to the position of Vice-President (Administrative). Mr Des Collett has also decided to resign on health grounds and a replacement for Des will be announced shortly.

Review of the Constitution
The working party for reviewing the Memorandum and Articles with a view to modernising the document has now met twice and work on a second draft was placed before the NEC during the weekend. It has been agreed to delay bringing it before members until the 2016 AGM to provide time for consultation with the members at various events including 'Meet the NEC'. It is further proposed to provide a Q&A booklet to explain the implications of the proposed changes.
However, as part of the work on the constitution the Union has learned that under new Companies legislation there is now a requirement at law to provide Individual Members with proxy votes. The NEC will introduce this new requirement at the 2015 AGM and an enabling motion will be placed, providing retrospective authority to adopt the new system for voting. Failure to act in this way could leave the Union open to being fined by Companies House.
It is also intended to reintroduce the motion for payment of Trustees following the narrow defeat at last year's AGM and the resulting comments from members in attendance.

At the last meeting of the Council, which was held at Sheffield Attercliffe Church, South Yorkshire, a special forum was held on the Friday evening, with guests from South and North Yorkshire Districts questioning the Officers of the Union and members of the Council. A lively and informative debate lasting two hours was concluded with an excellent buffet and networking opportunity, which was enjoyed by everybody present. This format will be repeated at next year's February Council meeting and invitations were sought from Districts to host the next event. Thanks go to Attercliffe Church for their kind hospitality.
Following an issue raised at the recent Council meeting the NEC have clarified that Church members in AGM can require a meeting to be members-only, excluding visitors, and that the door can be locked, provided that consideration of health and safety issues is taken into account.
It was also reported to the Council meeting that following new food preparation laws effective from December 2014 any Church preparing foods for public consumption must be able to identify the allergens present in any given food item and be equipped to deal with an allergic reaction. Further advice on this subject is available from your local council Food Safety Department.
Again arising from the Council meeting, it was confirmed that all District Councils have a duty to visit all Churches, Kindred Bodies and Pioneer Centres within their district area once in every two years and make a report to the Union of any items of concern. It is hoped to issue a template shortly to facilitate this reporting.

SNU Mileage Rate
Following recent large reductions in the world oil price and advice from our stockbrokers regarding the likely medium-term price of a barrel of oil the Finance Committee has recommended reducing the mileage rate for Union business from 45p per mile to 40p per mile: this was agreed and will become effective from 1st March. The Finance Committee will keep this rate under review. This rate will be applied only to Union business and payments made directly from the Union; it is up to Churches and Districts to agree their own mileage rate for expense purposes.

General Secretary's Retirement
Mr Charles Coulston retires from the position he has held for 35 years as General Secretary on 31st March 2015. A dinner was held in honour of Charles during the NEC weekend and special guests Minister Eric Hatton, Graham Hewitt, Jane Heatley, her partner Michael and Sue Farrow were in attendance. This was a historic moment with Charles and three of the five SNU Presidents he has served with all being together. Minister David Bruton presented Charles with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Union and a rose-gold Rotary watch was presented on behalf of the NEC members and others. Tributes were paid to Charles in addition to the articles featured in the latest edition of SNU Today. On behalf of the NEC and the Union as a whole I wish Charles a long and happy retirement; he has without doubt earned it.

Minister David Bruton, Charles Coulston, Minister Eric Hatton and Minister Judith Seaman

Meet the NEC
Arrangements continue for the proposed 'Meet the NEC' meetings around the country. The format was tried in the West Midlands on 17th January and the day proved to be a great success, with the sum of 280 raised from the evening demonstration to be retained by the District to fund 'Our Big Year' celebrations in 2018.

The confirmed dates stand as:
East London 25th July
West London to be confirmed
East Midlands to be confirmed
Northern 8th August - North Shields Church
Manchester 25th April
North Lancs and Cumbria 15th August
Merseyside and North Wales 21st November
Scottish and Irish 29th August
Southern to be confirmed
South Western 5th September
South Wales 27th June
North Yorkshire 26th September
South Yorkshire 12th September - Sheffield Attercliffe Church

Consultative Conference
The Consultative Conference will take place at Stansted Hall on Saturday 9th May 2015; a draft agenda was circulated in the last circulation and this will be finalised following consultation with members. A day delegate package is available, to include tea and coffee and a cooked lunch for the cost of 15.00. To book this please use the form in your circulation or contact Redwoods.

