Edition 39

NEC Meeting Friday 6th to Sunday 8th April 2018

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.

GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation

In May this year new data protection legislation comes into force which will affect the running of both the Union and our Churches. A working party has put together a set of guidelines which we believe will help the Churches to be compliant and keep them up to date with the necessary changes to legislation. There are serious fines for non-compliance, so Churches are encouraged to take these new requirements on board.


Gender Neutrality

In an ever-changing world the issue of gender neutrality was raised in relation to SNU constitution and polices. To date all SNU documents have been issued in line with the Interpretation Act 1978, Section 6, which reads as follows:

Gender and number

In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears -

(a)  words importing the masculine gender include the feminine;

(b)  words importing the feminine gender include the masculine;

(c)  words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular. 


The NEC have agreed that as documents are reviewed going forward they will now apply a gender-neutral stance in their wording.


Arthur Findlay College

Work has begun on the College Programme for 2020, which is planned for launch in January 2019.


Open Week

Tickets for Open Week 2018 went on sale in late March and are already selling well; the programme promises a range of popular topics delivered by AFC tutors and we look forward to a truly spiritual and uplifting four days. On the Saturday evening of Open Week Minister Steven Upton will give a Healing demonstration in the style of Harry Edwards, one of the greatest healers of all time. It is hoped to welcome guests from Burrows Lee to Stansted and the Harry Edwards Sanctuary has given its full support for the event, which is staged as part of the Healing Forum’s Healing Awareness Week. Tickets for Open Week and the Healing demonstration, which takes place in the Sanctuary at Stansted Hall, are available from the College reception.


Churches Day

As part of the Union's continuing commitment to support its Churches two members from each Church have been invited to Stansted on the Tuesday of Open Week. The Union will provide a session of information and the opportunity to take part in a Questions and Answers session, following which the Church representatives will be able to enjoy Open Week 2018 and the facilities of Stansted Hall. The day will include the opportunity to visit Redwoods and meet the team who help administer the Union. Invitations have gone to all Church Presidents and it is hoped Churches will support this initiative and make the most of their day at the Arthur Findlay College.


World Congress

July 2018 is approaching fast and the final preparations are underway to welcome the World Council of Spiritualists to Stansted Hall, together with Spiritualists from around the globe. Tickets are limited but there is still some  availability and enquiries should be directed to the Arthur Findlay College Reception team.


A new Museum at the AFC

We have finally received a favourable response from the local Planning Officer and, subject to comments from the Conservation Officer, we hope to have the green light for planning very shortly. This new building on the College estate will vastly enhance our present Museum's capacity in addition to providing an additional workroom for our tutors and students at the College.


Barbanell Centre

The purchase of Jarvis House is now complete following the successful planning application process and work is now underway to convert the office building to provide the accommodation the Centre so desperately needs. We are working towards the end of October for completion and this plan will provide an exciting opportunity for the Centre to spread its wings and start to operate at its full capacity.

A new carpet has been laid in the bar and main corridor at the Centre and tarmacking to create a new entrance will also start shortly, together with a new floor which is due to be laid in the Church.

The recruitment of a new cook is also complete and the successful candidate will join the team at Stafford from the beginning of May. Planning for a new kitchen is also underway. Overall, 2018 promises to be a very forward-looking and progressive year at the Barbanell Centre in Stafford.


Fund of Benevolence

The FOB, which undertakes such important work within the movement, held its AGM at the beginning of April; the trustees were pleased to announce that the Fund had had a good year financially, producing a surplus of over £5,000. The Fund has also updated its Trust Deed, which has now been registered with the Charity Commission. Plans are already in place for Senior Citizens Week at the AFC for 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the FOB now has a presence on the SNU website, allowing supporters to make donations to FOB but also to learn about its work to support Spiritualists in need.


Presidential Insignia

During the AGM weekend last year I was proud to wear the President's medal which was closely associated with Gordon Higginson; the medal is cast in gold and a little research has revealed that it was presented to the Union back in the 1930s. A rather poor repair was undertaken some years ago, which involved the use of lead solder on the pin and bar. The NEC have finally found a company prepared to undertake the repair, as most jewellers have refused to undertake this job, and it is hoped to have this historic artefact fully repaired very shortly.


The passing of two Ministers 

The NEC paid tribute to Minister Dorothy Hudson and Minister Bill Nedderman, both former members of the NEC and loyal servants to the Union, who passed to spirit in January this year.


Qualifications for Trustees and Wardens

The NEC agreed to rescind the provision in Bye-laws D which prohibited members over 65 from being appointed as Trustees and Wardens; it was felt that the Union should not be party to age discrimination in any form.


