NEC Meeting Friday 5th April until Sunday 7th  April 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 the 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.

Barbanell House

A special Dedication Evening was held during the NEC weekend with special guest Tony Ortzen, the Editor of Psychic News. The event was by invitation only and invites went to all fourteen district councils, together with tutors at the Centre, representatives of Stafford Church and the Trustees of the JV Trust. Representatives travelled from West Midlands, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Merseyside & North Wales, East London and the Northern DC.

The evening began with a cutting of a special branded Barbanell house ribbon and the unveiling of a plaque and picture of Maurice Barbanell; this was followed by a tour of the new facility and then the guests returned to the Barbanell Centre for the first of a new series of Silver Birch lectures given by Tony Ortzen. Tony held the audience spellbound whilst he relayed his memories of working with Barbanell in the 1970s and 1980s. Tony then made a presentation of a fine bone china teacup, saucer and plate to the Centre;  this set, which had a Silver Birch design, had come from the home of Barbanell and was used in the famous Hannen Swaffer Circle where Silver Birch spoke. The evening was completed with a buffet provided by Seamus Davis, the General Manager, at the Barbanell Centre, which rounded off a wonderful evening, marking the beginning of a new chapter at Barbanell Centre, Stafford.   

Welcome to our new Chief Administrative Officer

On behalf of the National Executive Committee I would like to welcome Sadia Bowering to the SNU. Sadia joined us on 2nd April and has worked previously at the Alan Turing Institute, The Royal Society and Pearson. She is well experienced in the not-for-profit sector and has a good understanding of governance, policy and procedure. We all look forward very much to working with Sadia in the months and years ahead as, together, we chart the future of the Union.

Once again our sincere thanks go to Charles Coulston for stepping ably into the breach after Jane Barton left in December. Charles now returns to his post of consultant to the Union and will no doubt be supporting Sadia in the months ahead as she begins to learn how the Union works.


Church Improvement Grant

Following the success of this initiative over the last two years it has been agreed by the NEC to run the program again in 2019. Application forms will be sent out to the Churches very shortly and the closure date will be 31st October. Each grant will be up to £1,000 on a matched funding basis and the funds can be used to help develop the Church either through decoration, new furniture, repairs and renewals or any other scheme approved by the Finance Committee. Don’t miss out on this opportunity of providing some extra funding for your Church. See below form to apply.

Church Improvement Grant Application Form


Church Improvement Grant Flyer


National Training Day

A National Training Day for Church Committees will take place on Saturday 7th September at the Barbanell Centre. Each Church will shortly receive an invitation to attend. There is no charge for the day and lunch will be provided but all delegates will have to pay their own travel expenses. A programme for the day will be issued shortly and we hope Churches will take advantage of this opportunity just to refresh and replenish the knowledge of Church Committees in how to run their Churches in line with the constitution. This is a day not to be missed, so mark the date in your diary and wait for the application form to drop through the post.


Important Dates in History

Each year when the Union publishes its Diary and Yearbook we include a list of dates important in the history of Spiritualism. The NEC has reviewed these dates and added some additional ones, which are listed below:


1893:    Minnie Wallis founded the Fund of Benevolence.

1893:    Our First National Hymn Book.

1902:    First scheme to regulate certification of Exponents and Demonstrators. 

1903:    First SNU AGM. First elected Council and President, John J. Parr 1903-1905.  

1904:    First Registered SNU Office, Hanson Hey’s (General Secretary) tobacconist's shop,  68 Crown St, Halifax.

1916:    Arthur Conan Doyle publicly identified himself as a Spiritualist.

1924:    First official Journal of the SNU 1924-1932.

1924:    First Healing Committee appointed. 

1930:    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, SNU Honorary President, dies.

1934:    First broadcast talk on Spiritualism by Ernest Oaten.

1948:    Britten Memorial Trust fund is fulfilled.  Purchase of SNU Registered Office, “Britten House”, 12 Tib Lane, Manchester.

