President's Blog 58

 

National Executive Committee Meeting, 12th, 13th & 14th February 2021 via the Zoom platform

 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.

 


Rules for Churches 2021

The completed copy is now deposited with the Charity Commission and after reviewing the possible challenges in the coming year it was agreed that a copy of the Rules for Churches 2021 will be sent to each Church after the national AGM in July; we will then deliver a range of presentations aimed at supporting Churches in adopting the new procedures and getting to grips with all of the necessary changes. The new edition will take effect from 1st January 2022 so that Churches can go into their 2022 AGMs using the new constitution. At the request of the Charity Commission the NEC have agreed that going forward, unless there is an urgent need to respond to new legislation, the Rules for Churches will now be updated every five years, making the next edition 2026. The Administrative Matrix available from the Union’s website will be updated to reflect the changes in time for January 2022, so this will provide additional support to our Churches.

 


SNU Latest Circulation

The February circulation has now been posted out to all Districts, Churches and members but it has been drawn to our attention that one or two members have items missing from the pack. Can all members please check the pages of SNU Today, as sometimes single sheets can get inserted and this may make them difficult to locate.

 

We are also aware that some members signed up for e-circulation have also received a postal copy; this is a system error, so can members please ensure that they only use one set of nomination papers, as duplicate nominations from the same member will be disqualified.

 

Below is a schedule of the circulation which members can use to check whether they are missing any items. Should you be something short please contact head office and they will arrange to replace this for you. For nominations this year members are asked to note that the blue nomination form should go into the blue envelope and the green nomination form should go into the green envelope.


February Circulation Schedule of Contents:

Members e-circ
Members
Churches/ Centres
Districts

Nomination form – NEC positions + envelopes

SNU Today

Bye-law amendments

Spiritualist of the Year Award nomination form

Bob Bassett Award nomination form

Community Service Award nomination form

Nomination Form – NEC positions + envelopes

AGM Booking Form

Call for Motions

SNU Today

Part two Return form

Guidelines for Return forms

Healing Return form

Guidelines for Healing Return form

Balance Sheet

Bye-law amendments

Spiritualist of the Year Award nomination form

Community Service Award nomination form

Church of the Year nomination form

Bob Bassett Award nomination form

Nomination form – NEC positions + envelopes

AGM Booking form

Diary Advert sheet

Call for Motions

SNU Today

Part two Return form

Guidelines for Return forms

Healing Return form

Guidelines for Healing Return form

Balance Sheet

Affiliate Member sheet + opt-out sheet

Bye-law amendments

Spiritualist of the Year Award nomination form

Community Service Award nomination form

Church of the Year nomination form

Bob Bassett Award nomination form

Nomination form – NEC positions + envelopes

AGM Booking form

Diary Advert sheet

Call for Motions


SNU Yearbook 2021

It was hoped to deliver the new Yearbooks to members in the early part of January but following several members of staff at Head Office having to self-isolate after members of their family had tested Covid-positive we had to delay the circulation. It was agreed to deal with the Yearbooks alphabetically so that members of the same household would receive their books at the same time. The final batch went out at the end of January and any member not in receipt of a Yearbook should contact Head Office.

 


Year of the Environment 2021

Following the disastrous effect of the pandemic the NEC agreed to designate 2021 as ‘Year of the Environment’; we will be working towards some policy statements for the Union and helping Churches wherever possible to reduce their carbon footprint. It is clear that the climate disaster is not something we can choose to ignore: we need to act now and as a responsible, forward-looking religion we urge all of our members and Churches to join us in this action to create positive change in our world.

 


Covid Vaccination Roll-out

The NEC were pleased to hear that Stourbridge Church in the West Midlands has been designated as an NHS vaccination hub. The NEC discussed our approach to vaccination and agreed to join the voices of faith leaders from many religions to endorse the vaccination process and encourage our membership to accept the vaccination when it is offered. The BAME communities seem nervous about accepting vaccination and we agreed to add our voice nationally to support the roll-out in the hope that as vaccination progresses we can all begin to return to life as normal and of course our major concern is allowing our Churches to open fully again so that we can all return to physical worship.


