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The NEC Reports

'The Presidents Blog'

SNU President Minister David Bruton

NEC Meeting - Friday 31st July to Sunday 02nd August 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.



Annual General Meeting 2015
This year's Conference was held at the Marriott Hotel, Gosforth Park, Newcastle and was hosted by the Northern District Council. This AGM saw the first introduction of proxy voting for all classes of membership, which allowed many people unable to attend the meeting in person to still have a say in the business of the Union.


Elections and Appointments


Members of the NEC 2015/16 and their respective responsibilities under their portfolios
President - Minister David Bruton
Principal of Arthur Findlay College and Centre; Ambassador for the Union.


Vice-President - Minister Judith Seaman (Spiritual)
Ministers Administration Committee; General Purposes Committee; Ministers Congress and Council of Ministers; Philosophy & Ethics; Interfaith Ambassador; Almoner; Ex-officio for the President (Training and Awards).


Vice-President - Minister Steven Upton (Administrative)
Complaints and Appeals; Curator; Head Office; Health and Safety; Information Technology; Safeguarding; Public Relations Officer; Ex-officio for the President (Healing).


Financial Director - Julia Almond OSNU
Finance; Policies and Procedures; Risk Management; Trust Property; Action Plan; RE Council; Ex-officio for the President (Education).


Accreditation - Minister June English
Training & Awards; Healing; Education; SNUi.


Communications -Tim Smith CSNU
Publicity and Promotions; Special Projects.


Ordinary Member 1 - Alan Rawnsley
Church Support and Development; Churches under supervision; Pioneer Centres.


Ordinary Member 2 - Alv Hirst
Youth Ambassador; Membership Development.


Ordinary Member 3 - Vacant


Council Member to the NEC - Danny Goodchild CSNU

The NEC extends a warm welcome to Alv Hirst as Ordinary Member 2 with special responsibility for developing the membership.

Given the importance of supporting our Churches Minister Marian Bishop has been appointed to help and support Minister Alan Rawnsley; Marian will not sit on the NEC.

SNU Sub-Committees 2015/16
Complaints Committee
Chairman - Derek Pipe
Vice-Chairman - Minister Tom Haver
Gillian Grimson (Arbitration)
Russell Fitzpatrick (Misconduct of Affairs)
Laraine Killarney (Mediation)
t.b.a. (Adjudication)
(New) Collegiate Committee (to manage Arthur Findlay College and Centre)
Chairman - Minister Simon Key
Vice-Chairman - Minister David Bruton (Principal)
Secretary - Anne Kelly
Minister Judith Seaman
Minister Steven Upton
Julia Almond OSNU
Sandie Baker CSNU (Tutors Rep.)
Tanya Smith (Arthur Findlay College Manager)
Seamus Davies (Arthur Findlay Centre Manager)

Education Committee
Chairman - Minister Jenny Peacock
Vice-Chairman - Minister Jeanette Cookson
Secretary - Christine Thompson CSNU
Pat Seymour
Jane Barton (consultant)
Minister Brian Robertson (consultant)

Finance Committee
Chairman - Julia Almond OSNU
Vice-Chairman - Minister David Bruton
Secretary - Shirley McGee
Minister Judith Seaman
Minister Steven Upton
Carol Haikney
Graham Hewitt (Trust Property Coordinator)
Anne Daultrey (Finance Manager)
Lesley Gilbey (SNU Trust)

General Purposes Committee
Chairman - Minister Tony Penketh
Vice-Chairman - Minister Judith Seaman
Secretary - Charles Coulston DSNU
Shirley McGee
Derek Pipe
Minister Steven Upton

Healing Committee
Chairman - Pauline Silver DSNU
Vice-Chairman - Jean Smart CSNU
Secretary - Lesley Hale

Alister Hamilton
Tim Smith CSNU
Mark Bradley CSNU

Information Technology Committee
This Committee has been disbanded and Chris James CSNU is appointed as a consultant in this field.

Minister Administration Committee
Chairman - Minister Judith Seaman
Vice-Chairman - Minister Tom Haver
Secretary - Minister Jeanette Cookson
Minister June English
Minister Janet Parker

Philosophy & Ethics Committee
This Committee has not been appointed at this time.

