President’s Blog 51


NEC Meeting Friday 7th February until Sunday 9th February 2020


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. 

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.

Finance Director

Following the sudden passing to spirit of Mark Bradley, I would like to thank on behalf of the Union everyone who took the time to pay tribute to Mark and sent messages of support to his family at this difficult time, and to the more than three hundred people who attended his funeral service at South Shields Crematorium. Mark was well respected by so many people and he will be greatly missed within the Union as a whole. 

At its meeting the NEC agreed the appointment of Danny Goodchild CSNU to the role of Finance Director. Danny currently serves on the Finance Committee; he has also been a member of the NEC, when he served as Council Member to the NEC, and an Officer of the Manchester District Council over many years. The NEC has agreed to seek nominations for the Financial Director's position for the next electoral year to serve for a period of twelve months, thus maintaining the Officers' elections in line with established practice.


Church Improvement Grant 2019

The NEC reviewed the recommendations of the Finance Committee concerning the granting of funds to support our Churches; the full grant of £1,000 was awarded to five Churches and some follow-up work will be undertaken with Churches over questions arising from their grant application. Letters have now gone to all the successful Churches and to those who were not successful. The Finance Committee considered a range of criteria but, given the limited nature of the funding, it was agreed that we could not support applications from Churches which have significant investments. 



Church Improvement Grant 2020

Based on a recommendation of the Finance Committee the NEC agreed that this year the Church Improvement grant would be replaced by the ‘Environmental Improvement Grant’ as part of the SNU Year of the Environment. The budget for grants will be doubled to £20,000 and each Church will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 on a matched-funding basis. Any projects will need to be able to demonstrate that they are helping to improve the carbon footprint of the Church and could include projects such as solar panels, improved insulation, heat pumps, new double-glazing, as just a few examples of projects we may potentially help to fund. The application forms will be sent out to Churches in the spring and the closing date this year will be the end of September, so we urge Church committees to give this matter some consideration and begin putting together their grant application.

Click here to find out more and apply



Training in the Union

It is often commented that our Churches and Committee members throughout the Union need support through training. The NEC understands the value of this, which is why we appointed Minister Alan Rawnsley to the position of OM3 with special responsibility for developing training within the Union. Before Christmas Alan sent out a questionnaire to 360 people within the Union at various different levels from Church to district to national. To date, only 17 completed questionnaires have been returned, 11 from Churches, 4 from Districts and 2 from SNU Committees, with no response from Individual Members. There is still time to respond and the NEC would urge those people who received a questionnaire to take a little time to complete it and return it to the Union. The potential of this project could make a fundamental difference to the future of the movement and we urge people to engage. If you did receive a questionnaire and have lost or mislaid it and you would like to complete one, please contact Head Office directly, which will be pleased to provide a replacement.


Minister Rawnsley is also developing an extensive range of Focus sheets, which feature key information on: Running a Church AGM; Investigation Panels; Requirements to conduct a Church Service; Duties and obligations of the Officers; Role of the Local Warden. These, when complete, will be published and sent in hard copy to all Churches to underline the Union's commitment to providing our Churches with training and support.


Funding the Union

The NEC has agreed to conduct a review of Church affiliation fees, as it considers that the long-established practice of basing the payment of affiliation fees on membership could potentially act as a disincentive to the Churches from growing membership. The Finance Committee has been tasked to conduct some research, which will then be reported back to the April NEC meeting with a view to placing a motion on the agenda at this year’s AGM.


Returns to the Union

Churches are reminded that the Part 1 Church Return needs to be returned to Head Office by early January; any Church which has not returned this form should do so without further delay and the Church Return Part 2 should be returned within two weeks of the Church AGM, which needs to be held before the end of April. For further guidance on organising Church AGMs committees should refer to the Rules for Churches 2018, Rule 6 and Schedule 7, which provides a step-by-step timetable helpful to Church Secretaries.