The research project headed up by Alv Hirst and Dr Mandy Nelson has now completed its work on drafting the questionnaire, which will be issued on-line shortly. It has been agreed to use a web-based platform, which we hope will provide a wide range of responses with a view to creating a robust set of data to help shape the future of the movement.

New Book about Helen Duncan
Paul Gaunt, the SNU Curator, has discovered a manuscript by the former SNU President, John McIndoe, relating to Helen Duncan and the trial in 1944; the NEC has agreed to investigate publishing this book, as it is considered to be of great historical value and was written originally in 1947.

Annual General Meetings 2016 & 2017
Proposals are under consideration from Manchester DC for a hotel complex in Bolton for the 2016 event and proposals are under consideration from the Merseyside and North Wales DC for hotels in Chester and Runcorn. Final proposals will be placed before this year's AGM in the Northern District on 18th and 19th July at the Marriot Hotel, Tyne and Wear.

Charity Registration
Charity registration of SNU Churches is now well underway, with some 60 Churches already registered. Any Church with an income of over 5,000 is required to register by law and any Church which has not already submitted the necessary forms and paperwork to Head Office should contact Redwoods to arrange this. The Union will do all it can to support Churches through the registrations process and the on-line submission of returns, which need to be made on the first anniversary of registration.

Leased Line
Finally, after many months, the new leased line has been installed at Redwoods, providing the office with fibre-optic broadband provision and bandwidth, which will serve to make the Union's data operations fit for the 21st Century.

CPPD for the Ministry
The first of six weekend events has been held at Sheffield Attercliffe Church and proved to be a great success, with 20 Ministers and Officiants in attendance. The next weekend will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre in Stafford on the 14th and 15th March and any members of the Ministry who have not signed up for one of the six venues should contact Janette Cookson, the Secretary of MAC, as soon as possible. The Vice-President (Spiritual) reminded the NEC that this initiative is not planned to be an annual event and all working members of the Ministry are required to attend at least one of the events to be held during the current year. It was subsequently agreed that any members of the Ministry who have failed to return their Ministerial returns issued last year and their questionnaire issued in January this year will have their appointment suspended after the receipt of a final reminder. As a result of the latest questionnaire a database has been established, which will be used by MAC when requests are received for Ministerial assistance.

The Almoner continues to provide help and support to many people through the sending of healing prayers, which are now helping people around the globe. To date six people have taken their transition this year:-
Eric Thomas; Arnold Hutchinson; Edna Jones; Harold Wilson; Adrienne Hadfield DSNU; Ron May CSNU.
The Almoner also reported that a card and flowers were delivered to Minister Mary Clifford on the occasion of her 90th birthday; the NEC also extends its good wishes to Mary on this milestone occasion.
You can contact the Almoner by email:

Minister David Hopkins attended the first Interfaith Network meeting since we joined the organisation late last year. The meeting takes the form of a Forum and meets three times a year to discuss a wide range of Faith issues, often with guest speakers from Government departments, NGOs or allied and related groups. The Forum has co-chairs: a Christian Bishop and a senior member of the Jewish faith.
Minister Hopkins also hopes to attend a meeting in March at the House of Commons again to discuss Interfaith matters in relation to Government policy, so finally our voice is being heard in Government and policy-making circles.

As part of the introduction of the new SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice for Charities) the Union is considering conducting a revaluation of its properties. We have long adopted the view that revaluation is not in the best interests of the charity, as once this has been completed it needs to be repeated every five years, at great expense to the charity. Following the introduction of the new SORP the one-off revaluation is allowed without the need to provide regular revaluations. The Finance Committee will take a view on this following quotations and advice from our accountants, Baker Tilly.
Work continues to develop a crisis management policy for all Union properties. Neither of these proposals will affect affiliated Churches.

