Edition 66

National Executive Committee Meeting,

8th and 9th April 2022 via Zoom 

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. It is posted on the main SNU website shortly after each NEC meeting and also shared via social media, meaning that it now reaches several thousand people with each new edition.

If this is your first time of reading, I trust the information shared is useful in keeping you up to date with the workings of the Spiritualists’ National Union and the support it provides to its members and Churches alike. 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 with a view to increasing transparency and inclusion at all levels of the organisation.


 

Annual General Meeting, Norwich 2022


It has been decided to hold this year’s AGM in July virtually via the Zoom platform. This decision has not been taken lightly, but with current Covid infection levels around the country, members' continued nervous approach to travel and the impact of the economic factors on disposable income and the financial effects on Churches of rising fuel costs the NEC agreed that it was necessary to take the decision now.

For an explanation of the decision please follow the link below to a short video from the President which explains the thinking behind this move.


Wildflower meadow leading to SNU Obelisk at NMA

Peace Walk 2022

The NEC agreed that the annual Peace Walk due to take place on Saturday 2nd July would go ahead as an in-person event following the traditional format, with a Service of Peace to be followed by the walk-out to the SNU Memorial, where the Service will be concluded.

The events planned to take place in 2020 to mark the 10th Anniversary with the special celebration will now be deferred until July 2023.


Minister Suzanne Gibson-Foy

I regret I have to report the resignation of Suzanne from the role of Ordinary Director 1 with responsibility for Focus on Religion, the Pioneer Centres, Individual Membership and as the representative to the RE Council on the NEC. Suzanne has served on the NEC for a little over four years and is stepping down for personal reasons. On behalf of the NEC and the Union I would like to thank Suzanne for her hard work and dedication and wish her well for the future.


Sadia Bowering - Chief Administrative Officer

Some weeks ago Sadia tendered her resignation as CAO and will leave the Union in early June to move to a new job with another organisation. On behalf of the NEC and the Union I would like to thank Sadia for her dedication and hard work over the last three years. The job of the CAO is demanding and during the meeting the NEC discussed the opportunity to remodel the role with a view to splitting the administrative duties and the policy and governance work and creating two new posts, one full-time, one part-time, which we think is appropriate to the job of the CAO. Recruitment will start shortly and the new roles will be advertised internally in addition to seeking to recruit externally to the Union.

Sadia is currently working towards the necessary documents she will produce to ensure a smooth handover and provide support to the new person undertaking her responsibilities.


Rules for Churches

Finally, after many months of waiting, the Charity Commission has agreed to review our latest edition of the Rules for Churches; we plan to publish these and issue them to the Churches in early June depending, of course, on our receiving formal approval from the Commission. We are working on formulating a training programme to explain to the Churches the changes from the 2018 version and the implications of these changes on the approach to running an SNU-affiliated Church. Information concerning this training will be posted shortly.

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The Arthur Findlay College

Selling the Arthur Findlay College

It has been drawn to the attention of the NEC that a rumour is at large within some districts that the Union plans to sell the College. Whilst normally the NEC would not comment or respond to rumours, it was felt that, given the damaging implications this rumour could have on the College, its staff and the Union, a response should be issued. We would like to categorically state that no discussion has taken place or decision made to sell the Arthur Findlay College and the NEC has no intention of following such a route.

We would like to categorically state that no discussion has taken place or decision made to sell the Arthur Findlay College and the NEC has no intention of following such a route.

We well recognise for many Spiritualists that the College holds a special place in their hearts and the work done over the last fifty years has done so much to promote Spiritualism around the world. The NEC were delighted to receive the report that on 26th March the College was finally, after two years' closure, to reopen for business and, whilst we recognise that the next couple of years will be challenging, the prospect of selling Arthur Findlay’s legacy to the movement is simply not on the agenda now or in the future.


