President's Blog 59

 

National Executive Committee Meeting, 9th and 10th April 2021

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 is 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.

 


Committee Changes

Following some mid-term changes to the Committees Minister Richard Cuthbert has been appointed to the Education & Exponents Committee (EECom) and Chris Pelham-Wright has joined the General Purposes Committee (GPC). We wish both members well in their continued work for the Union at national level.

 


Audience with the President (#AWTP)

The third series of #AWTP came to an end on Monday 5th April with a special on reincarnation, with guests Charles Coulston and Minister Brian Gledhill. The NEC has agreed that #AWTP will return later in the year for a fourth series and this will be promoted through the Union's usual social media channels at the appropriate time.

 


100 Years of Spiritualism, by Minister Jean Bassett

Member and author Gerald O’Hara from York is currently working on creating a second edition of this important publication, which is one of the few books that charts the history of the Union and its role within the wider Spiritualist movement.

 


SNU AGM

As was announced in the last blog, the 2021 SNU AGM will be held virtually this year on 24th and 25th July. We have contacted the Holiday Inn in Norwich and confirmed that our booking from 2020 will now be transferred to 2022, when we hope it will be possible and safe to hold a physical meeting once again. Further announcements on bookings for this year will be made in due course.

 


Gender-Neutral Memorandum and Articles and Byelaws

Following the motion passed at last year’s AGM GPC is putting the final touches to a complete set of gender-neutral Bye-laws, which will be made available to the membership in time for the 2021 AGM. In addition to these changes a range of other corrections have been made as part of this work to bring the Bye-laws fully into line with current practice and policy. We feel this is an important step forward for the Union and the organisation will adopt a gender-neutral approach to all of its future publications.

 


NEC Internal Policy Decisions

The NEC has asked GPC to review all internal policies set over the years by the Board. To date the period 2000 to 2003 has been reviewed, drawing on NEC minutes to establish what policies had been agreed, and then these have been reviewed to establish whether they are still applicable to our current operations and the requirements of charity and company law. Once this exercise is complete a record of all internal policies set by the NEC will be added to the SNU policy library and reviewed on an annual basis, as is standard practice within the Union.

 


Head Office Server 

The main server in Head Office, which is the centre of all SNU IT functions, is now five years old and fast needing to be replaced. The Union is currently looking at transferring all of its data files to a cloud-based system, which will enhance our data security and avoid the need to accommodate hardware at Head Office whilst giving all key members of staff data access even when they are off-site.

 


Head Office Postal Costs

As a direct result of Covid-19 and Brexit the Union has faced excessive rises in its postal costs. It now costs £9.05 to post a Member's Welcome Pack within the EU and £19.35 to send the same pack to the USA and Australia; the same applies to the Individual Member's card and Diary, which costs £7.80 in the EU and £16.60 in the USA and Australia. With current membership rates at £26.00 per annum these changes render the sending of hard copy documents uneconomic without increasing membership subscriptions considerably, which the NEC are against in principle.

We have agreed to look at ways of delivering more membership support documents digitally so that we can retain our current subscription levels whilst still providing our membership around the globe with the necessary current information about the Union.

 


Ministers Administration Committee (MAC)     

Annual Prize for the Ministry

MAC are looking at introducing a prize or prizes specially for the Ministry. Given the important work the members of the Ministry do within the Union it was felt only fair that this should be recognised and celebrated at the annual Awards ceremony held during the AGM weekend. This decision is likely to come into effect in 2022.

 


New Administration Course

Following the withdrawal of Course G1 by EECom and its replacement by LM1, MAC is looking at the possibility of writing its own course on Administration for the Ministry and it is felt important that this course should cover the administrative matters needed by members of the Ministry.

