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The Presidents Blog | June 2016 | 25th Edition


NEC Meeting Friday 10th June to Sunday 12th 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.



Gordon Higginson Scholarship
Three new students who successfully passed through the assessment day will be presented to members at the AGM in July; a final service is to be arranged for the first intake and a special service has been arranged at Castleford Church later this year for the second intake.

Minister Eric Hatton - Memorial Service
A special service was held at the Sanctuary at the Arthur Findlay College on Monday 30th May, conducted by the President. One hundred and fifty people were in attendance, which included 12 of Eric’s family and 53 people from Stourbridge Church. Tributes were paid by Charles Coulston, Hugh Davis, Roy Stemman, Cissie Shaw, Laraine Killarney, Sue Farrow and Lisa and Jonathon, Eric’s children. The service included a walk into the grounds to dedicate a mature redwood tree planted in the wood adjacent to Emma’s Walk, marked by a carved oak plaque donated by the JV Trust and a carved oak bench dedicated to Eric and Heather, provided on behalf of the Union by the Arthur Findlay College. The service was followed by a private family service to scatter Eric’s ashes.

The day was uplifting and provided a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the Union and Spiritualism for nearly seventy years; music, words and film were used to create this special service held in Eric’s name. At the end of the service a new picture of Eric printed on canvas was unveiled, which will hang in the Library at the Hall to replace an earlier version, which has, sadly, faded over the years.

Arthur Findlay College
Open Week this year proved to be a great success and we actually welcomed more visitors to the Hall than in 2015. Work continues to refurbish the bedrooms as and when occupancy allows and we have finally located a company that has been commissioned to design and build a custom-made lectern for the Sanctuary. The installation of a new broadband feed is also underway, which will finally see the College and students enjoy a much wider bandwidth internet access, making communications less fraught.

Work continues in developing the Museum and the archive which supports the study of Spiritualism at the College and through the Pioneer magazine around the world. The Pioneer journal is now in its third year and is published bi-monthly as a free download accessible via the SNU website. The Curator is now encouraging the donation of more modern and current material to add to the collection and some donations have also been earmarked from the Lyceum Union.

Arthur Findlay Centre
Work has now been completed to demolish the outbuildings at the Centre and as funds allow it is hoped to develop a new on-street entrance for the Centre, making it easier to find us for those using satnavs. Plans are afoot to relaunch the Centre and rebrand it, which will be supported by new signage and a new website and Facebook page, and finally break the link with the Arthur Findlay College, which has over the years created considerable confusion. A press release will be made shortly with the new name.

Religious Education Council
The President deputised for the Finance Director at the latest meeting of the RE Council and the meeting provided useful insight into developments in mainstream education, with concerns expressed regarding a recent education White Paper which made no provision whatsoever for the teaching of religious education in schools; the SACRE structure is also under threat from budget cuts and the changes proposed to make all schools academies announced in the Budget, which has been followed by a swift U-turn by the DoE.

Science Weekend
This course took place at the Arthur Findlay Centre in May. Student numbers were low and it would seem that despite many Spiritualists claiming an interest in the scientific aspect of our religion few seem interested in enrolling on a course. However, the weekend was successful and everybody in attendance enjoyed the experience, including a lecture by Dr David Luke from Greenwich University.

World Council Meeting
An electronic meeting took place using the facilities of SNUi on Saturday 28th May; six delegates were in attendance from the UK, America, Canada and South Africa, including the President of the International Spiritualist Federation. Discussion included unifying Spiritualists worldwide, publicising events between organisations, inviting representatives from other organisations to join the Council to increase its reach, and items in preparation for the next World Congress at Stansted Hall in 2018. It was agreed that leading up to the Congress the Council will now meet electronically every six months to create a momentum and put in place a mutually agreed programme of events. A future World Congress is planned for Canada in 2022, with a possibility of South Africa going forward.

Charity Commission Registration
Registration for those Churches that still require this will commence shortly, as the Annual Returns are now coming back into Head Office; forms will be resent to all Churches that have not responded and will be followed up with phone calls within the next few months.

E-commerce Site
Finally, after many delays, the new e-commerce website, Arthur Findlay Shop, is nearly ready to be launched, providing a one-stop shop for a range of products from the Arthur Findlay College shop and Church aids and products available from the Union, all from the comfort of your armchair and ordered at the click of a mouse.

Church Returns, Part Two
The majority of these forms have now been received by Head Office and reminder letters will be sent out shortly and followed up by a phone call to Churches which have still not submitted Part Two forms within the deadline.

Healing Mediums' Renewals
The majority of renewals have now been processed and reminder letters were dispatched during the first week in May; healers are reminded that failure to renew before 1st June will mean the healer is lapsed and should not under any circumstances be practising, as they are neither registered nor insured. Should a healer have a query regarding their renewal please contact Head Office.

IT Equipment at Redwoods
We have recently installed a new server at Redwoods and all Union emails will now be transferred to a cloud-based system, which will mean that directors and other key personnel working off-site will have their own dedicated SNU email address rather than relying on personal email accounts. Contracts have finally been signed with Oomi for the next generation of our database to replace E-Target, which is planned to go live in October 2016, improving the functionality and allowing all information on the main website to be updated from the new database. A new website has also been commissioned for SNUi and this will be followed by a new main SNU website within the next two years.

