President's Blog 57


National Executive Committee Meeting, 4th & 5th December 2020 via the Zoom platform

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.


Church Membership Subscriptions

The NEC has agreed that with effect from the 2021 edition of the Rules for Churches Rule 21, 'Subscriptions', will be amended to remove the requirement for members to pay their subscription in person and in future subscriptions can also be paid by electronic means. Given the current situation with the pandemic, it has been agreed to provide a dispensation for all SNU Churches to implement this change to the Rules from 1st January 2021 with a view to supporting Churches that may still be closed owing to current circumstances. To further support Churches it has also been agreed that Churches can, if they wish, delay the payment of affiliation fees to the Union until April 2021 in order to provide an extended time for Churches to collect their membership subscriptions before having to make remittance to the Union.


SNU Yearbook

Members who have renewed their Individual Membership subscription will be aware that they are yet to receive their Yearbook for 2021, which has been delayed owing to the postponed AGM. Head Office will post the new Year books out in early January; we apologise for the delay, which was beyond our control. 2021 has been classified as the Year of the Environment and the Union will be working throughout the year to help support our Churches and Centres to reduce their carbon footprint.


Arthur Findlay College

The College remains closed owing to the pandemic and we are now looking towards opening in spring next year but, as things stand, no fixed date has been agreed. We have completed the programme of redundancies and eighteen members of staff have left the business. The remaining staff are furloughed under the Government initiative with the exception of the small team who are working to keep the College safe and maintained, working towards the day we can open our doors again. The College tutors are continuing to work online, providing short courses, private sittings and spiritual assessments, which are all helping to provide an income for the College and the tutors alike.

Mavis Pittilla has also generously agreed to lead 'The Spirit of Christmas' at the AFC with Mavis Pittilla, and tickets are on sale for this two-session special from the College website.

The College held a tutor meeting via Zoom at the beginning of November and this provided us with an opportunity to update the tutors with the current situation at both the AFC and the Barbanell Centre and provided an open forum for the tutors to discuss their ideas and concerns.

Invitations have gone out to tutors for Open Week 2021, which will be held as a virtual event; details of the programme and tickets will be made available in the New Year.


Barbanell Centre

Following the second lockdown the Barbanell Centre has once more had to close its doors and cancel the two courses planned for December, which were both fully booked. The staff, as with the College, have returned to furlough and Seamus continues to hold the fort to ensure the safety and security of the building.


National Service of Remembrance

I was honoured to be able to represent the SNU and the wider movement at the Cenotaph at the Service in early November. The whole experience was very different from that of the last two years but it was still a fitting tribute in my view to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Social distancing was very evident in the Foreign Office and  during the ceremony; as usual, the whole day ran perfectly to time, thanks to the efforts of the Civil Service.


Audience with the President

With the advent of the second lockdown it was agreed to resurrect the ‘Audience with the President’ and we began again on Monday 9th November with a special to mark Interfaith Week; the guests were our Interfaith Ambassador, Minister David Hopkins, Ashley Back from the Inter Faith Network and Father Leonard Young from the Church of England. The discussion was interesting and I hope it served to encourage the Churches to see the importance of Interfaith when things return to normal.

Karen Frances McCarthy was our guest on the 16th, talking about modern Spiritualist literature, and we have a programme pretty much in place well into December as follows:


Monday 14th 'Spiritualism and Science' with Professor Chris Roe and some of his PhD students.
Monday 21st Christmas Special with invited guests.
Monday 28th 'Reincarnation and Spiritualism'.


Check our social media for the access codes to allow you to attend.


Head Office

Head Office continues to work hard to support our Churches and members. Any member wishing to renew can do so either via the website or by calling Head Office during office hours 01279 816363. The General Manager is currently working towards restructuring the staff at the Office to ensure that all the work is covered and our service level to members remains high.


Rules for Churches 2021

After many delays the new edition of the Rules for Churches is finally ready for submission to the Charity Commission for approval. The new edition includes a range of template forms to be used by the Church which we believe will assist Church Committees. Given that we will have to wait for Charity Commission approval, it has been agreed that the new edition will come into force towards the middle of next year to avoid causing problems with the running of the 2021 AGMs. We are also working on developing an online training session which will highlight the main changes in the new edition, which we hope will prove useful for the Churches in implementing the new Rules. 



