President’s Blog 49


NEC Meeting Friday 4th October until Sunday 6th October 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. 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.


Minister Jimmy Biggin

As I sit down to write my latest blog I have this morning received news regarding the passing to spirit of Minister Jimmy Biggin, who passed at 9.50 a.m. on 15th October, aged 95. Jimmy was appointed as Honorary Vice-President of the Union back in 2012 and also held honorary positions in the Lyceum Union; he was a very well-respected Spiritualist and has served the Union and the movement over many years.

Our thoughts go to Jimmy’s family at this time and of course to Jimmy as he begins a new chapter, reunited with his wife and many others who have gone before him. I am sure the spirit world will celebrate as one of their faithful servants returns home. The funeral service is at Daldowie Crem, East Chapel, Shettleston, Glasgow on Friday 25th October at 12.00. Afterwards, to the Rabbie Burns Masonic Hall  39, Church Street, Ballieston, Glasgow G69 7EU. Minister Irene McGilvary is to take the service.


Remembrance Sunday Ceremony – 10th November

The NEC is pleased to note that the President has received an invitation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to once again attend the National Service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. It was agreed that this year Minister June English, Vice-President, should accompany the President to represent Spiritualism.


College Principal

The Principal of the Arthur Findlay College and the Barbanell Centre is appointed every three years by the National Executive Committee (NEC); at its last meeting the NEC agreed to appoint Minister David Bruton for a further three-year term. The role includes working to promote the College and the Centre widely, working with the respective General Managers on day-to-day operations in addition to serving on the Collegiate Committee as Vice-Chair.


Chair of General Purposes Committee (GPC)

Sadly, Jane Barton has had to resign from her position as Chair of the Committee due to work commitments. The NEC agreed to appoint Minister Steven Upton as the Chair for the remainder of the electoral year; Steven will undertake this role from the November meeting of GPC.


Time for IMs to renew their subscriptions

Individual Members are reminded that 1st October is the date for their annual renewal. Payment can be made either by post or direct to head office via the phone or members could set up a direct debit, meaning that in the future everything will happen automatically. The latest Yearbook has been delivered to head office, the cover of which recognises that next year is the SNU Year of the Environment; the staff are already working to send out replacement membership cards and Yearbooks to everyone who has already renewed their subscription.


District Council Finances

The Finance Committee have identified the fact that there is currently £226,000 sitting in the main Union accounts allocated to the Districts and a review of accounts over the last three years suggests that this figure is growing, which could potentially breach Charity Commission rules on charity reserves. The NEC had sent a discussion paper to the Presidents and Secretaries of all District Councils requesting that the matter of funding the districts be discussed at their executive meetings, with feedback coming to the National Council Meeting in September from the National Councillors. At the meeting a full debate was had reviewing each of the discussion points in the document and reflecting feedback from all District Councils present. The NEC has agreed to refer this matter back to the next Finance Committee meeting in November, when final recommendations will be agreed to be tabled at the December NEC meeting.


Yale University Research Project

This project was launched as planned on 14th September and early takeup has been encouraging. Any members wishing to take part can access the project website via the link on the SNU main website.



IFN Faith Communities Forum Moderator (FCF)

At the last meeting of the FCF Minister David Bruton was appointed as a moderator to the FCF; the term of office is three years and active participation in the work of the FCF is encouraged.


Government Funding

The Government has recently increased its funding to support places of worship; this can potentially fund security training and other measures with a view to protecting property and congregations. Whilst, thankfully, Spiritualism has not suffered the hate crime some other religions have, security is a key issue which all Church Committees need to keep under review and several Churches are now looking at installing CCTV systems and other security measures.

Further information is available at: [email protected]


Official Services

Since the last NEC meeting in August the President has conducted a Centenary service at Treforest Church, South Wales DC, and a rededication service at Denton Church, Manchester DC. Both services were well attended and mark an important date in the respective histories of both Churches.


