SNU AGM 2011

Sue Farrow reports on the 109th annual general meeting of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

David Bruton

Following a year of high-profile, and some would say controversial, decisions – the closure of Psychic News, the banning of Eric Hatton’s autobiography from Stansted, proposed changes to the Arthur Findlay College, the purchase of a new £500,000 centre in Stafford – the SNU has held its 2011 annual general meeting, the first under its new president, David Bruton.

After welcoming delegates who had travelled to the University of Warwick for the meeting, David spoke of his intention to “share some highlights and to talk a little about some of the many changes we have brought forward.”

First on his list was a restyle of the SNU’s logo.

Image is everything

“Many of you I am sure see our logo as a key factor in communicating our image,” David told delegates, adding that the logo’s origins, and the identity of its designer, were unknown.

The SNU's restyled logo

He then unveiled the restyled logo, telling delegates: “After today’s launch it will in future appear on all Union literature and letterheads.  We will shortly issue a manual prescribing how it should be used and the pantone colours which form what will become a familiar image to us all. We have already begun the process to register the new logo as a trademark which will afford us protection we have never enjoyed before.”

Forestalling fears that this might cost the churches money, he added: “Churches, please do not be concerned that the logos you are using are now out of date. The transformation is one that you may take at your own pace, there will be no compulsion from the Union to conform to the new image – this is something you may do in your own time as funds allow.”

“Like it or not,” he said, “we live in a time when image is everything.” 

Whilst there is undoubtedly truth in David’s assessment of contemporary society’s obsession with image, and few would argue with the need for the SNU to become more professional in its presentation, I harbour the hope that this focus on image is accompanied by an even more profound determination to meet the spiritual needs of a society that is so urgently seeking something more than the superficial glamour and glitz of celebrity, fame and the acquisition of wealth.

Bold steps and help for churches

Continuing with his theme of presenting the SNU in a more polished way, David told delegates: “We have taken some bold and long overdue steps to present Union Spiritualism professionally, and an important part of this strategy is to provide our churches with the necessary tools to support the promotion of our philosophy.”

It was no longer acceptable, he said, to provide poor-quality photocopied leaflets and expect the general public to pay for them. To this end, a “suite” of excellent leaflets covering various aspects of the movement had been produced, along with a “Seven Principles multi-fold leaflet… complemented by the multi-fold healing leaflet and the multi-fold education leaflet which is launched this weekend. All the leaflets are printed on high-quality paper and are in colour. Perhaps the most important aspect of this policy is that the Union will issue these important tools to our churches free of charge so there can never be a need to buy one leaflet and photocopy it, which sends totally the wrong message to the general public.”

Conscious that churches might worry about the cost of these leaflets, David explained that some of the leaflets had been produced with generous support from the London Headquarters Fund and the Spiritual Truth Foundation, whom he thanked. Defending the new publications, he continued: “For those that see this policy as folly, my response is that we have a duty under the terms of our constitution to promote Spiritualism. The way we do this has to change. If we do not evolve our ideas and the tools we use we will stagnate and die. To this end the Union now has a Flicker Account; you can follow the AFC on Twitter and Facebook and we will use new technology where appropriate to take our message to a wider audience.”

Chris James

Speaking of new technology, David paid tribute to IT specialist and NEC member Chris James, who has worked tirelessly to transform the SNU website. Even the most casual glance at the new site reveals that it’s a far cry from its rather amateurish predecessor. “Our original website was launched over ten years ago and has been updated on a couple of occasions,” David explained. “We have now taken some radical steps to totally reformat the site and bring forward new tools which will make it more user-friendly.

In keeping with our new image we have updated the presentation and feel of the site. Many more innovations will be brought forward for the site as we gradually over the next few months bring the new database online which provides the crucial platform to offer many more services to our key users.”

Pioneer Centres

Turning to “another new initiative which excites me,” David told delegates that the SNU now has three such centres established and operational: “Balderton our first, Lincoln which was established in February and Newmarket which I dedicated in May this year.” Paying tribute to those who had “made this dream a reality”, he announced: “Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we are beginning to grow again. Too long I have sat at NEC meetings and watched as we report the closure of our churches, decline and decay. Now we are growing again, taking Union Spiritualism out into new areas that have had no Union presence before, or re-establishing a presence that once was lost.”

Two further Pioneer Centres are planned and it seems that David sees them as a means of growing the Spiritualist movement. “I suggest to you that in time this new model could provide significant growth to our movement,” he said. “We all know that the interest in Spiritualism and things spiritual, mediumship, healing, philosophy, teaching is considerable out there in society, we have been too slow in the past to address the need.” He invited anyone “interested in this major new policy” to talk with him or his colleagues and find out more. One delegate commented that she didn’t fully understand what Pioneer Centres were, and judging from a number of supportive murmurs around the room, perhaps she was not alone.

Changes at Arthur Findlay College

Andrew Hadley

Few subjects excite Spiritualists worldwide more than J. Arthur Findlay’s gift of his magnificent home at Stansted. Whatever your views on its current or proposed future use, it’s a remarkable place set in equally remarkable surroundings.  It’s natural, therefore, that rumours of change at Stansted Hall have attracted a great deal of speculation and comment. So when its new chairman Andrew Hadley outlined his plans for the future of the college, all eyes (and ears) were on him.

Hadley unveiled a three-stage plan which would be rolled out over a five-year period:

  • Clock Cottage and the Annexe will be converted to provide “premium en suite accommodation.”
  • Eighteen to twenty-four months later, ten single en suite rooms will be created behind the Emma Hardinge Britten walkway, along with a new museum and shop. It’s anticipated that these will be funded by profits from the first phase of the plan.
  • “Better quality” accommodation within the Hall itself, with conversion to single and double en suite rooms.

Perhaps addressing fears that some SNU members might be priced out of the market, Hadley gave an assurance that Class B members would receive “a twenty-five per cent discount on courses.” Turning to the nitty gritty of those courses, he announced that from 2012 studies would conclude at 6pm each day. There would be “fun things” to do in the evening, he told delegates, “including Bingo nights.”

This provoked an audible reaction, and several delegates made their way to the microphone to voice their opinions, among them Minister Val Williams, a long-time tutor at the college. Characteristically forthright, she seemed to reflect the views of many in the audience as she told Andrew Hadley she was “horrified” that tuition would cease at 6pm daily, and asked why tutors had not been consulted. Travelling to Stansted cost foreign students a fortune in air fares and they wanted to make the most of every moment. Though she did not say it, delegates were left in no doubt that Minister Williams was unimpressed by the attractions of Bingo.

Next to take the microphone was officiant and former NEC member, Alan Baker, who wanted to see a more structured path of development for mediums training at the college. There were courses for beginners, intermediates and those who were more advanced, he conceded, but what was to stop a beginner from enrolling on an advanced course?  Course applications should be more closely monitored, he argued, and Hadley undertook to look into it.