Arthur Findlay College
During the closedown in December/January work has been undertaken to redecorate the Library; the large lounge and the parquet floors have also been stripped back and revarnished. The Blue Room toilet has also been totally refurbished. The kitchen has had a new floor laid and the room has been totally decorated and refurbished with a view to maintaining our first-class Food Hygiene rating. The CCTV system has also been extended to all the main rooms with a view to protecting the College and enhancing its security. Plans are also well underway for refurbishing the Sanctuary; it is 15 years since the last makeover and the decoration and equipment are getting very tired. Investigations are underway with the state of the Sanctuary roof and once this is complete, which could involve totally reroofing the building, it is hoped to fully redecorate, recarpet and upgrade the audio-visual equipment, making the Sanctuary fit for purpose for the next 15 years. The equipment for the new Science Laboratory at the Annex has been delivered and it is hoped to launch the lab facilities at the College in March in conjunction with our partners from Northampton University.

Open Week 2015
Work is well underway to promote Open Week at the College in May; this year the theme will be ‘Spirit in Action’. Gordon Smith will be in attendance and it is proposed to hold a charity demonstration with Gordon on the Saturday evening. The programme will be published on the website shortly and the AFC Committee has agreed to maintain the ticket price at 15.00 for another year (12.00 for Church groups of ten or more people).

The NEC has agreed to change 'SNUi tutor' to 'SNUi instructor'; this will shortly be reflected in the PAS Instructors' Handbook. CAAS Since June 2014 20 people have enrolled on CAAS and Linda Walker, the CAAS Co-ordinator, has been in touch with award-holders with a view to becoming CAAS trainers. The planned Tutors' Day and Course Organisers' Day will take place at Stafford on 26th and 27th March. Estimates have been received for providing a CD version of the Basic Course notes and this will be progressed with a view to supporting students with dyslexia; a Tutor specialising in dyslexia will attend the forthcoming Tutors' Day to give a presentation about the condition to provide tutors with support and insight to help students.

Work is underway to produce a children’s version of the 'Introduction to Spiritualism' course; this will be available shortly from the SNU website.

Spiritualists' Day Church Resources Pack (Hydesville Day) 31st March
Full resources are available to download from Quicklinks on the SNU website.

Arboretum Logo upgrade
This has been agreed and will be completed in time for the Peace Service in July.

Spiritualists' Healing Day
The new initiative launched in January proved to be very successful, with many Churches around the country taking part; this served to promote healing within our movement and demonstrate the power of healing in a world which at times is very much in need. Congratulations to the Healing and Promotions Committee for an excellent result.

New Hymn CDs Modern
A selection of 24 songs suitable for use in Spiritualist services will be produced shortly; this project has been under discussion for nearly two years and finally we are moving forward.

Church Signage
The NEC has agreed to task the Communications Committee with launching a competition for Churches with the first prize of new external signage and a makeover to the value of 2,000; a second prize of 1,000 to include signage and a limited makeover will also be offered. It is also agreed to allocate resources to pay the VAT for Churches on the cost of purchasing new external signage from the Union. This fund will be limited on a first come, first served basis and details will be published of both the competition and the VAT scheme shortly.

Ordinary Member 2
Minister Rawnsley continues to work on his survey about the state and condition of our Churches. His pilot in the North Yorkshire DC has now received 100% replies and he has extended the survey to a further two districts, East London and South Western, and the NEC has now agreed to launch the survey document countrywide. Alan has also launched a new document, 'Guidelines for Support Officers', and he is working on a similar document for DC Support Officers.

New Pioneer Centre
The NEC has agreed to sanction the establishment of our latest Pioneer Centre, to be known as the Diss Pioneer Centre, which will meet in Roydon Village Hall, High Road, Diss, Norfolk. The NEC wishes the new Centre every success for the future. Anyone interested in opening a Pioneer Centre should contact Minister Rawnsley at

Stealing from Churches
A press release will be issued shortly following our sad experience with Church officers who steal from their own Church. This highlights the need for proper accounting, bookkeeping and reporting at Church level with a view to protecting the assets of the Church from unscrupulous individuals. The Union repeats its view that it will work closely with any Church that experiences such problems with a view to pursuing the fraudsters through the courts.

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 from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April 2015. The next National Council meeting will take place at Arthur Findlay Centre on Saturday 3rd October 2015.


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:



Thought for the day:

 “Knowing is not enough, we must apply; willing is not enough, we must do””

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe



  - Minister David Bruton



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