 

Annual General Meetings 2021

The NEC discussed at length how we could best support the Churches and the Districts with their Annual General Meetings.

 

The following polices were agreed:

 


Church AGMs 

These should be held physically as soon as it is safe to do so. The deadline for the holding of Church AGMs has been extended until the end of June. The Prime Minister is going to announce the road out of lockdown on Monday 22nd February and clearly Churches will be in a better place to plan once this guidance is made public. It is anticipated that some form of social distancing will be with us for much of the coming year; for small Churches with limited space the NEC recommend the hiring of community centres perhaps for a couple of hours to allow the meetings to proceed or, alternatively, you could approach a larger SNU Church in your area to provide a venue for your AGM so that you can proceed. National Warden Forms will be required to be completed this year and these should be returned to Head Office within three months of the Church reopening. All National Wardens will receive their paperwork in due course.

Should the lockdown not be lifted as expected the Union will in due course make further announcements to give the Churches the necessary information to support them through this necessary constitutional process. After the Prime Minister’s announcements a fact sheet will be sent in hard copy to the President of every Church at their home address. Further updates and guidance will be provided on the news section of the SNU website and shared through our social media channels.

 


District Council AGMs   

All Districts must hold their AGMs physically this year and no dispensation will be given for virtual meetings. Again, the deadline for District AGMs to be held will be extended to the end of June to allow extra time and, again, should lockdown restrictions prevail the Union will issue further advice in due course but Districts can start their nominations process pending the agreement of a date for their AGM.

 


National AGM 2021

Given that the SNU AGM takes place over three days and means that many members have to travel some considerable distance the NEC have agreed to make the AGM virtual again this year. Learning the lessons from last year’s meeting, the event will be structured over three days as is usual and this will avoid the need for members to spend many hours online. Again, further information and the registration procedure will be published in due course. Should any members have already completed their booking form, which was delivered in the February circulation, no cheques will be cashed and any payments will be returned to you shortly. The SNU Trust has indicated that it will adopt the same procedure it used last year to hold its AGM by proxy but the Union will continue dialogue with the Trust to see if it wishes to be included in the SNU AGM weekend.

 

The Union recognises the importance of consistent and clear messaging throughout these times and following the NEC meeting a meeting was held with representatives of all Districts on Wednesday 17th February; all the necessary information and discussions were shared with the Districts so that they could in turn support the members and Churches in their area. The first port of call should be the District and should this not be possible members and Churches should refer to Head Office.

 


Census 2021

The latest National Census will take place in England on 21st March 2021; for the first time this year the census will be conducted on-line and households will be receiving guidance for how to engage with the Census over the next week or so. The Union continues its campaign started in 2011 to ask members to register their religion as ‘SPIRITUALIST’; we understand, despite our lobbying of the government department responsible, that Spiritualism has not been added to the established list of religions but it is possible to enter ‘SPIRITUALIST’ in the ‘Other’ box. Many people declare their religion as ‘Spiritual’ but this is simply not Spiritualism, so members are encouraged to ensure that they make their religion clear and Districts and Churches are asked to share this with their members. SNU social media channels will include further information in the run-up to the Census being taken on the 21st.

 

‘Declare yourself a Spiritualist and let’s make our numbers count.’

www.snu.org.uk/census

 


New Hymn Book and Music for Churches

This project has been ongoing now for over five years and after a few false starts we are finally making progress towards providing this vital resource for the Churches. Minister Alan Rawnsley (OM3) and a respected musician and Church organist Michael Thompson have developed a range of music which will fit hymns in both of the current SNU official Hymn Books. They are also working to bring some totally new material into usage to bring a modern edge whilst avoiding the temptation to adapt ‘pop’ songs. The NEC has agreed that both the music recordings and the words to the hymns/songs will be available as free downloads from the SNU website. It is hoped to launch this service sometime this year. 

