Edition 36


NEC Meeting Friday 13th to Sunday 15th October 2017

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.


Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

Jane Barton joined the Union in her new capacity on 2nd October; she is based at Head Office and this was her first NEC meeting in her new role. On behalf of the NEC we wish Jane every good wish in her new job and look forward to continuing to work closely with her in the future. The NEC would also like to acknowledge the considerable support provided by Charles Coulston in the interim following the resignation of Shirley McGee; Charles has applied his considerable experience to keep the Union moving forward administratively and we thank him sincerely for his continued support.


New SNU Website

Finally, after a considerable investment of time and resources, the new SNU website will be launched on Wednesday 18th October 2017. The new site will enable the Union to raise its profile digitally and provide the membership and the wider public with a fresh modern and user-friendly platform to promote the work of the Union and Spiritualism in general. The 18th of October is the 116th birthday of the Spiritualists’ National Union, which seemed like an appropriate day to launch the new site.

The web address for the site remains the same: www.snu.org.uk

The old site had nearly 800 pages of information, much of which was no longer current; members should be aware that the new site will be populated incrementally over time, so members are encouraged to keep checking back to keep up to date with the changes. Finding our churches around the country will now be much easier by simply entering your postcode, and a newly refreshed version of the Arthur Findlay Shop will also be back on-line after a long absence. As always, we welcome your comments and the Union would be most interested to hear your opinions about the new site, good or bad.

In addition a new SNUi website was launched last week and the NEC hope this will help and support the SNUi Committee and the many people around the world who work on SNUi with the development of their mediumship and spirituality. The SNUi Committee are also conducting some trials to introduce video to the new site, allowing students to see each other and their tutor as well as hear; this will be a considerable step forward for SNUi and the Union. Karen McCarthy, a member of SNUi, has proposed a new series of lectures on SNUi to focus on the importance of science within the movement; Karen is a former media journalist from New York and she is passionate about the scientific aspect of Spiritualism. The NEC is pleased to support this initiative.


SNU 116th Birthday

To mark the birthday of the SNU a specially designed birthday card has been sent to all affiliated Churches, District Councils and the Lyceum; this card is personally signed by each member of the National Executive Committee and has details of the new website, together with an A4 poster for the Churches to display on their notice-boards.



Following the appointment of Jane Barton as CAO the NEC has agreed to co-opt Minister Suzanne Gibson Foy as the new Ordinary Member 2 with special responsibility for Focus on Religion. We welcome Suzanne to the National Executive Committee and look forward to working with her in the future.

The following appointments are reported:

Complaints Committee

Minister Judith Seaman (Acting Chairman); Russell Fitzpatrick (Vice-Chairman and Misconduct of Affairs Coordinator); Gillian Grimson (Complaints Coordinator); Laraine Killarney (Mediation Coordinator).

Publicity & Promotions Committee

Joy Clark (Chairman); Andrew Manship (Vice-Chairman); Gillian Palmer (Secretary)

SNUi Committee

Minister Arthur Plumpton  (Chairman); Cathy Leigh Tsoukalas (Vice-Chairman); Yoshie Miakoda-Chihara (Secretary); Minister Alan Baker (SNUi Representative to Council); Fredrik Haglund; Minister Carol Ellis.

Rules for Churches 2017

The final submission of changes to the Rules for Churches was lodged with the Charity Commission in September; we are just waiting for their final approval and it is still hoped to publish the new Rules before the end of the year in order to give Churches time to prepare for next year's AGMs.

Abolition of Standing Committees

The current arrangement to have two Standing Committees was established some years ago following the failed restructure of the Union. It is now the view of the NEC that there is no current need to have Standing Committees, as these roles can be undertaken by the director whose portfolio covers the respective areas of communications and accreditation. The General Purposes Committee were instructed to formulate the necessary changes to the Articles and Bye-laws.

Code of Conduct for Holders of SNU awards

Following the changes to the Training & Awards Committee, which has been replaced by the Exponents Committee, a new Code of Conduct for Award-Holders has been published, which was included in the October circulation. This has also been supplemented by a new Code of Conduct for Holders of SNU appointments, which covers members of the Ministry.