Responding to a variety of speakers who had commented on his AFC report, he said “I’m not forcing things down anyone’s throat,” and assured delegates that things were open to discussion.

An announcement that AFC was to increase its rent payment to the SNU to £50,000 a year was greeted warmly.

Clerical dress for SNU ministers?

An interesting and rather surprising question was raised by one delegate concerning the wearing of Christian-style clerical dress (clerical shirt plus ‘dog collar’ and/or ‘prayer scarf’) by SNU ministers. The suggestion that this dress code might have been instituted was certainly news to me, and to a number of delegates with whom I spoke. The answer from the top table was that such clothing was only worn for ease of identification when visiting prisoners.

Having regular cause to visit one London prison in a voluntary capacity, I was surprised to hear this and decided to check with the Governor’s office. I was told that “no special dress is required” for chaplains or religious visitors. I asked David Bruton how the decision to allow ministers to wear Christian clerical dress had come about.

This was agreed by the NEC in 2009,” he told me. “It is not a directive, it is optional and down to the personal decision of each individual minister or officiant.”

While accepting that this dress code is optional, I confess I’m troubled by it. Is Spiritualism a religion in its own right or not? If it is, why on earth does it need to adopt the sartorial trappings of another religion? If it isn’t, then presumably adopting Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or any other religious dress must also have been considered by the SNU – since they would all be recognisable in prisons. As to the prayer scarf, which a number of minister and officiants wore during the moving ‘Arisen Friends’ part of the AGM,  it is essentially a replica of the Roman Catholic ‘stole’ worn by ordained priests.

Don’t misunderstand me – I am all for interaction and dialogue with other religions. There is much to be said for closer co-operation of faith groups in a blatantly materialistic world. But I fear that the adoption of clerical garb may have less to do with easy identification by prisoners (who will presumably now identify SNU ministers as Christian clergy) and a little more to do with a desire to gain greater ‘respectability’ through conformity to the established Church. Why, oh why, should Spiritualism conform? In its heyday it was right out there at the cutting edge of social reform – marching proudly to secure the abolition of slavery, the rights of women, and education for all. In short, it was radical.

Stafford centre and the Arthur Findlay “brand”

Julia Almond – Chair of Stafford's Management Committee

The establishment of a new SNU centre in Stafford has drawn a lot of comment, both on Spirit of PNand in other Spiritualist media. No doubt aware of this, David told delegates:

“I would now like to move to another new venture for the SNU, namely Stafford and The Arthur Findlay Centre. We recognise the immense work which goes on at Stansted Hall and the AFC and we feel we have a great asset in the brand that has been developed there over the last forty years.

“The college, through the work of my predecessor Duncan Gascoyne and his team, and the support of the J.V. Trust, is secure. However, we see that we are now at a point where the brand of the AFC which is held in high regard around the globe needs to be developed, and with this in mind we have taken the decision to purchase The David Jones Centre at Stafford, which is a facility that has, we believe, tremendous potential for the future.”

David explained that as he travelled round the country he had heard it said on many occasions that AFC was too expensive for many “ordinary” Spiritualists to attend. “The ongoing success of the College is crucial in allowing us to develop and fund the work of the Union,” he said, “and I take a slightly different view to Duncan [former president Gascoyne] about how the revenue from the college should be harnessed to help fund the Union.”

Perhaps aware that the centre has reportedly attracted low numbers to its demonstrations and workshops thus far, David continued: “It is true that it is still early days at the AF Centre but the management team there are working incredibly hard to establish Stafford as a centre for learning within the Union which can be flexible and deliver courses more tailored to the domestic market at an affordable cost. The Centre is also being developed as a conference venue in Stafford and, with its excellent facilities and good transport links, I am very encouraged about the bright future for Stafford, which in time will provide a new additional income stream for the Union to help us further develop our work with you.”

David Hopkins, minister and former NEC member, took the microphone later in the meeting and challenged the top table, asking why the directors had not raised with the SNU membership the initial idea of purchasing Stafford.  How many members had received a government-style white or green paper canvassing their views? “Surely,” he said, “this is the tail wagging the dog.”

Minister Hopkins also wondered why the new centre had been named after Arthur Findlay and not, for example, after Emma Hardinge Britten, Andrew Jackson Davis or Gordon Higginson. He was told that the Arthur Findlay brand was known worldwide.

Psychic Press assets

Al Potts

It was inevitable that the controversial closure of Psychic News would be raised at some point during the weekend, and Bournemouth church president Al Potts asked the top table how much the protracted liquidation process was costing the SNU. A figure of £37,000 was given to delegates, though it was not clear whether this related to the first liquidation, the second liquidation or both. Neither was any information given concerning the SNU’s decision to liquidate, then not liquidate, then liquidate again.

The SNU’s interim reports informed members of events leading to the liquidation, but at no point was reference made to the fact that lawyers for the Liquidator had ruled in January 2011 that the SNU did not own any of the assets of Psychic Press (1995) Ltd. This was a pivotal and highly significant development in the long-running saga of PN and we can only wonder why the SNU considered it too insignificant to mention.

David Bruton reported that negotiations between the Liquidator and a potential purchaser were still in progress to secure the paper’s future.

Eric Hatton’s book

Eric Hatton

Of all the SNU’s decisions over the past year, the removal of its honorary president Eric Hatton’s book from the AFC bookshop was far and away the most controversial. This website and others saw a flood of comments condemning the SNU’s behaviour. No statement was made during the AGM but a question was raised from the floor by Minister David Hopkins, a former NEC member, who asked what of the book’s content had caused the SNU executive to take the radical step of removing it from Stansted.

David Bruton opted to answer David Hopkins personally.  Declining to enter any discussion, he said: “To safeguard the dignity of Mr Hatton and all those involved, the matter is closed.”  Minister Hopkins persisted, saying that as a member and shareholder of the SNU, he was entitled to ask such questions. No further information was forthcoming from the top table.

World Peace Minute

The SNU has associated itself with the campaign for world peace by committing to a twice daily Peace Prayer Minute. Its explanatory leaflet (pictured right) begins:

“When thinking about world peace it is easy to say “But what can I do? I am just one man or woman with no power to change the world.” This is a negative approach. We can change things!”

Readers interested in being part of the peace minute can find out more from the SNU website, here.

Summing up a few days after the AGM, I asked David Bruton what he felt was the most important achievement of his presidency to date. “We have begun the process of equipping the SNU to function in the modern world – to provide greater support for our churches, that together we can more effectively communicate the message of Spiritualism,” he told me.

“I have tried to engage with Spiritualists throughout the country with the clear aim of re-igniting the debate within our movement about our philosophy and other issues which should be important to humanity.