Managed Churches Constitution

GPC have completed work on a new constitution for Managed Churches to bring them in line with the provisions of the Rules for Churches 2018; these have been approved by the NEC and will be circulated shortly.


District Council Minutes

Some Districts have been submitting copies of their minutes to Head Office; GPC have confirmed that there is no requirement for this practice within the Bye-laws and all Districts will be written to, to inform them that this practice is no longer required.


Table of Incompatibility

The NEC have reviewed and agreed a new table of incompatibility and definitions of terms to support award-holders when they are accepting bookings from non-SNU Churches; the information will also include an up-to-date schedule of disaffiliated/dissolved Churches and suspended bodies.


SNU Policies

Work is coming to a conclusion on a new set of policies both for the Union and its Churches; upon completion the Church policies will be issued to each Church in hard-copy form as part of our ongoing commitment to support Church committees and their work.


Growing the Ministry

The Ministers Administration Committee (MAC) is currently seeking to recruit new people into training for the Ministry; Vice-President June English is writing to all District Councils to establish whether they have any suitable people within the districts who might like to consider this pathway within the movement.


A new Officiant

Lynn Parker has now successfully completed her study and training and has been approved by the NEC for invitation into the Ministry as our newest Officiant; the NEC congratulates Lynn on her achievement and wishes her well in her new role.


Inter Faith Network (IFN)

The SNU was represented at the World Women’s Interfaith Conference in early February by Ministers David Hopkins, our Interfaith Ambassador, and Brenda Newall from MAC; the meeting, which welcomed 300 guests, provided an excellent opportunity to network between the many faith groups represented at the conference, helping to build a stronger dialogue and understanding between religions. The conference also managed to produce 100 bags of aid for women and girl refugees in the Syrian conflict; these will be delivered through Samara’s Aid, a charity that works in the region.

The Union continues to play an active part in IFN and the NEC continues to encourage Churches around the country to play an active part in National Interfaith Week, which takes place in November each year.



Minister Marian Bishop reported the passing of five of our members so far this year:


Stephen Lewis  -Wales

Minister Dorothy Hudson  -West Midlands

Minister Bill Nedderman  -London

Sandra Gibb  -Scotland

Jacqueline Roberts  -Wales


Marian reminded the NEC of the importance of informing her of passings and also people in need of healing as the Almoner's network continues to grow, helping many people around the world through the healing touch.


Trust Property

The Union is currently working towards making improvements in its systems for managing trust properties around the country through developing a new system which will allow the Trust Property Coordinator and the Finance Committee to be kept current with all developments. Work is also underway to review the National Wardens Report Form to ensure that all of the data collected is appropriate to fully reflect the needs of the Churches and the Union. We are also working on developing a new Asset Management strategy document, which will primarily be for the Union but will reflect the needs and concerns of the Churches also.


Independent Examination

The Finance Committee have reviewed the latest guidance from the Charity Commission concerning audit and inspection of accounts (September 2017) and we are confident that the standards we already have in place exceed the new guidance of the Commission.


Risk Management

As part of our ongoing policy of Risk Management the NEC reviewed its table of risks to the organisation, which will be reflected in the Trustees Report to be published as part of the annual accounts ahead of the AGM in July.


Spiritualism and Education

The Union has been invited to attend the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education on 30th April 2018. The agenda includes a talk from the BBC on its revised approach to religious broadcasting and the NEC reviewed extracts from the recent BBC report on the subject.


SNU Education

Reviewing of G2, MD1 and SD3 is underway owing to the effects on these courses of changes to Bye-laws G and H; G1 is also being finalised to go back to Head Office for design and printing. The German versions of SD1 and SD4 are also complete and with Head Office for finishing prior to distribution.


Course Organisers and Tutors Day

This now annual event is booked to take place at the Barbanell Centre, Stafford on Friday 1st June; final arrangements are to be made prior to invitations going out to the Course Organisers and tutors.


Database and Websites

The Union is still experiencing difficulties with the new database, which is creating problems both for Head Office and our members. A meeting has been arranged in early April with the developers with a view to addressing these urgent issues for the Union and in turn improving service levels.



Our current membership stands at 1089 members around the world, though there are still issues surrounding the renewal of membership subscriptions on SNUi.

The NEC has agreed to finance a system of recording sessions on SNUi to allow content to be broadcast within different time-zones so that members can gain the full benefit from all the exciting material shared on SNUi.

