Edition 40 | Happy 8th Birthday to the Presidents Blog! 

NEC Meeting Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 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. This is the 40th edition of the Blog, which represents eight years and many hours of NEC meetings!

Happy birthday, Presidents Blog.

GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation

In May this year new data protection legislation came into force which will affect the running of the Union and our Churches. Each Church has now received a pack which includes guidance on compliance and the necessary forms to be sent to members. There are serious fines for non-compliance, so Churches are encouraged to take these new requirements on board. Further work is necessary from the Union and further circulations will be made going forward as we get a clearer picture on how this new legislation will affect our work. The pack also contains some recommended policy documents which Church committees can use to support their work.


Gender Neutrality

After consultation with the General Purposes Committee it has been agreed that the word ‘they’ will replace ‘he' or 'she’ within the constitution moving forward. We do not intend to rewrite the Byelaws due to the work involved but as changes and updates are made the new policy will be implemented.


Spiritus Italia

In April the President was invited to visit our Italian Associated Body, Spiritus Italia, to take part in a special promotional event about Spiritualism held in Milan. The event was well-organized and attracted a large audience of mostly non-Spiritualists, which allowed us through the services of a translator to share the Spiritualist message with a whole new audience in a predominantly Catholic Country.


President's Insignia

The necessary repair work has now been completed to this historic artefact and the President will wear it both at the World Congress and at the SNU Annual General Meeting in July.


World Congress

We are now in the final stages of organisation and looking forward to welcoming Spiritualists from around the world to Stansted Hall at the beginning of July. Keynote speakers will represent the SNU, the International Spiritualist Federation, the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, the Church of Canada, Spiritus Italia and Spiritualists in Ireland.

Minister Judith Seaman, Minister David Hopkins and Alv Hirst will all be in attendance to represent the SNU and Paul Gaunt will also be on hand to man the AFC Museum, which is likely to be a key destination for many of our guests visiting the College for the first time.

National Memorial Arboretum

The President was invited to represent the SNU at the National Memorial Arboretum on 17th May for the dedication of a new memorial to remember British citizens killed by terrorists overseas. The service of dedication was taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were also in attendance, along with many representatives of other religions, the government and the families of some of the victims. The President was introduced to the Prince of Wales as the President of the Spiritualists National Union, which was a very proud moment indeed both for him and the movement.


Diss Pioneer Centre

The dedication of the Diss Pioneer Centre will be conducted by the President on Monday 6th August; the Union gives the Centre its good wishes for its future in bringing Spiritualism to a new community.


Windrush at 70 Service

The President has been invited to represent the Union at a special service to be held at Westminster Abbey on Friday 22nd June to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Windrush’ generation in Britain. Once again Spiritualism has been included at this important national event; the tide is without doubt turning towards us.


Healing Awareness Week

The SNU’s contribution to this year’s event included a demonstration of Healing in the style of Harry Edwards on Open Week at the College; the evening was well attended and we raised £585 for the Sam Buxton Healing Trust, which is working with child cancer patients in a Bristol hospital. Overall, the amount of money raised has already surpassed last year, with some donations still to come in. The final figure donated will be reported in a future blog.

Outstanding Affiliation Fees

Head Office has now begun the process of chasing up outstanding affiliation fees from Churches which should have been paid in January; email contact will be made in the first instance where possible and this will be followed up by post and telephone contact as may be necessary.


Barbanell Centre

Tenders have been received for the refurbishment of the Jarvis House property and work is underway with a view to getting contractors onsite within the next month.

Following the leak in the Church Hall under the floor the repair and re-sanding of the floor is complete and this is to be covered by an insurance claim. Tenders have also been received for the installation of a new kitchen at the Centre and a contractor has been approved with a view to starting work shortly. All this work is part of building a solid and strong future for the Centre.


National Council – Terminology

There has long been a range of terminology used when referring to members of the National Council and this appears to create confusion within parts of the Union. The General Purposes Committee has at the request of the NEC drafted a motion for the AGM with a view to creating clarity for all National Councillors.


