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August 2016 Edition 27

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The Presidents Blog | August 2016 | 27th Edition


NEC Meeting Friday 29th July to Sunday 31st 2016


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.


Minister Steven Upton - Vice-President
Following the resignation of Minister Steven Upton at the close of the Annual General Meeting on personal grounds, our constitution provides that the NEC can either appoint a duly qualified person to serve for the remaining term of office or call for an election by the membership to find a replacement candidate. At its meeting last weekend the NEC agreed to call an election.

As you are aware, the day-to-day running of the Union rests with the Officers and, given that following the decision to hold an election a new candidate may not be able to be elected until early November this year, the NEC has agreed to make a temporary appointment to the position of Acting Vice-President. Minister Alan Rawnsley has been proposed by the NEC to undertake this role and his appointment was confirmed during the meeting. This will mean Alan will serve as Acting Vice-President up until the results of nominations and any subsequent necessary elections. This appointment ensures that the running of the Union will continue smoothly until election procedures are completed and that necessary and important decisions can be taken by all four Officers rather than just three.

Elections and Appointments

Members of the NEC 2016/17 and their respective responsibilities under their portfolios:

President: Minister David Bruton

Principal of Arthur Findlay College and the Barbanell Conference Centre; Ambassador for the Union; AFC Museum; National Interfaith Network.

Vice-President: Minister Judith Seaman

Ministers Administration Committee; General Purposes Committee; Ministers Congress and Council of Ministers; Promotion of Religion; Interfaith Ambassador; Almoner. Ex-Officio for the President, Training & Awards.

Acting Vice-President: Minister Alan Rawnsley

Complaints & Appeals; Curator; Head Office; Health and Safety; Information Technology; Safeguarding.

Financial Director: Julia Almond OSNU

Finance; Policies and Procedures; Risk Management; Trust Property; Action Plan; RE Council. Ex-Officio for the President, Education.

Accreditation: Minister June English

Training & Awards; Healing; Education; SNUi.

Communication: Alv Hirst

Publicity and Promotions; Youth Ambassador.

OM1: Vacant

OM2: Tim Coombe

Special Projects; Churches under supervision; Pioneer Centres; Church development.

OM3: Jane Barton CSNU

Focus on the Religion; Philosophy & Ethics; Human Resources.

Council Member to NEC: Danny Goodchild CSNU


The NEC extend a warm welcome to Tim Coombe as OM2 and Jane Barton CSNU as OM3 as they join the NEC. Given the importance of supporting our Churches Kathryn Crossley has been appointed to help and support Tim Coombe with Churches under support; Kathryn will not sit on the NEC.


Individual Members Representative: Karen Line-Jones OSNU

was returned to office unopposed for the following two years.


SNU Sub-Committees 2016/17


Complaints Committee

Chairman: Derek Pipe, M.A., OBE
Vice-Chairman: Minister Tom Haver
Members: Gillian Grimson (Arbitration); Laraine Killarney (Adjudication and Mediation); Russell Fitzpatrick (Misconduct of Affairs)


Collegiate Committee

Chairman: Minister Simon Key Vice-Chairman: Minister David Bruton (Principal) Secretary: Anne Kelly CSNU Members: Minister Judith Seaman; Minister Alan Rawnsley; Julia Almond OSNU; Sandie Baker CSNU (Tutors Representative); Tanya Smith (Manager, Arthur Findlay College); Seamus Davies (Manager, Barbanell Conference Centre)


Education Committee

Chairman: Minister Jenny Peacock Vice-Chairman: Minister Jeanette Cookson Secretary: Christine Thompson CSNU Members: Pat Seymour CSNU; Jane Barton CSNU; Debbie Ridgway


Finance Committee

Chairman: Julia Almond OSNU Vice-Chairman: Minister David Bruton Secretary: Shirley McGee Members: Minister Judith Seaman; Minister Alan Rawnsley; Carol Harrison; Ernie Gray; Anne Daultrey (Finance Manager); Lesley Gilbey (SNU Trust); Graham Hewitt LL.B. (Trust Property Coordinator)


General Purposes Committee

Chairman: Minister Tony Penketh Vice-Chairman: Minister Judith Seaman Secretary: Charles Coulston DSNU Members: Shirley McGee; Derek Pipe, M.A., OBE


Healing Committee

Chairman: Pauline Silver DSNU Vice-Chairman: Jean Smart CSNU Secretary: Mark Bradley CSNU Members: Lesley Hale CSNU; Alistair Hamilton CSNU; Sandra Jarrold DSNU