National Training Day

A very successful National Training Day was conducted at the Barbanell Centre on 7th September; altogether some sixty people attended, representing Churches from Inverness to Norwich and many in between. A response survey document was developed and 46 people completed and returned this, which will create an excellent planning tool for future meetings. Delegates agreed that more of these days were needed but the Union was requested to deliver these days in different parts of the country. The NEC has taken this on board and hopes to deliver further events linked with the portfolio of Ordinary Director 3, who has responsibility for training within the Union. Our thanks go to everyone who took the time to attend and to those who shared their views with us as to the effectiveness of the day.


Training within the Union

Minister Alan Rawnsley, the newly appointed Ordinary Director 3, is working to address the many training needs within the Union. He has drafted a questionnaire which will go to a range of stakeholders, the results of which will be used to formulate a balanced approach that best identifies and meets the need throughout the organisation. The questionnaire was approved for issue and any member in receipt of one is encouraged to take the time to let us have their views so as to produce an effective scheme.


New Appointments to the Ministry

Following the latest National Board Christine Bond and Barbara Evison will hold a joint Service of Acceptance at St. Helens Church on 9th November and Ann Dibben will hold her Service of Acceptance at Glasgow Association on 16th November. The NEC wishes to extend its congratulations to all three ladies as they take on the role of Officiant within the Spiritualists’ National Union.


Congress of the Ministry

The next meeting of the Congress of the Ministry will take place at Welwyn Garden City Church on Saturday 19th October; all members of the Ministry and trainees are encouraged to attend.


Healing Accreditation Scheme (HAS)

The Union has now issued over 100 training kits for the new HAS scheme, which seems to be bedding in very well. The NEC considered the matter of issuing the new Code of Conduct to healing mediums; a copy of the new Code has been sent to every Church, an electronic version of the Code is available as a free download from the SNU website and healing mediums can apply to head office for a hard copy, which is chargeable. A free copy of the Code will be sent to all healing mediums with the next renewal in April 2020. The change in the time for completion of H1 has been notified to head office and the necessary changes to administration and procedures are well underway.


The History of Spiritualism

There has been some debate over recent years about the origins of Spiritualism; Paul Gaunt has extensively researched a definitive version and it has been agreed that this will be incorporated into all future Education courses. Course tutors are being updated to ensure consistency of marking across all students.


The G Courses  

The Education & Exponents Committee is currently planning to rewrite courses G1, G2 and G3 to bring them into line with the current constitution. The Committee is also working on updating the format of SD1 and, subject to approval, the format could be adopted with other courses.



Tutor Assessment

The Education & Exponents Committee is also looking at developing a manual for education tutors and scrapping the proposed scheme of markers and mentors, taking the view that tutors should all be trying to support their students. A tutors' meeting will take place on the first weekend in December at the Barbanell Centre;  the intention is to involve tutors in shaping the way forward for education within the SNU.


New Mentorships at the Barbanell Centre

The Education & Exponents Committee is currently working on developing new mentorship schemes which will run at the Barbanell Centre and it is hoped that these will embrace training and accreditation as exponents of SNU Spiritualism. The courses will begin in 2020 and further details will be announced once a structure is put in place.



The role of National Representative Coordinator has been filled by Iris Wuthrich; this appointment has been ratified by the NEC.

The introduction of the Zoom software on the SNUi website is proving to be a great success and we are looking to increase the room capacity to 500 seats very shortly. Zoom has now been adopted throughout the Union for meetings, which is helping to drive down costs, introduce an effective video conference service and be kinder to our environment. 

The Course of Tenth Anniversary lectures continues with a recent session delivered by Minister Matthew Smith.


New Association

Soulconnections from the Netherlands has applied for association with the Spiritualists’ National Union; this was considered by the NEC and further enquiries are to be made pending possible acceptance.


Review of Complaints

The Complaints Working Party has sent its first report to the NEC, which was discussed at length; the group has made several suggestions as to how the system can be improved and made more user-friendly and the NEC has given its observations, which will be referred back to the group in due course.


