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June 2017 Edition 32

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The Presidents Blog | June 2017 | 32nd Edition

NEC Meeting Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June 2017

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 appraised wherever appropriate.

Chief Administration Officer (CAO)
The Union reports the resignation of Ms S. McGee, the CAO, which was received on 1st June. The National Executive Committee are working to recruit a replacement member of staff to this key role and to make necessary arrangements in the interim to ensure that the work of the Union continues. The post will be advertised both internally and externally and we welcome applicants from within the movement. The job description and application process will be posted on the home page of the SNU website and first interviews are planned for 26th July.

Members and Churches wishing to contact the Union can still use Ms McGee’s email, which will be diverted to her P.A., or you can contact Mrs Rachael Loukes, the General Manager, who will assist you. The NEC thanks Ms McGee for her work over her period of employment and wishes her well in the future.


Head Office
The NEC would like to welcome Pauly Smith to the Head Office team, who has been appointed as a receptionist/administrator and is likely to be your first point of contact when telephoning the Union.

The Union has just taken delivery of a new stock of SNU logo light-boxes for Churches; these are available from Head Office and we are pleased to report that, sourcing from a new supplier, we are able to reduce the cost to Churches. The light-boxes are smart and well designed; further details are available from Rachael Loukes at Head Office.
Work is also underway to develop a new set of Healing Cards; Minister Judith Seaman is working again with Tim Smith and Head Office to develop a further set of 42 small cards to focus on the power of Healing within the movement and our services. They will be used at the Peace Service at the National Memorial Arboretum on 1st July; the cards will then be available for sale at the AGM, costing £2.50 per pack.

Rules for Churches 2017
We have finally had a reply from the Charity Commission concerning the latest edition; they have raised a number of points which need to be addressed and the General Purposes Committee will meet in early July to finalise changes, which will go to the next NEC meeting for ratification. The new Rulebook should then be available in the autumn.

Data Protection Act
The SNU has now registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and we are working on policies which will inform the working of the Union in this field; these will be adapted and shared with Churches and District Councils as soon as they are available.

New Websites
The new SNUi website is coming very close to launch and four key people from the NEC and Redwoods will attend a strategy workshop in London in early June to begin the work on developing a new SNU website for the Union, which is long overdue and vital to improve the services we provide to our Churches, membership and the wider world in this increasingly digital age.

AGM Paperwork
All members have now received a letter asking them to opt into receiving the AGM circulation in hard-copy form. All those attending the AGM and all members who have opted in will receive the circulation as normal. All AGM documents will also be shortly available on the SNU website for members' perusal. It is estimated that this policy will save the Union a considerable amount of money through sending out documents which are not read and discarded, which is both a waste of scarce resources and affects the environment. This year the Trustees' Report and accounts booklet have been totally redesigned with a view to bringing our reporting more in line with modern charity practice. We hope members will enjoy the new format and find it useful in understanding the finances of the Union.

AGM – a new format
The NEC are keen to adopt some of the ideas for the Annual Conference discussed at last year's meeting. This year the AGM will be hosted by the Merseyside & North Wales District Council at the Holiday Inn in Runcorn. All bookings for accommodation on site are now closed but anyone still wishing to attend would be very welcome and can still register to attend as a day visitor by contacting the team at the SNU Trust on 01279 814158.

A welcome drinks reception will take place outside the Cheshire Suite at the hotel from 5.00 p.m. and all delegates are welcome to attend, with an opportunity to meet and talk with members of the NEC and other key members of the team in addition to having the chance to network with Spiritualists from around the UK.

The SNU Trust meeting will take place as normal at 8.15 p.m. in the Cheshire Suite and credential officers will be on hand to assist you from 7.30 p.m.
With a view to providing an alternative for members not attending the SNU Trust AGM, Minister Alan Rawnsley will be organising a quiz to test your knowledge on a range of subjects and a further opportunity to have some fun and form new friendships. This will begin at 8.30 p.m. So, all the quizzers in the organisation, this is the opportunity to test your general knowledge.