Open Week 2022

At the last meeting of the Collegiate Committee it was agreed to cancel the Open Week due to take place in May this year. Again, this is not a decision taken lightly but it was felt that getting the College up and running again had to take priority and, given current Covid infection rates, it would not be appropriate to hold an event with potentially three or four hundred people meeting in person. The College 2022 programme has a weekend allocated in November this year for the Open Weekend and we hope to be able to deliver this, albeit perhaps in a virtual format. For many UK Spiritualists Open Week is an annual event they look forward to and really enjoy and we recognise that many people will be disappointed; however, the Committee has to act in the best interests of the College and, of course, to ensure the safety of our students, tutors and staff.


 

Meet the NEC

As part of the strategic review initative arising from the motion passed by members at the last AGM, a series of virtual meetings have been held around the country, at which a SWOT analysis exercise was conducted, reviewing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the Union, the Churches and the Spiritualist movement. This exercise was aimed at collecting the views and opinions of members, and the data collected at each meeting will be fed into a new strategic policy for the Union with the aim of shaping how the Union delivers the promotion of Spiritualism and supports its Churches and Centres around the world.

In addition to the district meetings a similar exercise has taken place within all SNU committees, including the NEC. We have also launched on the website an online questionnaire which is designed to collect additional data on a range of issues, which will also be fed into the mix and used to inform the decisions taken on how we shape the Union in the future. Should you not have completed the survey there is a link below which will take you to the form on the main website. It is hoped to produce a preliminary report which will be presented to members at the AGM in July.

Shape the Future here

 


Special Services

Given the lifting of restrictions by the UK Government it is good to be able to once again conduct in person special services on behalf of our Churches. In recent weeks a Service of Acceptance was held for Linda Walker OSNU at Westbury Park Church in Bristol. A Rededication Service was held at Sowerby Bridge Church in North Yorkshire after the Church had been totally refurbished, a Centenary Service was held at Stockport Church in the Manchester District and a Rededication Service was held at Oldbury Centre in the West Midlands.

Oldbury has been closed for over two years owing to the pandemic and a team created by the District has gone in and refurbished the building, which has been rededicated as The Dorothy Hudson Spiritualist Centre, Oldbury. Dorothy, a former Financial Director and Honorary Vice-President of the Union, who passed away at the age of 102, was long associated with Oldbury Centre and we are sure she will be delighted to see the Centre open once again and appreciate the acknowledgment of her considerable work for Spiritualism. The NEC extends its good wishes to all three Churches for what we hope will be a bright future.

 


Staff remuneration review

The Finance Committee has just completed a total review of all employee remuneration benchmarking salary scales within the area of employment and the geographical area of the country where the staff are employed. This was approved by the NEC and will be implemented from the beginning of April 2022. We have also adopted the real living wage as a minimum payment for any employee within the organisation. The NEC well recognises the hard work and dedication of all members of staff across our sites and, given the effects of the current problems within the economy, the Union has moved to increase the level of remuneration to ensure that all of our staff are well paid for the job they do.


Annual Audit

The annual audit is currently well under way and the NEC is working to ensure that all of our policy documents and procedures are robust with a view to securing the work of the Union going forward. The Risk Register is currently under review to reflect the very different situation within the movement and which the Union in particular has to operate in the face of the war in Ukraine and the effects which that is having on the world markets and economy.


Healing Renewals

All healing renewals have now gone out and new cards are being processed as the renewals are received. Should any Healing Mediums not have received their renewal paperwork, please contact Head Office in the first instance.


District Council Finance

The new system of accounting within the District Councils has been in place since 1st January and appears to be working quite well. A further promised meeting with DC Executive Members will take place virtually at 7.00 pm on 26th April so that we can review the progress made so far and highlight any problems in the system, should they be occurring, with a view to finding solutions.


Churches in Arrears - Affiliation Fees

The Finance Committee reviews at each meeting the number of Churches in arrears with the payment of affiliation and Trust Property fees, which are due in January each year. Should a Church be having problems with completing the necessary paperwork or be struggling to afford the payment in the first instance, it should speak to Head Office, which will do all it can to help.


