NEC Meeting Friday 8th February until Sunday 10th February  2019

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.


Barbanell House

The NEC have this weekend stayed at the new accommodation at Barbanell Centre, Barbanell House. The building is smart, functional and comfortable and will prove to be a great asset to the Centre. Bookings are being taken to stay at the new facility and the NEC have agreed a Dedication Service, which will take place on Saturday 6th April. Attendance will be by invitation only and more information will be published shortly.


Gender-Neutral Bye-laws

Following research on the Charity Commission website the Acting CAO has produced a gender-neutral version of Bye-laws B, which the NEC considered as part of its meeting. It was agreed to give the go-ahead to move all of the Bye-laws into this new format and a motion will be placed at the AGM to gauge members' views about producing the Articles and other SNU publications in the same format.


Contactless Giving

Following receipt of a report produced by the Church of England the Union is going through the Finance Committee to look further into this subject. Many more people carry little or no cash nowadays and we are without doubt moving towards a cashless society, with payment by card or mobile phone replacing cash, especially with younger generations. The report highlighted a 97% increase in donations when using this payment method. Three Churches will be approached to act as a small pilot scheme and the Union will meet the initial start-up costs to establish whether this method of making donations in church is viable within our Church estate.


Head Office Restructure

Following the retirement of Jane Heatley and the resignation of Jane Barton the General Manager at Redwoods is undertaking a restructure of staff. Following a period of consultation interviews are taking place to discuss and implement a new structure which we hope will provide an even better service to those people who contact and interact with Head Office. When this process is complete, new contracts and a new staff handbook will be issued to all employees at Redwoods. The Officers are currently conducting interviews with a view to appointing a new CAO.

Redwoods has been experiencing some difficulty with its telephone system and a new supplier has been sourced; the new equipment will be installed over the next few weeks and it is hoped we can get our communications back on track after a challenging couple of months.


Longton Church Strategic Planning Day

Following the meeting held at Longton Church late last September the NEC has now gathered and reviewed all of the key points which were discussed.

We have agreed to adopt the following strapline for the AGM:

‘Spiritualism: progress through freedom of thought’

This statement is an amalgam of the highest-scoring choices from the feedback sessions and reflects the majority of views. It was also agreed to look at the feasibility of providing a Website workshop as part of the AGM weekend, giving members guidance on getting the best from the Union’s four main websites.

Consideration was also given to establishing an overseas District Council; the Union has an increasing proportion of its membership base at IM level from abroad and it was felt that this group of members needed to have a level of engagement in line with the UK-based IMs.

It was also agreed that we would look at producing more SNU literature in foreign languages to promote inclusion with overseas membership.



The President reported the following information which had been received in the latest IFN bulletin:


New Faith and Beliefs declaration for organ donation

In summer 2018 the Government published a response to its consultation into the organ donation system in England. It confirmed that under the proposed new system (commonly known as ‘deemed consent’ or ‘opt out’) everybody would be considered a potential organ donor unless they have added their details to the NHS Organ Donor Register to say they do not wish to donate their organs or are in one of the excluded groups. It has been provisionally indicated that the system may be in place in April 2020.


Cohesion and Integration

Cohesion and integration are under discussion within a number of faith communities. The Free Church Group recently commissioned an eighteen-month research project looking at the relationship between Church and social cohesion in England. The project is being conducted by Theos, the UK’s leading think-tank on religion and society issues.


BBC ‘Year of Beliefs’

The BBC has announced that in 2019 there will be a special emphasis on Religion and Ethics programming with a whole year of programming across television, radio and digital which will explore ‘Britain’s beliefs and values’.

More information is at


Inter Faith Week 2019

Inter Faith Week 2019 will take place between Sunday 10th November and Sunday 17th November. The week begins each year on Remembrance Sunday to enable people of different backgrounds to remember together the service of soldiers and civilians of all faiths and beliefs and to reflect on peace.

The Union would very much like to encourage as many of its Churches as possible to take part in the week and a new leaflet aimed at introducing how to become involved is currently under preparation and will be published shortly.


Faith and Belief Forum - LGBT+Faith Training Days

The Faith and Belief Forum is hosting a series of LGBT+Faith training days. These are free to attend. The training is for LGBT organisations, faith-based organisations and individuals interested in LGBT and Faith inclusion. Travel grants are available.

The next training day takes place in Aberystwyth on March 19th and the next on 14th September in London. In order to maximise impact, places on these open sessions are restricted to one person per organisation or group. For information and to register, visit


National Diversity Awards

Nominations for the 2019 National Diversity Awards will open on 20th February. The categories, celebrating positive role models and community organisations among others, highlight the theme of race, religion and faith.

Nominations can be submitted at


Faith Ministers National Tour

The Government’s Faith Minister, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Lord Bourne, is undertaking a new national tour to celebrate the role of faith communities in the UK. The tour – ‘Belief in communities: bridging divides and strengthening communities’ – began with a visit to the Highway of Holiness Church in Tottenham and is being followed by monthly visits across the country. Its aim is “to shine a spotlight on the central role faith institutions play in building strong, resilient communities”.