The main SNU AGM meeting will convene at 9.15 a.m. on Saturday morning; credential officers will be in attendance to assist you from 7.30 p.m. on Friday evening and from 8.30 a.m. on Saturday morning. We aim to complete the main business meeting by close at 5.00 p.m. on the Saturday.
This year we have replaced the traditional Gala Dinner with a sit-down meal in the Cheshire Suite. Dress is smart casual and entertainment will be provided after dinner in the form of Lucinda Drayton. Lucinda performed during Open Week in May and everybody was touched with the sincerity and spirituality of her inspiring performance. The Lucinda concert will be followed by a DJ, allowing delegates to dance until late and enjoy each other's company.

On Sunday morning delegates will gather to share a service together; this will not include a demonstration of mediumship. Other than the Peace Service we have little opportunity to worship together as Spiritualists nationally and this service will aim to address this. An invitation will go to each Church President within the District to attend this service. Following the service presentations and awards will be made, which will include for the first time this year the Community Service Award, which will be presented to the Church who is judged to be supporting its local community and demonstrating its public benefit. After lunch delegates will be invited to attend a range of mini-surgeries to discuss, network and share good practice in a range of areas of interest to Spiritualists. We aim to close our weekend together at 5.00 p.m. on Sunday.

New Members from Overseas
The Union is receiving increasing numbers of applications for Individual Membership from overseas; problems occur when English is not their first language and the NEC have agreed to include a tick-box on the application form to allow applicants to indicate that English is not their first language. The Union is committed to do all it can to help overseas members through the translation of key documents and course notes to ensure that members from abroad can be supported and accommodated.

National Peace Service
The national Peace Service will take place again this year at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Saturday 1st July. This year the service will be led by Minister Judith Seaman, Vice-President, and will begin at 2.00 p.m. Following the service members are invited to join us at the Barbanell Centre, Stafford for a buffet tea, which will be followed by a demonstration of mediumship with Paul Jacobs CSNU. Tickets for the tea and demonstration are available from the Barbanell Centre; contact 01785 615513 to book your place.

New Policies
Minister Alan Rawnsley and Jane Barton are continuing to develop a range of policies for the Union; some will be for internal use for our staff and some will be sent to our Churches and District Councils to ensure that they are fully supported with a view to assisting Church committees in running and managing their Church. A complete document will be prepared and dispatched when the process is complete.

These include:
1. Job Induction Checklist
2. Performance Appraisal Policy
3. Probation Policy
4. Anti-Bribery & Corruption Policy
5. Code of Conduct
6. Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
7. Environmental Policy A
8. Environmental Policy B
9. Internet Use and IT Monitoring Policy
10. Redundancy Policy
11. Privacy Statement
12. Performance Appraisal Policy
13. Staff Combined Goal-Setting
14. Combined Managers' Appraisal Checklist
15. Staff PA Instructions & Guidelines
16. Supervision Form

Focus on Religion (FOR)
The first FOR public event will take place in the Northern District Council in August this year. The weekend will start at Gateshead Eden Progressive Church on 11th August, with doors open at 6.00 p.m. The event will include information, healing, talks, questions and answers. On Saturday 12th August the team will move to North Lodge Park View School, Birtley DH3 4BB, with doors open from 10.00 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. 9,000 leaflets will be delivered locally by Royal Mail and promotion of the event will take place throughout the District. On Sunday 13th the focus moves to Darlington Church for another day of events starting at 10.00 a.m.; this event will conclude with a Rally at 2.00 p.m., giving people time to get back to their own Churches for the evening service.

The team will split up on Monday to hold events in local Churches, including Shildon, South Shields, Horden and Wallsend. This event is aimed as a pilot event ahead of plans in Spring 2018 to promote the future of our religion.
Most District Councils have now confirmed the appointment of a representative for their District and the Toolkit to support this work will go out shortly.

Our sincere thanks go to Birtley Church for their help and support in organising this important event for Spiritualism.

Great Get-Together
Through our links with the Inter Faith Network the SNU is supporting the Great Get-Together to remember Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered last year in her constituency. Time to organise events was short but an information leaflet was sent electronically to all Districts to help share the message and support events held locally around the country. One Church in the South Western DC has organised a day's event and invited other Churches from the District; they plan to hold a Bake-Off event as part of their plans for the day.

