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The Presidents Blog | April 2016 | 24th Edition

 

NEC Meeting Friday 8th April to Sunday 10th 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.

 

 

Eric Hatton Memorial Service - Update

Memorial Service for Minister Eric Hatton, Honoury President Spiritualist National Union
A celebration of eric’s life and to mark his contribution to spiritualism over 70 years.

 

The Service will be on monday 30th may at 2.30 pm in the sanctuary, at the Arthur Findlay College, Stansted Hall.
Please note places are limited you can reserve your place by calling the college reception on 01279 813636
Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Please do not attend without first securing a confirmed place.

Minister David R. Bruton
President Spiritualist National Union

 

 

Membership Administration - the next generation
The NEC have been considering for some time the range of developments necessary to manage membership data moving forward and, more importantly, the integration of systems at Head Office to improve our efficiency and our ‘member experience’ when renewing their subscription, updating information or simply moving to utilise different services provided by the Union. We also recognise the need to continue to update our websites to make the most of current and future technologies, which will serve to make the main SNU website and the other satellite sites more user-friendly and accessible. With this in mind the NEC have commissioned Oomi to provide a new integrated database which will be at the heart of future systems implementation. This is a considerable investment for the Union but with our current database now nearly fifteen years old we recognise the need to embrace current technology as part of our strategic plan for the future.

On-line Shop
Finally, after many months of work, the new e-commerce site is nearly ready to launch. This will provide a one-stop shop for everything Spiritualist and SNU. Products will include a full range of books, Church aids and access to the extensive range of products available from the Arthur Findlay College Shop, all from the comfort of your own home; this has been a long time in the planning and excitement is growing at Head Office as we get nearer to the launch day.

Promotion of the religion of Spiritualism
The NEC has long been concerned that we fully reflect and support our religion in addition to the vast amount of administration that at times seems to cloud our view of the beauty and simplicity of Spiritualism. We have now spent two incredibly productive sessions discussing the way forward and it has been agreed to create a new sub-committee charged with concentrating on putting the spiritual back into Spiritualism. The new committee will be formulated as soon as possible and each District Council will be invited to appoint a person on its executive to help fulfil this vital role and to act as the local channel for information to link the national committee with each District and the Churches.

New Hymn Book
The new song book, which includes a range of popular and appropriate songs which can be used as part of Church services, together with a professionally recorded CD of music, is planned to be launched during Open Week. In addition to this important aid for Churches work will shortly begin on a new Hymn Book, which will be modelled on the slim blue hymn book which was first published in the 1990s. The new book is planned to include a range of hymns which will include some old favourites but also some newly commissioned hymns set to uplifting music which, it is hoped, will truly reflect what it means to be a Spiritualist in the twenty-first century.

The Spiritualists’ National Union
It has long been felt that the word 'Union' does not denote a religion in the minds of many people both within and without the movement; the creation of ‘The Spiritualist religion’ aims to create an outward-facing approach to Spiritualism, retaining 'SNU Ltd.' for the administrative side of the Union's work.

Annual Audit
Our new auditors, Price Bailey, have started the annual audit and as part of this process the NEC have reviewed the risk profile of the organisation, which will ultimately feed into the necessary policies and control measures to manage the Union’s finances in a safe and prudent manner.

Invitations have now gone out to each District Council for the DC Treasurer to attend a training day on Friday 1st July, which will introduce the new accounts software for DCs. The new District software will remove the need for an external DC audit process, which will save Districts between £200 and £600 per annum. A charge of £100 p.a. will be charged by the Union to the District to recoup some of the development costs of the software.

Two Church Treasurers have also been invited to attend the day, which will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford, to preview the new Church Accounts software. It is intended to create systems champions in each District to support the roll-out of this new service to the Churches which will be available on an optional basis.

The Coach House
Inclusion Trust, the previous tenants of the Coach House, moved out in February and work is underway to refurbish the building before the property is relet later this year.

Trustees' Expenses
Following the appointment of Price Bailey it has been agreed to include a more detailed review of Trustees' expenses, which will include overnight accommodation and travel, which will be published in the Annual Report with a view to increasing transparency for the charity.

Investment Review
Price Bailey have been engaged to conduct an in-depth review of our investment portfolios and our stockbrokers to ensure the Union is both maximising its investment returns and managing risks in these volatile economic times.