The full press release is available at


Church Officers

Concern has arisen around a few of our Churches which are operated by members of the same family. Whilst the Union appreciates that many people and their partners play an active role on Church Committees, when other family members come on to a committee and then form a majority on that committee the potential for conflict of interest occurs. The NEC has agreed to refer this matter to the Council for further discussion with a view to bringing about changes to the next update of the Rules for Churches, which is due to be printed in or around 2020.


National  Training Day for Churches

The Union is looking at providing a National Training Day at the Barbanell Centre in Stafford, which will be open to all Church Committee members with a view to delivering training in key skills around running a Church and, of course, sharing best practice within the Union.

Once this project has been worked up further promotion of the event will be made and, following the event, the Union will also look at organising other events across the country with a view to providing continuing help and support to Church Committees.


February Council Meeting

Sadly, after the loss of the February Council Meeting due to bad weather the NEC took the view that trying to rearrange Council in the near future was going to be very difficult given the heavy commitments of many involved. It has been agreed for the Council Representative to produce a report following the NEC meeting which will be sent to all Districts for inclusion in their AGMs.

It is also proposed that the October Council meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday 28th September, will begin after dinner on Friday evening to provide some additional time for discussion. It is likely that this meeting will not take place at the Barbanell Centre and a new venue for the October Council meeting will be announced shortly.


Churches under support

Currently the Union has 23 Churches under support at Level One, 17 Churches at Level Two and 11 Churches at Level Three, making a total of 51 Churches in total currently under support.

Our thanks go to all Church Support Officers for the guidance and assistance they provide with a view to bringing Churches back to full stand-alone operations. The NEC has directed that all Churches at Level Three support are required to submit reports in June and December each year in order to standardise reporting across all Churches.


Church Returns

Part One Returns were sent out in November and by now should have been returned to Redwoods with the payment of fees. Part Two Returns were delivered in the February circulation, which was posted out last week (w/c 10th February). These should be returned, completed, within two weeks of holding the Church AGM. All Churches must hold their AGM by the end of April unless they have received a dispensation from the Union to delay it.



The February circulation has gone to all IMs and member bodies; it includes a copy of the new edition of SNU Today, which is packed full of articles about the Union and the Spiritualist movement, a great way to keep up to date with all things Spiritualist and now arguably the leading Spiritualist magazine in circulation.

The circulation also enclosed nomination forms for the new NEC; Minister Alan Rawnsley and Miss Julia Almond OSNU have indicated that they are not prepared to accept nomination for the next term of office.

Also enclosed is the booking form for the 2019 AGM, which will take place in Glasgow this year, hosted by the Scottish and Irish district.


Southern District Council

At a specially called EGM of the Southern District Council, which took place at Bitterne Church on Saturday 15th December, a new Executive Committee was appointed. Julie Grist was elected as District President and the Union offers Julie and her team our support as they begin their work to re-establish the Southern DC and its important work in the area.


Birtley Church   

Early in December the President presided at a special service to mark the 40th Anniversary of Birtley Church in the Northern District. The members have worked very hard over the last forty years to establish the Church in the town and provide a comfortable building which is widely used to promote Spiritualism in the area. Congratulations to Birtley.


Minister Peter Kent

A special service was held at Reading Church in the West London District to present Peter with his Gold Service award and mark his fifty years' dedicated work for Spiritualism; so many wonderful tributes were given to Peter that it is clear his work within the Ministry has touched the lives of many people in the Church and the surrounding District. The service included two addresses, one by the President and one by Peter, both of which were well received. Congratulations, Peter.


500 Club latest draw

The winners are confirmed as June English, Sue Presley, Tim Coombe, Judith Seaman, Marian Bishop, Janet Parker and Eileen Ledger.

£775 was paid out in total prizes this time. The March draw takes place shortly; why not contact Head Office and join the draw? It costs just £5 per month and Churches can also join, which means you could raise funds for your Church.

You could be among next month’s winners.



Mark Bradley, the IM Representative, is working hard to try and grow membership. Out of 295 people lapsed in October last year Mark has contacted everyone and 22 people have agreed to return to membership by paying their current subscription.

Membership is now firmly at the top of the NEC agenda and we are looking at several new initiatives to grow our membership this year and reverse a long-term trend of decline.

Churches are also encouraged to promote membership; if membership levels are allowed to fall, then the prospect of forming future committees to run the Church is brought into question. Any Church wishing support to promote membership should contact Mark Bradley, who will be happy to give advice.



All newly-developed forms have now been issued to Churches; although work continues, broadly speaking the Union is now pretty much in a fully compliant position in relation to the new legislation. Churches are urged not to ignore the requirements of the new Act and to ensure that they have received signed permission from all engaged mediums to use their name in promotional materials, both hard-copy and digital.