 


Hydesville Celebrations

As Hydesville Day approaches on 31st March the NEC has agreed to provide a special virtual celebration this year with a view to drawing Spiritualists together at this time. The event is still in the planning stages but we hope over the week of Hydesville to provide a range of events for members which will start with ‘An Audience with the President’ Hydesville Special on Monday 29th March. We plan a service on the 31st and have also put an appeal out to all the Districts to bring forward ‘Pioneers’ from within their own area, which will contribute to the national celebration in addition, of course, to events the Districts already have planned within their own areas. The week will conclude with the Friday Healing service Hydesville special. A full programme of events will be published via SNU social media channels; let’s mark our national day in a special way this year.


SNU Today 

The latest edition of SNU Today was posted out as part of the February circulation and includes a range of articles which we hope members will find interesting and informative; these include ‘The National Executive Committee from a personal perspective’, ‘The Spiritualist Repair Shop’, ‘The Power of Two’, and an update on SNUi and all things SNU.

 

The NEC have agreed to allocate SNU Today an ISSN number; once this is in place a copy of all future SNU Today magazines will be filed with the legal deposit of the British Library, which will ensure the long-term preservation of the publication as well as ensuring that what is happening now in SNU Spiritualism is accessible to future generations of researchers into Spiritualism. We are also looking to apply the same practice to ‘The Pioneer’. Like it or not, we are part of creating the social history of the country and our world and this is just one way we can protect our legacy for future generations who will follow us.

 


Arthur Findlay College

The small team at the College continues to maintain the security and state and condition of the building along the lines we have previously agreed. We continue to develop the on-line courses, which seem to be well received and provide sittings and spiritual assessments which are providing a much-needed income stream to the College.

 

The fundraising event with Mavis Pittilla held in December was a great success and we sold 226 tickets, netting a profit of £4,360 for the College. Thanks to the Communication Director’s hard work we have produced a compilation of the two evenings and edited out the demonstration to produce a video recording of the event, which we have put on-line with a company called Vimeo; the recording has been placed behind a paywall, meaning that people who wish to watch must pay £10, which is marketed as a fundraiser for the College. The recording was on-line until 5th February. Regardless of whether this raises funds for the College we have, I feel, crossed new territory here and it may well provide a model for future video launches and new income streams for the Union. Our thanks go to everyone around the world who supported this event, which has helped in turn to support the College until such time as we are able to open our doors again to our students.

 


Arthurs Memorial receives local recognition

Arthur Findlay’s Memorial, built in the grounds of Stansted Hall to Arthur’s own specification, has now been shortlisted by the local authority for inclusion in the local heritage list; this is a huge step forward and provides Arthur with the recognition he rightly deserves for his tireless work for Spiritualism.

 


New Boilers at the AFC

The College Manager has identified a problem with the two main boilers at the AFC which provide heat to the first and second floors at Stansted Hall. Both boilers are old and we are no longer able to source new spare parts to maintain them. We have to find a solution and the General Manager has been tasked to present our options to the Committee; this will be a major investment for the College and, of course, we will fully investigate the environmentally friendly green technology to replace the current gas-fired boilers which have been in use for many years. 

 

The General Manager is also working on creating a Covid-safe environment at the College, working with staff and tutors to ensure that, when we do open, which we hope will be later this year, we can do so safely.

 


Collaboration

I have been approached by the newly-appointed Chairman of Trustees for the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre in Edinburgh, Professor Lance Butler, who has enquired about forming some form of collaboration with the Centre and the Arthur Findlay College; this matter was  tabled at the Collegiate Committee meeting in January and it was agreed to further explore the potential of this link between two respected Colleges within the UK.


 

‘Audience with the President’

In view of the advent of Lockdown Mark Three the Communications Director and I have agreed to launch AWTP Series Three on Monday 25th January. We have booked the following guests for the first five editions:

25th January Rev. Janet Nohavec OSNU The Fox Sisters School House Project
1st February  Sadia Bowering & Rachel Loukes The Workings of Head Office
8th February  Minister Steven Upton Healing the SNU Way
15th February Sharon McCormack 

Maria Hayden and her Impact on Spiritualism

22nd February  Minister Simone Key

Digital Spiritualism Chairman of SNUi & Daniel Feenix

 Plans are in place for ‘Audience with the President’ to continue into April 2021 and all sessions are recorded and available to view free of charge on the SNU You tube Film Channel.