The February circulation has now gone out both in hard copy and electronically to all members and Churches. The NEC would like to congratulate the Communications Director and his team for the latest edition of SNU Today, which once again provides a fascinating insight into the Union and the wider movement. The circulation also includes nomination forms for the new electoral year, which begins in July, and a booking form for the AGM, which will take place in Norwich within the East London District Council. Norwich Church will host the meeting, which is particularly appropriate in its special anniversary year.


The NEC have also agreed a recommendation of the Finance Committee to provide a £100 discount on package A, which is the full residential package to each Church sending a delegate to the AGM; only one discount will be allowed for each Church but it is hoped this will encourage more Churches to engage with the national AGM, which is a great opportunity for the Union to come together as one body of like-minded people dedicated to promoting our religion.   

The AGM 2020 Venue will be:

Holiday Inn Norwich North

Cromer Road



Nearby Hotels:

Premier Inn Norwich Airport

Delft Way



Please remember if you are not booking into the AGM venue location to still complete a booking form to ensure you receive hardcopies of the AGM booklets.


AGM 2021

Sadly, Merseyside & North Wales District Council has withdrawn its offer to host the AGM in 2021 owing to its chosen hotel not meeting the budget requirements on cost. The NEC agreed an approach to the South Wales and South Western Districts with a view to them possibly collaborating to host the 2021 event. South Wales have agreed to accept this invitation and we are currently awaiting the next South Western District Executive meeting before we move forward to identify a suitable venue. 


The Big Sleepout

The NEC would like to express its sincere thanks to everyone who took part in the Big Sleepout in early December; a considerable sum of money was raised through the support of the Union and its members, which will provide practical help to the homeless, and the issue of homelessness was highlighted with the view of raising awareness of the plight of so many people sleeping rough in our towns and cities throughout the UK.


Complaints Working Party

The working party established to review the current complaints procedure has provided an in-depth report to the NEC, which was discussed, and the recommendations arising from the report have been referred to the General Purposes Committee to consider possible changes to Bye-laws F.


Education Database  

The Union has long been considering integrating its Education database into its main Oomi database and quotes for this work have been sought by Rachael Loukes, the General Manager at Redwoods; the Officers have agreed these and commissioning work for the new database will begin shortly.


SNUi Website

SNUi has established a working party for the new website, as a range of issues has been raised around the operation and maintenance of the current website. Quotes have been sought for this work, which the Officers have agreed, and commissioning work on a new platform will begin shortly.

SNUi membership now stands at 1,022 following a clean-up of the database; we can now move forward to promote membership, sure in the knowledge that our figures are both current and accurate. A new leaflet promoting the work of SNUi has been designed and this has been issued to the Arthur Findlay College and the Barbanell Centre.


Head Office Project Updates

  • Individual Member promotion stands and leaflets have now been sent out to all Churches, the Arthur Findlay College and the Barbanell Centre. Any Church wishing to receive a further supply of leaflets should contact Head Office and these will be posted out.

  • The SNU has now joined the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and this will provide considerable resources to support both the Union and its Churches in the long term.

  • All National Wardens' report forms were posted out at the beginning of February in good time for the start of the Church AGM season and any National Warden not in receipt of their forms should contact Head Office without delay.

  • Following the changes to Individual Membership and the removal of the provisional period of membership all IMs currently in the system will be upgraded automatically and credential cards will be dispatched in March.

  • Healing renewals will also be posted out in March in good time for the 1st of April deadline for Healing renewals to be returned.


Ministers Administration Committee (MAC)

A National Board has been arranged by MAC for later in the year and invitations will be sent out to students in training in the hope that they will have successfully completed their training in order to attend the board.


Interfaith Ambassador

Minister David Hopkins reported his attendance at the latest Faith Communities Forum; the newly-appointed joint chairman for IFN, Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, was in attendance.

The meeting received a presentation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which reflected on preparations for exiting the EU and also highlighted the increase in hate crime and unrest in recent years relating to faith and minority groups.

