President’s Blog 55


NEC Meeting Friday 17th and Saturday 18th July 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. 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.

This is the sixth NEC meeting held via Zoom since the advent of the pandemic; the highlights of  the meeting are reported below.

Annual General Meeting 2020: the change of arrangements

After a lengthy discussion concerning the logistics of holding a physical meeting safely the NEC has agreed to hold the meeting due to take place on Saturday 17th October virtually; we are currently working to identify the best way to achieve this and source suitable software to facilitate the necessary voting at the meeting. Further information will be available shortly and whilst the NEC regrets not to be able to hold our meeting physically our paramount concern needs to be the safety of the membership and our staff. The motions which will be placed before the meeting will be circulated to Churches and Districts with the August voting circulation.


Charity Commission Returns   

The Union has sought direction on behalf of its Churches, many of which have not yet been able to hold their Annual General Meeting to pass their accounts, which normally need to be submitted by the end of October. The Charity Commission (CC) have advised us that Churches have two options in regards to the accounts for the year ending 2019: either application can be made to the Charity Commission for an extension of the time to submit the Annual Return, which we understand will be granted, or, alternatively, if the Church Committee meets and passes the accounts they can then be submitted to the CC with the Return and the AGM can then take place as soon as this is possible. This potentially will mean that the Church can meet its filing deadline and there will be no need to request an extension. The CC advises that all such decisions relating to the accounts and the Return are properly recorded in the minutes of the Church.

Should further advice be needed, Churches should contact Head Office for further clarification or the Church may use the Charity Commission website and telephone number.


Barbanell Centre opens its doors again

We are pleased to report that the Barbanell Centre finally re-opened for business on 6th July. We have been pleased to welcome back Headway, one of our charity partners, whose local headquarters is housed at the Barbanell, and we are starting to see one or two of our regular customers return to the Centre, which is encouraging. Courses will recommence in August and these are to be supplemented by a small online course programme. For bookings please contact the Centre on 01785 615513.


New light at the College

Thanks to the generous donation from a student in memory of his wife we have been able to install a new window in the Pioneer Centre at the Arthur Findlay College, which has really changed the whole dynamics of the room in a very wonderful way.

The College remains closed but we are working hard to establish online courses and to date ten tutors have come forward to help provide this opportunity to our students. We continue to offer online sittings and spiritual assessments and we hope very shortly to upgrade our website to allow seamless online bookings without the need to contact reception. The PayPal payment portal is also to be added to the website to increase flexibility and convenience for our students. The College programme remains under constant review and we will shortly be distributing a survey to gauge students’ feelings about returning to the College, which will be used to help inform our decision process about when to reopen for  our programme of courses.

On Wednesday 8th July we held an evening demonstration with Paul Jacobs and Su Wood; this was a fundraiser for the College and the mediums both kindly waived their fee. The evening proved to be a great success and our thanks go to Paul and Su for their support, which is appreciated.


Church Presidents' Meeting: reopening the Churches after lockdown     

We held a meeting of Church Presidents or a delegated officer on Friday 26th June via Zoom and an invitation went to every Church; 136 people joined the meeting and ninety-three Churches were represented. The meeting lasted for nearly two hours and following some introductory remarks and updating of guidance based upon the government’s latest information we took questions. The officers were joined by the Communications Director and Rachael from Head Office; Lesley Gilby was also in attendance, as was Trevor Critchley from the SNU Trust.

By way of clarification the President stated that if Churches were to operate 1m-plus social distancing, then Church Committees could require the wearing of masks with a view to keeping people safe. Committees need to be clear that some people are unable to wear masks on a variety of grounds, some of which are medical; Church Committees are encouraged to make informed decisions on a case-by-case basis before they deny entry to a member of the public. 

On reflection the meeting was a great success and we have received many positive comments and feedback from the Churches. Most Churches appear to be working towards September to reopen at the earliest.