Head Office has now recruited a new Membership Services Administrator to replace Kirsten, who left at the beginning of May. Kate Antenbring has joined the team at Redwoods and we welcome her to the Union. We are also currently recruiting a part-time receptionist to add to the team at Head Office; applications are via the local jobcentre.

New Songbook and CD for Churches
We have experienced delays with the launch of this new product owing to copyright issues, which have now been resolved following the licensing of the recording with the appropriate authorities. The new CD will be launched and available to purchase at the AGM in July.

New Cards - Teaching Aids
The three new sets of cards, Pioneer, Flowersentience and Wisdom of Words, launched on Open Week have been very well received and as such the first print run almost sold out over Open Week; a second order has been lodged with the printers and all three sets are now available from Head Office, the AFC Shop or the new e-commerce website when it launches. The service cards to support the new style of service formats for Churches have also been very popular and a third set is due to be added to the range shortly for the Fatherhood of God in addition to the Brotherhood of Man and the Evolution cards currently available.

The Annual General Meeting will take place at The Last Drop Inn, Bolton; all accommodation in the Conference hotel is now booked but members wishing to stay locally or travel for the day are still both welcome and entitled to attend. The AGM circulation is due to be posted from Head Office on Friday 17th May, meaning that members and Churches will get their booklets in good time to prepare for the AGM. The new Memorandum and Articles are complete and will be appendixed to a single motion at the AGM.

Churches or members wishing to order goods or stationery from Head Office to be delivered to the AGM should contact Head Office as soon as possible; this is a free service to members wishing to save the postal costs of buying items from Head Office.

SNU Accounts
A joint meeting was held between the Finance Committee and the NEC on 17th May to approve the accounts to the year ending 31st December 2015. This is the first audit conducted by our new audit company, Price Bailey, and all seems to have gone reasonably well, including the adoption of the changes in accounting standards for charities introduced by charity legislation for this year.

Investment Review
A copy of the Investment Review report produced by Price Bailey will be fully considered at the next Finance meeting, which will make recommendations to the NEC.

A New-Look AGM Weekend
A working party chaired by the Finance Director to look at reforming the members' experience at the AGM has met and submitted a report to the NEC, which will provide the basis of a discussion document to be brought to the AGM for members' input.

Quiz Cards
The Healing Committee is due to issue a new set of quiz cards to support the teaching and understanding of healing within the SNU; these will be available at the AGM.

SNU Healing Mediums
All the necessary changes have been made to reflect the change in title of our healers, who will now be known as SNU Healing Mediums; talks are underway with Balens Insurance to clarify that this is a change of title, not practice. The H1 course has been rewritten and should be ready for publication at the AGM.

Corporate Image

The Communications Director has now completed a review of the Corporate Identity manuals and has identified documents which need to be available on the website; it is hoped that these will be put in place over the coming weeks to provide full support to members, Churches and District councils in their work.

SNU Today

Work is already underway to plan the contents of the next issue of SNU Today, which will be published in September; any member or Church who wishes to submit an article for inclusion should contact Head Office.

Peace Service and Walk

As usual, on the first Saturday in July we will hold our annual Peace Service at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire; posters are to be sent to all Churches in the AGM circulation to promote the event and members are welcome to attend this annual event.

Following the service the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford will be providing a buffet tea, to be followed by a Demonstration of Mediumship with Minister Janet Parker; further details and tickets for the tea and/or the demonstration are available directly from the Centre, tel. 01785 615513.

Church Support

Visits are to be arranged later this year to three Churches identified from last year's survey of all SNU Churches; we hope to be able to provide some practical help and advice to the Churches to develop and support their work in the future.

Support Officers Training Day

It is hoped to arrange an event in the Southern District on Saturday 10th September; details and invitations will be sent out shortly once arrangements have been confirmed.

Spiritual Toolkit
Work is underway to develop a Spiritual Toolkit for Churches to help them promote our religion; more details will be published as this project progresses.

The Promotion of the Religion of Spiritualism

The new Religious Outlook sub-committee has been established, with Minister Judith Seaman as Chairman and Ministers Janet Parker and Alan Rawnsley agreeing to serve on the committee. Work will get underway proper after the AGM.

Interfaith - IFN

The Interfaith Ambassador and the President continue to represent the Union at the meetings of IFN; work continues to forge a new constitution for the organisation streamlining the present system and reflecting the views of all member bodies, given the affiliation of several new faith groups over the last two years, including the Spiritualists‘ National Union.

The NEC has agreed not to proceed with the National Interfaith Service at Stansted this year but rather to encourage its Churches around the country to take part in National Interfaith Week in November. The IFN has developed a Toolkit to support member organisations in marking National Interfaith Week and this is available as a free download from the homepage of the SNU website.

Pioneer Centres

The NEC is sad to note the closure of the Leeds and Manea Pioneer Centres; we are confident that over their period of operation they will have brought the knowledge of Spiritualism to many new minds and we thank those who have worked hard to develop the Pioneer Centres.

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 on 15th July at the Last Drop Inn, Bolton, which is the pre-AGM NEC meeting; the next full NEC meeting will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre on 29th, 30th and 31st July 2016. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre on Saturday 1st October 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:

Thought for the day:

‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’




  - Minister David Bruton