The Ministry

It has come to our attention that some SNU members are being ordained with external organisations. The Ministers Administration Committee has issued the following statement, which reminds our Churches of the protocol with members of the Ministry and Ministers from external bodies.

 

The role of  the Ministry  is an important part of the Religion of Spiritualism;  members have been trained and assessed to hold the highest appointment the Spiritualists' National Union can confer and this appointment carries Government recognition that we are rightly proud of.

As such, it is only those within our Ministry that are permitted to wear the insignia and prayer scarf on appropriate occasions. Speakers on our platforms  are not permitted to wear clerical collars and dress; this would give a false impression of the appointment they hold. 

We recognise the sacredness of holding this office and that it comes with privileges; as such any person who is ordained within any other organisation would be deemed to have a conflict of interest and therefore SNU members following this path potentially jeopardise their awards and membership of the Spiritualists' National Union.


 

Licence to conduct marriage services

There has been a query regarding how long a licence lasts for a Church to undertake weddings. The licence does not have a time limit and Churches only need to reapply if they are only licensed for opposite-sex marriages and they wish to conduct same-sex services. The three-year lifespan of a licence is only appropriate for non-religious venues such as hotels and does not apply to our Churches.


Education Matters

CSNU Assessors Course

Ten people currently are studying the CSNU Assessors course and will come forward to assessment in July, adding to the number of trained assessors we have for Final Assessment Boards.

Suspension of the B Diploma

EECom would like to suspend the B Diploma in order to review it, as the paperwork is out of date; this was approved by the NEC.


Healing Newsletter

A Healing Newsletter is planned and it is hoped that EECom will be able to publish this shortly. The following Healing-related issues were reported at the meeting:

 

We are still maintaining the possibility of 50% of healing practical sessions in  person for the time being while COVID is still so prevalent. This will be reviewed at each meeting. Pre-healing slides and healing training slides have been updated and have been sent to Head Office for issuing out. We are planning a meeting for Healing Representatives in May to update them on changes and raise awareness of the new slides.


 



 

Healing Awareness Week 2022

This will take place once again in May this year; this important event is promoted on the main SNU website, which provides a link to the Healing Forum HAW website, which lists all of the planned events nationally. Should a Church or Centre be organising its own event to promote the practice of Spiritualist Healing, please contact us and we will share the details on the HAW site. A list of SNU events is already posted for your information on the site.

Event Page

 


New Chairing Course

EECom are currently developing an on-line chairing course with a view to raising the standards of chairing within the SNU. Further information will be available shortly.


SNUi Report

February

  • Total number of sessions: 120
  • 56 total events
  • 4 closed events
  • 93% open events on programme

March

  • Total number of sessions: 141
  • 58 total events
  • 4 closed events
  • 93% open events on programme

Work in Progress

  • We are restructuring our Presentations of Mediumship after much feedback.
  • We held a meeting with our National Representatives to discuss the importance and awareness of National Mental Health.
  • An evaluation of the SNUi website is under way to ensure that our members are able to renew and new members are able to join.

National Representation

  • Slovenia has now joined our list as a represented country with an SNUi member.
  • We now have an international working party involving the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Our aim is to work together to co-ordinate events which fall in line with the time zones shared amongst these countries.


 

Social Media

The Publicity & Promotions Committee (PPC) has now completed the analysis of our social media accounts for 2021 and the key facts are as follows:

Facebook
  • Facebook: 10,575 people with our posts, with 1,926 actions (e.g. clicking a link), and we had 9,657 followers.
  • Church Covid Group: This has now been rebranded now that there is little need for regular Covid updates, and we will promote the page to see if we can get more Churches involved. It continues to be aimed at Committee members and key volunteers in Churches and is another forum to share information and ideas and respond to questions and promote discussion.
  • Twitter: In the most recent 30 days we reached 3,750 screens, with 1,100 users actively seeking out our account. We have 933 followers. The most popular tweet was a philosophy tweet about God and kindness.
  • Instagram: Stats reporting has changed again on Instagram. Over the last 90 days we have reached over 1,300 users. Total followers are up to 2,108. The most popular recent post was for International Women’s Day featuring some key Pioneers.
  • YouTube: In the last 90 days there were 5.6k views, 872 hours watched, and 2,890 subscribers.