The suspension of complaints still remains partly in place owing to the majority of the Churches remaining closed but the Complaints Committee is starting to move forward on one or two cases with a view to avoiding creating too much of a backlog in the system.


Law Commission's Consultation on Marriage Laws

The Ministers Administration Committee has formulated a full response on behalf of the Union and this was lodged with the department in good time to meet the deadline.


Ministers Congress

The 2020 Congress took place virtually and sixty members of the Ministry took part; the points arising from the meeting are still under discussion and the Ministers Administration Committee is currently considering the feasibility of holding future Congresses virtually, given the much better level of attendance.

MAC reported the appointment of the following new Officiants: Marie Lisseman, Lyne Edwards and Sylvia Scott;  the NEC congratulates all three candidates and welcomes them to their journey within the Ministry.


Change of approach for Education and Exponents

The Education & Exponents Committee has agreed to remove the word ‘fail’ from its paperwork and is now working towards giving every student the potential to achieve their aims. For those who do not make the grade at their first attempt they will now have a system where they encourage them to remediate the areas where they are weak and provide further training as necessary. 

All DSNU awards will now include Media training and assessment so that Diploma-holders become good representatives and ambassadors for the SNU regardless of their specialist subject.

TPS2 is now planned to launch from 1st December and E&E already has a considerable waiting-list of students wishing to study the new course.

Regular meetings now take place with Education Tutors and they are to be encouraged to be tutors, not just markers, which many had become in the past. It is E&E’s aim for the tutor to now make initial contact with a student on enrolment and have a more personal approach to the relationship with their students, which we believe will promote learning.  

Work has begun on a new SH2 CSNU-level Spiritualist Healing Course and H4 has been withdrawn.

Teacher Training

The final part of Teacher Training went ahead at the Barbanell Centre in October; however, some candidates were unable to attend because of the Covid restrictions. Eight candidates completed their final assessment and six passed with high marks. Our congratulations go to the students.



E&E has offered help and training to all District Councils who wish to proceed with the Healing upgrades within their districts. There are currently 105 trainee mediums doing their training online. Church Registered Healers are reminded that they need to renew their Healing subscription this year regardless of their church being closed, otherwise their registration will lapse next year and they will have to be reassessed prior to returning to Approved Healer status.


Healing Definition

The NEC agreed a change to the definition of Spiritualist Healing as follows:


Old Healing Definition

The definition of healing mediumship is a form of healing by the use of forces and energies from the world of spirit channelled through a Spiritualist healing medium by the laying on of hands on the body or prayer or the direction of thought from a distance.

New Healing Definition

The definition of healing mediumship is a form of healing by the use of forces and energies from God channelled through the spirit world and a Spiritualist healing medium by the laying on of hands on the body or prayer or the direction of thought from a distance.



SNUi have been working very hard and so far this year have presented 26 SNUi Members Divine Services, 26 Open Divine Services and 60 PAS Student Divine Services in addition to just over 40 weekly events; in 2020 SNUi presented 2,000 individual events running on the programme.

The NEC has also agreed to increase the number of Zoom Rooms from three to four for SNUi, which will provide added flexibility and allow even more events to be planned.


Subscriptions:  The NEC agreed earlier in the year the following increases in the subscription charges, which have now taken effect:


SNUi membership for non-IMs £25.00
SNUi discounted membership for IMs £10.00


We believe this continues to provide excellent value for money and is only the second rate increase in twelve years despite the vastly improved services SNUi offers.


SNUi Website

The finishing touches are being put in place with the brand-new SNUi website and it is hoped to launch this to the membership very shortly.



The Communications Director is working on producing a one-hour Christmas Day special aimed specifically at those who live alone and perhaps are unable to meet with family and friends owing to the pandemic; this will be promoted through our normal social media channels.


Work is also underway to produce an ‘introduction booklet’ to go to all new IMs and a booklet which could introduce Church members to the SNU that Churches could use as part of a welcome pack to encourage new members within the Churches.


