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The Presidents Blog | February 2016 | 23rd Edition


NEC Meeting Friday 12th to Sunday 14th February 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.


The Future of Spiritualism
In running the organisation the NEC is very aware that all its efforts need to reflect the SNU’s prime objective, which is to develop the religion and religious philosophy of Spiritualism. SNU Churches are autonomous but the NEC is conscious of its responsibility to support its Churches and promote the religion of Spiritualism.

The NEC will look to working closely with the Pioneer Centres to develop the delivery of phase two of the Pioneer Centre project and it is hoped to call a meeting of representatives of all Pioneer Centres shortly to discuss the proposed changes.

We are also conscious of the need to promote ‘Living as a Spiritualist’ and the need to focus upon our role within the local community.

It was agreed that despite the vast improvement in SNU Today we need to encourage more and regular communication with members; we hope to shortly produce an email newsletter to provide up-to-date support, information and topical debate to encourage ‘Thinking Spiritualism’.

Plans are also in place to launch a regular 10 p.m. slot on SNUi which will be delivered as open access to all, which will reflect ‘Spirit in Action’ by working together with practices of attunement, using the energies of the spirit to make a difference in people’s lives. Together we can make a difference. This new service will launch on 7th March and it is planned to operate seven days a week.

Consideration was given to developing a new Facebook page focusing on the Spiritualist religion.

Consultative Conference
This year's Consultative Conference will take place at the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford on Saturday 20th February, starting at 10 a.m. The meeting will include an important opportunity for members to discuss the new Memorandum and Articles, possible changes to the AGM and the changing role of the Ministry. Members can simply turn up on the day, though if refreshments are required these need to be booked via Head Office in advance.

The NEC has done some work around analysis for the new members' joining fee and the costs around the administration of accepting new members into the Union. Following consideration it was agreed to reduce the charge for new members from £15 to £5; new members will continue to receive the welcome pack when they join the Union.

Travel Expenses
Following a recommendation from the Finance Committee it has been agreed that the mileage rate for all SNU committees will be reduced from 40p per mile to 35p per mile, taking effect on 1st March. This reflects the continued reduction in oil prices on international markets and the resultant effect on the charge for petrol at the pumps. This rate applies only to persons working for or on behalf of the Union and is provided only as a guide to SNU Churches.

World Congress 2018
A working party has been established to oversee and coordinate plans for the second World Congress in 2018 at Stansted Hall, which will be a truly memorable event.

SNU AGM: Time for a change?
A working party has been established to consider possible changes to the delivery of the Annual Conference weekend, restricting the business side of the programme and concentrating more upon developing our religion of Spiritualism.

Fund of Benevolence (FOB)
Following the passing to spirit of Minister Eric Hatton, the former Chairman of FOB, the NEC has applied the requirements of the Trust Deed and agreed the appointment of the following Trustees to administer the work of the Fund:-

Chairman: Minister Marian Bishop.
Secretary: Stella Upton OSNU.
Trustees: Minister David Bruton, Gerard Smith and Vera Lappage.

Toolkit for Churches
The new publication, ‘Toolkit for Churches’, went out with the February circulation; the NEC are now starting to work on a separate publication within this series, a ‘Spiritual Toolkit for Churches’.

Church Returns, Part 1
To date we have received 159 Church Returns, part 1, with 59 Churches opting to pay their affiliation fees by direct debit. Churches are reminded that these returns should have been made to Head Office in January and they need to be posted now if these have not already been sent.

Church Returns, Part 2
These were delivered with the February circulation and must be returned to Head Office within 14 days of the Church's AGM. Please ensure that up-to-date telephone numbers and email addresses are included for all Officers, which are vital when the Union needs to get in touch. The Union wishes to extend its thanks to all Churches that have opted to use the direct debit system for payment of fees; this is a much more cost-effective way of making a payment and will help the Union to control its costs and thus reduce the need for capitation fees to be increased in the future.

National Wardenships
Following changes to Byelaws D a National Warden may now act for eight Churches, raising the previous threshold of six with a view to supporting District Councils.

SNU Sub-Committees
All SNU sub-committees will be required to provide a procedural document to record each of its functions and responsibilities in order to supplement the requirements of Bye-laws and help provide continuity during the necessary changes of personnel.

Meet the NEC
Dates have now been received from each District of its regular meetings and a member of the NEC has been allocated to attend at least one meeting per year to build on the 2015 project, which saw three members of the NEC visit each District. This will provide a further opportunity to members of the District to ask questions of a member of the NEC.

SNU Today
SNU Today has now been reformatted and will now be provided via the home page of the SNU website in addition to the hard copy sent to each member and Church.

Help for Churches
Minister Alan Rawnsley has done a considerable amount of research concerning grants which may be suitable for SNU Churches; he has shortlisted 300 trusts and a briefing paper will be prepared to help Churches when making applications for grant funding. When complete, this information will be available via the Church section of the SNU website.

Training Day for Support Officers
The next Training Day for Church Support Officers will take place in the Southern District on Saturday 21st May; the Union will send out details and invitations to this event in due course.

Novel Ideas for Fundraising
A new paper to support Churches and help them raise much-needed funds will be issued shortly; it is also hoped to include extracts from this paper as part of the new email update package which will go to every member and Church we have an email address for.

Action Plan - 2016 / 2018
The key performance areas of the Action Plan were reviewed and these will be integrated into the Trustees' Report as part of the Annual Accounts.

Arthur Findlay College
During the Christmas closedown 21 rooms in the main College building have been completely refurbished with new furniture, full redecoration and new lighting. A rolling programme has now begun which will see the tutors’ rooms fully refurbished over the next two weeks and then additional work will be undertaken to address the remaining rooms in quiet weeks during the College programme. We aim to complete a full refurbishment of all rooms during the year.

