This month Spirit of PN’s Paul Brett takes a look at what’s on offer at the very active and popular Wimbledon Spiritualist Church (WSC).
Wimbledon Spiritualist Church – a family affair.
A spirit message by way of an ouija board was all that Richard Arthur Bush needed to set up a regular meeting place for Spiritualists in and around south west London’s Wimbledon.
Later, at a public meeting in St George’s House, Alwyne Road, Wimbledon, on Wednesday December 17, 1913, ‘The Wimbledon Spiritualist Mission’ began its journey. For a number of years the Mission held meetings in hired premises, but in 1923 a building site was purchased at 134-136 Hartfield Road, and the completed building was formally opened on December 16, 1925 by the Reverend George Vale Owen.
On March 3, 1926, members voted to change the name from ‘Mission’ to ‘Church’.
During the Second World War, the greater part of the church was destroyed during bombing raids, but the remainder was given temporary repairs and continued in use.
Following restoration and an extension, the church was formally re-opened in 1953, in the presence of representatives from the Spiritualists’ National Union and the Greater World Christian Spiritualist League (now the Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association). This deceptively spacious building still stands proud today.
The list of well-known mediums who have worked on the platform reads like a Who’s Who of Spiritualist history; Leslie Flint, Gordon Higginson, Albert Best, Doris Stokes, Jessie Nason, Robin Stevens and Doris Collins, to name just a few!
There are reminders of the church’s esteemed visitors, past and present, in the photographs and press cuttings that adorn the walls in the large foyer, which also houses the refreshment bar, church shop and reading rooms.
Prominently placed in the centre of one of the walls is a beautiful portrait of the founder, Richard Arthur Bush (left), which was painted and presented to the church by Jean Bassett.
The church is open almost every day of the week and provides events, services and healing.
The Sunday service is held at 11am – on the first Sunday of every month there is Holy Communion and a Flower Service, where the congregation is encouraged to bring flowers in remembrance of a loved one.
The church is affiliated to United Spiritualists, and is recognised as a Christian Spiritualist church – but all denominations are warmly welcomed. It has previously been affiliated to the Spiritualists’ National Union and the Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association.
There are demonstrations of mediumship on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm. On Fridays and Saturdays there are special meetings and workshops, which are advertised at the church.
Healing is very prominent in the weekly schedule. It is available on Sundays (10.45am-11.45am), Tuesdays and Wednesdays (7pm-8.30pm) and Thursdays (10am-midday).
You can also take your pets along for healing on Wednesdays. Crystal healing with the aptly named Lorraine Healey is available by prior appointment.
Absent/distance healing is offered every Sunday morning for those who are unable to attend the church. Just send in the name of the family member, friend or pet and a brief outline of the condition/illness. This can be done by post or by e-mail via the church’s website.
Private sittings are available with mediums by prior appointment. The church is registered for weddings, christenings and funerals. It can also provide a naming ceremony for you.
Richard Bush’s original motto for the church still stands strong today: “What we can give – not what we can get.” In keeping with this, collections for charity are made throughout the year. Just a few of the charities that have benefited are Help for Heroes, Terrence Higgins Trust, Royal Marsden Hospital, St Helier’s League of Friends and the RSPCA.
The friendly and welcoming atmosphere at WSC is undoubtedly down to the fact that the Robinson family work together to help promote Spiritualism and keep the church running.
The current president is Rev Ray Robinson, who took on the role last year. His father, Derek Robinson, was the president for 25 years. Derek is now the honorary vice-president, but is still active within the church – indeed, 2011 is his 41st year working at WSC.
Derek’s grandson, Ashley Robinson, helps chair special events and is the webmaster for the church’s website and internet presence. He is bringing the church bang up to date by hosting a WSC page on Facebook. Ashley is also an aspiring medium, and is working to develop his mediumship.
Derek currently runs LAD Promotions, which he founded in 1982 along with Doris Stokes and Gordon Higginson; its main aim is to promote knowledge of survival after death. LAD stands for Life After Death.
LAD Promotions represents mediums Jackie King, Ivan Lee, Keith Charles and Jill Hay. All can be seen frequently working at the church.
Along with other events, early every year a long residential weekend is held at the Sand Bay Leisure Resort in Weston-Super-Mare. It never fails to attract some of the best-known mediums and spiritual workers in the UK today, covering subjects such as clairvoyance, healing, trance, transfiguration, shamanism, angels, dowsing, colour, and more. All profit made at the weekend goes directly back into the church. Further details can be found on the website.
The Wimbledon Spiritualist Church shop stocks a wide selection of books, magazines, candles, crystals etc. The shop is open whenever the church is. All profits go to the church to help towards running costs.
There is also a well-stocked book lending library in the Vale Owen Sanctuary, and a garden of remembrance.
The church is just five minutes from Wimbledon underground and overground train stations. Why not take a trip to south west London soon? With so much on offer at this welcoming church, you’ll be glad you did.
The church has an answerphone service when it is closed, but you can speak to Derek direct on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between 6pm and 8pm. If you require the services of a minister, you can contact Ray Robinson on 0778 756 6274 or Jackie Robinson on 0781 806 1063.
The church is at 136 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 3TJ, see the map below. Further details can be found on www.wimbledonspiritualistchurch.co.uk or keep up to date with events on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3516152137.