Publicity & Promotions Committee
Chairman - Penny Haywood CSNU
Vice-Chairman - Alv Hirst (Youth Ambassador)
Secretary - Andrew Manship CSNU
Joy Clarke (Event Coordinator)
Martha Chick (International Liaison)
Robert Dangerfield (Social Media)

Training & Awards Committee
Chairman - Carol Ellis
Vice-Chairman - Sandy Haggar (also SNUi Rep.)
Secretary - Anne Armstrong
Kathryn Crossley (PAS and CAS)
Linda Walker (CSNUt)

SNUi Committee
Chairman - Ilona Mulock Houwer
Vice-Chairman - Arthur Plumpton OSNU
Secretary - Yoshie Miakoda Chihara
Representative to Council - Minister Alan Baker
Fredrick Haglund CSNU
Kathy Leigh Tsoukalas
Minister June English (ex-officio for President)
Minister Steven Upton (ex-officio for President)

Interfaith Ambassador - Minister David Hopkins
Youth Ambassador - Alv Hirst
National Safeguarding Coordinator - Minister Tony Penketh
National Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator - Minister June English
Museum Curator - Paul Gaunt

Meet the NEC
We have now completed four ‘Meet the NEC’ events and each one is providing an opportunity to share ideas and understanding in addition to raising funds for the District; the dates confirmed to date, taking us to the end of 2015, are as follows:

Northern 8th August
North Shields
North Lancs & Cumbria 15th August
Scottish & Irish 29th August
Glasgow Association
South Western 5th September
South Yorkshire 12th September
Sheffield Attercliffe
North Yorkshire 26th September
West London 31st October
Venue to be arranged
East Midlands 7th November
Venue to be arranged
Merseyside & North Wales 21st November
Venue to be arranged
Southern 28th November
Venue to be arranged

Matters arising from the AGM

AGM Motions 5 and 6 - Northern District Council
Following the failure of Motion 5 at the AGM and the proposers' withdrawal of Motion 6 the NEC have discussed the ramifications of introducing junior membership at Church level; given the potential implications it has been agreed to conduct some additional research regarding the feasibility of this proposal. The provision of family days and reduced charges for studying SNU courses will both be considered as part of this process.

Memorandum and Articles
The General Purposes Committee have been tasked with producing a working document which will be dispatched to all members before the end of the year to explain the necessary changes. The Consultative Conference next year will be held on February 20th at AFC Stafford to afford members the opportunity to ask questions and develop a better understanding of these important changes to the constitution of the Union.

Auditors to the Spiritualists’ National Union
Following the passing of the motion at the AGM to allow the NEC to research other possible audit firms the Finance Committee has been tasked with identifying at least two additional firms of accountants who could conduct this work; Baker Tilly, our current audit firm, will be at liberty to tender for the contract.

Members-only Meeting
A recent enquiry raised an issue where a Church Committee had declared that a Church AGM should be open to members only, thus excluding members of the public from attending. The NEC has agreed to refer this matter to the General Purposes Committee for further consideration.

Hotel Map
Several members have requested that a map be included to support the directions given to delegates in the welcome pack; this was agreed.

Electronic Yearbook
Head Office is currently investigating the feasibility of providing the annual Yearbook and Diary in an electronic format.

Diamond Award for 60 years' Service to Spiritualism
Following a proposal at the AGM the NEC have agreed to introduce a Diamond award to mark sixty years' service to the movement. This will be launched at next year's AGM and proposals are welcomed for nominations of members who meet this criterion; these should go in the first instance to Head Office.

Church Returns - Moving to Direct Debit
With a view to reducing costs and delivering better value to our members the 2016 Church Returns, Part 1, will be sent out in November 2015; this should be completed and returned by the January deadline but rather than sending a cheque Churches can now simply complete a direct debit form and the payment to the Union will be processed through your bank accounts in early February. This new procedure brings the Churches into line with Individual Members and will produce a significant saving to the Union, which in the long term will limit the need to increase affiliation fees.

Church Signage and Makeover Competition
The winners of this year's competition were announced at the AGM and Middlesbrough Church won the first prize, with Leigh Church winning the second. Churches are reminded that the offer for the Union to pay the VAT on all orders for new external signage has been extended and further details will be included in the next edition of SNU Today or speak to Head Office.

Other Matters

The Ministry in Australia
Following the appointment of a new Officiant in Australia the Union is in the process of applying for registration with the Australian government to register our members who are also part of the Ministry to allow them to conduct official serves in Australia.