Group Policies
The Finance Committee has agreed to withdraw the provision of group policies for employers' liability and public liability, as we were advised by our brokers that these matters are now fully covered by the standard Church insurance policy provided in line with the Union's minimum specification for Church insurance.

Gordon Higginson Scholarship
Year One students who are now in their final year will be invited to take part in a special completion and graduation service to be held at Longton Church, Stoke-on-Trent; this will take place sometime in September. A meeting with the Year Two students recently took place at Stansted to review progress to date and the Assessment Day for the new intake will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford later this month (April).

Arthur Findlay College
Room refurbishment continues at a pace and we are still committed to completing all student and tutor accommodation this year. New curtains have been hung in the Sanctuary, the new audiovisual system is fully installed and working and a tutor training session will take place just before Open Week. A picture has been commissioned for the Sanctuary based on the 'Window of Eternity', which will introduce another aspect of Spiritualism into the Sanctuary.

Open Week
Final preparations are underway for Open Week, which promises to be another excellent week; the full programme is available on the College website and tickets for the day and the masterclasses can be purchased by calling the College reception team on 01279 813636. A Memorial Service will take place on Open Week for Glyn Edwards; places will be limited to allow family and friends to celebrate Glyn’s life. Contact reception for details. A meeting will take place shortly to begin work on the 2018 programme, given the necessary changes we need to accommodate for the World Congress.

Arthur Findlay Centre
Invitations have gone out to tutors for 2017 and 2018 with a view to getting the programme in place at a much earlier stage and supporting tutors who need to work their work at Stansted and Stafford round their other commitments. The final programme for Open Weekend, which will take place on 4th and 5th June, will be published shortly and we look forward to bringing a new feel to the Open Weekend experience, with some new faces on our tutor team.

Minister Eric Hatton Memorial
Plans are beginning to take shape for a memorial service to Eric and it is hoped this will take place at Stansted Hall during Senior Citizens Week. Once the date is finally confirmed details will be placed on the SNU Website.

Richard Austin
The NEC wish to pay tribute to Richard Austin former Vice President of the SNU who passed to spirit early in April. Richard made a great contribution to the Union at many levels and out thoughts go to his family and friends at this time. Mr Austin had served on the National Executive Committee for some ten years and had been the Vice-President since 2000. He was the Chairman of the Arthur Findlay College until 1996, the Chairman of the Trust Property Committee from 1996 to 2001, and the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee from 1995 to 1999. He played a key part in the securing by the Union of a ruling from the Charity Commission that Spiritualism as based on the Union's Seven Principles satisfied the criteria applicable to the charitable purpose of advancement of religion: he single-handedly drew up the dossier giving the evidence requested by the Charity Commission in this connection, which paved the way for this landmark ruling. Following this he headed the Union's Charity Registration Working Party set up to look at the matter of the charitable registration of the Union's Churches with the Charity Commission in the light of this ruling.

The funeral service for Richard Austin will take place at Gloucester SNU Church on Wednesday, 11th May next, commencing at 2.00 p.m., and will be taken by Minister Lynette Coulston.

Church Returns
Part Two Church Returns are now filtering into Head Office following Church AGMs; Part One forms, which were due in during January, are also being chased up. Now 25% of SNU-affiliated Churches pay their capitation fees by direct debit, which makes a valuable contribution to reducing the Union's costs and thus allows us to avoid the need to increase fees in the future.

Healing Mediums' Renewals
All healing mediums are reminded to renew their Healing subscription, which fell due on 1st April, and Head Office is working hard to get the renewals turned round as quickly as possible. Reminders will go out on 1st May for those who fail to renew; however, healing mediums are reminded that without current insurance in place they should not be practising healing.

IT Equipment
The NEC has sanctioned the purchase of a new server for Head Office, as the current equipment has failed twice in the last month; this serves to secure our data and keep our hardware up to date.

Staffing
Head Office has now recruited a new Accounts Assistant; Lorraine Brewer has joined the team at Redwoods and we welcome her to the Union.

Tool Kit for Churches
The new Tool Kit for Churches developed by Minister Alan Rawnsley was dispatched in the February circulation and to date the feedback from Churches has been very positive; it is hoped this will provide real practical advice, help and support to the Churches and further initiatives are in the planning stage to supplement this document.

100 Year Awards
2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of SNU awards and a special logo has been designed to mark this event which will be used on all certificates produced this year.

