Included is some of the Church of England's Report on Spiritualism... Will there ever be an acceptance of the Spiritualist scientific experience, underpinning the understanding of the many inspired of spirit writings laid down over millenia through the medium of human beings endowed with prophetic gifts? Spiritual teachings communicated to them by spiritually elevated discarnate beings, and therefore held to be both sacred and absolute pronouncement by so many? As Spiritualists, we like to explore the rationale and true meanings that lay within and behind that inspirational output, in the light of our knowledge of mediumship and current social mores and what is agreed to be good conscience. Acknowledging the many faiths that have come into being on the earth through revelation from the heavenly realms of light supernal to chosen mediums, because the New Spiritualists' Society is of the Judeo/Christian persuasion, a Christian Spiritualist denomination, a Spiritualist denomination of Christianity, this discourse is primarily about the ongoing antagonism between orthodox Christianity, the Established Church, and Christian Spiritualism. The New Spiritualists' Society is an avowed denomination of Christianity. This is shown by our spiritual principles that include the statement that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and Light of the World and follow his example, the old Spiritual Way.

There have been so many and indeed warring Christian factions since the time that Jesus and his Disciples walked the earth. They were even divided immediately after his crucifixion ad ascension; and that too on a point of doctrine and practice. The church in Jerusalem remained Jewish with converts to the Spiritual Way being required to follow the injunction to cut off the foreskin of the male’s penis; and they would also be expected to be observant in other ways; while Paul having Hellenised his name from the Hebrew Sha'ul after his conversion in Damascus, was prompted to not only convert gentiles, non Jews, and other heathens, but to specifically leave the males uncircumcised. Added to this was Peter’s (Cepha’s) revelation in trance that all things were ‘fit to eat’ – thus abolishing a whole swathe of prohibitions in the Bible. This enabled all, gentile and Jew, to sit together for a meal in Christian fellowship – for it was soon after Paul’s ministry began that the appellation ‘Christians’ was heard, albeit originally as a derogatory term, but embraced for its universality - the Party of Christ in precise translation.
Interestingly, Jesus is reported to have said that he came to ‘fulfil the law, not to abolish it’ but to have ignored the laws of Kashrut would not be fulfilling the ’Law’ as it stood. The translation could be in error – as the 5 books of Moses in the Old Testament basically would be called the Law. Perhaps he referred to the prophets and their predictions of the coming of a Messiah. Jesus openly and deliberately broke the Sabbath too and explained his good reasons why.
Apart from problems around how to keep the Sabbath day holy way back then, there are still religious groups that are strict Sabbatarians – and orthodox Jews still are as well.
So as we progress on from the years succeeding those early friends and followers of Jesus, we find more and more different groupings calling themselves Christian. In fact three centuries later, there were so many different factions and groupings that a ‘council’ of the heads of all these organisations was called together to establish a cohesion of doctrine, dogma and practice across the board. Legend has it - no scholarship exists to substantiate this - that they decided on which canon of books should constitute the ‘New Covenant’ and what interpretation should be placed – and fixed – on it. Those admonitions – threats to curse actually – placed by the scribes who copied out the approved texts at the end of each book, not to change a word, suited the controlling old hierarchies very well. We are not here to concern ourselves with the myriad conflicts and persecutions that have gone on between Christian religious groupings and allegiances, but we are taking a look at division... Pictured here is Margaret Clitherow, just one tragic casualty of divided Christianity.
Some five hundred years later a huge rift occurred between the Greek and Roman Church – and moving swiftly forward the ‘convert to our brand of Christianity or we kill you’ kind of fervour gained a respectable position in polite society – the 15th Century Spanish Inquisition to name but one infamous example.
When the Roman Catholic King, Henry VIII, was refused a ‘get’ to divorce a wife he daren’t kill because of her family influence by the Pope, (although poor Catherine of Aragon died subsequently while under house arrest) the Church of England came into being with the Monarch Henry as its supreme head. Two other wives were publically murdered thereafter...
