"It holds such a passion for me. Very often I get immersed in the needs of others who are so much in need of help."

Marian is a busy worker for spirit: President of Bristol Westbury Park Spiritualist Church, Minister, Chairperson of the Fund of Benevolence and, of course, the Union’s Almoner. It was her work as Almoner, in part, that led to her being voted Spiritualist of the Year 2015. 

It was an instinct to help others that first brought her into our religion, she recalls. “I had heard that a friend of mine had lost her son. I thought that Spiritualism could help her through her grief, so I looked into it.” This was the start of her journey that eventually led to her joining the Ministry. “Everything seemed to fall into place. I wanted to be the best I could be.” She warmly acknowledges the support along the way of Minister Billy Thomas, Minister Lily Bees and, later on, Vi Kipling FSNU and Minister Judith Seaman. Now, as Almoner, she is able to give that support and encouragement to others.

As Almoner, Marian has pioneered the use of email to bring people around the world together for absent healing. This has grown incredibly since it was introduced. “There are now over 500 people on the list,” she says, “from as far afield as Australia, USA, Canada, Europe, as well as the UK.” Emails are sent out requesting recipients to send absent healing to those in need, to both humans and their companion animals. She adds, “It’s not only Spiritualists that ask for healing. Members of their family write and ask as well. This tells me that the message of healing is going far and wide and now more than ever is becoming so important within people’s lives.” It is encouraging to think that through Marian’s work many people are first introduced to our religion as a compassionate and inclusive movement that cares for humanity.

The role is a special part of her life, she explains. “It holds such a passion for me. Very often I get immersed in the needs of others who are so much in need of help. You don’t just sit down and type. The thoughts come from within and, before you realise it, you’re into a special mode of thinking. It can really strike a chord inside. Every request for help is as important as the next.” It’s very clear that spirit inspiration is an important part of this. “You just know that spirit are already there, working alongside us as Spiritualists, responding to the needs of others. Whether having small or huge needs, everyone is the same. How gracious that is!”

And does this all work? “The results that have come back have been so positive!” she says, with a beaming smile. ”People have told me about the tremendous difference made within hours of the email going out, with reports of the strength that has been received and felt. It’s awesome, really! It’s a lifeline to many. Others look forward to the emails, saying they know that they can be part of a collective, doing such a wonderful thing. Healing has taken huge steps and is now at the forefront of our mediumship; that pleases me greatly.”

Another part of her Almoner’s work is as course organiser for Senior Citizens' Week at the Arthur Findlay College. This is clearly an exciting time of the year for her. “It’s a great passion. Those who attend are living pioneers of our movement. They’re all part of that spiritual community that reflects the living God within us. I’ve been able to build on the work of Minister Eric Hatton, and today we have over 70 people being part of a wonderful community. It’s a very sacred and special experience for them. They talk about the things that they’ve experienced in their lives, things precious to them.” I can almost hear the singing, as Marian tells me each day begins with a rendition of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!”

Undoubtedly there is a great deal of hard work behind the scenes for Marian in undertaking this work, but it is clearly a spiritual vocation. She leaves us with an important reflection: “All this is worthless to me without the knowledge that my God is with me and with all peoples everywhere.” This reminds us that we too can be inspired by our Almoner’s work in caring for others wherever they are, because God’s love knows no boundary.

You can contact the SNU Almoner at [email protected]