 


SNU Audit

Price Bailey, the SNU auditors, are currently completing their work for the 2020 audit ahead of the sign-off of accounts which takes place in May. After one of the most difficult years financially in the Union's recent history we are fully aware that we face a difficult set of results; however, the Union has a strong financial base and reserves policy established over many years of prudent financial management and we are confident we will weather the storm and we continue to help Churches in need when applications are made. Any Church facing cashflow problems should write in the first instance to Head Office.

 


Arthur Findlay College

The College has been working hard to create a virtual Open Week 2021, which will be a truly international event this year. This year there will be no admission charge for Open Week and individual sessions can be accessed through buying a ticket via the AFC website. The event went live on Friday 9th April and so far ticket sales are going very well indeed. Open Week will include the normal welcome meeting, which will be a free-to-enter session and the first two days will conclude with a special Sunday service led by the Principal of the College, Minister David R. Bruton.

The programme for 1st and 2nd May will start at 8.00 a.m. BST to facilitate the Australian and New Zealand time-zone and run until 9.00 p.m. BST to accommodate the US and Canadian time-zones. Each session will last for one hour with the exception of specialist workshops with limited numbers, which will be available throughout the weekend, lasting two hours.

A full programme of demonstrations of mediumship, including a daily trance address and demonstration of spirit art, will also be included.

From 3rd to 4th May AFC tutors will be available to give private readings and spiritual assessments, again via the Zoom platform, and these can also be booked via the AFC website.

Open Week 2021 promises to be an exciting and unparalleled event, which is a must-visit over the May Bank Holiday weekend. To visit the website and book your tickets: https://www.arthurfindlaycollege.org  

 


Launch of a new course

EECom announced the launch of LM1, which is due on 1st May; this course replaces G1, which has now been withdrawn, and is written to provide the student with a clearer view of how to run a Church rather than the heavy concentration on the constitution as provided in the G courses previously.

Based on the  recommendation of EECom any Church members will be able to obtain a free PDF copy of the new course, provided application is made before 31st August 2021.

Church members can also enrol on the course and be allocated a tutor for £5.00 (normally £25) or Church members can enrol on the course and take CAS for £10 (normally £20) .

 


Healing Awareness Week 2021

In support of the Healing Forum, of which the Union is a founder member, and Healing Awareness Week 2021 the Union will provide a range of healing events during the week which begins on 1st May. These events will be promoted through our social media channels and you can also visit the Healing Forum website for a full range of events: www.healingawarenessweek.org

 


Healing Practice in our Churches

As our Churches move to re-open, EECom reminds healing groups that the Government has stated that social distancing policy is likely to remain in place until at least the end of the year, so any SNU healing groups should practise only distant and absent healing; contact healing remains unavailable for the foreseeable future. The Union will advise further as regulations are lifted.

 


SNUi

Open and closed events: we are now reducing the number of events that are open to the general public so that we encourage people to become members of SNUi. Approximately 20% of events we offer are closed in order to ensure good group quality and to provide members with an experience which allows them to pursue their development throughout a set number of classes. SNUi currently provides 40 events every week. We now have National Representatives in each of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the USA.

 


Social Media

Facebook: in the latest 28-day period the page has reached 28,000 people, with top posts including National Day of Reflection (5.4k), Hydesville Week Announcement (5.3k) and the final post for the Census Campaign (4.2k). Our thanks go to everyone who registered themselves as a ‘Spiritualist’ on the census form. The Census in Scotland has been delayed for twelve months owing to the pandemic, so we will have to wait until the Scottish data comes in and is consolidated into the England and Wales figures before we know the final results and the possible success of our campaign.

The best performing videos were #AWTP Maria B Hayden (2.1K) and Mediumship and Spiritual Development (1.8k). We now have 8,856 people following our page.

 


Zoom Training Video

The Publicity & Promotions Committee (PPC) are working on a training video for Churches, 'The Beginner's Guide to Zoom for Church Services'. Zoom will be an important promotional tool for Churches even after the pandemic is over.