James at Head Office has produced a range of signage, which is available as free downloads for the Churches from the website. Each of the 14 districts was represented and the graph below shows Church attendance from each district.


We strongly think the NEC needs to recognise the potential of Zoom to reach out to our Churches; when we consider that only 28 Churches attended the AGM last year this format of meeting has to be the way forward to help us get our message across and support our Churches.

Memorial Service from Ministers Administration Committee (MAC)

MAC have written a special Memorial Service to pay tribute to all of those souls who have passed to spirit during the pandemic. The service was broadcast via Zoom and proved to be a very moving and touching experience; our thanks go to MAC and to everyone who took part.


The Listening Ear

A selection of Ministers are still providing the Listening Ear service to anyone who just needs to talk; many people over the last four months have been isolated and this has caused people to be lonely and in many cases to have mental health concerns. The service can be accessed via the SNU website and is completely confidential.


The next National Board planned

MAC now have several students in the system who are approaching their final Assessment Board prior to acceptance or ordination; preliminary arrangements have been put in place for a Board in September and November, subject, of course, to the effects of the pandemic.



The Union has been informed that the national IFN AGM planned for July will take place on 30th September as a virtual meeting and it is hoped to hold a physical national event early in 2021.

SNU Year of the Environment – Churches Initiative

Given the decision made earlier this year to move the Year of the Environment back to 2021, the NEC agreed that the Church Improvement Initiative would also be suspended for this year, we had planned to increase the budget for 2020 and tie grant funding to environmentally friendly projects within the Churches. The Finance Committee will review both the budget and the criteria in time for the next launch in 2021.


Accreditation Scheme Fees

Following a recommendation from the Education & Exponents Committee the NEC agreed to streamline its fees for training within the Union with a view to creating a fairer approach to all students wishing to study our courses.

Current Fees

£16.85 + £9.64 ins

Proposed New Fees

IM, SNUi, Church
£16.85 + £9.64 ins



Current Fees

UK printed
UK e-course
Non-UK printed



Church Member
Non-Church Member

Proposed New Fees

UK printed
Non-UK printed



All Members
Non Members


Spiritualist or Spiritual Healing?

At the request of the Education & Exponents Committee the NEC discussed the description of Healing within the Bye-laws of the Union; it would appear that both 'Spiritualist' and 'Spiritual' are used at numerous points. The NEC agreed to standardise the practice and adopt 'Spiritualist Healing' throughout the Union to differentiate what we offer from other Spiritual Healer practitioners. The Rules for Churches 2021 will also be updated to reflect this important change.


Service Awards

At the request of the Education & Exponents Committee the NEC discussed an anomaly within the Bye-laws; whilst the Bye-laws require service to the Union for the LSSNU, GSSNU and DSSNU awards they also require membership. The NEC agreed to change the Bye-laws to remove the requirement for membership and require only 25, 50 or 60 years' service. The application forms for the awards have also been redesigned to make them easier to understand and complete and these will be published shortly.


New Award to honour a modern pioneer

The Union is very conscious how many people generously volunteer their time, which allows the Union to function and provide many of our services to members and churches alike.


It was agreed to establish a new award which would be presented to anyone serving on an SNU committee. The award will be known as ‘The Dorothy Hudson Shield’ in memory of Minister Dorothy Hudson from the West Midlands, who served the Union for over sixty years in many capacities at all levels. Dorothy passed to spirit a couple of years ago at the grand age of 102 and we feel it appropriate to mark her service in some manner whilst seeking to highlight the work that is going on today. The Chairmen of all SNU committees will be able to nominate committee members who have served diligently over the current electoral year. The NEC will then shortlist the candidates and agree the recipient of the award. Application forms will be delivered shortly and the first presentation of this new award will take place at the AGM.    


Administration Matrix

As an important resource to support our Churches the Union has developed a range of Focus and How-To sheets to provide guidance on a range of matters around running a Church. This resource will be available online and in hard copy for the Churches. It was agreed that the new matrix would be presented to the September Council meeting in order to be able to brief Districts in its use so that they can provide local support to the Churches in their areas.