Managed Churches Constitution

GPC have completed work on a new constitution for Managed Churches to bring them in line with the provisions of the Rules for Churches 2018; these have been approved by the NEC and will be circulated shortly.


SNU Rules

The General Purposes Committee has now completed updated constitutions for Healing Pioneer Centres and Mission Churches, which bring them in line with the latest edition of the Rules for Churches 2018.


IM Working Party

The newly-established working party to look at the Individual Membership application process has had its first meeting and a further meeting is proposed shortly. We have received comments from several District Councils, which make a strong case for the need to review the way we recruit and develop membership within the Union.


Ministers Assessment Committee (MAC)

The NEC are pleased to approve the following recommendations from MAC:


That Jackie Wright OSNU be ordained as a Minister;

That Marie Davies and Eamonn Andrews be appointed as Officiants.


Our congratulations go to all three candidates as they begin their new role.


MAC has reviewed the format of the Ministerial Return with a view to collecting information that MAC will actually use. This was approved by the NEC and will be issued to the Ministry later this year.

Interfaith Ambassador

The Annual General Meeting of the Interfaith Network will take place this year in Derby and the Union will be represented by Minister David Hopkins prior to him traveling to Stansted to attend the World Congress.


Financial Director (FD)

The FD reported that the 2017 audit is complete and the Trustees' Report and Accounts are ready for printing following a review by Price Bailey, who complimented the Union on its reporting standards to its members. Our auditors have also highlighted the new HMRC system to make tax digital, which we are going to need to comply with. At this point this is going to create a few problems because we run three independent accounts systems within the Union using the Sage software; we need to find a software solution which consolidates the three systems in one and at this stage Sage do not have an available solution for us. This is a challenge we must face during the 2018/2019 accounting years.


Gift Aid

The Union is aware that one or two of its Churches are having difficulty with their Gift Aid claims; the Finance Committee is looking at the best way to develop a solution which works and district councils will be enlisted with a view to providing help and support to the Churches in order to provide an important additional funding stream for the Churches.

The Union continues to play an active part in IFN and the NEC continues to encourage Churches around the country to play an active part in National Interfaith Week, which takes place in November each year.


District Council Accounts

Following the completion of the annual accounts the Union is pleased to report that the new accounts system which was adopted by the district councils during 2017 seems to have worked well, with no major problems reported in the adoption of the new system at the year-end.


Church Improvement Grant

The NEC has ratified the recommendation from the Finance Committee to re-run the Church Improvement Grant Scheme this year. A further £10,000 has been allocated and churches will be able to apply for small grants on a matched funding basis up to the value of £1,000. An application form will be circulated to all Churches in due course.

Asset Management Plan

The Finance Committee is working on developing an Asset Management Strategy for 2018-2023; a first draft was considered at the last meeting and further work will be undertaken to finalise this prior to publication. The Committee is also working on a review of the Wardens' Report Form to ensure that it reflects changes in legislation and provides the right information to support the SNU Trust Property operations and the Churches.


Education and Exponents

During the meeting the NEC received a presentation from the Exponents Committee with a view to standardising the requirements for the Platform Accreditation Scheme, the Church Administration Accreditation Scheme and the Healing Accreditation Scheme; further work on this now needs to be undertaken but the NEC were in broad agreement with the draft amendments to the three schemes.


Word Counts for Courses

Following a pilot scheme where the word count was removed for the H1 and SD1 courses the Education Committee is reviewing word counts going forward and it proposes that word counts are set individually for each question rather than having a blanket approach across each course. This was agreed.


Tutor Training Day

The Tutor Training Day will take place at the Barbanell Centre on 17th November; attendance will be by invitation only.


'Guide to Education and Awards'

This booklet has been reviewed to ensure that its contents are in keeping with the Bye-laws; the booklet will also be renamed as ‘Guide to Education, Accreditation and Awards’, as it was felt that this more effectively reflects its content.

Moves to allow UK Individual Members to study SNU courses via SNUi were also approved and this will include Healing training.


