Presidents Blog 43

NEC Meeting Friday 30th November until Sunday 2nd December 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.


The National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph

This was truly a proud day for Spiritualism and a great experience for Minister Steven Upton and the President to be allowed to take part in such a prestigious national occasion. Standing in the waiting room at the Foreign Office surrounded by the Prime Minister and her four predecessors, together with many other Government ministers, High Commissioners and Faith leaders, was a surreal experience that will be remembered for a long time. Overall, the day ran like clockwork and created considerable pride, with members throughout the country sending their good wishes to mark our final acceptance after many rejections over the years. The President has written an article at the request of Psychic News and Alv Hirst and the team have done a brilliant job promoting the event on social media; we even got a mention on the BBC coverage!

The day was completed by the receipt of a further invitation to attend the service at Westminster Abbey in the evening; it truly put the cream on top of the day to be present at the service, which was also televised by the BBC in the presence of the Queen, members of the Royal Family and the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. 


AGM 2019

The President has now visited the hotel in Glasgow which has been identified by the Scottish and Irish DC as a suitable venue and he has confirmed that the hotel is modern and well-appointed, with a large Premier Inn just across the river (five minutes’ walk) for those who do not wish to stay in the Conference hotel.


Barbanell Centre

The work on Jarvis House is moving ahead and we are not aware of any problems in the project to report. We are still working towards a handover of 9th December and the General Manager is working on the procurement of furniture and other fittings. A meeting has also taken place with the Committee of Stafford Church to discuss the installation of  a foldaway dividing wall in the Church to create two usable rooms for the benefit of the Church and the Centre.

We plan to hold a special opening event on Tuesday 8th January to dedicate Barbanell House; Tony Stockwell has accepted an invitation to attend.


Arthur Findlay College

The College continues to trade strongly and will exceed its budgeted profit again this year. Bookings for next year are not strong but we suspect the Brexit issue is causing students to hold back on bookings and we hope that when and if things are settled pre-bookings will pick up.


Charity Tax Forum

On 31st October the President represented the SNU at the Charity Tax Commission Roundtable at the NCVO building in London; the Government has launched a consultation process about Charity Tax, as the last review was twenty years ago. Submissions were due in spring but this is now likely to be delayed because of Brexit. We were advised that any submissions needed to be fiscally neutral to the Exchequer, as this was likely to get government attention. We raised the issue about the operation of Gift Aid and how many of our Churches found this difficult to operate. There is also no consistency over VAT treatment across the sector and it was also suggested that Listed Buildings should be able to recover VAT on repairs, which is currently not possible. The Chair of the meeting, Clare Pelham, is the CEO of the Epilepsy Society, who also used to work for the Treasury, so she brought great insight to the meeting as to the workings of the Civil Service and government.

One point which came up which we need to address is the rise of contactless giving. We don’t know of any of our Churches which operate this system but as we face in the long term a possible cashless society we need to investigate this and the matter has already been raised at the Finance Committee.


Cirencester Church

Following the closure of this Church earlier in the year arrangements were made to transfer the furniture to Merthyr Temple Church in South Wales, which was very grateful to receive this support from the Union and Cirencester Church.


Healing Forum  

The Healing Forum met at Stansted Hall in October and plans are underway for the Healing Awareness Week 2019. We are looking at making a short promotional film for use on our website; a script has now been agreed and we hope to film the video early in January. The Forum is still working towards attracting a commercial sponsor for the 2020 event and a list of possible corporate donors has been identified. It was also agreed that we would retain the Sam Buxton Healing Trust as our main beneficiary in 2019.


Visit to the SAGB

Early in December the President and Paul Gaunt paid a visit to the new home of the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain based in Battersea in London. Following a tour of the newly-refurbished building discussions took place between the Union and the trustees of the SAGB and a reciprocal visit was planned to Stansted in the New Year.


Changes to Bye-laws

The NEC has asked the General Purposes Committee (GPC) to include provision in the Bye-laws for our Faith Advisors, who represent the Union to the Armed Forces and HM Prison Service. Byelaws A have been updated and these will come into effect after the next circulation to members.