The Roman Catholic places of religious retreat and worship were destroyed and their inhabitants killed. Their best buildings, like Ely Cathedral, were pinched and pressed into the service of the new style Christianity. Speaking of pressing; the comparatively small Roman Catholic Church in Ely, St Etheldreda’s, has a window memorial to St Margaret Clitherow who was pressed to death on March 25th 1586 (she was stripped placed on the ground with sharp rocks that would break her back while her own front door was placed over her and loaded with unbearable weight. It took her 15 minutes to die. This was for holding a service of Holy Communion, a mass, in her home; a crime punishable by death in the reign of Henry's daughter, Elizabeth 1st whose mother he had killed. Those early Christian followers of Jesus of course all held ‘services’, spiritual meetings, in their homes.
On one of Paul’s missionary journeys he was speaking in an upstairs room of a house in Troas when one young man, Eutychus, fell out of the window where he’d fallen asleep. Luckily for him, Paul gave him healing and he was taken home recovered to life...
The Lutherans were propelled into being by the progenitor of the Reformation – Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest who was excommunicated by the Pope in 1521. He translated the Bible into German, during which endeavour he said he was deeply troubled by evil spirits.
The Presbyterian Church arose in the travails of the English Civil War and then the Baptists in the 17th Century and the Congregationalists among the other Christian enclaves everywhere such as the Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterians, etc.
In the 18th Century John Wesley, a member of the Anglican Communion, an adherent of the Church of England, was prompted to take a religious initiative. Thus started the Methodist, Wesleyan, Church.
All these initiatives would have sprung out of promptings from a heavenly source; and they all have their own interpretations of the Bible – and Christianity.
Although the input and influence of the heavenly realms were not necessarily acknowledged as having a hand in every new movement of Christianity, Emanuel Swedenborg, the scientist and philosopher and ‘Spiritual Journeyist’ aka trance medium, not only acknowledged the role of those in the realms of light personally, but openly publicised it. He was the true forerunner of Christian Spiritualism as we know it.
Feeling himself closely connected to John Wesley’s Methodist movement, he wrote to him telling him that he knew that he, John Wesley, wanted to speak with him about spiritual matters. John Wesley was shocked as he had been thinking deeply about Swedenborg and his revelations, but had told no-one. Swedenborg had published ‘Heaven & Hell’ and ‘Heavenly Doctrine to reform Christianity’ about 1758 and ‘True Christian Religion’ in 1770. When John Wesley replied saying he had a 6 month journey to undertake but would see him on his return, Swedenborg said it would be too late – he was going to pass over on March 29th. He did.
A Swedenborgian Church, still very active, was founded after his passing in 1787 based on his teachings and spiritual interpretation of the Bible and the stated fact that we are ‘spirits clothed in bodies – at death we shed the material and continue to live on in conditions of heaven or hell, depending on how we have lived our lives here on earth. Further he claimed to have found the ‘True Christian Religion’ and that God is three in one as we are: body, soul and spirit. He didn’t start a separate church himself – his ethos was that there is only one Church of faith and love. He was of course accused of heresy after he stated that all religions could have salvation, and that faith is not enough, but charity, works, must accompany it...
It is reliably reported that spirit rappings, noises like knockings, were heard in the Wesley household but were ignored. Then in 1848 a Methodist family in America took notice – and modern Spiritualism was born.
Just like all other religious belief systems that had come into being, there were factions disputing each others’ ideologies; none more so than the Christian contingent. If the established coteries of Christianity had their own differences, there was an almost unanimous chorus of disapproval for this latest onslaught on the Christian status quo by Spirit. The use of a capital letter here is deliberate. This was a show that was going to run and run! In England, the home of the Anglican branch of the Christian religion, there was felt a general discomfiture not least because so many ‘members’ appeared to have Spiritualist leanings. It wasn’t until 1953 that a group was founded by Anglican clergy to promote the study of psychical and religious experience within a Christian context. Patrons who expressed sympathy with the general purposes of this ‘Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies’ included Bishop the Right Reverend Hugh Montefiore, the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend David Hope, Right Reverend Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, and Lord Rees-Mogg, to name but an illustrious few...