David used the meeting to highlight the SNU Year of the Environment, which may provide an opportunity for collaboration with other faith organisations, as many are also active in this work.

Looking ahead to 2023 and 2026 could offer further interfaith opportunities, being the 175th anniversary of 1848 and the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Union respectively. Invitations to senior figures across the range of faith bodies to attend and take part in special events might prove beneficial?


Education Prospectus

The Education & Exponents Committee (E&E) have now completed the updated version of the Prospectus, which will be published shortly, allowing current and future students the opportunity to be able to review studying within the SNU.


Healing Code of Conduct   

The new Code of Conduct for Healing Mediums will be published and distributed shortly; the NEC have directed E&E to review the dress code for Healing Mediums, which is felt to be a little over-prescriptive for the twenty-first century.


New Course

E&E are working on a new public worship course which will provide a much-needed study supplement for those taking services within SNU Churches.


Introduction to Spiritualism

E&E are looking at producing an enhanced version of this course, which may be made available online to support fully those new to Spiritualism following the removal of the provisional period prior to full membership.


The Education Tutors Weekend

Following the very successful Tutors Weekend the following action points were agreed:

Action Points:

Keep tutors informed; produce a newsletter; inform tutors and students about Hydesville Update; inform tutors and students about Education definition of History of the Seven Principles; inform tutors and students about the changes to legal definition of Religion for Church services; share information on SNUi approach to healing with tutors; issue new job descriptions; circulate all tutors with update of the weekend and maintain momentum for another next year.

Keep potential students informed.

Produce pathway diagram; improve Education information on the website; use of Zoom to promote Education.

Improve consistency of assessment.

Review mark scheme; possible use of grade descriptors (essential/desirable?); consider three bands of pass, which allows for more spread of achievement without lowering standards; review tutor communication with students.

Extend number of tutors.

Circulate those tutors who did not attend the opportunity to mark other courses

Develop the curriculum and update courses.

Great support for presentation for Public Worship Course; G1 update needed urgently - include minute-taking, how to treat the public, team work; review support for individual needs, especially dyslexia;
add greater emphasis on philosophy in existing courses; new course on philosophy; support for a History course and a Science course in longer term.

Provision for non-UK students.

Speed Weekends; more courses in native language, e.g. Dutch and Norwegian; create a package for those who work to develop Spiritualism outside the UK, based on experiences of those doing it; remove additional postage payment for students who apply for courses and receive them electronically; Education publicity is not customer-friendly, especially on the SNU website.


Gender-Neutral Memorandum and Articles

The General Purposes Committee has now completed its work on this part of the constitution and a motion will be tabled at the AGM to bring this version into force, subject, of course, to the agreement of the Charity Commission.


Call for Motions

The NEC has issued with the latest circulation a call for motions, given the decline experienced over recent years; members need to engage with the Union so that by working together we can shape the future of the Union and the movement going forward.


The Role of the DC Individual Members Representative

The National Council meeting reflected a concern from some districts that following the change in the process for applying for Individual Membership of the Union the DC IM Representatives would effectively have nothing to do. It has been agreed that a Zoom meeting will be organised in April following the DC AGMs, which will allow a consultation and discussion to take place to review the role. The National IM Representative will co-ordinate this meeting and it is hoped that recommendations can be put forward to the NEC, which will consider updating the Bye-laws, which are now well out of step with practice.

Up-to-date IM membership totals show that we currently have 2,718 Individual Members. Any Individual Member who has not renewed yet is welcome to do so either online via the SNU Website or by contacting Head Office direct.


SNU on Social Media

December top posts:-


  • Video of David, Mark, Alv for Sleepout: 8.8K

  • AFC Fundraiser for Sleepout: 3.5K

  • Christmas message (video): 4.9K

  • New Year message (video): 4.5k

  • Total reach was 21.K January top posts – (mid-January)


  • Announcement of Mark Bradley’s passing 15.7K (with 4.6K visiting the website for further information) – this highlighted the depth of feeling that people have, and I hope was comforting to his family and friends. No further other posts were made to social media for several days out of respect, and to give this sad news the prominence it deserved.