“Spiritualism has today the potential it has always had – to help humanity to make sense of the world in which we live and instil a greater awareness and hope for the future. This will not be achieved by any one person, but if we can work together I am confident that much can be accomplished.”

As you, our readers, know, I’m all for debate. As ever, this is a free and open forum for your opinions. Don’t hold back. Don’t just sit at home fuming or cheering in private – share your views and speak your mind! Use these pages to be part of an ongoing and vital discussion about the future direction of the Spiritualist movement.

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68 responses to “SNU AGM 2011

  1. I’d had to digest this article over time but the decision to cease lessons etc at 6pm is just plain weird if not silly.

    • I wouldn’t call it weird, or silly, but maybe unacceptable. When I go to Stansted I look forward to all classes, especially so the evening ones, they usually have something extra to end the day. Personally I have no need at all going to the UK for bingo’s or whatever to spend the evenings. My reasons are digesting all the knowledge I can get. So please, do not do that SNU board, It might withold me from spending my money going to Stansted.

  2. “we live in a time when image is everything.”

    Hmmm, where does that leave honesty, intregrity and accountability? The more time and money you spend on PR, the less time and money you have to spend on the important things.

    It’s one thing to announce a raft of cosmetic changes and another thing entirely to be open and honest about how things could have been handled better, and that lessons have been learnt.

    • Sounds like the priority is image over substance. Like I said before, if they truly believe this, then the SNU will not exist for much longer in int’s present form. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, if the core business is wrong, then it’ll look tidier, and more attractive. BUT IT’LL STILL BE WRONG !!
      In order to truly modernise, then the NEC need to do the following
      1. Loose the “all powerful” ability to over-ride the wishes of the Members.
      2. Communicate with its Members. And to do it in a balanced and non patronising way.
      3. Set standards, and ensure they are achieved.
      4. Be a resource, and hub for Spiritualism.
      5. Ban the Dog Collar, and anything else which sets up any form of hierachy, in an organisation that should be based on equality.
      6. Scrap the 4 tier membership, and only have 1 level of membership. Any organisation that makes it mandatory for two existing members to sanction your application is always going to move backwards. Let’s have some new blood.in our ranks.

      What Spiritualists need to do is become ” Critical Friends” and make sure that the things that are important to you are considered. Apathy is the enemy within.

      I read the article with interest. There are some really good things in it, but it doesn’t go far enough. i know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but in our case, if the decline in SNU Spiritualism is to halted, then we all need to move a lot quicker than this.

      Kevin.

    • Dear Wes
      The Editor makes a comment on my post below which confirms that David Bruton did admit things could have been handled better etc. Also, as Sue states the article only covers key points. It is a real case of ‘you had to be there’ to know and see the full story.

  3. Does anybody know the truth behind the removal of Eric Hatton’s rare and extraordinary book from the AFC bookshop? Seems rather ‘unspiritual.’

  4. As an individual member of the Union who was present throughout the AGM weekend I would like to say that it was a very different experience to previous years and in a positive way. The members of the NEC were accessible throughout the weekend, which over previous years had not always been the case. This article only picks out certain points of interest and doesn’t really give the overall sense of the weekend. Many seasoned delegates who were present whom I spoke with agreed that there appears to be a seed of positive change coming in Union and also agreed that we need to stand back and see if that grows. Many delegates also expressed, which is sadly missing from this article, from the platform that it is time to stop looking back at the past mistakes, learn from them and move forward. No doubt the past mistakes of the current NEC, that is the subject of Eric’s book and PN will stir the hornets nest once more. I for one am prepared to close the door on 2010/11 and see what 2011/12 brings from the NEC, but I shall be watching VERY closely.

    • Jean, thanks for your comment. I agree that my article concentrates on particular points of interest, and for reasons of length doesn’t cover every aspect of the AGM weekend. I also agree that there was a sense of regret for past mistakes, along with a desire to move forward. Indeed, David Bruton admitted from the platform that the closure of Psychic News was not handled as well as it might have been. Like you, I believe there is some evidence of a desire for positive change and I, too, shall be watching very closely over the coming year. Sue

  5. Stephen Childs

    Thanks for your excellent report.
    I hope that dog collars and bingo will never become part of the SNU’s “Rule Book”!
    Good to hear that professional leaflets and website are now coming on stream

    • Stephen,
      I agree that proper leaflets and booklets are the way forward. But why go to the expense of printing “The Seven Principles” when they have already said that they want to modify them. Seems a waste of money.

      Kevin

  6. Peter Raggett

    So no change there then. Most under whelming.

  7. Mike Goodall

    May I be the first to thank Susan and her team for publishing the report of the SNU AGM. At least there was some further information made public than the short resume that appeared on the SNU website; which showed no mention of questioning of any of their activities over the past year. As was expected there were no real answers from the President or the NEC on the two issues which brought them into disrepute; namely the closure of PN and the banning of Mr. Hatton’s book. Once again it appeared that they refused to discuss either issue which was hardly surprising. At least we now have one figure for the cost of the liquidation of PN, and as expected is around 3 times the cost of keeping PN afloat in the first place. Perhaps this only refers to the first liquidation process; we may never know until the accounts are published in the future. A total waste of funds. This organisation now appears to be run like a multi-National company where nobody but those at the top in their ivory towers get to know what is going on or is ever consulted on decisions that affect them. What ever happened to democracy?

  8. Reading through the presidents speech it is clear that David wants to move the SNU forward and modernise its image utilising the now familiar corporate tools available on the internet and by attempting to reach out to the wider world through these means. Which I think is a good thing.

    However it is still apparent from the editors report of the AGM that the leadership has still not fully grasped the fact that they need to be engaged with their membership. I can understand that David wants to draw a line under the past year of disastrous own goals by that leadership, but failed to do so by not allowing in any debate about the costs of, and problems caused by the closing of PN, or the reasoning behind the banning of Eric Hatton’s book. He could have at least given an assurance that in future the NEC will consult more widely on contentious issues before getting egg on its face.

    Getting the membership more involved in the decision making prossess is still a priority.

    It is also clear that the leadership have not tackled the outdated system of membership in any meaningful way. Changing the naming of the various classes is just window dressing. The system needs to be simplified, there are just too many layers. There should be a basic membership for individuals and another corporate membership for the churches and affiliated bodies.

    From the reports on the SNU website it seems some positive steps have been taken to speed up the complaints procedures and it is now possible to register a complaint against an individual member of a committee, rather than just against the whole committee (if you are brave enough).

    As to clerical fripperies, they are unnecessary. Unless compulsory they speak to the ego of the minister rather than the need for identification.

    • Dear Bystander,
      May I clarify memberships for you, with membership there always has been only one Individual membership and one ‘corporate’ membership and that’s all. It was explained at the AGM that changing to more meaningful names would help clear this confusion up. You will see that there are just two are called memberships Individual and Afilliated, the other two are Representaive roles and not memberships. I supported this change wholeheartedly.