Ministers Administration Committee

Chairman: Minister Judith Seaman Vice-Chairman: Minister Tom Haver Secretary: Minister Alan Baker Members: Minister June English; Minister Jeanette Cookson


Publicity & Promotions Committee

Chairman: Loraine Todd Vice-Chairman: Alv Hirst (Youth Ambassador) Secretary: Andrew Manship CSNU Members: Joy Clarke (Event Coordinator); Martha Chick (International Liaison); Robert Dangerfield (Social Media)


Training & Awards Committee

Chairman: Minister Carol Ellis Vice-Chairman: Linda Walker CSNU Secretary: Gail Davies CSNU Members: Vanessa Follett CSNU (PASS & CSNU Coordinator); Trevor Barton CSNU (SNUi online FAB Coordinator); Kathryn Crossley OSNU (CAAS Coordinator)


SNUi Committee

Chairman: Illona Mulock Houwer Vice-Chairman: Arthur Plumpton OSNU Secretary: Yoshie Miakoda-Chihara CSNU Representative to Council: Minister Alan Baker Members: Fredrick Haglund CSNU; Kathy Leigh Tsoukalas Ex-Officio for the President: Minister June English


Interfaith Ambassador: Minister David Hopkins Public Relations officer: Minister Steven Upton Youth Ambassador: Alv Hirst National Safeguarding Coordinator: Minister Tony Penketh National Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator: Minister June English Museum Curator: Paul Gaunt



Matters arising from the AGM

Auditors to the Spiritualists’ National Union

Price Bailey Llp were confirmed as auditors to the SNU for the year ending 31st December 2016.

Maurice Barbanell Honorary President-in-Spirit

Maurice Barbanell passed to spirit 35 years ago after a lifetime's service. Barbanell had done so much for the movement both as a Minister of the SNU and as advisor to past President Gordon Higginson during the darkest days financially in the Union's history and of course through his work as Editor of Psychic News and as trance medium for the guide Silver Birch. The President announced during his address to Conference that the NEC had agreed to accord the honour of Honorary President-in-Spirit to Maurice Barbanell.

AFC Stafford - A new beginning

It was announced at the AGM that the Arthur Findlay Centre, Stafford was now to be known as the Barbanell Conference Centre. A new logo is currently under preparation and the Centre will be re-launched with new signage and a new website later this year.

The Future of the AGM

Members had the opportunity to discuss during the AGM weekend the future of this important annual event in the Union’s calendar. Following a productive and forward-looking debate the NEC are working on a new format for the 2017 conference.

Plans are still in the very early stages but items under consideration include:

A welcome reception from 5.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on Friday evening.
The SNU Trust AGM to start at 8.00 p.m.
The provision of an alternative activity for those who do not wish to attend the SNU Trust Meeting.
The Gordon Higginson Memorial Lecture.
The introduction of random seat allocation in the Conference hall for at least one session to encourage members to meet with new people and network.
Saturday morning optional meditation session.
Members felt strongly that the main business meeting should be concluded by close of business on Saturday.
In future all questions on NEC reports to be submitted in writing before the event to allow us to time-manage debates more effectively.
On Saturday evening replace the Gala Dinner with a more informal social evening, perhaps with a carvery meal.
Entertainment still to be provided but using a different format from the last three years'.
There must be an opportunity to dance during the evening - Spiritualists love to dance!
Sunday morning to be reformatted to include a Sunday service (to include healing but no mediumship).
New hymns/songs to be commissioned specially and used during the service.
A discussion session to be introduced, with delegates split into groups and each group given a different subject to discuss and feed back to a plenary session.
Introduction of payment by quarterly direct debit to spread the cost of Conference for the membership.
Re-introduction of a national raffle, to be drawn at Conference, with the proceeds to be used to help delegates attend.


Making the SNU a Dementia-Friendly organisation
After an emotional and moving speech at the AGM by David Gay OSNU the NEC have agreed to investigate how we can make the SNU as a whole a dementia-friendly organisation. Each member of the NEC has undertaken to become a Dementia Friend. The Financial Director, Julia Almond OSNU, will investigate becoming a Dementia Champion and ways we can work to make the Union friendly and inclusive to all through education and the sharing of information throughout the organisation.

Proxy Envelopes
The NEC has agreed to order new envelopes to be used with the proxy forms for the AGM to replace the ones with ‘BALLOT ONLY’ printed on them, which are seen to be confusing for members.