The Ministry
The NEC expressed congratulations to Irene McGilvray, whose Ordination as our latest Minister was conducted on 6th May at Glasgow Association, and to Thelma Francis, whose Service of Acceptance as an Officiant took place on 5th May at the Conan Doyle Centre in Edinburgh and Pamela Fornell Haugland whose service took place at Stansted Hall on the 3rd June.

Healing Awareness Week
This new initiative, organised by the Healing Forum, took place from 1st to 7th May and various events were organised around the UK to raise the profile of Healing within our communities. Two charities have been chosen by the Forum for our support this year and the deadline for donating funds is the end of September. Donations can be paid directly into a dedicated bank account: ‘Healing Awareness Week’, sort code 60-02-36, Account number 67785263. All funds collected will be donated to the charities, who both work within the Healing arena.

Grants for Churches
Application forms have been sent out to all Churches allowing them to apply for a grant up to the value of £1,000 on a matched-funding basis. The first tranche of grants will be presented at the AGM in Runcorn.

Open Week 2018
The Collegiate Committee have agreed to promote an advanced ticket purchase deal to Churches for Open Week 2018, allowing Churches booking groups of 10 or more visitors to purchase tickets at £9.00, a 25% discount on the rate this year of £12.00. A letter will be sent to the Churches in August to promote this exclusive offer.

CAAS Scheme
Following the issue of free vouchers for the Chairing & Administration Scheme (CAAS) 89 people have now enrolled; course notes will be posted out from Head Office at the end of June and we trust members will find this course useful in helping to inform them around key issues in running an SNU Church.

Fellowship (FSNU)
The NEC agreed to increase the fee on application for the Fellowship to £100; this reflects the increasing costs of administering this scheme.

Online Course for the Young
The Education Committee are working on developing a course for youngsters wishing to know more about Spiritualism; this will be launched online.

SNUi Update
SNUi is typically running a programme with 102 sessions every month, covering divine services for Europe and the USA, which are open to the public. There is also a PAS Training service, SIA philosophical discussions, practice circles, mediumship development groups and training sessions supporting SNU Training courses in Healing PAS and CSNU. The technical issues surrounding Mega Meeting have now been addressed and normal service is resumed.

Healing Committee
The Healing Committee have decided to increase the upgrade assessment fee to £33.00 from 1st September 2017, which brings the Healing Committee fees in line with the PAS fees.

Social Media
Social media is playing an increasingly important part in our work to promote the message of Spiritualism. Recent campaigns produced the following results:
The Post-Manchester message had over 8,100 views on the Publicity & Promotions Committee page within 48 hours and was shared over 100 times with 450 reactions (e.g. likes) and on the SNU page 11,900 views, meaning potentially over 20,000 people viewed this statement reflecting Spiritualism’s view of this tragic event. Dementia Awareness Week to tie into our campaign reached over 800 people. Stansted Earth Day reached over 1,200 people. Healing Awareness Week reached over 1,500 people.

This just demonstrates the importance of social media and the positive benefits it can bring to the movement.

Dementia Friends Awareness
During Open Week Dementia Friends attended and manned a stall to raise awareness and a session was conducted to create new Dementia Friends. It is hoped by the AGM this year that all members of the NEC will have completed the session and will be registered as Dementia Friends with a view to raising awareness of this condition, which is affecting so many people in our society today.

Lyceum Union
At the Lyceum Union AGM members discussed creating a national Lyceum Day, which will take place each year on the 15th February, which also happens to be Alfred Kitson ’s birthday. The NEC have approved this proposal and the first Lyceum Day will be 15th February 2018.
The Union is sad to announce the passing to spirit of Illona Mulock Houwer former Chairman of SNUi, Illona’s hard work and dedication has served to touch the lives of many people around the world, she will be greatly missed within the Union but we wish her well as she begins the next stage of her journey. Our thoughts rest with her family at this time.

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 Meetingb
The next NEC meeting will take place at the Holiday Inn, Runcorn (eve of AGM) and the first NEC meeting of the new electoral year will be held at the Barbanell Centre on 28th, 29th and 30th July. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 7th October 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 at

Thought for the day:

'The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not fighting the old but building the new.'




Minister David Bruton