New Product

At Open Week this year the Union will launch three new sets of cards, which are provided as a tool to support teaching in Spiritualism. The titles are:-

Pioneer Cards - A range of 54 high-quality cards which feature fifty-four well-known faces from the history of Spiritualism.

Flowersentience Cards - A range of 54 high-quality cards featuring a beautiful selection of flowers from around the world, with a dedicated and inspired explanation of each bloom aimed at inspiring the user.

Wisdom Cards - A range of 54 high-quality cards featuring images intended to inspire, with a quote and additional selected words which will act as an inspiration for experienced and budding speakers alike. The cards, which are exclusive to the SNU, will cost £12.99 per set and can be purchased from Head Office, the College and Centre shops or on-line when the new e-commerce website is launched.

Safeguarding Policy

Minister Tony Penketh has just started work on a new Safeguarding policy; he is working under CCPAS guidance and it is hoped to launch this document to the Churches later this year. The SNU were recently commended during a meeting of NOMS (National Offender Management Service) for the quality of our Ministerial training and our Safeguarding policy. NOMS are planning to shortly create a new advisory board with representatives of many faith groups and the SNU has been invited to take a seat - another step forward for Spiritualism.

Ministers' Seminary

The first Ministers' Seminary took place at Cober Hill near Scarborough in February this year; the event proved to be highly successful and a second event, again at Cober Hill, will take place in September this year. Members of the Ministry should contact Minister Judith Seaman to book.

G3 - Ministers' Training version

Work will begin shortly on a special version of G3 to be used as part of training for the Ministry. The original version is no longer thought to be appropriate to the Ministry; however, it will be retained as a normal course for Union administration.

Ministry Returns

Biannual Ministers' Returns have just been dispatched and Ministers and Officiants are requested to return their completed forms to the Secretary of the Ministers Administration Committee as soon as possible.

National Assessment Boards
The Training & Awards Committee reported the following availability on boards:-
7th May Sowerby Bridge Church 5 spaces
4th June Belfast Church 3 spaces
7th July SNUi week, Stafford 1 space
10th September Croydon Church 3 spaces
8th October Bristol Westbury Park Church 5 spaces
5th November Sheffield Attercliffe Church 5 spaces

Contact the Secretary of the Training & Awards Committee to confirm your space.

Diamond Award - 60 years' service to Spiritualism

Minister Mary Clifford from the Southern District has just been presented with her Diamond Award; our congratulations and best wishes go to Mary, a true stalwart of Spiritualism.

Healing

New logbooks and a training guide for UK and international students have been completed and amendments have been made to the Healing Returns form. A new version of H1 is also due to be published before the AGM and this will be supported by a short film, which will be published on YouTube.

SNUi breaks the barrier at last

After a wait of nearly two years SNUi membership has finally breached the 1,000 mark; we now have 1,007 members of SNUi. For the first time this year the Consultative Conference was broadcast via SNUi, allowing members from around the world to tune in and take part in the meeting. Plans are also underway to provide the same service for the SNU AGM, which will take place in Bolton in July. The Divine Service from the Arthur Findlay College at Stansted was also broadcast to mark World Spiritualists' Day.

Spirit in Action

On 7th March SNUi launched a new project to reflect Spirit in Action; at 10 p.m. (UK time) each evening, seven days a week, a special slot is broadcast. Each night a different host leads the session, which is open access; joining instructions are below:

1. Go to: https://web.megameeting.com/guest/?id=173-409550

 

 

2. A window will open; in the 'Your Name' field, type your name.

 

 

3. Click the 'Next' button and you will be taken to the online classroom.

 

 

4. A small window will pop up, click the 'Allow' button to enable audio features.

 

 

5. The classroom window opens.

 

 

Support Officer Training Day

The planned day in the Southern District has been postponed until later in the year.

Church Questionnaire

Three Churches have now been chosen for an initial visit to discuss how the Union can help and support them in building a firm foundation for the future, this is as a direct result of the questionnaire returned by 65% of the Churches last year. The project will aim to create test cases for future national policy.

Additional Support for Churches

Information regarding available trust funds and additional fund-raising ideas is now available on the SNU website.

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 10th, 11th and 12th June 2016. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre on Saturday 1st October 2016.

The Annual General Meeting will take place at The Last Drop Inn, Bolton; booking forms for delegates were sent out in the last circulation. Bookings should be made and confirmed and fully paid by the end of May.

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: president@snu.org.uk



Thought for the day:

‘The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.’

-Amelia Earhart

 

 

  - Minister David Bruton