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Dec 2016 Edition 29

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The Presidents Blog | Dec 2016 | 29th Edition


NEC Meeting Friday 9th December to Sunday 11th 2016


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 fully apprised wherever appropriate.

Following the resignation of Claire Shores as General Manager at Head Office Rachael Loukes was appointed and joined the team on 1st November; on behalf of the NEC we welcome Rachael to her new role and look forward to working with her to continue the development of Head Office into the future. Rachael has had third-sector experience and is well qualified to lead the team, which is without doubt the hub of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

Claire's leaving has caused a slight delay in the rollout of Oomi, the new membership database, but this is now back on track, with staff training days planned for 17th and 18th January, and the new system is planned to go live on 1st March 2017. The introduction of Oomi will provide the Head Office team with a powerful new tool to fully interrogate membership records across all platforms and enhance digital connectivity to better serve the membership.

The latest Spiritual Guidance Cards

Following on from the issue at Open Week of three new sets of cards to be used in training circles and workshops a new set of Spiritual Guidance Cards has been launched to supplement the set. This is a joint venture inspired by the spirit world between Minister Judith Seaman and Tim Smith CSNU to allow people to focus upon their own spirituality. The cards are available from the Arthur Findlay online shop, priced at £12.99.


With a view to ensuring the Union is getting the best value for money and advice in relation to its investments the Finance Committee will hold a bridal parade on Wednesday 14th December at Stafford; six brokers have confirmed their attendance to give presentations, which include the two current brokers, Charles Stanley and Brewin Dolphin, and four new brokers, allowing us to consider a range of service packages. A similar exercise will be conducted in the New Year for our solicitors.

Rules for Churches 2017/2019

The latest edition of the Rules for Churches has now been lodged with the Charity Commission and will be issued in the New Year pending approval. Churches are reminded that they are required to provide each member of their Church Committee with a hard-copy edition and they should also be made available to members on request. Once the new edition has been agreed by the Charity Commission, HMRC and OSCR, an electronic version for reference will be made available on the main website.

Spiritualists' Healing Day
This annual event will take place on Sunday 15th January 2017 and Churches are encouraged to get involved; a poster to promote the event is available as a download from the Healing section of the main SNU website. It is hoped that a focus on Healing will be included within the Sunday divine services held on that day.

The Union is also a founder member of the Healing Forum, which includes other national Healing organisations, i.e. UK Healers, the Harry Edwards Healing Sanctuary, BAHA and CHO. The forum plans to launch a Healing Awareness Week, which will take place from 1st to 7th May 2017. Member organisations will be encouraged to hold events to promote the importance of healing within society. Posters and resources to promote the event will be available online nearer to the planned date.

Church Support Officers
The Union is well aware of the sterling work undertaken by its many Support Officers and a letter acknowledging this is to be sent out by Tim Coombe (OM2). Support Officers are also reminded of the importance of submitting reports in a timely fashion to the Union using the standard report form provided by the Union.

Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship

A special evening was held at the beginning of November to mark the completion of the scheme for the first cohort. An additional evening was held at the end of November at Castleford Church for the second cohort and proved to be a very successful and well-attended evening, affording the students the opportunity to demonstrate their mediumship, both evidential and healing.

Arthur Findlay College

Work at the College to install a new Wifi and telephone system is nearing completion, which will greatly improve broadband width, speed and connectivity for the students.

Final work has started on refurbishing the last few rooms, leaving only the pod rooms to be done; the pods were installed in the 1980s with a view to providing ensuite accommodation. The College is required to apply for planning permission to remove the pods and this has been done so that the toilet pods can be replaced with modern sanitaryware and the rooms can be redecorated and upgraded, greatly enhancing the student experience.

On a visit to the College Paul Gaunt, our Museum curator, recently came across an old projector thought once to belong to J.J. Morse, with no less than 1,000 glass slides with images dating back to the late 1800s. The projector is dual-powered with either gas or electric and to everyone’s amazement is still in working order. James, our Graphics Technician at Head Office, has now created PDF files for each of the slides, allowing their contents to be shared digitally and preserved for posterity. The College Museum has recently issued a new CD with original recordings from Red Cloud, the guide of Estelle Roberts; this is available for sale from the AFC shop.

Barbanell Centre

A new logo has been finally agreed and new signage will be ordered with a view to relaunching the centre in February with its new name, The Barbanell Centre, to honour Maurice Barbanell, one of our modern-day pioneers.