1966:    Arthur Findlay College officially opened by Mr and Mrs Findlay’s daughter, Mrs Francis (Joan) Wayne, on September 17th.

1971:    SNU Registered Office, “Britten House”, moves to Stansted Hall.

1988:    Seven Principles “Liberty of interpretation” removed from the Union’s Articles of Association.  

2008:    SNUi founded.

2011:    Arthur Findlay Centre in Stafford opened.

2016:    SNU adopts same-sex marriage following a change in UK law.

2018:    Arthur Findlay Centre rededicated as the Barbanell Centre.

2018:    World Congress of Spiritualists, hosted at the Arthur Findlay College.

2018:    President of the SNU, Minister David Bruton, represented Spiritualists for the first time at the Cenotaph on the Centenary of the         Armistice for the National Service of Remembrance.             

2019:    Barbanell House opened at Stafford.


Promotion of Individual Membership

Mark Bradley is currently working hard to increase the number of Individual Members of the Union. The next circulation to Churches will include an A4 poster promoting membership and Church Secretaries are asked to display this on the Church notice-board. A small pack of A5 leaflets will also be sent out to each Church, providing something that can be given to members of the congregation to promote membership of the Union.  Minister Suzanne Gibson-Foy, OM1, will also be attending an externally provided training seminar aimed at gaining new tools to help build the membership as a whole.


New Seven Principles Leaflets

The new-style Seven Principles leaflet is available from Head Office free of charge; Churches will only need to pay packing and postage for these modern beautifully-styled leaflets, which will help you promote our religion. Alternatively, a supply will be available at Open Week and the Arthur Findlay College or to collect at the AGM, which takes place this year at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on 20th and 21st July. Booking forms went out in the February circulation:  have you secured your place yet?


Focus on Religion

Our next F.O.R. Roadshow will take place at Southampton Cavendish Road Church on Saturday 24th June; the day is designed to refresh and inform the view of Spiritualism as a religion.  We look forward to meeting you there.


Spiritualism is a way of life flyer

Peace Service, Arboretum

The annual Peace Service takes place this year at the National Memorial Arboretum on Saturday 6th July. Those that have attended in the past will remember that our service has always been held in a marquee, which on days when the weather is not kind is a challenge; however, this year the NMA have now invested £15million in building a new Visitor Centre, which will now provide a location for our service this year. The President visited the new facility a few weeks ago and it looks very impressive; we look forward to your joining us for this important annual event.

SNU Media Pack

The Publicity & Promotions Committee has developed a media contact pack, which will shortly be available from the SNU website; this aims to provide journalists with relevant information, material and images when they are writing about Spiritualism and the Union and it is hoped will help to improve the quality of the articles available through various media channels.


New telephone system at Redwoods

Finally, we have a new system installed at Redwoods, which we trust is going to prove much more reliable and user-friendly than our last system, which in recent months has created many technical difficulties for the Union. Redwoods always welcome your calls and now there are dedicated lines for IM membership, Healing courses and the shop.


Ministers Congress 2019

This year’s Ministers Congress will take place at Welwyn Garden City Spiritualist Church in West London on Saturday 19th October 2019. Following the success of last year’s meeting the event will be a one-day only event again this year. 


New Ministers are ordained

Richard Cuthbert from the Northern DC was ordained at Middlesbrough Church on Saturday 16th March and Sandy Haggar from the Southern DC was ordained at Christchurch Church on Saturday 23rd March. We welcome Richard and Sandy to their new roles within the Ministry.


A new beginning for Shirley Church

Following alleged criminal activity at Shirley Church, which has been closed now for nearly two years, a meeting has been planned on Saturday 25th May which aims to appoint a new Committee to get the Church open and running again; anyone interested in helping to support the Church is welcome to attend on the day.

The Census 2021

The next UK Census is expected to be largely completed on-line; the other field under ‘Religion’ would be a free-text field but with search-as-you-type functionality, which can be ignored.