Social Media

Our top recent Facebook posts have all reached over 2,000 people and this helps to drive people to our main websites. Instagram continues to grow, with followers increasing to 695; the demographics show us that we reach an age range between 35 and 64, with 80% women and 20% men. Twitter followers have increased to 362.


SNU Today 

The latest issue of SNU Today was posted out in September with the main circulation; the theme for this edition was 'Community' and John Blackwood OSNU, Minister Janet Parker and friends graced the cover, helping to support a Scottish Mental Health Charity which serves to demonstrate Spiritualism’s increasing role in society, proving that as Spiritualists we care and that we are prepared to do things to help others in need. – The Brotherhood of Man.


World's Big Sleepout

Plans for our participation in this event are well underway, with a special article included in SNU Today. Three members of the NEC are now confirmed as taking part in a sleepout in the garden at the Barbanell Centre. Why not get involved? Some Churches are planning to hold a Big Sleepin, which is deemed more appropriate for some of the older members of our community. If you can’t get involved, there are details on donating on the SNU website; homelessness is now a worldwide problem and we truly hope that the events that take place on 7th December will do something positive to help those in need across the world.


SNU Leaflets

The Communications Director has conducted a review of all leaflets currently in circulation. The NEC has agreed to recall the ‘Guide to Dealing with Suicide’, which is thought to be no longer appropriate; if your Church has copies still on display, please remove them and destroy them. Some of the other leaflets will receive a makeover with new wording and graphics, just with the view of keeping them up to date as an important resource for our Churches and Centres.


Internal Communications 

The Publicity & Promotions Committee plans to issue two briefing e-bulletins to all SNU sub-Committees to ensure that they are kept up to date and, secondly, to all District Councils to share updates and information which we hope will be communicated within the districts to support the Churches and Centres.


We have just received the latest analytics for the main SNU website; to date this year visits have increased by 15.9% to 559,882, there has been a 65% increase to traffic to the online shop, and referrals from Facebook have increased by 41.7% to 10,271. The demographics are a little different from social media, with 70% female and 30% male traffic to the site.


Mind Body Spirit Event

The finishing touches are being put in place for this year’s visit to the Mind Body Spirit show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. We have booked the same size stand as last year but the graphics we will use over the three-day event have been totally redesigned and we are really looking forward to the opportunity to promote Spiritualism to many people who have similar interests and, of course, to the general public. Why not come along and pay us a visit? Each day the stand will offer Spiritualist healing to visitors as well as providing a one-stop shop for everything Spiritualism.


Growing our Membership

Minister Suzanne Gibson-Foy and Sue Evans, our new IM National Representative, attended a seminar in London on how to grow membership for membership organisations. As a result and following the subsequent discussion at the National Council Meeting the NEC agreed to explore removing the need for Districts to interview provisional members and scrapping provisional membership, thus allowing members to come straight into full membership;  we are also planning a membership incentive scheme which will potentially pay Individual Members, Churches and Districts for enrolling new members into the Union. These are exciting times; the General Purposes Committee are currently looking at the necessary changes to constitution and it is hoped to introduce the new schemes in February 2020. Further information will be published shortly.



Two new additions have been made recently to the range of articles, bringing a Spiritualist perspective to current events and issues; our thanks go to all the Ministers who have taken part and we aim to keep adding to our library, which can provide excellent materials for use within services as readings.


Focus on Religion Events

Following the success of this year’s event in Southampton the NEC has agreed to hold two events next year and the team hope to visit Croydon Church on 25th April and Sheffield Attercliffe Church on 20th June. Marketing for the events will be available in the New Year.


NEC Skills Audit

NEC members each took part in a skills audit questionnaire, the data from which has been processed to create an overview and identify areas where additional training is needed, which will be delivered over the rest of the electoral year.  

The key areas are: Administration, Law, HR/Training, Finance, Governance, Marketing & Communications, and People Skills & Management.


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 29th November to 1st December 2019. The next Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Centre on Saturday 1st February 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!


Without rain, nothing grows. Learn to embrace the storms of your life

Carl Sandburg




Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Previous Blogs 

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 |