Healing Survey

The Exponents Committee has conducted a survey of all SNU Healing Mediums and to date we have received 409 responses, which will make the data gathered statistically significant. There is still time to return the survey and it can also be completed online by any registered healer.


Restoration of Awards

The following timetable was agreed for lapsed members wishing to regain their awards: Within one year of lapse: accreditation or awards will be restored.

Between one and three years: the applicant must undergo and pass two out of three assessments for their appropriate accreditation or awards.  

Over three years: the applicant must attend three Training/Review days and take a Final Assessment Board.



Head Office has now checked all SNUi membership details and any person still in arrears has now had their password deactivated. Work is still ongoing to address the concerns raised with the web developer but it is hoped to have these issues fixed shortly.

The SNUi Committee requested the adoption of the Zoom software to replace Mega Meeting for our webinars and this was agreed. It is hoped that the quality and service level provided to members will be greatly improved.


SNUi Science and Spiritualism

This new monthly initiative is now recorded, allowing SNUi to re-broadcast the event within different time zones, allowing all SNUi members to make the most of this new and interesting content.

Membership of SNUi now stands at 1,207 and this has been verified by Head Office as an accurate figure.


Communications Director Social Media

We continue to build our presence on social media and our Twitter page now has 141 followers with 3,700 views.

The Harry Edwards Healing Event on Open Week reached 5.8k views and the President's Hydesville Message produced a strong performance, with 7.4k views.

The Communications Director will write an article for SNU Today to help support Churches with the control of their social media content, as this still appears to be an issue with some churches, especially when committee members leave the Church and then do not pass on administration rights to the Church sites.


Volunteer Week 

We developed a strong presence on social media for Volunteers Week; given that most of the SNU operates through the dedication and support of volunteers, it is hoped that this will grow in future years, allowing us to celebrate the hard work undertaken by many.

Minister Barry Oates' book taking a new look at the Seven Principles of Spiritualism for the 21st century has now been translated successfully into Italian and will be available shortly.


Media Opportunity

The Communications Director has had meetings with the BBC Religious Affairs Department and they seem very positive about their view of Spiritualism and its position as a religion in the UK. They are exploring the possibility of producing a 30-minute programme to explore the teachings of Spiritualism and a shorter piece may be produced for Radio Four's ‘From Our Home Correspondent’. This is an exciting opportunity for Spiritualism which could lead to further collaborations with the BBC.


Focus on Religion

Minister Suzanne Gibson Foye has organised two events in June, one at Preston Ethical Church and one full day at Runcorn Church. The programme for both days will include a Questions and Answers session but the whole thrust of both events is to look forward and engage with members to explore new ideas and practices which can be adopted throughout the Union. The June event will be reviewed at the August NEC meeting with a view to rolling this kind of opportunity out to other parts of the country.


How to select Hymn Tunes

Minister Alan Rawnsley has written a short guidance note for Churches which wish to download suitable music for use during services. With all the digital formats and content now available this can prove a useful and a cost-effective way of providing music when, as is the case with many Churches, an organist is simply not available. This guidance leaflet will be available on the website as a downloadable document within the Members' area.


NEC Workload

The NEC is always looking for ways to make its working practices more effective; with this in mind discussions took place around holding an NEC teleconference between scheduled meetings to try to spread the workload more evenly. This proposal will be considered when the new NEC takes office in July.


National Volunteers Week

Volunteers Week takes place at the beginning of June and national resources are about to be released along the theme of Joy. Churches are encouraged to get involved to celebrate the brilliant job many dedicated volunteers do within Spiritualism; some of these activities will be featured in the next edition of SNU Today.


500 Club

The latest draw took place during the AGM, with one lucky member scooping a top prize of £1,000. Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Jane Heatley at the Members Service Centre, Head Office. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.


Next NEC Meeting

The next NEC meeting will take place at the Cedar Court Hotel  in Elland, Huddersfield on 20th July 2018.  The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 29th September 2018.

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 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 |