2017 Programme
The exciting new programme for 2017 has now been launched and plans are already underway for the 2018 programme, which will include the World Congress, which is due to take place at the College.

Museum Update
The Museum, which has now been refurbished, providing a more user-friendly space, has a wide range of material and journals in an electronic format to aid research; this is also supported by many hard-copy documents, which are presented in display booklets to help the student study in the Museum. The NEC has just agreed the procurement of six years’ back issues of ‘Light’, six years’ back issues of ‘Two Worlds’ and several other publications which will enhance the libraries at the College. A further collection of books has been donated to the Library and it is hoped to collect and collate these over the next few months before adding them to the College Library.

Work continues on the Sanctuary refurbishment and new curtain tracking and curtains are currently being fixed; a bespoke lectern for the Sanctuary will be designed and commissioned and a painting is also to be commissioned, based on the ‘Window of Eternity’, which will hang in the Sanctuary, together with a new set of Seven Principles, to complement the Seven Principles donated a few years ago, which hang in the corridor adjacent to the Sanctuary entrance.

Arthur Findlay Centre
The 2016 programme is now available for the Centre, with several new tutors visiting for the first time; the first course of the year, taken by Sally Barnes, got off to a flying start and Sally hopes to return to the Centre in the future. January 2016 also saw the return of Seven Trent plc to the Centre and they wish to use the Centre for regular training sessions and meetings, which all help to support financially the running of the Centre. Work continues on a new name and image for the building and after a stakeholder session with a local Breakfast Club which regularly uses the facilities the project is to be further refined with a view to finding a way forward. Plans are well underway for the Open Weekend, which will take place in 2016 on the first weekend in June.

Science Weekend - Practical Experience of Research with Mediumship
This now regular course will take place from 13th to 15th May and in addition to the regular team from Northampton University we will welcome Dr David Luke from Greenwich University to give the Saturday evening lecture, ‘Reviewing the Difference between Mediumship and Shamanism’, reflecting Dr Luke’s work in South America; this will be open to the public and further details will be posted shortly.

Peace Service, National Memorial Arboretum
The Annual Peace Service will take place as usual on Saturday 2nd July and we look forward to welcoming fellow Spiritualists from around the UK and around the world via broadcast on SNUi. Following the service a buffet will be provided at the Arthur Findlay Centre, to be followed by a demonstration of mediumship with Minister Janet Parker. Tickets for the evening event will be available from the Centre nearer to the event.

Charity Commission Registration
To date 135 Churches have been successfully registered with the Commission; registrations will pause for a short time, as any new registrations will need to be accompanied by the 2015 Church Accounts. A paper is currently in preparation to help Churches that have already registered to complete the necessary Annual Returns.

The kitchen at Redwoods has now been completely refurbished, providing the staff with a comfortable and well-equipped facility for their break-times.

E-commerce Site
The new Arthur Findlay E-commerce shop is currently being built and the Union plans to launch this on 1st March 2016.

Ministers Congress 2016
The annual Ministers Congress will take place at Stourbridge Church in October this year, affording members of the Ministry the opportunity to meet together and discuss current issues and the future of the Ministry.

Interfaith Ambassador
Minister David Hopkins and the President both attended the Faith Communities Forum in London on 8th February; this event provided an opportunity to meet a representative from the Metropolitan Police who is promoting greater dialogue with faith communities and the police, which is an issue in many cities around the country.

Minister Marian Bishop reported the passing to spirit of the following members:
Mr John Lawes, Westbury Park, Bristol
Miss Nan Pascoe, Westbury Park, Bristol
Mrs Pat O’Conner, Westbury Park, Bristol
Mrs Lily Sheppard, Rhonda, Wales
Mrs Elsie Shinner, Stourbridge, West Midlands
Yvonne Saint OSNU, Stoke-on-Trent, West Midlands

Marian appeals for anyone to inform her of passings from the movement or if you wish to join the Almoner's network contact Marian direct.

Investments Review
Ian Stewart from our new auditors, Price Bailey, will conduct a full review of the Union’s portfolio of investments to ensure that our brokers are operating in line with agreed risk profiles and producing value for money for the Union.

Support for Churches
The Union is looking at ways of providing user-friendly software packages which will help with Church accounts; despite the need to retain hard-copy records when dealing with accounts there is a need to reflect the advantage which computerised accounts can provide to support Church Treasurers.

PAS Time for Completion
The Training & Awards Committee have recommended to the NEC a reduction of the time allowed to complete PAS for new students enrolling from now; this will be reduced from the current five years to two. The NEC ratified this recommendation.

Advanced Course Reduced Costs
The NEC have agreed to reduce the cost of course fees for the Advanced courses to £20.

DIM Survey
A new survey designed specially for the Individual Members of the Union has now been completed and will be launched on-line via Smart Survey shortly; this provides our members with the opportunity to tell the Union what they think and help formulate the future growth of the movement.

Church Questionnaire
So far 65% of Churches have returned their completed questionnaire and five Churches have been shortlisted to receive a second, follow-up questionnaire; this information will then lead to a personal visit from Minister Alan Rawnsley to discuss what the Union can do to help the Churches.

Churches under Support
The NEC has agreed a new format for the Support Officer’s report form which aims to provide a more appropriate review of the Church's current state and condition; work has also begun to look at Churches which have exceeded the two-year deadline introduced as part of the new Church support package two years ago.

500 Club
Any member, 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 8th, 9th and 10th April 2016. The next 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:

 “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt



  - Minister David Bruton