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Oct 2016 Edition 28

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The Presidents Blog | Oct 2016 | 28th Edition


NEC Meeting Friday 7th October to Sunday 9th 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.


Appointments since the AGM
Mrs Angela McInnes OSNU has now been appointed as the Secretary to the Training & Awards Committee with immediate effect; we welcome Angela to her new role. Brenda Newall OSNU has now been appointed to the Ministers Administration Committee (MAC); we welcome Brenda to her new role.


Claire Shores, the General Manager at Redwoods, has tendered her resignation following five years working for the Union. Claire leaves on 16th October; the NEC wish Claire well in her new job. Rachael Loukes has been appointed to replace Claire and she will be joining the team at Head Office from 1st November. Rachael has considerable experience in office management, administration and working in the charity sector and we look forward to welcoming her to the Union. During the period between Claire’s leaving and Rachael joining us the Head Office team will be pleased to help members with their enquiries as usual.

OOMI Rollout begins

The new generation of membership database is currently under construction. A first training day for Head Office staff took place at the beginning of October and it is planned to go live before the year-end. The new system will greatly improve functionality at Head Office and given that the server will now be cloud-based it should also drastically improve access times for information.

Gordon Higginson Scholarship

The final courses for the first Gordon Higginson students are now complete and a special evening has been organised at Longton Church on Friday 4th November. Tickets for this event are available from the Church. The second-year GHMS students will be taking a special evening at Castleford Church on Wednesday 30th November, starting at 7.00 p.m.

Individual Members' Benefits

Following the hugely successful launch of ‘Findlay’s’, the AFC loyalty scheme, it has been agreed that from the 1st January 2017 the Individual Members' discount on College courses will cease.

AFC Museum
The Museum at the College is to be renamed the Britten Museum & Library in recognition of the work of Emma Hardinge Britten. The Two Worlds archive has now been completely integrated, making the collection almost unique as a study resource for the history of Spiritualism. The Curator, Paul Gaunt, is running a further two study courses next year for students who wish to access the Museum archive; details are available from the College.

Barbanell Centre
Work is underway to develop a new logo and signage for the Centre and it is hoped to have a re-launch date before the end of the year.

AFC Physical Protocol

Following recent revelations involving the ‘medium’ Gary Mannion and the launch of the Truth campaign by Psychic News the Union will meet shortly with representatives of P.N. and the Banyan Retreat to discuss future possible testing of physical mediums working within the movement.

Charity Commission Registration

Work continues to get Churches registered with the Charity Commission; many Churches are now facing the prospect of having to make returns to the Commission on-line. An easy-to-use instruction leaflet has been developed by Head Office, which has been issued to all Churches which have been registered with the Charity Commission by the Union. This provides a simple step-by-step guide, though, should a Church still be experiencing difficulty, it should contact Head Office for help and assistance.

Arthur Findlay Shop On-line

The new on-line shop has been running since July and many of the people who have used the shop are impressed with the service they receive. New products will be added going forward, making the AFC shop the place to go to for everything Spiritualist. You can access the shop from the home page of the SNU website.

Church Returns

Part One Church Returns will be dispatched on 1st November and Churches are encouraged to sign up for payment by direct debit, which considerably reduces the Union's administration costs and allows the Union to continue to hold down affiliation fees.

Healing Documentation

The new logbooks for trainee healers, both UK-based and overseas, are in the final stages and new editions of the Training Guide and Code of Conduct are also due to be issued shortly. 'Healing and the Law' is also under review with a view to bringing it up to date with current legislation and it is hoped to issue this in the New Year.

Healing Subscriptions to rise in 2017

The Healing renewal subscription will rise from April 2017 by £1.50; this reflects higher insurance premiums for healing mediums, which increased in 2016 but were absorbed by the Healing Committee.

One Union Magazine

This is the publication sent to all new members to introduce them to the Union; the NEC agree that it is now out of date and due for a review, which will be undertaken in the coming months with a view to producing a new edition in the spring.

Fund-raising Pilot

The President and Acting Vice-President have visited three Churches identified following the Church survey issued in 2015. Meetings have been held with the Church Committees and a considerable amount of advice and support was shared. Contact will be maintained with these Churches to ensure their planned development is achieved.

Prison Chaplaincy Authority (NOMS)

Through recent communication with NOMS they have now said they will only accept SNU-trained and approved people for the specific job of Spiritualist prison chaplains, quite a landmark for the religion of Spiritualism.

Government Consultation Papers

The Ministry have been consulted by HM Government concerning the future of funerals and marriage within the UK. Some initial work has been done through MAC and this will be also discussed by the Ministerial Congress, which will take place at Stourbridge Church on 15th October, commencing at 10.00 a.m. Ministers, Officiants and trainee Ministers and Officiants are welcome to attend.