The Union is also planning to make representations to Government because of the heavy burden this new legislation is placing upon the voluntary sector; the issue is also to be raised at IFN to gauge the experience of other faith groups.

Entry into the Ministry

MAC has reviewed the entry criteria for both Officiants and Ministers and after discussion the NEC has agreed proposed changes, which will be implemented by MAC shortly.


Ten Laws of Right

The Lyceum Central Committee has produced an updated version of the Ten Laws of Right, which are used by the President as part of the Ordination service for new Ministers. Whilst accepting the new version, it has been agreed by the NEC that each individual Minister will have a choice as to which version is used within the service of Ordination.


The Almoner

Minister Marian Bishop reported the passing of two members to spirit since the start of the New Year and extended her thanks to all those people around the world who give their time to sending out healing. If you would like to join the Almoner's network, please contact Marian directly:   [email protected]


The Lyceum

Minister Rawnsley reported after attending the Central Committee meeting that two new Lyceums had been established, one in Birmingham and one in the Northern District. Lyceum publications are now available from the SNU online shop: visit

A special day to celebrate the birthday of Alfred Kitson will take place at Attercliffe Church in Sheffield on Saturday 16th February.

Stop Press:The day proved to be a great success with many people in attendance; the afternoon included discussion and a SWOT analysis to identify new ideas for the future. This was followed by a buffet tea provided by the Church and then a service of celebration, the theme of which was Healing, Peace and Progress. The President of the Union gave the address, Minister Alan Rawnsley led the prayers, Kathryn Crossley gave a reading from the Lyceum Manual by Alfred Kitson and Mary Gledhill led the congregation in a meditation for Peace and Healing. The service was chaired by Minister Brian Gledhill, President of the Lyceum Union.


SNU Policies

The Financial Director presented a newly-produced Internal Financial Controls Policy and Credit Card policy, which were both agreed with a view to keeping the Union's internal policy documents up to date and current. The NEC also reviewed the draft management accounts for 2018 and the budget for 2019, which were signed off. Budgeted income for 2019 is £501,110 and Expenditure is £563,000, giving a budgeted excess of expenditure over income of £62,230: however, the Union returns to profit when the group accounts are consolidated.


Church Improvement Grant

Following recommendations from the Finance Committee the NEC ratified the decisions and all Churches who applied for the initiative will hear shortly in writing whether their application has been successful.


New Healing Training Scheme

Work on adapting the Logbooks is now well underway. Course H1 is being reorganised, with some amendments to correspond with DC training days, and this will be brought to the NEC for approval when it is complete. Current Accredited Healing Mediums are reminded that the new training scheme will have no effect upon them: this initiative is aimed at the training of future Healing Mediums.


Service Awards

The new Church Membership Award Certificate has been designed and will be launched as a resource to Churches; contact Head Office for assistance.



As SNUi celebrates its tenth birthday the NEC agreed to create a new role of National Representative Coordinator. This person will be responsible to the SNUi Committee and will be appointed by the Committee for the coordination of the activities of the appointed National Representatives.

Membership of SNUi stood at 1,383 on 1st January, a slight increase over the last report.

Quite a few improvements to the SNUi website are beginning to feed through, making the site much more functional for the Committee and members alike.



The PPC Committee have announced that IM Philip Robinson from the Northern District is joining the Committee; our congratulations go to Philip on his appointment.

The NEC reviewed all the stats from our various social media accounts and websites.

The SNU Facebook page now has 4,376 followers and our reach on Facebook extends to 10,451 people.

The President's New Year message reached 1,700 people and the Christmas message produced by the NEC reached 5,900 people. The Armistice Day post also reached 14,600 people. The Union has now launched its own Instagram account, as this is seen as a better platform for the Union; already we have 204 followers.

In 2018 the main SNU website was visited by a total of 124,980 users, 71% female and 29% male.

The PPC Committee are working on a Press/media pack, which it is hoped will be ready in draft form for the April NEC meeting.


Mind Body Spirit Event

The contract has been signed for the 2019 event at the NEC in Birmingham; this event will run from 1st November to Sunday 3rd November. 


SNU Website – Perspectives

Our thanks go to Ministers Jackie Wright, Marian Bishop and Janet Parker, who have all provided articles for publication recently.


FOR Event

It is planned to hold this year's FOR event in the Southern District; once arrangements are in place this will be promoted through the normal channels.


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on 5th, 6th and 7th April 2019. The next Council meeting will take place at a venue to be agreed on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September 2019.


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, back by popular demand!


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

Minister David R Bruton



Previous Blogs 

Presidents Blog | Edition 43 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 42 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 41 |

Presidents Blog | AGM Special |

Presidents Blog | Edition 40 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 39 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 38 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 37 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 36 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 35 | 

Presidents Blog | Edition 34 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 33 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 32 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 31  |

Presidents Blog | Edition 30 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 29 |

Presidents Blog | Edition 28 |