      • Thank you for your clarification Jean,I do not claim to fully understand the system.
        I am in favour of the name changes however, “class B” to my mind always had about it a suggestion of those 19th century third class carriages for hoi polloi, unintended I am sure.

  9. Chris Johnson

    Fantastic report, good progress to date. Nice to see the causes on the march again. My most pressing comment would be on the uniform. Not any conventional, nor established religious items. Could be a staff, with the new Logo on it, leading the way to a better world. Purple is a Spiritual colour, just some flashes, a tie for men, a scarf for women, clearly a badge of office or even a chain, with the title accheved in clear writing, Copuld be the 7 principles… leading to the 7th Heaven???

    • Hi Chris, I agree that a badge, tie or scarf with discreet logo would suffice to identify a minister.
      A staff would be too archaic I think, shades of Moses desending from the mountain. Equally a baton would be too militaristic, and neither would be allowed when visiting a prison.

  10. I looked at the new logo where is the word love?
    as for Bingo oh my goodness what have we come to ,Bingo may have been promoted heavily on tv adverts but who wants to play bingo instead of more learning?
    Thanks Susan for putting the information on here that some of us would not otherwise get to hear about apart from perhaps chinese whispers

  11. David Breakell

    Re the College.
    6 p.m. finish, followed by Bingo?
    Sounds more like “Village Hall” than Stansted Hall.
    Whatever next ?
    David.

  12. John Morris

    Thank goodness that members like Minister David Hopkins are not afraid to speak up for the many of us who will long remember the treatment that Minister Eric Hatton received from the SNU management team. John

  13. Having attended the AF college in the last two years, refurbishment to the student accommodation would be VERY welcome. The rooms are very comfortable, BUT the dormitory like showers and toilets do leave a lot to be desired.

  14. If you want to make God laugh, dress yourself up in a clerical shirt and a dog collar. The only person you are fooling is yourself.

  15. I read Sue Farrell’s synopsis of the 109th AGM with growing excitement – firstly a splendid newly designed logo – depicting lovely blues, yellows and muted pastels, along with the message: “Light, Nature, Truth”. Great – some professionalism, here, thought I. Wonderful, reading about all these new Centres of Learning – oh, things are definitely improving. Ha! Talk about lead balloons – I then read about ……. Bingo at Stansted Hall – with no tutor prior consultation, along with “dog collars” for ministers! Light, Nature and truth started to fade from my eyes. Stansted Courses are expensive enough with out silly fun and games being played instead of being educated. Also why on earth do so-called ministers want orthodox trappings? Surely, an ID card, similar to those issued to SNU healers should be sufficient. I cannot believe this continuous slide towards orthodoxy. Surely Spiritualism should be modern and progressive, not dated and regressive!

  16. There are people within the SNU who would like to see the Union run on Anglican Church lines and they are winning at the moment. I feel for the folks who turned away from these churchs and others of that ilk when they felt they were let down at the eleveth hour turned to spiritualisim for Solace, Healing, Proof of Survival etc. and found it. The same good people go spiritualist meetings now and they see what looks like and talks like a Priest or a Minister and I can tell you now it is not happening especially here in Scotland

  17. Geoff Griffiths

    The first of Bystander’s thoughtful contributions regarding the leadership’s failure to engage with the membership echoed my own reaction. The ‘Action Plan’ they have produced is little more than a ‘brainstorming session’ , albeit divided into categories. This was presented to over a hundred church presidents during Open Week at Stansted. Unlike a modern management, who would have sought their input, the NEC simply laid down what was going to happen. This ‘top down’ style of management is very out of date and is unlikely to get ‘buy-in’ from the members. And it is very surprising, considering that there are a number of self-made business people on the NEC.
    However, in each case, their businesses seem to be very much an extension of their own personalities. There are simply too many stakeholders in an organisation like the SNU for this to work. And the ‘masters of the universe’ complex which afflicts most committees is not what I would have expected from the NEC.

    A professional woman I met at the AGM said she thought that no-0ne on the NEC seemed to have any concept of strategic thinking and I could not disagree. Another called it “the waste products of a cow’s husband.”

    My own business – like most start-ups – was initially an extension of my personality. I then took on a partner who had a masters degree in business administration – an MBA. He taught me that ‘you cannot understand how an organisation works from the inside’ and we brought in a business consultant who helped us to understand the business in a completely different way. We needed to consult with our employees and realize that, just because we owned the business, we did not have a monopoly of wisdom. We needed to have their insights and discuss the values that we held in common and which held the business together.

    The consultant then asked all the company – some 20 employees – “what will the company be like when it is finished?” Everyone contributed to the process and so we had complete ‘buy-in’ from both the advisers and administrators.

    This gave us our vision statement. For the SNU this might be “To Win the World for Spiritualism by co-operating with Spirit Purpose”.
    On the ground, in keeping with the national vision, this might translate itself into a church vision “To win (town/city) for Spiritualism . . . . ..” The National vision would then focus on supporting churches to grow, either organically or through mergers. Most of the movement’s problems are in the churches, but the ‘Action Plan’ barely seems to touch them. Although it does acknowledge that our church leaders are utterly untrained and clearly need to be.

    And 15 of the 35 Actions on the plan can be solved by one simple item: Increase congregations!

    It is only at this stage that we brainstorm, decide priorities and create an action plan. But this is where the NEC’s ‘Action Plan’ starts.
    Such a ‘top-down’ approach almost guarantees you will not have ‘buy-in’ from the stakeholders.

    I voted for David Bruton – who also has an MBA – as president of the Union and would do so again. He is a thoroughly decent man who deserves to succeed. But we need outside coaching for he NEC to make a proper job of it and need to be guided by a higher light. “One Union” as a theme shows that the SNU is not thinking outside its own box and gives the impression (to me, at least) of being, in the modern idiom, slightly ‘up itself’.

    The Union is, after all, only a device to deliver the message of Spirit to the world. And important as this function is, it is not something I want to make into an object of worship – in spite of my 40 years as an enthusiastic supporter.

    The days of a cash-strapped union are, we are told, now over. So should be the days of the ‘do-it-yourself-ery’ that the old impecuniousness once made necessary. Spend some money on business and training consultants and let’s do the job properly.

    • I have to agree with the assessment you have given.
      The SNU does need expert outside help from someone truly independent.
      One willing to tell the NEC how it is in the real world.

  18. Why do we need a refurishment of the Logo? It is perfect as it is, I cannot really see much change? As to the courses being curtailed at 6 PM I was last at Stansted in 1996 and we were regaled with competitions with the tutors. I have seen Astrology and Crystal Healing on different courses during this year at Stansted college. What happened to the research on Mediumship as to the remit of the college? The standard of mediumship is getting no better and needs to be checked. But I would not hold my breath it hit deaf ears. Demonstrators are only working on the low level of the psychic using the auric field to gain info which is given as statements from the Spirit World. It is extremely disheartening to listen especially when one has seen excellent mediums like for one Gordon Higginson. Mediumship has become “Blackpool fortune- telling on the pier.”