Public Relations

  • Salisbury The Communications Director liaised with Salisbury Spiritualist Meeting House, which had an opportunity to feature in a pre-recorded current affairs item on Radio Wiltshire; this was in relation to their response to supporting Ukrainian refugees. The interviewee felt that it went well, and our prep work meant that she was able to manage the interview and prevent the interviewer from shifting the narrative away from what we wanted and expected. It has not been broadcast at the time of writing. The producer indicated that they are interested in a follow-up about Spiritualism at some point.

Other work

  • Hydesville Day The Communications Director liaised with NSAC about taking part in their programme. The Publicity & Promotions Committee agreed to hold a Healing Experience, which will be a Healing Service using historical content and relating it to today, as well as incorporating many of the service components that we have found to be successful during 2020/2021 to make it an interactive experience. It is an opportunity to make connection with people from around the world, since we are likely to also have an overseas audience as well as the UK audience that it will be promoted to.

 


The Council

The last meeting took place in early February and the next meeting is due to take place on 14th May, which was planned as an in-person meeting, but this could be subject to change, given the Covid infection rates. Members of Council will be informed in due course.

 

Responding to a discussion held at the February meeting the Council has agreed to place the following motion on the agenda of the SNU AGM in July:-

 

That this Annual General Meeting requests the National Executive Committee to amend Bye-laws A and B to remove the provision for a double-envelope system for nominations and voting in elections at both national and district level to be replaced by a suitable and secure on-line system for members to nominate and vote in elections within the Union.

 

Note of Explanation: The National Council considers the current system to be both costly and wasteful both financially for the Union but also from an environmental perspective; a replacement on-line system would both save valuable resources and be easier for the membership to operate.


 

RE Council

The RE Council plans to hold its Annual General Meeting on 5th May and it is hoped that the SNU will be represented at that meeting.


Individual Membership

Marie Lisseman, the National Individual Members Representative, held a second successful meeting of Individual Members on 1st March. Linda Muir gave a talk, which was well received, and the meeting once again provided a forum for members to share their views on the work of the Union. Two further meetings are planned, which will continue to be held virtually on 12th July and 29th November.





 

Ordinary Director 3

The Environmental Art competition has now been launched and a short video explaining the competition has been posted on the SNU website; the link below will allow you to view the video.

The competition will close on 30th May 2022 and a flyer has been sent to all Churches. The NEC will produce a shortlist at its June meeting and members will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite poster prior to the AGM in July. The first prize will be £100, with a second and third prize of £25, so please get involved with this competition to help to keep the major issues facing our environment at the top of the agenda nationally, internationally and within the Union.

How to Enter 


Community Groups

Community networking groups are being established for the LGBTQ+, Disability and BAME communities and anyone interested in running or taking part in these groups should contact Anne Marie Bond at [email protected]

 


 

500 Club

The draw takes place once a quarter and next time it could be you who wins! Contact Redwoods if you are interested in taking part, supporting the Union and potentially winning some great cash prizes. Participation is open to non-members also, so why not ask your families and friends to join us? Churches and Centres are also welcome to take part, with any winnings going to help Church funds.

You have to be in it to win it!

 


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting is scheduled to take place on 10th, 11th and 12th June 2022 and will be conducted via Zoom. The next Council meeting will take place on Saturday 14th May  2022 as an in-person meeting pending possible change, to be held at the Barbanell Centre.

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Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union

Thought for the Day

Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.
-Maya Angelou

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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 [email protected]

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