  • Thoughts & prayers for Australia: 2.6k

  • Scholarship event at Longton: 3K

  • Art card meme (peace): 3.6K

  • Christmas message continued to do well into early January.

  • Total reach so far (early January) is 25.5K


Instagram: Things continue to steadily build and we are gaining new followers continually with each post. We will soon have 1,000 followers and the number of likes / engagements is growing. Whilst it is not on the scale of Facebook, we are still reaching a good number of people. Posts were seen 2,851 times in the four weeks up to January 13th. Our content is similar to our Facebook content but Instagram is a good outlet for meme-based posts and I regularly post images/quotes from the art cards. The audience is a different demographic from Facebook, with the majority of users under the age of 54; the split is 79% women, 21% men. The top locations of users are UK, US, Netherlands, Australia and Ireland.

Twitter: This continues to grow slowly, and in the month up to mid-January posts had been seen by 4,470 people.


 Census Campaign

The next national census could well be the last, as the Government moves to find better, more cost-effective ways to reflect the population of the United Kingdom. Alv Hirst has contacted representatives of The Greater World, the International Spiritualist Federation and the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain and will arrange a meeting with them once he hears back from them. He is going to suggest a campaign which everyone can run on their social media channels and their internal communications to encourage Spiritualists to correctly record their religion on the census form. More information regarding this initiative will be published as the census date approaches.

Website Stats for 2019: For your information, some basic stats ahead of any deeper analysis from our account manager at Raising IT.






Number of users




Number of page views



+ 16%

Social media referrals




+ 23%


Demographics: 30% M, 70% F (35% Sample).

Top countries: UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, France, Sweden. Ages: 45–54 (23%), 55–64 (22%), 25–34 (18%), 65+ (15%), 35–44 (18%), 18–24 (5%).

Other: Only 30% accessed the website via a desktop computer, the rest were mobile devices.


The Year of the Environment – Green Summit

It has been agreed to hold the Green Summit to discuss the Year of the Environment on Sunday 5th April at 2.00 p.m. The meeting will be held via Zoom to reduce the need for travel and joining instructions will be made available shortly. We hope that as many Churches and members will take the time to get involved with a view to making a really positive change within the movement which has a beneficial effect on the planet and future generations.


OM 1 Visits Pioneer Centres

Minister Suzanne Gibson-Foy is currently arranging to visit each Pioneer Centre with a view to arranging a meeting to bring them all together to see how we can support the Centres in developing their work for the future.


500 Club

Minister Judith Seaman scooped the fabulous first prize of £1,000 during the July draw; the draw takes place once a quarter and next time it could be you! Contact Redwoods if you are interested in taking part, supporting the Union and potentially winning some great prizes. Churches are welcome to take part.

You have to be in it to win it!


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre from 3rd to 5th April 2020. The next Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Centre on Saturday 26th September  2020.


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]


 Thought for today!

You get in life what you have

the courage to ask for.





Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Previous Blogs 

President's Blog | Edition 50 |

President's Blog | Edition 49 |

President's Blog | Edition 48 |

President's Blog | AGM19 Special |

President's Blog | Edition 46 |

President's Blog | Edition 45 |

President's Blog | Edition 44 |

President's Blog | Edition 43 |

President's Blog | Edition 42 |

President's Blog | Edition 41 |

President's Blog | AGM18 Special |

President's Blog | Edition 40 |

President's Blog | Edition 39 |

President's Blog | Edition 38 |

President's Blog | Edition 37 |

President's Blog | Edition 36 |

President's Blog | Edition 35 | 

President's Blog | Edition 34 |

President's Blog | Edition 33 |

President's Blog | Edition 32 |

President's Blog | Edition 31  |

President's Blog | Edition 30 |

President's Blog | Edition 29 |

President's Blog | Edition 28 |