Dress Code for Exponents – Following the update document produced by the Exponents Committee this has now been included in Bye-laws G. The new code takes account of the fact that we live in a more casual society; however, it maintains a standard of dress as appropriate for the representatives of the Spiritualist religion.

Gender Neutrality within the Constitution – The NEC have directed GPC to review the adoption of gender-neutral terms within the Articles and Bye-laws; this is a major exercise and it was agreed to take advice from the Union's solicitors in order to take a view of adopted practice throughout the third sector.


Electronic Banking

Cases are still coming to light of Churches using on-line banking or holding debit or credit cards. Despite the convenience of this form of banking Churches are reminded that the Rules for Churches require all payments to be authorised by two appointed signatures; the banks can provide dual access authorisation for on-line banking payment but card payment is simply not allowed, as it is against the constitution. These methods also place control of charitable funds in the hands of one person who could act without the authority of the Committee, which opens up the potential of fraudulent transactions taking place. If Churches need help with this issue, please in the first instance contact Head Office.


Head Office

After forty-six years of loyal service to the Union Jane Heatley has announced her retirement; she will leave Head Office when the office breaks up for its Christmas holidays. For many Spiritualists Jane has been the face of Redwoods over many years and on behalf of the Union and all of our Churches I am sure you will join me in wishing Jane a very happy retirement. A special celebration dinner was organised for Jane and her partner by the NEC and Head Office also have one or two surprise plans to mark Jane’s considerable contribution to the Union.  



All members who have renewed their membership should now be in receipt of their new Yearbook; for the first time this year we have had to contact everyone listed within the book to obtain their permission to share their contact information in order to be compliant with the new GDPR laws. One or two people have complained that they were not contacted but all members are encouraged to check their entry in the Yearbook and contact Head Office should they have any queries.


Membership Renewals

To the end of November 1,384 IMs have renewed and members are reminded that they can renew their membership either on-line or by contacting Redwoods. The safest way to avoid forgetting to pay your subscription in the future is to set up a direct debit payment with your bank; for further details about this method of payment contact Redwoods.


Church Returns, Part 1

All Churches are reminded that Church Returns, Part 1, were posted out at the end of November. This form need to be returned by 31st January and Churches signed up for the direct debit payment of affiliation fees should inform us of their full membership figures as at 31st December 2018 by early in January so that the correct payment can be taken.  Included in this circulation is the latest information relating to GDPR; Churches are reminded that they need to take steps to ensure that they are compliant with the new legislation, including mediums providing their permission to promote their work, healing records and changes necessary to the Membership Roll Book. A new Church Membership application form has also been agreed and circulated which is also compliant with the requirements of GDPR.



Work is still underway to bring improvements to the SNUi website but the automatic renewal process is finally in place, making renewing your membership an easy task.

SNUi has now appointed a Booking Secretary to coordinate and pursue new ideas for sessions on SNUi. Charlie Seaman, a member of the SNUi Committee, has been appointed to this new role.

SNUi membership currently stands at 1,367 and is on an increasing trend month by month.


SNUi Tenth Anniversary

Plans are underway to celebrate the tenth Anniversary of SNUi early next year.


IM Representative

Mark Bradley is working on the current state of our membership at Union and Church level and he has produced a full report with recommendations, which the NEC have taken on board; following the review it is hoped to start a membership drive early in the New Year with a view to finally turning the tide on falling membership numbers across the Union.


Ministers Congress

This year's Ministers Congress was well attended and, overall, there was a positive response to the new one-day format. A proposal was agreed that the Ministers Administration Committee (MAC) write to all District Councils and urge them to invite a Minister to one of their meetings to talk about the Ministry in an attempt to encourage more people to become involved. There have also been comments from various areas about the requirement for Ministers to have ten years' membership of the Union before they can become ordained. MAC have promised to review all the criteria for entry into the Ministry and bring recommendations back to the next NEC meeting.