  19. I would ask David Bruton how many churches have been closed down by the NEC over the past 24 months and the reasons. Also, how many are still closed and existing committee members not allowed any access even to collect their own personal belongings?
    Why open Pioneer Centres to grow the Spiritualist movement when the NEC cannot control their existing churches? The District Councils do not work and a new structure needs to be established to help existing churches on a local level in all aspects, which will help in eliminating complaints and churches being run in a professional way. Get your existing house in order first before expanding.

  20. It is strange that the SNU president should begin his address by alerting us to the trivial matter of a change of logo. He may be sensitive to the mood of the material world: “Like it or not we live in a time when image is everything,” but I would not have thought this ethos should unduly trouble the minds of Spiritualists, whom one hopes would have allegiance to a higher set of values. A recognition of these higher values is after all what makes many people engage with Spiritualism in the first place.

    The triumph of style over substance continues with the promise of new, glossy brochures which will be sent to all churches. “The Union will issue these important tools to our Churches free of charge so there can never be a need to buy one leaflet and photocopy it which sends totally the wrong message to the general public.” Despite the generous support of the STF and others, one wonders how long it will be before per member affiliation fees will be raised to pay for this initiative. How vital is this initiative, anyway, when over 75% of UK homes have access to the internet and those people who don’t, predominantly the elderly, could easily get online free of charge at their local library?

    A more cost effective way of delivering the message of Spiritualism to the wider world is to improve the content and presentation of the SNU website and I welcome the President’s intention to “totally reformat the site and bring forward new tools which will make it more user friendly”. This is badly needed. At present the site is dull, unimaginatively presented and not easy to navigate. As I write this, there is no search facility and no site map. More images are needed, which need to be larger and/or more attractive and more attractively displayed. There is now a need to harmonise the new logo with a new colour scheme, as it clashes with the existing colour scheme. The SNU executive would do well to look at The Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association website, which is considerably more attractive With their greater resources the much larger SNU should be able to better that, instead the SNU website is, sadly, inferior.

    Substance is more important than style however, and a revamped SNU website would do well to contain more interesting content. It could contain articles by leading Spiritualist thinkers and writers on the philosophy, religion (or spirituality!) and history of Spiritualism. It might have a magazine section, where leading mediums and healers could discuss their arts, and which, in the interests of inclusiveness, welcomed contributions from both affiliate and individual members. It might have a section of news from around the regions. There could be a moderated forum linked to the website for SNU members, or an SNU members’ comments and suggestions section. Of course, all this might be too much to ask of just one webmaster, but if there could be a team of people working on the website, then it would be feasible, and surely the resources of the SNU could extend to installing such a team.

    These changes might go some way towards realising David Bruton’s intention to “begin to establish a more inclusive future”. But if he is really earnest about this, then he and the NEC must address a bone of contention that many Class D members, now to be called affiliate members, feel. By becoming members of their affiliated local church or centre, they are signing up to be bound by SNU rules and regulations and a large part of their annual church membership subscription is taken by the SNU as church affiliation dues. Yet they have no direct say in who makes those rules and regulations and how their money is spent by the SNU. They may have a dubious indirect say by trying to influence their local Class B members, now to be called individual members, or by raising their concerns with the church committee, who alone determine how their Class A member, now to be called affiliate representative, casts his block vote, the number of which is broad-banded according to the size of the church. This is not good enough. This is an archaic, unjust and inequitable system, and not one which is designed to inspire confidence and loyalty among the affiliate membership. Just changing the names of the various classes of members is a smoke-screen obscuring the anachronism of a voting system that lies behind it. Especially in the light of the past year’s grievous mistakes, which David Bruton acknowledged in his speech, but cavalierly brushed aside, without any apology or tone of regret, (“Yes we have got some things wrong, certain decisions look fundamentally wrong with the benefit of hindsight but I do not believe we can live always looking over our shoulder agonising about the choices we make, so long as we are prepared to admit our mistakes and learn by them what more can we do other than look to the future with a strong and positive point of view.”) there is an urgent need for the SNU to become more democratic and more accountable to all its members who submit to be bound by its rules and regulations and contribute to its considerable funds. Until this issue is addressed, I am afraid that the SNU cannot count on my continuing loyalty and support. To become the progressive, strong, united, all-embracing movement he says he wants, this reform is urgently required.

  21. Mike Goodall

    A moderated forum on the SNU website? Now that’s a good idea Richard, but do you really think that a thread like this one would ever make it’s way onto the site; I fear not; they do not like criticism, even the constructive type; and any criticism posted on a forum would soon find it’s way into the bin.

    That’s why we need sites like this that are independent and people who are prepared to criticise the SNU and it’s NEC.

    To return to the original complaints brought against them, namely the killing off of PN and the Hatton book banning issue. I was dismayed that these issues were swept under the carpet never to be brought up or discussed again. The membership had a right to know what had gone on and why such decisions were made. I guess that’s the last we will ever hear of them. A sad day for democracy.

    • I do think it unlikely that a thread as open as this would find its way onto a revamped SNU website, but I do think it should be considered, and if the SNU merits the often heard accolade about Spiritualism being “The Thinking Person’s Religion”, then here would be an opportunity to show why. If thinking is allowed, then there will be criticism and a variety of opinions expressed. That can be done courteously and in a constructive way. If we can all appreciate that all our beliefs are provisional anyway, awaiting the greater revelations to come “when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”, we can all remain in a state of brotherly or sisterly love with those Spiritualists we disagree with. So, can we ever get to a place where we actually welcome criticism and debate?
      I am not going to walk away from Spiritualism, but I may still walk away from the SNU, because I think, like you, that there are people in the leadership who don’t tolerate criticism (and don’t respond to it either), and I fear that there is a mood in some quarters to achieve “strength through unity” by prescribing how we should think and what we should believe. I sense, I hope I am wrong, that they would like to make SNU a distinctive religious brand – hence the overly prescriptive book of rules. It will be sad for SNU Spiritualism if they should ever win the day, because as A Clutton Brock said, “When all men think alike they are not thinking at all. When they all will alike, they are not willing at all.” It would also build up resentment, if people felt that their beliefs were not respected, their opinions not heard and their input nullified.
      David Bruton’s closing remarks were, “let us unite together, not seeking to
      exclude anyone who would be part of this journey with us, together as
      one, One Union Strength through Unity.” Not wishing to exclude anyone is good, fostering inclusiveness is his aim, then? But that implies maximising openness and freedom, doesn’t it? And how would he square greater inclusiveness with “together as one: One Union Strength through Unity”? It could still read as ‘united in openness, freedom and diversity’, though I didn’t find one mention of openness, freedom and diversity in his speech; or it could be something more sinister and repressive that is envisaged – knuckling under, accepting the creed as handed down by the NEC, stifling our disagreements and differences of opinion. Let us hope not, but we must wait and see. I will be watching closely.