Ministers Congress and Council of Ministers 2016

This year's event will take place at Stourbridge Church on 15th and 16th October 2016.

Gordon Higginson Memorial Scholarship

A special event will be held at Castleford Church in North Yorkshire for the Year Two students on Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 7.30 p.m.; entrance is £5.00 at the door. If you are in the area you are welcome to come along and support the students.

Pioneer Centres

Sadly, after the closure of Leeds and Manea Pioneer Centres the document supplied to Individual Members interested in opening a Pioneer Centre has been revamped to provide additional information and support aimed at increasing the likelihood of success.

E-Target the next generation - Oomi

Work is underway on the next generation of the SNU database, which will improve considerably functionality at Head Office and allow the database to be updated automatically, thus keeping all information current and reducing data entry work for the staff.

Following last month's successful launch of the new Arthur Findlay Shop we are also planning to launch a new website for SNUi and we are also looking at producing fully digital online Return forms for many Returns which have to be made to the Union, allowing members and affiliated bodies to submit Returns online, saving time and cost to the members and Churches and the Union in data processing.

Investment Review

Following a review of our investments and stockbrokers by Price Bailey it has been agreed to conduct a bridal parade with a view to selecting a firm of stockbrokers who will serve the Union for the next few years; our current brokers, Brewin Dolphin and Charles Stanley, will be invited to tender.

District Council Accounts Software

Following a successful training day held at the Barbanell Conference Centre, Stafford on 1st July some minor changes to the programme will be made by the software developers and copies will be made available to all district councils free of charge. For the year ending 31st December 2016 all districts will be required to use the new software and all audits of district council accounts will be undertaken internally, removing the need for external auditors and saving each district council considerable annual expense.

The Church version of the software is also under development and will be rolled out free of charge to any Church that wishes to use it in early 2017.

The Future of our Religion

District Councils will all be shortly required to appoint a member of their Executive Committee to liaise and take part in this important new initiative, which is vital to the future of the movement. The President and Vice-President will shortly write a joint letter to each District to explain the plans at this early stage.

CAAS Course

The NEC have asked the Training & Awards Committee to look at providing some form of promotional marketing aimed at encouraging Church members to take this course.

Rules for Churches 2017

The General Purposes Committee are already working on the new edition of the Rules for Churches and following the acceptance by members at the AGM of the new Memorandum and Articles the necessary changes to Church Rules will be made in time for Charity Commission and HMRC submission, with the new Rules to be launched early in 2017.

'Healing and the Law'

The Healing Committee are currently working on updating ‘Healing and the Law’, which is now considerably out of date. Healers are also to be reminded to ensure that no communication mediumship is to be delivered during the practice of healing or any healing service; following the change of terminology to ‘healing mediums’ Balens, our insurance company, has sought reassurance on this matter as part of their risk management profile for healing.

The Principles - A new book by Minister Barry Oates

Minister Barry Oates has kindly given the copyright of his latest book to the Union and this is currently under preparation and design process.

Spirit in Action - 10.00 p.m. SNUi

This new initiative, which started in March this year and operated seven nights per week, has now been suspended for the summer months; the NEC will review the service at its October meeting with a view to re-introducing the service early in November.

SNU Today

The Autumn edition of SNU Today is currently under production and the next edition will be posted out with the next circulation in mid-September, to include a range of topical and interesting articles about Spiritualism and the Union.

New Arthur Findlay Shop

The new on-line shop launched in July has made a very strong start; this service provides a one-stop shop for everything SNU and includes products from the Arthur Findlay College Shop, all delivered to your door simply and effectively. The shop can be accessed from the home page of the SNU website.

Pioneers Of Spiritualism

Following the remarkable success of the new Pioneer Cards launched this year at Open Week the NEC has agreed to investigate the production of high-quality prints of a range of Pioneers to include a write-up about the life of the Pioneer and their achievements within the movement, which will be framed and sold. Everybody has their favourite pioneer, someone they would have loved to have met or who inspired their personal development. It is hoped to have samples ready for the October NEC meeting and then, if agreed, production will start in time for Christmas.

500 Club

Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme, with a chance to win some excellent prizes, with a top prize of £500, should contact Claire Shores at the Members Service Centre. 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 Barbanell Conference Centre on 7th, 8th and 9th October 2016. The next National Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 1st October 2016.

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:

Thought for the day:

"Whoever is happy will make others happy too".

-Anne Frank



  - Minister David Bruton