The Administration Matrix Launches

The Matrix, which is available from the SNU website, launched on 1st December and is literally a mine of information to support Church Committees in running their Churches.


Additional Training

Minister Alan Rawnsley, our OM3, has now completed an online course for Support Officers and Investigation Panels and these will be delivered in the New Year.


Managing Risk

The CAO has reviewed our current Risk Register for the Union and produced a new format, which will be introduced in 2021. Given the difficult year we have experienced in 2020, this highlights the need to carefully manage all risks related to running the Union to ensure that we keep moving forward.


RE Council

The SNU was represented at the last meeting of the RE Council and the following points were considered:


-   There is a strategic review of the Council currently underway.

-   There are some financial issues, as some of the underlying charitable trusts are under pressure.

-   Following on from the commission on RE there have been significant steps forward on ‘Worldviews’ and discussion about the nature and purpose of RE. The aim is to open up understanding of RE and vest it in current world and challenge stereotypes.

-   There has been a literature review and consultation with academics.

-   The challenge is how we teach students that it is about them - not just about religious people!

-   RE has started to creep in terms of content and yet there is the issue of rich diversity. How do we make choices including both religious and non-religious traditions?


The NEC agreed to create a small working party so that the Union could fully engage in the changes proposed, which will potentially influence the way RE is taught in schools.


NEC Blue-Sky Meeting

The newly elected and appointed NEC held a blue-sky meeting in November, which was a day's meeting dedicated to charting the future of the Union. The following points were agreed to be taken forward for further discussion and action:


SNU Meetings

NEC agreed to hold half of its meetings physically and half virtually.

Each SNU Committee will be given the opportunity to decide how it is best to conduct its business. The following have so far been agreed:


Finance Continue with virtual meetings and hold a physical one when the need arises.
GPC All meetings to be held virtually.
E&E First meeting of the electoral year to be held physically and all others to be held virtually.
MAC Continue holding virtual meetings for the time being.
Collegiate Continue with virtual meetings and hold a physical one when the need arises.


This approach will produce significant cost savings to the Union, which will help to rebuild the balance sheet after the rigours of Covid-19.


The Council

It was agreed to consult the Council with regard to changing the format, with the potential of now holding four meetings a year going forward, three virtual and one physical.

Each District to send in future two delegates to Council, one being the National Councillor and the second representative to be a rotational position allowing more district members to experience Council for themselves and to engage with the Union at a national level.


Reopening after Covid

Proposed celebration of reopening for Churches by using Hydesville Day as a key date.

Project – Open Door and Welcome back.

Establish guidance to support the Churches in reopening.

Establish Zoom meetings with the Churches to allow them to ask questions and share good practice.

Promote guidance in SNU Today.



We need a clear ask.

Role descriptors/time commitment required.

Allow external co-opted members.

Shadowing of roles.

A day in the life.

Bitesize series.


Regenerate membership.

Lack of succession planning.

Encourage culture of shadowing roles and the ability to succeed.

Fill the void between becoming a member and being involved.

Promote ways of working with the rules.

Aspire to go out into the community.


Annual General Meeting

Consult members about physical meetings but find a way of incorporating online facility.

More controlled questions - asking for them in advance to promote engagement.

Need to set a standard as a professional international organisation.

Provide other forums for individuals to put their issues forward such as a quarterly Church surgery.

Promote positive experience and not be hijacked as a ‘moaning forum’.

Using new technology to facilitate the AGM.


Increase the use of Zoom and video training within the Union.

Verbal communication is key.

Enforce supportive advisory culture.

Increase Oomi reports to flag up issues.



Role of Superintendent Ministers to be redefined.

Look at incorporating Superintendent Ministers within the Byelaws.

Change relationship with Churches and IMs.

Reflect changes in legislation for official services.



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 12th and 13th February and will be conducted via Zoom.

The next Council meeting will take place on Saturday 6th February 2021, 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

On behalf of the Union I would like to wish all members and Churches a very Happy Christmas and let's pray that 2021 will prove to be a very much better year than 2020.


Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union

Thought for the Day

If we are facing in the right direction all we have to do is keep on walking.



Previous Blogs 

President's Blog | Edition 56 |

President's Blog | Edition 55 |

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 |