 


Ministers Administration Committee

The Committee continues to work to support members of the Ministry providing official services and other support during the pandemic.

 

The Service of Acceptance for Marie Lisseman OSNU was conducted on 12th December via Zoom and there is another Service of Acceptance due to take place in March, which again demonstrates that the SNU Ministry is growing. Our congratulations go to Marie as she embarks upon her new journey within Spiritualism.

 

The Listening Ear project continues and members of the Ministry are providing a free confidential listening service to people who need to talk at this time. It must be noted that this service cannot be used for the booking of private readings or other mediumistic services: it simply provides members with a point of contact and the opportunity to talk. The contact details for the service are available via the main SNU website.


 

Inter Faith Network

Minister David Hopkins, the SNU Interfaith Ambassador, reports on the ongoing work of the IFN and the part the SNU is playing in this work. This provides a direct link to many Government departments and, through the information service provided by IFN to Faith members, we have been able to ensure that our Covid advice is current and in line with all the changes in the government’s regulations and advice to the general public across all four nations of the United Kingdom.

 


The Almoner  

The important and valuable work which the Almoner provides continues and her network is growing as more and more people either ask for help or share their email contacts so that they can be added to the circulation list. Minister Marian Bishop is the Almoner and should anyone need to contact Marian her email is available in the SNU Yearbook or via Head Office.

 


Focus on Religion (FOR)

Both of the planned events for FOR this year will be moved forward into 2022 due to expected social distancing requirements; however, plans are underway to create a virtual event and this will be promoted through the normal channels.

 


RE Council

The Union continues its engagement with the RE Council, which has recently put on three events to explore and discuss the incoming changes to the RE school curriculum. We need to identify what input the smaller religions will have and, if so, at what age level. A Working Party has been established to review current materials in place to support schools wishing to teach Spiritualism and we are also discussing the possibility of providing new materials to support students both in terms of schools and on the websites for general access.

 


Pioneer Centres

OM1 has held a meeting with representatives from all the Pioneer Centres with a view to helping them chart the future; this provided an opportunity to clarify a range of questions concerning their operation and helped to create a dialogue between the Centres.


 

SNU Investments

Following a very turbulent year on the markets the Finance Committee was pleased to note that the four share portfolios the Union holds had regained all of their losses by the year-end and valuations were virtually where they were when the year began. Listed companies are also reviewing their dividend policies after many companies suspended their dividend payments throughout 2020 and it is hoped that, moving forward into 2021, we can see the yield on the portfolios begin to recover, which is a key source of income for the Union. The NEC reviewed the need to draw funds from the portfolios to help support the Union whilst the College is posting heavy losses during closure but it was agreed that at this stage this will not be necessary even though the Finance Committee will keep the position under review.

 


Changes to Byelaws G  

The Education & Exponents Committee brought forward changes to Bye-laws G concerning a student’s ability to resit boards when they have been remediated. The NEC agreed the recommendations and these have been referred to the General Purposes Committee for final drafting.

 


Successful Candidates for SNU Education

During 2020 29 Final Assessment Boards were held and the following passes were recorded:

 

9 Diploma applicants were successful.

23 Certificate applicants were successful.

12 students achieved CSNU t.

1 student achieved CSNU ps.

29 students achieved PAS level.

3 students achieved CAAS.

54 Healing upgrade assessments took place.

 

The NEC added its congratulations to all the successful candidates. The results illustrate the hard work undertaken throughout 2020 by the Education & Exponents Committee and our thanks go to the many tutors, assessors and the Committee for keeping SNU education moving forward even in the midst of the pandemic. Previously the Committee was called the ‘Training and Awards Committee’ but it never actually did any training; this has been addressed and the results are evident from the figures above.