      • One of the great strengths of the SNU churchesin the past has been their non judgemental acceptance of members from all backgrounds, faiths and philosophies as long as they are genuinely looking for spiritual progress and in general abide by the spirit of the seven principles. This being the one and only uniting qualification.
        Unfortunately in trying to shift the SNU churches towards a more rigid structure emphasising greater SNU style religiosity, the movement is losing its greatest asset, the diversity of its membership, indeed losing its membership.
        Of course there has to be a cohesive core to the spiritualist movement, but the rigidity the governing body of the SNU is foisting on its member churches is stifling healthy debate, and losing that spirit of enquiry so essential to the spiritual progress of the movement and its individual members.

        “It is better to brave the dangers of an open heart and mind than to wither in certainties of a closed one.”

        Something the leadership of the SNU should constantly bear in mind.

  22. It struck me on reading through the reports the use of the term Pioneer Centre, currently applied to the stripped down version of churches for fallow areas, would be a much better designation for all the churches. Changing the term church to Spiritualist Pioneer Centre would get rid of the idea that Spiritualism is just an exotic offshoot of the Christian tradition.
    It would also be a good idea to rid the songs (hymns) of the accompanying Methodist music still used and introduce a greater variety of styles. More emphasise should be given to the philosophy of Spiritualism which after all is its heart.
    Spiritualism needs to be presenting its more radical, pioneering face to the world, not clinging to the stultifying rituals of the 19th century. No one wants to alienate the older generation but if the movement is to survive it has to attract all ages to these refreshed Spiritualist Pioneer Centres.

    • Mike Goodall

      Well said Bystander; I have been saying this for ages; if Spiritual services/meetings are to survive they have to attract the younger generation; they are not going to attend meetings to sing old-fashioned hymns written in the late 19th-early 20th century. If songs are to be included they will have to be modern, catchy and liked. In my opinion an address by the Medium and Clairvoyance interspersed with modern music is the only way to go if we are going to survive the 21st Century. Spiritualism should be all about teaching and proof of survival.

  23. Graeme Hunter

    Spiritualism is supposed to be a Religion, a science and a way of life. A Religion that we live within the laws of the Great Spirit. A science that we find out what those laws are, and a way of life that we put those laws into practice. The Arthur Findlay college now cannot call itself that, as it is becoming more and more a entertainment centre. They say that Spiritualism has a philosophy; the word philosophy has these meanings:
    1.
    the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.
    2.
    any of the three branches, namely natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy, that are accepted as composing this study.

    The word study comes because of teaching and to play bingo or the like – what does one learn from that? It is also a time waster. The executive committee have proven that they seem not to have the best interests of students at heart. I ask this question: are they of the level to teach self awareness? For remember that is what the Lyceum was about – to bring the best potential of people out. What about teaching of psychic awareness (meaning: pertaining to the human soul or mind; mental (as opposed to physical). Has the executive gone so far down the road of phenomena-ism that they have lost their way and they wish to teach phenomena-ism? If so then play bingo and waste precious time. There are many questions to be answered to students: Is it that the Arthur Findlay college does not have the teachers to teach what the spirit wanted to teach and that is self awareness?

  24. The NEC needs to realise that they are starting to lose the goodwill of many Spiritualists. More and more are going to “Independent” Churches and Centres. And it’s because of the attitude of some members of the NEC. True, there are good people on it, but they are in the minority.
    If something isn’t done, and quickly, the movement will be literally extinct. It’s not just down to the NEC, but the regions. All levels of SNU Management need to see that SNU Churches encourage young people.
    I’m not sure that the Lyceum movement is the way forward, as it seems to me that this can easily become the “indoctrination” that the Christians seem to use in their Churches.
    About a year ago, I left a Church i had been with for years. The main reason was that I was one of the youngest there.

    I’m 50.

    Like I said. if something isn’t done quickly, then all the arguments will be irrelevant, as we will all be on the other side anyway.

    Kevin

  25. The spirit world initiated the movement, not physical organisations. If people who have been in the movement for many years have become disillusioned with the churches then I for one can see the SNU fall. It is the members that pay their dues and if they default then there will be no churches to get affiliation fees from. THE movement began with Mediumship but it seems to have gone by the psychism way, and informing people of their pasts is in the fore at the moment – i.e. psychism.

  26. Chris Johnson

    Well said Bystander, must be a hard thankless task to please so many good people. But feel sure, Spirits are guiding and this debate did not come out of thin air. My understanding of Spiritualism is, an umbrella over all religions, the further stage, a more Spiritual understanding than religion alone. That the SNU was a link for all Spiritualist groups and Churches, with a structure and a way of sharing established knowledge, with room for new ideas. This feedback will help those with the thankless task of pulling it all together, to create a new way forward. But no Bingo at Stansted Hall PLEASE, and no Vicar style outfits.
    One other point, look back at what Arthur Findlay donated Stansted Hall for, and keep Psychic News from becoming a SNU Newsletter. The world is big and Nature links all of us to Spirit, reach out to all and let them see the pathway you are creating. Good Luck!

  27. Words fail me. The SNU has lost its way, and this is reflected in their continued loss of members. Their emphasis seems to be focused upon window dressing and renaming things, when they should be looking at other issues. I have no faith in the current NEC at all, and God I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  28. Medium not large.

    If spiritualism becomes a religion, gets heirarchy, uniform and business plans, it ceases, by definition , to be spiritualism. Then we will get the money brigade taking over and that’s the end of anything remotely spiritual. Someone has pulled a fast one looking for a quick quid redesigning a logo to look identical to the existing one. Focussing on irrelevant details and missing the essential rules of any association with a membership. And don’t get me started on the stupid idea to introduce gambling at Stansted. NEC, you need to represent, not control your membership – taking votes on ideas is a good start!

  29. What a sad day it is to see the best the new chairman can offer. What would Goprdon Higginson think of such a trashy vision for the college and much worse what does Arthur Findlay think of the shower who run things now? No wonder Spiritualism is a joke to some people.

  30. Disgusting. We are turning a faith into a circus with wishy washy logos and turning AFC into a Bingo Hall. I dont want fun. I want to work. I do not have the luxury of having a church nearby nor do I have good SNU trained tutors by my side. I pay to go all the way to the UK to be worked hard so I have develoment tools to bring home which allow me to work on myself until the next time I can afford to go.
    Shame on you SNU.
    And why oh why is AFC paying rent to the SNU??? It was donated to Spiritualism, that means it was donated to US!!!
    RE:Pioneer Centres. I am trying to start one at the moment. I have a building, I have the faith, the willingness to slog my guts out to get it going but I need three class B members. In an area where there is no church and we rely on SNUi for support, how can this work?? Pioneer centres for the elite?