Training delivered via Zoom

At the request of Minister Alan Rawnsley, the director tasked with training within the Union, the NEC agreed to investigate further the provision of training days via the Zoom platform;  Alan will make the necessary preparations and it is hoped to launch part of the planned training programme, delayed due to the lockdown, later in the year.


Rules for Churches 2021 

The General Purposes Committee has now completed the work on the latest edition of the Rules for Churches, which the NEC signed off during the meeting. We will now arrange to submit the final edition to the Charity Commission for approval with a view to launching the new version in time for the new  Church electoral year in 2021.


Lyceum AGM

The Central Committee have agreed to hold this year’s AGM via Zoom on Saturday 15th August, commencing at 11.00 a.m. The access link will be delivered to all Lyceum members with the next circulation of the Banner.


Head Office

The majority of staff are now returning to work on a rata basis and we are receiving many enquiries from members and Churches. The Union is here to help and any Church experiencing financial difficulties or requiring other support should contact Head Office in the first instance.


VAT Changes announced by the government 08.07.2020

It is anticipated that the changes announced by the government will have no impact on the SNU or its Churches.


Communications Director

Facebook (past 28 days) Post reach: 44.6K

Post engagements: 17K Top Posts:

  • Martin Luther King Peace Quote: 8K
  • Pride: 8.2K
  • Peace Service: 5K
  • Audience with the President, Spirit Art Video: 9K
  • Audience with the President, Science Video: 9K

Instagram: 1415 followers, about 2.3K views per week in past month

Twitter: 581 followers


Zoom Meetings:

Now that more churches are getting to grips with social media and Zoom as a result of them being closed during the lockdown, we are planning to pilot a series of Zoom meetings to support them in promoting themselves and converting their virtual congregations into real ones. We are developing a programme of themed meetings, as well as regular surgeries where Churches can 'drop in' and ask questions or discuss ideas they wish to develop.


Zoom Services: The Friday Healing Service continues and has settled with an average audience of about 70 people every Friday evening; feedback has been that it is useful and an important part of people’s week.


Wildflower meadow leading to SNU Obelisk at NMA

The Peace Service

The Peace Service held virtually this year went well, despite a few technical hitches, and had about 90 people watch it live throughout, and over 500 people within 24 hours. We did manage to get a spread of people from around the Union, which included some who have not been involved at a national level before. The service was well received and we had a lot of good feedback afterwards. Thank you to everyone involved.



Our YouTube Channel has been reorganised and now has playlists that place things in categories.

In the last 28 days it has had 6,900 views from 3,800 viewers. This shows that we need to make video part of our new normal and record/stream more events in order to reach a bigger audience.


SNU Today

The Autumn edition of SNU Today is normally sent out with the September post-AGM circulation; due to the delay in holding our AGM this year it is hoped to publish the next edition of SNU Today during November.


Churches under Support

The NEC has long been concerned over the length of time some Churches spend under support. When this was last reviewed it was agreed that after two years the support would be reviewed to ensure that the right help and support were being provided. Sadly, due to limited resources these reviews have never actually taken place. The NEC agreed that OM2 would look at the feasibility of conducting these reviews and possibly providing them virtually; OM2 will report back to the next meeting.


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 1st August; this will be a special NEC meeting to review AGM motions and will be conducted via Zoom.

The next Council meeting will take place on Saturday 26th September 2020, also via Zoom.


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]


In Conclusion

The Union is aware that some Churches have taken the decision to open and operate services in line with Government and SNU guidelines. This is going to create a very different experience for those returning to our Churches but safety has to be the primary concern. The Union remains committed to supporting its Churches and should a Church need help in any respect Head Office should be your first port of call: 01279 816363



Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Thought for the Day

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.


Previous Blogs 

President's Blog | Edition 54 |

President's Blog | Edition 53 |

President's Blog | Edition 52 |

President's Blog | Edition 51 |

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 |