MAC’s Action Plan

The following areas have been identified as key to the development of the Ministry:- 

  • To grow the number of Officiants and Ministers
  • To reach out into the community
  • To provide a strong support to members of the Ministry
  • To strengthen the relationship between the Ministry and the Churches
  • To share good practice
  • To develop the lines of communication within the Ministry
  • To provide continuous personal and professional development
  • To celebrate success


Interfaith Week

The Union has tried very hard to promote Interfaith Week via social media but it would seem that very few of our Churches are actually taking an active part locally. Our membership of the Inter Faith Network was, we strongly believe, a contributory factor in the invitation to take part in the national Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph, so the NEC would like to encourage all SNU Churches to take part in Interfaith Week 2019. It is agreed that the Union will also do something nationally again next year. If any Churches did take part and you can supply photographs of your involvement, please forward these to the Publicity and Public Relations Committee.



A Skype meeting took place in November to begin planning so that the system of markers and mentors can be piloted for H1 and SD1. The long-term objective is to be able to offer the new scheme across the whole prospectus of SNU education.


Keeping course notes up to date

One member of the Education Committee has taken on responsibility to ensure that changes are made to course notes when changes are made to the Bye-laws; at the request of Education the NEC agreed to include the Education Committee in update notes as changes come into effect.



The Exponents Committee are aware of the confusion around service awards; the LSSNU and GSSNU awards should be based on service to the movement, not just membership of a Church. Exponents proposes to introduce a new category of award which can be presented by the Churches, which will be purely based upon membership. The NEC approved this suggestion and more information about the new awards will be available in the New Year.

Healing Mediums' Dress Code

The Exponents Committee have also recommended a dress code for healers and although there are no hard and fast rules healing mediums should present themselves in an appropriate manner for the occasion.


Healing Accreditation Scheme (HAS) Implementation Dates

A full programme of dates has been agreed by the districts to introduce the new HAS training, which comes into being next year. The day-long event will begin at 10.00 a.m., with time allocated for the explanation of the four new training days to the DC Executive Committees.

At 1.30 p.m. Church Officers, Healing Group Leaders and healing mediums will meet for an explanation of the new scheme. The day will conclude with a public fund-raising event, with all proceeds going to the DC. It is hoped that all DCs will publicise widely the events well in advance, allowing everyone to attend to learn about this important change in the practice and training of healers in our Churches.


The SNU has recently launched an Instagram page (@SpiritualistSNU). The page already has 129 followers after a few weeks and the art cards and phrases are being used to convey news, often pointing to Facebook for additional information.



The last month has been our strongest period on Facebook and the following statistics will give you an indication of progress to date:


The SNU Facebook Page for the latest week was 26,700 views and 9,600 people interacted with the posts. We now have 4,000 likes on this page (78% women and 21% men).

Top posts in November were:

  • Announcement of Armistice Day involvement - 7,500 views
  • Armistice Day posts - 16,500 views
  • Pictures from Armistice Day - 11,500 views
  • Friendship Day - 8,900 views
  • Peace Day – 3,900 views
  • SNU Birthday post - 13,700 views


Work is now underway preparing for the Healing Day, which will take place in January 2019.

BBC3 have interviewed some younger Spiritualists and the Communications Director is waiting to speak to the production company shortly to support the development of this project.

SNU Today

Work has already begun on producing the Spring 2019 edition of SNU Today; if any member is attending anything newsworthy, please take notes and photos and feed them back so that we can produce something for the latest magazine.  

The Communications Director is also working to put together a Press pack which will be available for any journalists who are intending to feature Spiritualism or the Union.


Mind Body Spirit Event, Birmingham NEC, November 2019

This event, masterminded by Suzanne Gibson Foy, turned out to be a huge success, with a lot of new contacts made and enquiries answered. There was lots of interest from the general public in our stand and the NEC have given the go-ahead to re-book the event for next year. Our thanks go to members of the NEC and other IMs who manned the stand over the three-day event; quite a few people also took advantage of the taster sessions for Spiritualist Healing, which all goes to promote what it means to be a Spiritualist.



This initiative continues on the website and a call has gone out to SNU Minsiters to write a suitable piece that can be included.

500 Club

Latest winners (October Draw)

  • Tom Dynan £500
  • Dawn Hanratty £100
  • Eileen Ledger £50
  • June English £50
  • Bodmin Church £50
  • Tanya Smith £25
  • Colin Lomax £25

 To join the 500 Club and have a chance of winning contact Redwoods.


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on 8th, 9th and 10th February 2019. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 2nd February 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]

Minister David R Bruton



Previous Blogs 

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 |