    I am disgusted and heartbroken to think that someone who does not even work at the AFC has taken away our future. And for those of us who have no access to churches, they really have done that.
    There is no faith here…just blatant commercialism.

  31. I am a spiritualist, not a member of the SNU and indeed I have no wish to be, it is not important which organisation i belong to, if any. If orthodox churches can join together and interact together, surely the SNU could do the same and interact with other spiritualists and stop thinking they are better than the rest of us. My husband and myself are both mediums who serve spiritualist churches in Wales, we work in independent churches, snu churches, christian spritualist churches and guess what – we are all the same, we all believe life carries on when we so call die ( I prefer pass over), we all believe in the philosophy of spiritualism, the principles, we are all born and we all pass back to spirit, we do not need an organisation to tell us that. My husband’s grandmother was a spiritualist medium before she went home as were others of his ancestors, they didn’t have all the rules organisations are now bringing in, but what they did have was personal responsibility, most sat for many years in secret, developing their spirituality before starting to use thier clairvoyance to give messages, unlike today when some sit for 5 minutes and call themselves mediums. Personally I think too many rules and regulations can be a bad thng, stifling individuality, there weren’t many in the past, and before anybody says it’s to stop any charlatans taking advantage of those who are vunerable, they have always been about and all the rules in the world will not stop somebody who is determined..Lets keep them to a minimum and not resort to too many petty ones.

    Before I finish, the SNU seems to be placing a lot of importance to image, when it should be about being a good spiritualist with love, compassion, tolerance and understanding, personal responsibility and communication with spirit. Who cares what your logo looks like? lets all concentrate on being better human beings and better ambassadors for spirit. By the way, I am not speaking so much about the grass roots, those who are part of the snu churches and those who keep then going,
    we serve many snu churches and have some lovely friends in them, but about the ones who are responsible for all decicions, the excecutive committee for instance. By the way I am a Chhristian spiritualist medium, just don’t force it down people’s throats unless they ask. One for all and all for one!!!!

  32. All of you have valid points but if the Nec do not listen then it will not avail you bringing forward solutions. We need to give Spirit the foremost, for after all they are the ones who are the most important in this discussion. We can discuss as much as we like, but if the organisation does not make a move every word will be fruitless. Their egos are overwhelming, soft words mean nothing. The spirit world is paramount, not an organisation, for they can allow this to fall without regret and the phoenix can arise again with a different structure.

    • I think the Spirit world may well work through forums like these to raise awareness of problems and pose solutions.
      If the NEC choose to remain confirmed in their ignorance and it all goes wrong they cannot claim they were not warned or lacked for good advice.
      I for one would be suprised if they were not aware of this forum and its contents.

  33. James Davey

    I think there is one simple fact that all spiritualists ignore at our peril. In the wider scheme of things we are very few in number. Whether we are SNU spiritualists, Christian spiritualists, Muslim spiritualists, Independent spiritualists, Jewish spiritualists or any other kind of spiritualists, we ALL believe in survival and communication and we all ALL believe it is our responsibility to share that precious knowledge with others who do not know about it. These things bind us at the deepest level and are infinitely more important than the labels we put on ourselves. Do we honestly believe the Great Spirit cares what we call ourselves or to whom we pay our membership fees? To believe that the Great Spirit, from which all life, love, goodness and inspiration flow, is preoccupied with such minutiae, is to limit the infinite according to trivial human judgments and preconceptions. To know the truth of survival is the ultimate gift. We must learn to work together or become as extinct as the dinosaurs. For the sake of the wider world, please let us set our differences aside and go forward with our shared and vitally important purpose.

  34. Mike Goodall

    Well said James; we don’t need to belong to any organisation or even attend a Spiritual church to be a Spiritualist. Being a Spiritualist in my view is how you live your life. I have never seen Spiritualism as a ‘religion’ more a ‘way of life’. I cannot see that the SNU has actually done anything to promote Spiritualism over the past couple of years; in fact by their recent actions it would appear that they may well have discredited it. Just my personal view. I am very glad that I have severed all ties with that organisation now; one which I consider to be badly lacking Spirituality these days.

  35. Medium not large.

    But ignoring this horrible attempt to debase the movement with rank commercialism could also end in tears for all of us. I agree totally that we work for spirit and spirit have the ultimate control, but inestimable damage can be wrecked on the earth plane by people who are materialistc, egocentric and building an empire for their own glorification. this will splinter, fragment and weaken the movement.

  36. Hilary Penn

    James made a crucial point. We are much too tiny as a movement to be split up into loads of different groups. And yet the reason for our existence as Spiritualists is also the very reason we have problems. The fact that we survive beyond death is common to every single one of us, whatever religious label we put on ourselves, and therefore there is little or no place for religious categories of whatever shade. We will all survive whether we like it or not, and it matters not a jot what we call ourselves. Names and labels are purely human inventions and have caused no end of strife and problems throughout history, serving to divide folk far more than unite them.

    “He or she is a Christian Spiritualist medium, therefore they can’t work in an SNU church.”
    “He or she is an SNU medium so they can’t work in a Christian Spiritualist church.”
    I have heard these words or similar ones more times than I care to remember. And in honesty I find them pathetic and deeply sad. As James said, God the Great Spirit did not invent these labels that so often separate us. WE did.

    I am not posting these thoughts to upset anyone. I am posting them as a plea from the heart for us all to unite and work together as one. This was Gordon Higginson’s dream , a completely united movement. Please can we discuss it here because it is incredibly important.

    Respectfully to all

    Hilary

  37. Julie Dawson

    I think Hilary is right. This subject is really important. It is about the future of of Spiritualism. It would be nice if every single spiritualist put there views here. If you agree or disagree with the SNU you should still have your say if you care about spiritualism. I am not SNU but respect people who are. It would be nice if some official SNU people joined in this discussion and some Christian spiritualists too but I doubt that is very likely, and that is the root of the problem.

  38. margaret hyland

    having read all the above comments I must say that all the points raised are valid, and should be listened to by those who run the many and varied organisations of Spiritualism After all to quote an old adage it should be remembered “United we stand Divided we fall”. Sadly we are divided. So in order to move forward we need to come together in Peace and Love to resolve our differances so that we can all work together for the greater good.

  39. I don’t think the SNU will ever enter into dialogue with other spiritualist groups. They are too insecure to countenance the views of the wider movement. Big fish in small ponds sums up their philosophy. They have little care for Spiritualism. The days of broad minded thinking and a wider outreach died with Gordon Higginson. The remainder are pale shadows struggling for personal glory.