Inter Faith Network

The 2019 AGM of IFN will have local Interfaith as its theme and it is hoped we can glean some information which will be useful to the Union and its Churches.

Interfaith Week 2018 was bigger and better than ever before; the Union strongly encourages its Churches to take part not only to promote Spiritualism but also to promote the wider Interfaith movement in which we are proud to take an active part.

The Royal College of Physicians is polling its members on whether to move from a position of opposition on assisted dying to a position of neutrality.

The IFN has been contacted by the Royal British Legion seeking assistance with a possible round-table for faith communities; the Union will be happy to take an active part in this initiative.


Changes in the Law around Organ Donation in England

The Bill has now completed the legislative process and has received royal assent. This means that the law around organ donation will be changing in England. From Spring 2020, people over 18 who live and die in England will be considered as potential organ donors, unless they have recorded that they don’t want to donate.


SNU Communications

The Publicity & Promotions Committee’s work via the website and on social media continues to be very fruitful; the recent promotion around Hydesville was viewed by 47,300 people. The SNU Facebook page now has 4,499 followers and the Spirit in Action Twitter page achieved 19,300 Tweet impressions. Many Districts are now engaging and sharing posts and Churches are also beginning to comment, which is heartening.

Communications Director on Voice of Islam Radio

Alv Hirst conducted a live interview on this DAB internet channel and on the whole it was a very positive experience.

SNU Today Autumn Issue

Work is already underway on the planning for the Autumn issue of Spiritualists' favourite magazine; the focus will be on the charitable work of our Churches and we would be very pleased to receive any contributions from Churches or members alike.


Churches under Support

Our thanks go to Dr Helen Smith, the Vice-President of Morley Church, who has written a report reflecting on the experience of a Church under support. The NEC has agreed to set up a working party to look at this and see whether some of the recommendations can be rolled out round the Union to the benefit of Churches currently in support.



The Union is very aware of the extra strain which this new legislation has put upon the organisation and our Churches. Letters have been sent to the Information Commissioner's Office and a draft letter for Churches to send to their local MP to highlight the additional strain this legislation is putting on the voluntary sector.

If you want to find out more on how GDPR may effect you please read our FAQ here

New Roll Book for GDPR

The Union has commissioned a new hard-bound Church Membership Roll Book to take account of the necessary changes flowing from the new GDPR legislation. It is hoped that this will be available to purchase from Head Office shortly.

Guidance for National Wardens

The NEC has agreed to update and reprint a little booklet which aims to support National and Local Church wardens in completing the Annual Wardens Report; it is hoped that this will be available later in the year.

Trustees Annual Report (TAR)

The Financial Director is putting the finishing touches to the TAR for 2018, which we hope will provide the membership and other stakeholders with an understanding of how the Union works to promote our Religion.

A new look for the Exponents Committee   

Following the merger of the Training & Awards Committee and the Healing Committee to create the new Exponents Committee two years ago it has been agreed to streamline the new Committee and bring it more into line with the standard format for SNU sub-committees. From July 2019 the new Committeewill consist of aChairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and ordinary members, with focus on expertise covering the specialist areas of public speaking, demonstrating and healing.


SNUi has now fully transferred its video services to Zoom, which is proving a huge success and improving quality and functionality within the on-line platform for membership around the globe.


Mind Body Spirit Event

The contract has now been signed for the 2019 event at the NEC in Birmingham, which will take place on 1st to 3rd November 2019. Following the success of last year’s event we aim to redesign our stand to better promote Spiritualism, the Union and what we have to offer the general public.

SNU Website Perspectives

New material is added regularly, provided from different members of the Ministry, members and Churches; you are encouraged to check this out, as many of the articles make excellent readings for Church services and provide a fresh and unique perspective on Spiritualism in the 21st century. Visit our Perspectives page here

Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on 7th, 8th and 9th June 2019. The next National 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

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

-Lewis Carroll

Minister David R Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Previous Blogs 

Presidents Blog | Edition 44 |

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 |