New Equipment for Head Office

Head Office has just taken delivery of a complete new printing system which will drastically reduce the amount of printing we have to contract out to external companies. The new system is the latest model and it will serve to continue to improve the print quality of all Head Office publications, helping the Union to better communicate its message.

Church Annual Returns

The majority of Churches have now completed and returned their Annual Returns; Head Office is working to chase any Churches whose Returns are still outstanding and Churches are respectfully reminded that Returns should be submitted within two weeks of the holding of their AGM. Should a Church be having difficulty completing the Returns, please speak to Head Office, which will be happy to help and support them.

Autumn Circulation

The latest circulation was sent out in the week commencing 25th September; we hope that members enjoy the latest edition of SNU Today and our thanks go to the Communication Director, Alv Hirst, and James Frid at Head Office, who have, with the support of all the contributors, produced a magazine which is packed full of topical and useful information. Individual Members are reminded that renewals of subscriptions were due on 1st October and you can renew your subscription either on-line via the SNU website www.snu.org.uk or by calling Head Office on 01279 816363 or, alternatively, you could renew by direct debit, which means you will never have to worry about renewing your subscription again, once you have signed up. Remember that members voted to increase the IM subscription to £26.00 at the AGM but you can still take advantage of a £5.00 discount if you agree to receive your circulations electronically.

SNU Policies

We are currently working on a full range of policies for use within the Union; some of these will be applicable and useful to Churches:

  • Health & Safety
  • Data Protection
  • Data Protection Guidelines
  • Privacy Statement
  • Equality and Diversity Policy
  • Internet Use and monitoring
  • Code of Conduct
  • Anti-bribery & Corruption
  • Checklist for assessing events
  • Checklist for checking venues

These will be published and distributed to Churches upon completion.

Work is underway to review and revise the Safeguarding policy; this was first issued in 2012 and following changes to legislation it must be kept current.


Since the last NEC meeting the following people have been ordained or accepted:

Minister Arthur Plumpton; Minister Suzanne Gibson Foy; Officiant Jackie Wright. Our congratulations go to all three people; the NEC wish them well for their work in the future.

The SNU has recently received an approach to be part of the Police chaplaincy team; this invitation has been accepted and work will begin shortly. This marks yet another great step forward for the SNU Ministry.

National Interfaith Week

This annual event is growing strongly and the dates this year are 12th to 19th November; should any Church wish to be involved, further information and resources are available from the IFN website: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/

Arthur Findlay College

We are now in receipt of plans for the new Museum, which will be considered at the Collegiate meeting on 19th October prior to submission to the planning authorities. Planning permission has also being granted to refurbish the tutor accommodation which we hope to complete by 2019.

The General Manager is working on a new website for the College, which will launch on 1st January 2018.

World Congress - To date we have 77 bookings for the Congress and work is well underway to develop an inclusive programme for the event, allowing organisations around the world to have a voice.

Barbanell Centre

A surveyor has being appointed and a pre-application has been lodged with the Council for change of use of Jarvis House, which has been purchased subject to planning; we will have a formal response to this by 19th  November. Plans have been drawn up for the refurbishment of the building to provide 17 en-suite rooms at the Centre and quotes are being sought for the kitchen refurbishment and changes to the entrance of Co-operative Street, which will be tabled at the Collegiate meeting.

Healing Forum

The Union attended a meeting of the Healing Forum in September; it is hoped to make disbursements to the two charities with the fund-raising events from the Healing Awareness Week. Plans are already underway for next year and Tim Smith from the Exponents Committee is now leading the marketing of the event on behalf of the Forum.

Community Service Award 2017

A presentation to Hinckley Church will be made on 25th October to mark the considerable amount of good works the Church does within its local community. A small grant will be made to the Church and a similar amount will be presented to the Church's local nominated charity.

SNU Education

The Education Committee is currently reviewing courses G2, MD1 and SD3 and is translating SD4 into German. The trial for the abolition of the word count for essays concluded at the end of September and after discussion with tutors and organisers a final decision will be made by the Committee.

