As another year draws to a close I am reminded that 2018 was to be our ‘BIG’ year. The planning for this started back in 2016 and it was hoped the events organised would remind Spiritualists that we do have something to celebrate despite the many challenges of modern living we all face. Thinking back to 2016, I don’t realistically think we could have ever envisaged how 2018 would turn out in our wildest dreams but by its very nature life can sometimes surprise us and provide new inspiration to guide us forward.

In July we welcomed Spiritualists from around the globe to the Arthur Findlay College for the second World Congress. This event also took a great deal of planning and preparation; our second World Congress turned out to be very different from the first held in Lily Dale some four years ago but any doubts the organisers might have had were very soon laid to rest. The energy in the Hall was wonderful and all the delegates gelled together with the intent of making a difference and plotting our collective future under the banner of Spiritualism worldwide.

Many new friendships were forged and as we left to return to our respective homes it seemed that in a very short time a great deal had been achieved. The three-day Congress was completed by our Annual Peace Walk held at the National Memorial Arboretum, when once again this year Spiritualists banded together and made a pilgrimage towards our memorial with the intent of creating a more peaceful and harmonious world for everyone.

The focus then moved to Birmingham Town Hall at the end of July for a full-day event organised by the West Midlands District Council. The vibe of Congress was certainly still in evidence on this special day when the beautifully restored building rang to the vibration of hundreds of Spiritualists and non-Spiritualists alike meeting to share a special day. The District had elicited the support of many well-known mediums and tutors from Stansted and the quality of the sessions was exceptional, showcasing Spiritualism in the twenty-first century and all it has to offer.

A group of Buddhist monks were also invited to take part to reflect the important work we are doing in the field of Interfaith. Whenever people of faith meet together, there is, I believe, always an opportunity for shared experience and we very soon realise that we are all part of one great family; we may practise different religions, we may be drawn from different cultures, we may have a slightly different view of God but, regardless, we are all seeking in our own way to serve and enhance our individual and collective spirituality in this life and in facing the world to come we can step forward, sure in our knowledge that our time in this world is only part of a greater journey.

In August we moved to Darlington Church in the North-East for a weekend of events organised by the Northern District Council; this also proved to be a highly successful weekend on many fronts, with, once again, Spiritualists meeting together to practise their religion and expand their understanding.

In September, right out of the blue, came a letter from the Department of Media and Culture asking the SNU if we wished to apply to attend the National Memorial Service at Whitehall on the historic 100th anniversary of the Armistice to mark the end of the First World War in 1018.

The National Executive Committee agreed our application and Alv Hirst, our Communications Director, and I set about completing the six-page form. As we submitted the form we wondered if after many years of campaigning to be included this was actually the year we would achieve our long-held goal. The weeks ticked by and I have to admit I wondered if yet again we were going to receive another rejection; then one Wednesday morning in October an email dropped into my inbox with an invitation to take part. Finally, Spiritualism was to be recognised and we would get the opportunity along with many other faith groups to take part in the service at the Cenotaph. The full story of the day is reflected in the December edition of Psychic News and the Spring edition of SNU Today will also carry an article to provide you with an insight into this historic day.

I find it very difficult to put into words the pride I felt stepping out on to Whitehall that sunny Sunday morning in November; we actually ended up leading the procession of faith leaders out from the Foreign Office. I know from speaking to many people around the country and the many messages we received through social media what this achievement meant so much for Spiritualists, both those belonging to the SNU but also many from the Christian Spiritualist and independent communities around the country. Any sense of pride I felt on the day was magnified by Spiritualists from around the world and I am equally sure that many will have shared our participation in the service from the spirit world, proud that Spiritualism had finally been allowed to step forward and pay tribute to the millions who gave so much in the name of freedom and peace in our world.

As we stand on the threshold of another year I also have to reflect on those that have taken their transition during 2018, too many to mention individually, and I understand we will each have perhaps family and friends we will want to remember and add to the celestial roll-call, but I would like to mention two Ministers of the SNU, Dorothy Hudson and Bill Nedderman, who both passed early in the year; both have given so much to the movement and in remembering them in particular let us embrace the many who have served in whatever way, the lives that have been touched and the knowledge and inspiration that have been shared.

If you had asked me in December 2017 what we would have achieved during 2018, it is fair to say I could have never guessed what our Big Year had in store, but is this not the nature of life? However much energy we invest in our plans and preparations, sometimes life just steps in and takes us in a wholly different direction. Sometimes this challenges or tests what we hold dear but the constant presence of change in our lives serves to foster growth, new beginnings and new exciting opportunities to move our message and teaching forward.

Wherever you find yourself when reading this message, on behalf of the Spiritualists’ National Union I wish you, your family and friends, the congregations in all of our Churches around the world and beyond, a truly Happy New Year. May we together build upon the strong foundations laid by those who preceded us and may we create an even more vibrant and spiritually inspired and blessed experience for everyone. May the blessings of God and spirit rest with your today and in all of our tomorrows.

 

Minister David R Bruton