P.N. Truth Campaign

Following the internet exposure of Gary Mannion, who was filmed cheating during a séance conducted at the Banyan Retreat in Kent, Psychic News has launched an international campaign to get physical mediums working in public tested. To date two meetings have taken place with representatives of Psychic News, the Spiritualists' National Union and the Banyan Retreat, with input at the last meeting via Skype from an American and Australian Centre.

The working party has discussed using the latest thermal imaging technology to record the séance; one system is currently under review and test and it is hoped that once a system has been approved a standard specification will be agreed and authorised test centres established. Each time a test séance is undertaken representatives from one of the other organisations will either be present or will review the footage prior to certification.

Charity Commission Registration

Currently, 146 Churches have been processed and a further ten are waiting registration. Head Office will make follow-up calls to Churches that have still failed to complete their paperwork during December.

Ministers Congress

Following this year's Congress held at Stourbridge Church in October a range of discussion points had been referred to the Ministers Administration Committee.
Possible suggestions include:

  • MAC News to be circulated to all Churches to help promote the important work of the Ministry.

  • Ministers must become more involved in their local community.

  • Ministers should be encouraged to visit Churches more often, not as exponents but rather as friends to the Churches.

  • Education

    The updated 'Introduction to Spiritualism' has now gone for proof-reading.

    The Powerpoint presentation to support the induction course has now been removed from the website, as aspects of it are out of date.

    A trial run has been agreed with courses SD1 and HD1 and the word-count will be removed, leaving the student to decide whether he has answered the question fully without the pressure of meeting a pre-agreed criterion with the number of words required.

    The Staff reference book is currently under revision and will be circulated to organisers and tutors on completion.

    Spirit in Action

    After a summer break the regular Spirit in Action session is back on SNUi; the new sessions will now be held weekly on a Wednesday evening, broadcasting at 10.00 p.m. UK time.


    A new booklet, 'The Code of Conduct/Healing and the Law' has now been completed and will be published very soon. This will supplement a new logbook for both UK and non-UK healers; again, these will be published and it is hoped to have these available early in the New Year.


    The Publicity & Promotions Committee and the Officers are currently reviewing the performance of PR Prohibition to ensure we are getting the correct level of support with our media and promotions function; a meeting is due to take place in January to review the contract going forward.
    PPC are currently working to arrange for all SNU leaflets and key forms to be translated into a range of languages to help support members who do not have English as their first language.

    New Seven Principles Book

    Minister Barry Oates, best known as one of the co-authors of 'The Philosophy of Spiritualism', has written a short book about the development of the Seven Principles; this has been artworked and it is hoped to launch the book early in the New Year.

    SNU Today

    The incredible success of SNU Today as the main focus of updating the movement about the SNU continues; planning is already underway for the February issue and the membership is welcome to make submissions of articles which would interest the wider movement. Submissions should be sent to the Communications Director, Alv Hirst, c/o Redwoods. No guarantee of publication can be given but we are interested in receiving your articles to share with a wider audience.

    Focus on Religion F.O.R.

    Letters have been sent to all Districts asking them to appoint a member on or to their executive committee to lead on the F.O.R. initiative. Plans are underway for the first rally, which will be a nine-day event over two weekends. At each end a hotel will be used to create a public-facing event and churches in the locality will be used in the week between to strengthen the link between our churches, focusing on the importance of our religion. A preliminary Itinerary has also been planned as part of the planning process.
    To support this work the Districts have been split into four groups and two members of the NEC allocated to each group to support the work that will be delivered at local level.

    Engaging with and benefiting the Community

    The NEC have agreed to direct Training & Awards to establish a new award, to be made at Conference, which celebrates work being undertaken in the Churches to aid and benefit the community. Criteria are being drafted and application forms will be sent to Churches with the form for the 'Church of the Year' Award, which will be sent out early in the New Year.

    500 Club

    The latest draw has just taken place, with one lucky member scooping a top prize of £500. Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Jane Heatley at the Members Service Centre, Head Office. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.

    Next NEC Meeting

    The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on 10th, 11th and 12th February 2017. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 4th February 2017.

    Circle Link

    The SNU has long dreamed about creating a link or network joining home and church development circles around the country, allowing a sharing of collective experience. Two people have now volunteered to run this scheme and the plan has been referred back to Training & Awards for further development.

    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:

    'Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you will be doing what is impossible.'

    -Francis of Assisi



    Minister David Bruton