 


21st-Century View of the Seven Principles, by Minister Barry Oates

This publication has now been translated into German, so the title is available in Italian, German and English. All proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the MAC Bursary to support the training of the Ministry and the Union thanks Barry for this generous and ongoing support.

 


Digital Advisors

This project is progressing and PPC aim to schedule the next steps at their next meeting, which will see the development of a team of volunteers in each district who can help Churches with their social media and Zoom ventures.

 


RE Council 

The next meeting of the RE Council takes place on 11th May; the RE Council working party met on 5th March and meet again at the end of April. They are looking at ways to make our religion more accessible for newcomers and young people. Some work will be done to rewrite parts of the SNU website in order to improve accessibility.

 


 

Meeting with Kings College, London

OM1 has met with a lady from Kings College, London, who has worked on some of the recent research into Spiritualism to discuss how we can raise our profile among the wider public and academia. She recommended the formation of a library list for study of Spiritualist literature as one way of addressing this need and it was agreed that work will be begin to create such a list, which will be useful to students within and outside the Union.

 


Focus on Religion DC Meetings

OM1 attended the East London DC discussion evening on 9th March, entitled  “Can we talk about God, please?”, and it proved an interesting discussion.

Conclusions:

 

  1. There are a number of people who do want these sorts of discussion evenings on philosophy.
  2. Some people admitted that they were uncomfortable with the word ‘God’ but were comfortable with either the term ‘Your God’ or ‘Fatherhood of God’. Some still saw the word ‘God’ as pertaining to a person. People were comfortable with discussing God as an energy.
  3. It was generally recognised that becoming comfortable with God is part of the journey.
  4. While no particular suggestions were made about changing our services, the standard of speakers was mentioned, as it usually is, with some negative comments made about award-holders doing very short, low-standard addresses.
  5. The point was made that generally we should focus more on the living than the dead. Perhaps we as individual speakers should focus more on the daily presence of God and pay more attention to how we use the term ‘God’ in our prayers and addresses.
  6. It seems that rather than changing a traditional service people want additional activities.

 

These matters will be discussed further in other forums within the Union.


 

Training within the Union

The following documents were approved by the NEC in February and have now been uploaded on to the SNU website as part of the administrative matrix:

 

  • What’s the function of the various SNU committees that we hear about?
  • How does Spiritualist healing work?
  • Why does my Church hold an Annual General Meeting and what’s my role in this?
  • How can I support my Church without making formal commitments such as joining the Committee?
  • I have a problem with something/someone in my Church: what should I do?
  • I have skills that I think could be useful to the SNU: what should I do?

 

Having done some research into how other religions provide support for their Churches and congregations,  OM3 has drafted the following titles for NEC consideration: 

 

  • I’ve been asked if I would be nominated to join the Church Committee
  • I’ve been asked if I would be nominated to be Church Secretary
  • I’ve been asked if I would be nominated to be Church Treasurer
  • I’ve been asked if I would like to become a Support Officer
  • How your Church welcomes people is important
  • I’ve been asked if I would be nominated to become a member of the District Council

 

These additional resources were approved by the NEC and will be published in due course.

 


New Hymn Book

Work continues on producing a new hymn book and supporting music for Churches that don’t have either an organist or a hymnal. The necessary recordings are now complete and both the recordings and the words for the hymns are in production prior to issue to SNU Churches. It is intended that Churches will pre-order this new package to avoid the costs of producing multiple copies which may not be required. Once the product is ready to be launched it will be promoted through the normal Union channels.

 

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.

You have to be in it to win it!

 


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting is scheduled to take place on 4th and 5th June and will be conducted via Zoom. It is planned to return to a physical NEC meeting in August subject to government guidance and levels of infections.

The next Council meeting will take place on Saturday 25th September 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]

 


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Minister David R. Bruton

President of The Spiritualists' National Union


Thought for the Day

Believe you can and you are halfway there.

-Theodore Roosevelt

 


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