Courses for the Ministry

MAC are currently writing a version of G3 for the Ministry; G3 has long been a study requirement for new Officiants but it was felt that the current course content was not wholly appropriate. On completion the new course will be known as MAC1 (Ministerial Administration Course 1).

New Service for Churches

MAC will shortly launch a new service aimed at bringing Churches together; this will encourage Churches in the same locality or even from further afield to meet together and share a service aimed at strengthening the ties within the movement.

Pioneer Centres

Following the introduction of membership to Pioneer Centres the NEC has considered the current requirement for Pioneer Centre Healers to be both Individual Members of the Union and members of the Pioneer Centre; this matter has been referred to the General Purposes Committee for consideration. A meeting for all Pioneer Centres is planned at the Barbanell Centre in the spring with a view to sharing experience and discussing the future.

Inter Faith Network

The Annual General Meeting of the IFN will take place in Peterborough in October and the Interfaith Ambassador and the President will be in attendance. For the first time this year the Spiritualists’ National Union has been nominated to provide a trustee to the national board of IFN. National Interfaith Week takes place again in November this year and the IFN toolkit, which includes lots of useful advice on organising events for the week, is available via the SNU website.

CAAS Voucher scheme

Vouchers will be sent out shortly to Churches allowing their members to take the Chairing & Administration course free of charge. Training & Awards are also working with Education to offer G1 as part of the package, which will provide anyone working within Church administration with a wonderful opportunity to learn the ropes.

National Boards

Plans are well underway for 2017 to hold a National Board (FAB) in every District Council area. Dates will be confirmed shortly and published on the website. Training & Awards are also looking at providing more updates to the website when slots become available on a Board, allowing students every opportunity to take their Board within a reasonable time-frame.

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.

Translations for members overseas

The SNU is increasingly an international organisation, drawing members from around the world. We often meet difficulties when English is not a first language and we are currently working on translations of the necessary forms and information to help and support foreign members. Additional information will be made available as this project progresses.

Publicity & Public Relations Committee

With a view to creating closer links with District Councils the members of the Publicity & Public Relations Committee (PPC) have now each been allocated districts to encourage better communication to support the publicity and public relations. A meeting was held between the NEC and PR Prohibition, our PR company, to refocus and redefine our PR work moving into 2017. Many journalists still require case studies as a basis to write articles and PPC are doing all they can to source these. PPC also hope to create a ‘Human Library’ based upon ‘Your experience can change lives, and we’d like you to help us build a human library to promote Spiritualism. Unlike the books in a library, your story is living proof that our religion changes lives.’ For further information contact PPC.

Dementia Friends

Following the heartfelt address to the Annual General Meeting by David Gay OSNU PPC are working to promote Dementia Friends within the movement. A collection taken at the AGM raised £406.17, which has already been donated to Dementia UK, and PPC are currently organising a fundraising evening with Tony Stockwell at Colchester Church on 11th January both to raise awareness but also to raise additional funds for this worthy cause. Tickets for the evening will be available from the Church.

National Council to embrace Spirit in Action

The NEC has agreed to split the Council into four working groups and task Councillors and members of the NEC with a project to be completed between the two main Council meetings with a view to improving the function of the Council and creating a stronger bond between all levels of the Union. The focus will be the religion of Spiritualism.

McMillan Coffee Morning

Many SNU Churches around the country took part in the national McMillan Coffee morning to raise funds to support the charity. PPC are appealing for Churches to post the results of their fundraising efforts on the SNU Facebook page to demonstrate what can be achieved when we work together as a movement for this worthy cause.

Better Internal Communications

The Communications Director, Alv Hirst, plans to start a regular electronic bulletin so that each committee within the Union is aware of what is going on and any new initiatives in the planning stage.

OM3 Working to promote our religion

Jane Barton, appointed as Ordinary Member 3 in July, is currently working on plans for 2017 to promote the religion of Spiritualism. This will focus on a nine-day event providing two major public open access events organised in hotels and visits by a team of people to local churches in a given area. A pilot event is planned in order to create a working model that can be rolled out around the country.

The Data Protection Act (DPA) and the SNU

Jane is also working on a project to review the requirements of the DPA and the implications for all levels of the Union from Head Office to the College, the Centre and Churches. A draft policy document has been commissioned and it is hoped to implement this during 2017.

500 Club

The latest draw has just taken place, with one lucky member scooping a top prize of £500. Any member, 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 2nd, 3rd and 4th December 2016. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 4th February 2017.

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:

'There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.'

-Edith Wharton



Minister David Bruton