News News A Way of Life - This June! Calling all Spiritualists! If you live in the areas in and around the Southern District Council, the National Executive Council (NEC) invites you to our event, "Spiritualism - A Way of Life." Following on from similar successful events over the past 2 years, we will be at Southampton Spiritualist Church, Cavendish Grove, on Saturday June 22nd, 10am to 4pm. The day is aimed at anyone associated with an SNU church or the SNU itself, including church congregation and members, committees, healing mediums, DC members and SNU individual members. The event is free of charge. Download the flyer The day is designed to explore some of the diverse aspects of Spiritualism, including spirit teachings and healing as well as an opportunity to discuss your Spiritualism and ask questions. You can read about last year's "Way of Life" day (main picture) at Runcorn Spiritualist Church below... Following on from the outreach work in the North East in 2017, the NEC travelled to the North West for the “Spiritualism: A Way of Life” weekend. The Saturday session was hosted by Runcorn Spiritualist Church, a friendly and enthusiastic church whose building is nestled beneath the arches of a railway bridge. The purpose of the event was to gather Spiritualists from as many churches in the area as possible to explore ideas for our religion’s future. It was introduced by Minister David Bruton, who explained the importance on the Focus on Religion activities, and our need to embrace change in order to move forward. An initial discussion explored individual motivation for coming to church. It was noted that many may come initially for an evidential message, but others are drawn to the community feel within a church, and for the philosophy that Spiritualism has to offer. Some suggested that the Seven Principles are not promoted enough, and certainly aren’t explored to the depth that they might be. While some felt that simply reciting the principles was not enough, others felt that however we present information about them, it should be done in an accessible, understandable. Some also felt that it was vital for mediums who provide us with our services to have good knowledge of Spiritualist philosophy to enhance their address. A suggestion was made to invite the congregation to give a personal testimony of the impact of the principles on them. This, it was felt, was an alternative way of exploring them, and was a way of involving the congregation in the service. The idea of increasing the engagement and involvement of the congregation was clearly on many people’s minds. An idea put forward involved services having space for congregations to respond to the address, sharing thoughts that resonated with them. This had the potential to encourage potential speakers in the congregation, allowing them to gain confidence in articulating their philosophical ideas. Healing Mediumship is a vital aspect of our religion, and it played an important part in the day. Healing was available throughout the event, and the idea and practicalities of incorporating it into a service was explored. Julia Almond OSNU led those present in a discussion about the power of healing. Unsurprisingly, the inclusion of healing in our services had strong support. It was acknowledged that there was no reason to prevent a demonstration of healing being given during a service. This has the potential to promote it, demystify it, and to allow the rest of the congregation to experience the presence of the healing energies. During the day, a discussion arose around the importance of congregations being able to experience the presence of God within services. It was felt that this experiential approach had great potential if included in our services. With this is mind, Minister Suzanne Gibson Foy led a sitting in the power session. She talked everyone through the experience, allowing them to build their awareness of God’s presence, and to feel touched by it. The short exercise, which felt much longer than it was, had a profound effect in the room. It demonstrated that with a little support, a congregation can be guided through an experience that can reveal much of the essence of Spiritualism. Again, it was felt that it was entirely possible and appropriate to include experiential elements into our services. SNU Today readers will recall reading about Minster Barry Oates’ short but impactful book, A 21st Century View of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism. Minister Oates has taken a look at the principles in the context of today, and found that they still hold their relevance, very much so. His philosophy was used as the basis for part of the day in Runcorn. Participants formed groups to explore each of the principles, their discussions prompted by quotes from Minister Oates’ book, and questions designed to provoke deeper thinking about them. Back together, we were able to share some of our thinking with each other, and experience the diversity of thinking that we value within Spiritualism. Most of all was the emerging realisation that we don’t create nearly enough opportunities within our movement to discuss and explore our philosophy. It is through this discussion, it was said, that we are able to achieve a deeper understanding of our human and spiritual lives, developing as individuals and a religion. It was thus felt that providing opportunities for our congregations to discuss their religion was a key way forward. Discussion was also a feature of the remainder of the day, and we considered what the essential elements of a service were. The myth that the Union is prescriptive about what has to go into a service was broached. Our services are religious ones, and there to provide an opportunity to worship God; this helps our churches to be recognised as places of worship. We acknowledged that the elements of a service that satisfy this are hymns and appropriate songs, prayer, healing, readings and the address. However, the elements that we had explored during the day, such as discussion on philosophical points, absent healing, and sitting in the power were other options to include in a service. When thinking about this, we might consider changing the traditional order of service – this might be something we experiment with, maybe when a medium is unavailable, or perhaps in a more planned way. For all of us who spent the day together in Runcorn, Spiritualism was clearly a way of life. In hearing the ideas, testimonies and discussion, we could hear, and often feel, that our religion had been a transformative experience. The many points discussed presented creative actions that can breathe new life into our congregations’ experience of worship and church life. None of us who were there want to be passive recipients of our religion. It has inspired us, grown us and moved us; this is just what we want for those who walk through the doors of our churches and centres. Spiritualism can only be considered a progressive religion if we make it so. With our pioneering spirit, our creativity, and our love for God, we have every chance to steer Spiritualism towards a secure future.