It is proposed to introduce a new range of introduction courses for those interested in Spiritualism. These will be available as PowerPoint presentations. These will be known as ‘N courses’ and will cover the following topics:

N1    This would effectively be the introduction to Spiritualism.

N2    Introduction to the history of the SNU, SLU, AFC and SNUi.

N3    Introduction to the teachings and Principles of Spiritualism.

N4    Introduction to the science of Spiritualism.

N5    Introduction to Spiritualism in world religions.

N6    Introduction to the pioneers of Spiritualism.

N7    Introduction to Spiritualist Healing.


The upgrade Healing Assessment Fee has been increased to £33.00 from 1st September, which brings the charge for upgrade into line with the PASS assessment fees. In order to bring all the sections of awards into line the Exponents Committee  request that the term ‘Registered Approved Healer’ be changed to 'SNU Accredited Healing Medium' and 'SNU Trainee Healing Medium', as all other sections refer to Accreditation and the term HAS stands for Healing Accreditation Scheme. This is an item which was overlooked when the changes to the Bye-laws were done. This was agreed.

Exponents Committee

The Committee are recommending the establishment of a new award of  CSNUi(pr), as most SNUi students are unlikely to take actual services and are more likely to give private readings. This request was approved and further details will be available shortly. The Committee also raised the issue that presentations at the AGM would in future be known as ‘prizes’, not awards, as it appears that some people are claiming to be SNU award-holders based upon the presentation of a prize, which is simply creating confusion within the membership. This was agreed.

SNU Twitter Account

Twitter is now set up and ready to run alongside the website. The Official Union Twitter is @spiritualistSNU.

Focus on Religion

Following the event in the Northern District in August we have now collected and collated the feedback from the four-day event, which will be discussed further at the NEC Blue Sky meeting in December. Additional work has been completed on the Focus on Religion Toolkit, which will be sent to all District Councils shortly to support this work around the regions.

Pioneer Centres                            

A new application has been received for a Pioneer Centre in Merseyside & North Wales District. Three Individual Members have offered to run the Centre and the Union is currently processing the application.

Meeting of the Council

The October Council meeting was run differently from previous meetings inasmuch as each member of Council was asked to bring a subject for discussion; the Council elected a Chairman from its number and a range of 13 topics were discussed, with recommendations placed before the NEC for action. One of the issues debated was the quorum rule for District Council meetings, which requires five churches to be present; it was considered that this adversely affected smaller district councils, which needed to have a higher percentage of Churches in attendance than the larger districts. The NEC has referred this matter to the General Purposes Committee for possible changes to Bye-laws.

Charging for entry to Divine Services

This is a matter arising from the Council agenda and it has been agreed that the CAO will write to all Churches on this matter. Any Church charging for entry to a divine service is putting its charitable status at risk and should desist immediately.

Barrow-in-Furness SC

The Union is pleased to report the re-opening of Barrow Church under the chairmanship of Dr Chris Waddington; the first service was held in late September and was well supported. Work is now underway to establish the state and condition of the property and to produce a plan going forward to create a long-term sustainable future for the Church.

Merthyr Temple SC

After being closed for twelve months for refurbishment Merthyr Temple is finally complete and the Church has moved back from rented accommodation in the town to its old home. The project, costing over £40,000, was financed by the Union suspense funds and a small donation from the JV Trust. The Union wishes the Church well for the future as it seeks to promote SNU Spiritualism in South Wales.

Oslo Spiritualist Society

The Union is pleased to report that the above society has been accepted into full association; we welcome them and wish them well for their future work in the movement.

Churches and Water Rates

It has been brought to our attention that several Churches have seen their water bills rise considerably, with one Church facing an annual bill in excess of £2,500. Any Church facing this situation should contact the Union for help.

SNU Trust New Memorandum and Articles

The NEC has reviewed the SNU Trust’s solicitors' responses to discussions held between the Union and the Trust in July; subsequently a full response will be sent to the Trust with a view to supporting its efforts to establish a new constitution.

500 Club

The latest draw has just taken 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 1st, 2nd and 3rd December  The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 3rd February 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 Bruton 



Thought for the day

‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Previous Blogs 

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 |