Guide to Making a Will
A new leaflet giving guidance in this important matter was published first at the AGM; copies of this leaflet are available from Head Office or via the website.

Church Healing Groups
Church Committees are reminded of their responsibility to ensure that everybody who heals in their Churches is correctly registered with the SNU; Church Officers should check current credential cards, which healers should carry when working in order to ensure that all registrations are current. 467 Registered Healers have still to renew their Healing registration and it concerns the NEC that members may still be healing in Churches when their insurance and registration have lapsed.

Healing Reduced Subscription for over-70s The Healing Committee has agreed to review the offer made this year and look at the cost implications for the Union going forward. Equipping Yourself for the Ministry - Retreat
Following on from the provision of CPPD this year the Ministers Administration Committee is planning two retreats next year to be held at the Cober Hill Centre in Scarborough; the event will take place over three days, which will allow the members of the Ministry some time together as a group to discuss and review their personal role within the ministry. Provisional dates are 4th to 6th March and 27th to 29th September 2016. Places will be limited and further information will be available shortly.

Council of Ministers 2015
This year's event will take place at Huddersfield Church on 17th and 18th October 2015.

Launch of SNU Films
The SNU has now launched its own YouTube channel with a range of films about Spiritualism; to date we have 322 subscribers and the films online have had 3,385 views. Go to Google/YouTube and search 'SNU Film' or follow the link from the SNU website homepage.

Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship A special event will be held at Castleford Church in North Yorkshire for the Year One students on Wednesday 19th August 2015 at 7.30 p.m.; the admission is 5.00 at the door. If you are in the area you are welcome to come along and support the students. Gordon Higginson Memorial Lecture
The NEC have agreed to consider the feasibility of holding a special lecture during the AGM weekend both to honour Gordon’s memory and to focus on the importance of standards of philosophy and speaking within the movement.

New Pioneer Centre
The NEC is please to announce that it has received a new application to establish a new Pioneer Centre; this will be number nine and places momentum behind this important initiative to promote Spiritualism in areas of the country where no SNU presence exists.

Extending Membership
Plans are under consideration to offer a year's free membership to all PAS students and trainee healers; this idea will be sent to the October Council meeting for consideration.

Charity Commission Registration
73 applications to the Charity Commission on behalf of Churches have been successfully completed and a further ten are waiting confirmation. A further letter will be sent to those Churches who have not yet responded this month and a deadline of November has been agreed for a response.

The SNU Safeguarding Policy is currently under review to ensure that our document is current with CPAS requirements.

Trust Property
The Finance Committee is currently working on a new booklet to provide our Churches with support in managing their trust property. We are also reviewing advice on the use of property, given that many Churches only use their building for a limited time each week, thus not maximising the use of their assets to benefit their charitable objectives.

All Final Assessment Boards for the rest of the year are full; Training & Awards are looking at the opportunity to add additional dates, which will be promoted on the website.

SNUi currently has 968 members; the Branch held a very successful week of training and final assessments at the Arthur Findlay Centre, which started with a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum for the Annual Peace Walk.

Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum
Our memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum has now been updated with the addition of two carved stone logos reflecting the latest logo adopted five years ago.

Interfaith Week Service
It is planned to hold another special service at Stansted Hall to celebrate National Interfaith Week; an open invitation to members and Churches from around the country exists to mark this special occasion. The service will be broadcast on SNUi.

Youth Ambassador Survey
The survey has now closed with 1,350 responses, which has created a very robust set of data. Dr Mandy Nelson is currently working on the comprehensive analysis and it is hoped to publish the results in the autumn.

'One Union' Action Plan
This was fully reviewed during the NEC meeting and work to further develop this important document, which drives policy and goals, is already underway.

2018 - Our Big Year
The NEC is working up a list of events and work on the World Council in 2016 and the World Congress in 2018 is also underway.

NEC Meetings 2015/16

9th, 10th, 11th October 2015 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

4th, 5th, 6th December 2015 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

12th, 13th, 14th February 2016 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

8th, 9th, 10th April 2016 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

10th, 11th, 12th June 2016 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

15th July 2016 (eve of AGM) The Last Drop Hotel, Bolton

Council Meetings 2015/16

3rd October 2015 Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford

6th February 2016 Venue to be agreed

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 9th, 10th and 11th October 2015. The next National Council meeting will take place at the 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:

 “First say to yourself what you would be: and then do what you have to do.””




  - Minister David Bruton



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