 

The Committee would like to bring forward a new project, which will be to produce a good-quality ‘Spiritualist Journal’ which would provide the means to capture and celebrate some of the key moments of living life as a Spiritualist. The NEC gave their approval for the Committee to investigate the production of such a book.


 

SNUi

SNUi reported that membership now stands at 1,533 and continues to grow strongly; the new SNUi website is finally up and running and additional classes have been added to the platform to meet the needs of students in differing time zones around the world.

 


Technology Champions

The Publicity & Promotions Committee are currently finalising arrangements to recruit and support a team of individuals from each DC to act as a point of contact for Churches to ask for advice and information concerning social media and Zoom. A role description has been developed and we plan to recruit through social media. This role is going to be increasingly important for Churches as we start to move to reopen the Churches and find a way to join our virtual congregations with the physical ones.

 


Social Media Data Analysis

We now have 8,541 followers on Facebook; our content output in January (28 days) was that 24,000 people have seen our posts, our You tube videos have had 4,400 views appearing on 54,000 screens and no less than 1,020 hours of videos have been watched.

The live Christmas Day mini-Service, which was new for this year, reached 5,600 people.

We now have 700 followers on Twitter and 1,834 followers on Instagram, up 7.2%.

 

Our thanks go to the Publicity & Promotions Committee for all their work to promote the message of Spiritualism and the Union.  

 


 

Time for change at the Council

Following the February Council meeting National Councillors agreed to adopt a new format which would see the frequency of Council Meetings double to four per year. Three of these will be held via Zoom and the Council reserve the right to hold one physical meeting depending upon the need. It was also agreed that each District would be able to send two delegates to the Council, the first to be elected as normal and the second to be rotated between members of the DC Executive Committee to allow more people to become involved in the work of the Council. The NEC approved these changes and they will be implemented in due course.

 


Zoom Training for Support Officers

Eleven people have been identified by OM2, mainly newly-appointed Support Officers (SO), who need to undertake training for SOs. A date has been set towards the end of March and invitations to attend will go out shortly.

 

It has also been agreed to provide a similar training day for Investigation Panel Members; it is hoped to incorporate the lessons learnt from the SO training when delivering the Panel Member training.

 


New Fact Sheets

A further range of fact sheets has been added to the portfolio to include:

 

  • What’s the function of the various SNU Committees that we hear about?
  • How does Spiritualist Healing Work?
  • I have skills that I think could be useful to the SNU: what should I do?

 

These join ‘What’s the NEC all about?’,  approved in December 2020.


 

Time to review the Risk Register

The CAO is currently working on reviewing our Risk Register; we currently have only 19 categories of Risk and it is felt that this needs to be expanded, especially after the experience of the last twelve months.

 


Derek Pipe retires from GPC

Derek Pipe from Croydon in East London has finally retired from the General Purposes Committee after many years wielding his pen to help formulate the necessary drafts of our constitution. The NEC agreed to award Derek with Honorary Membership of the Union to reflect his many years of service to the organisation. The presentation took place as part of one of Croydon Church’s Zoom services on a Sunday morning and was presented by the President of the Union. Derek was delighted and we wish Derek a very happy retirement.

 


Meet the NEC

It has been agreed to progress the ‘Meet the NEC’ meetings as virtual meetings for each District; the CAO is drawing together possible dates and then she will approach each District with a view to organising an event in their area which will be open to all Spiritualists drawn from a given District Council.

 


New Policies

The NEC approved  the following new policy documents during its meeting:

 

  • Gifts and Hospitality Policy
  • Remuneration Policy

 


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. The NEC have agreed that the July draw, which is normally the AGM draw, will be normal and the annual first prize of £1,000 will be drawn at the October draw in line with the rescheduled AGM.

You have to be in it to win it!

 


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting is scheduled to take place on 9th, 10th and 11th April and will be conducted via Zoom.
The next Council meeting is yet to be arranged following the adoption of a new format for Council, also via Zoom and the date will be published shortly.

 


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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Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Thought for the Day

It always seems impossible

until it’s done.

-Nelson Mandela

 


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