The new Science venture which began on 27th January has been well received and future speakers include Professor Chris Roe from Northampton University, and a good friend to the SNU, and Dean Radin, who is a parapsychology researcher. He has been Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, California, USA, since 2001, served on dissertation committees at Saybrook Graduate School and Research Centre, and was former President of the Parapsychological Association. Details of these sessions are available through SNUi.


A special Memorial Service

A special service will take place on Monday 16th April at 8.00 p.m. BST in memory of Ilona Mulock-Houwer, the former Chairman of SNUi, who passed to spirit one year ago. Ilona was an inspiration to many people within the Union and it is fitting that we hold this special service in her memory, which will be attended by members of her family and friends. The service is available to join in the open service room and no passwords are required.


Healing Courses at AFC

The new SNU Healing Week at the College went extremely well and the Exponents Committee are confident that this will develop to become a well-established part of the College programme.


Changes to Healing within the SNU

Following a meeting with the Officers of the SNU, the Exponents Director and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Exponents Committee proposals to develop the provision of Healing throughout the Union will be placed before the NEC at its June meeting.


New Leaflets

Three new SNU leaflets will be launched on Open Week to help support exponents in their work and development:

 Guide to Taking Your Mediumship to the Next Level

Guide to Development of Spiritualist Mediumship

Guide to Spiritual Healing

Two new books of collections of Harold Sharp Auragraphs will also be launched and will be available for purchase on the SNU stand during Open Week and from the on-line shop in due course.


BBC Religious Affairs

The Communications director and the PRO are talking with a BBC producer who has a positive interest in Spiritualism and some filming will take place at one of our Churches with a view to supporting a pitch to BBC Religious Affairs. We are also working with a producer from BBC Wales on a project which will reflect the growth of Spiritualism between the First and Second World Wars; Paul Gaunt is part of this project.



We have also been approached by Oxford and Coventry Universities concerning a project which is seeking to research the effect of religion on well-being. This will focus on the congregation within our Churches and several Churches around the UK have been approached with a view to taking part in the project.



The PPC Committee have sent out information to all District Councils to support the promotion of Hydesville Day, which includes suggested orders of service, a digital flyer and ideas for resources.


SNU Today

Several Churches and individuals have already submitted articles for the next edition, which will be circulated in September; contributions are always appreciated from the membership.


National Volunteers Week

Volunteers Week takes place at the beginning of June and national resources are about to be released along the theme of Joy. Churches are encouraged to get involved to celebrate the brilliant job many dedicated volunteers do within Spiritualism; some of these activities will be featured in the next edition of SNU Today.


Mind Body Spirit Event

The SNU has taken a stall on the MBS event at the NEC, Birmingham from 2nd to 4th November. It is hoped to use our involvement in the event to promote Spiritualism and our work internationally and help raise the profile of the SNU.


June Rally

The following dates have been confirmed:

Friday 15th June - 7.00 to 9.00 p.m. at Preston Ethical Church and 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. at Runcorn Spiritualist Church. Posters to promote both events will be posted out shortly and we hope the Churches from neighbouring Districts will come along and support both events under the title 'Spiritualism: A Way of Life - A Religion for Living in the Modern World'.

Contact has now been established with all of the Focus on Religion Representatives and a second Skype conference has taken place to inform everyone of this important initiative to help develop our religion. The working groups have looked at ways to make our formal service more experiential for the congregation and focus less on giving a message, so that the focus is more on God and the religion rather than purely mediumship.


SNU Website Perspectives

Articles are running for an average of two weeks and one where possible, and they focus upon something from current affairs or events with a thought-provoking topic which could be used within a Church address.


Introduction to Spiritualism

Several Churches have asked for support with the delivery of this course to new members; the Education Committee is looking at this to see what additional support we can provide.


Rules for Churches 2018

OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, have now confirmed that all Scottish Churches are registered and the new edition of the Rules for Churches is accepted as the constitution for Scottish Churches. The Union has also learnt that there is a separate Charity Commission within Northern Ireland and a dialogue with this body has been established.


Church News

Churches are respectfully reminded that they should not be using electronic banking or debit cards which have single signatory payment authorisation; the banks do provide dual signatory authorisation accounts and these are necessary to comply with the Rules for Churches.

It has also been drawn to our attention that some Churches are still sending out lists of members eligible for nomination prior to the AGM; this is in breach of Data Protection legislation and should simply not be happening.


500 Club

The latest draw took place during the AGM, with one lucky member scooping a top prize of £1,000. Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Jane Heatley at the Members Service Centre, Head Office. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Centre on 8th, 9th & 10th June 2018. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 29th September 2018.


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]


Minister David R Bruton



Previous Blogs 

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 |