  40. Sideliner

    Reading for the first time tonight this issue of Spirit of PN, I’ve worked my way steadily through all readers’ comments so far on the SNU AGM, and have been most impressed by the thoughtfulness and profundity with which many writers have put forward their very wide-ranging ideas about the present afflictions of the Spiritualist movement. (A demanding read, especially contributions from late July onwards; I wonder why? Did later contributors such as ‘Richard’ and ‘Geoff Griffiths’ decide to have a long brooding think and wait to see what others had to say?)

    As a non-Spiritualist, but sympathetic to the Movement, I envy Spiritualism thinkers and writers such as you folk. It will be a thousand pities if the SNU’s NEC does not take careful note of what you are all saying on the many topics you have raised.

    My own ha’porth from the sidelines? First, fear for the future of Stansted Hall: maybe I’m too pessimistic and too cynical, but to me the plans to revamp the old building, and to add new, read like just the sort of works which would make the Hall very attractive to a hotel chain looking to exploit the growing need for accommodation around Stansted Airport. Mr Hadley seems to hold AFC students in a more than disparaging disregard: they’re not holiday-makers – they come to Stansted Hall to work, surely, and to cram as much work as they can into their few days (and evenings) at AFC. Mr Hadley should not insult their commitment by snatching away study time and substituting bingo. There are bingo halls all over the country, all year round, for those who want to play in the evenings.

    Second, as to identifying ministers and officiants when about their duties, how about a simple light-coloured sash worn over one shoulder, bearing the new subtle but distinctive SNU logo? Both men and women could wear it, and it would be easily visible (more so than a dog collar).

    Floreat Spiritualism!

    • I am worried about the AFC too. I have wonderful memories of going there but because I am not living in the UK anymore I havent been there for several years. I know someone who told me that things are not very happy there at the moment. I heard Mr Hadley is trying to change a lot of things and people are not very happy. They said he is giving orders right left and center. It sounds like he is not really a spiritual person and just wants the college to get people who will spend lots of money. Minister Gascoyn made it a great place and I am sorry he has left.

  41. Very good points from everyone writing on here. The NEC would do well to listen, I would think after their last year very few people would think of joining and no independent churches or other Spiritualist Organisations would link with them. Look at the USA where instead of entering dialog with the NSAC they have tried their own invasion almost implying a superiority. Yet I know many US Mediums are very critical of the way the UK mediums come over and use the Fishing Net system so beloved of Stansted Hall. This approach is not going to foster good relations with their USA cousins in Spiritualism.

    We desperately need communication between Spiritualists and concerted efforts to get the Philosophical Teachings and Mediumship back up to an outstanding level. The AFC has not been achieving this in any way, or else we would not be making these comment. Therefore throwing more of the same approach, at new centres of excellence, closing at 6pm to play Bingo, will not deliver any improvement indeed it is highly unlikely there will be sufficient demand to fill these especially if the rumoured Edinburgh College opens.

    I am absolutely sure clerical garbs for Ministers who will now be associated to churches is even more of a turn off. Old fashioned Services, looking like conventional churches with “vicars” presiding will ensure younger people go away. This may benefit the independent centres but Spiritualism is too small not to stand together now and needs to be much more cohesive even if not governed by petty rules. We need to get together and talk not try to steal each other’s territory to try and reflect a picture of Spiritualism which is cohesive whilst accommodating differences. To encourage better Mediumship and Speaking by reflecting excellence wherever it is to be found and identifying that. To share the ways in which this can be developed and enhanced, given how few of us there are we really should stand together on this.

    Jim

  42. An open letter to the SNU president.

    Dear Mr Bruton

    Having read the above comments of members and ex members it’s a great pity that you are not realising the damage you and your arrogant co-directors have caused and are still causing by ignoring the membership’s concerns in the way you are carrying out the affairs of the Union. The comments made by Bystander 03.08.2011. above; registering Psychic News name as a trade mark of the SNU. You were the people who wanted to get rid of PN and now not only have you registered its name but are now on the second or third lot of liquidators, costing up till now £37,000 and presumably that’s without latest costs. You also have spent £500,000 on a White Elephant at Stafford, using £55.000 from the church and running courses for the tutors from the AFC to make another killing. This has caused real damage to Stafford Church and its membership, and all to make way to run Numerolergy courses which 4 people attended, with 10 people at the evening demonstration.

    When in God’s name are you and your fellow honkeys going to wake up? But we havent finished yet, have we? The SNU Trust is now starting a centre in Edinburgh called The Palmerston Trust (cost £1million) with money churches have invested in the SNU trust. No wonder people are leaving the union when its own churches are been neglected for these grand schemes, with pictures on its website telling people what wonderful work is being done. Our pioneers in Spirit must look on those responsible and weep. No more Spirit in Spiritualism.

  43. Mike Goodall

    That’s quite worrying Mac as I thought that the money put into the SNU Trust by churches was to be given back to churches wishing to purchase or mortgage their own new buildings. A church I used to attend gave money to the SNU Trust against my advice, warning them that they’d never see it again, so I assume that has gone forever. The NEC certainly appear to be a law unto themselves, taking decisions without the support of the membership.

  44. Hi Mike
    If all of the union churches reinvested their moneys then the SNU Trust would not have money to play about with, and now the union is coming into another sizeable legacy from a lady in Cornwall (so I understand), where is that going to go? Perhaps it will go towards paying three or four tutors’ expenses (£10.000 plus) as shown in the unions balance sheet? It would be interesting to see a breakdown where the union’s money is being spent, and on whom…

  45. Interesting Mac. Do you know who those tutors are?

  46. Hi Derek
    I do know from a freind who I cannot name of a conversation heard in the mediums room at the Hall that the top names (and you can see by looking at the programme ), the ones who nearly live there, are earning from their work £40,000 plus. Now add Stafford and Edinburgh to their list. Work that out, thank you very much!!

  47. Macs revelation proves some tutors are on a nice little earner when the national average wage is around £25,000 a year!
    I hope the students will be getting their moneys worth out of the courses once Bingo is part of the curriculum, or will that be reserved for those studying numerology?
    I think the case for close independent oversight of the unions activities is now overwhelming.

    • I know I shouldn’t use this thread for humour but Bystander’s words ‘I hope the students will be getting their moneys worth out of the courses once Bingo is part of the curriculum, or will that be reserved for those studying numerology?’ are just too good to pass by without an appreciative nod! Thanks Bystander for brightening my day!

      • It saddends me to say it, but I think we’re in terminal decline. I fail to see a way back.
        When Numerology, Psychometry, and even Wax Scrying are encouraged within some SNU Churches, then the writing is very much on the wall.

        What next? Crystal Balls and Tarot Readings from the platform. I know that not all Churches fall into this category, and there is a place for these skills, but IT’S NOT SPIRITUALISM !!!!

        Please Please Please, get a grip NEC and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

        Kevin.

  48. Please please no Bingo should we be encouraging people to gamble in a place of worship

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