In 1920, the Lambeth Conference studied the relationship of Christian faith to Spiritualism, Christian Science (founded by Mary Baker Eddy) and Theosophy (founded by Mme Blavatsky and Rudolph Steiner).
By 1935 Spiritualism was still growing, and the Dean of Rochester moved this resolution at the Church Assembly.
‘That, in view of the growth of Spiritualism among the clergy and communicant laity of the Church, the Assembly respectfully requests their Graces the Archbishops to appoint a commission to investigate the matter and to report to the Assembly.’
In 1936, Archbishop Lang decided that there could be a ‘quiet and private investigation into the subject’ and so the Archbishop’s Committee on Spiritualism was convened. The following passages are taken from the Report.

Introductory observations in which all the members of the Committee concur
Spiritualism: the present position
In recent years Spiritualism has aroused great interest in all sections of the community. In its more public manifestations it is a popular movement of wide extent. It has produced a considerable literature of its own, and a number of periodicals are devoted to records of psychic phenomena and to news of the progress of the various Spiritualist organisations. A considerable number of groups are constituted as ‘churches’, and broadly speaking, Spiritualism as a whole claims to have a religious character, and must be held to be a religious force.
People are attracted to Spiritualism for three main reasons:
a. For the consolation which it is believed to provide through communication with discarnate spirits;
b. For the guidance which some claim to receive from the Spirit world;
c. For the evidence which it is believed to provide of survival after death.
d. The parochial clergy are continually finding that members of their congregations drift towards Spiritualism for any or all of these reasons. Some break away from the fellowship and worship of the Church altogether. Others, who remain loyal to their membership of the Church, supplement their religious experience through the practice of Spiritualism, because, to quote one of them, ‘instructed and open-minded Christians who have had the courage to make a first-hand study of psychic phenomena have found an altogether new light shed upon one thing and another, both in Scripture and in the tradition of the Church, that in recent times have become matters of grave difficulty in consequence of the attitude of modern science.’
The Report concluded that:
‘ the Church of England...has been altogether too cautious in its reference to the departed. Anglican prayers for the departed do not satisfy people’s needs, because the prayers are so careful in their language that it is not always evident that the departed are being prayed for, as contrasted with the living. In general, we need much more freedom in our recognition of the living unity of the whole Church, in this world and that which lies beyond death.’
The Report was then suppressed – until one day 40 years on when it was ‘leaked’ to Psychic News, the weekly Spiritualist newspaper founded in May 1932 by its editor and trance medium for Silver Birch, spokesperson for a highly evolved group in Spirit. Thereupon the decision was made to publish excerpts – and be blessed!
Notwithstanding a probable first flurry of panic, the then Archbishop of Canterbury allowed the full text to be published in the journal, ‘The Christian Parapsychologist’ in its June edition.
The 21st century dawned and in 2011 another new Church was founded. It posited that although a definite spiritual ‘movement’ Spiritualism of itself was not a religion – but at its best was a denomination of Christianity. Just like all those other denominations that had sprung up since Jesus showed the Spiritual Way that so many then and throughout the ages had followed; albeit according to their own lights of understandings and interpretations. Indeed stand-alone Spiritualism is also considered a religion in its own right, and many follow that pathway, but here we are concerned with the Christian milieu.
Interestingly, that long running denial by the Anglican Church of the Spiritualist proclivities in so many of its clergy and their flock, caused a blip noticed only recently by a past editor of Psychic News, founder and leading minister, Primus of the New Spiritualists’ Society, the Most Reverend Lyn Guest de Swarte. Deciding to attend a service printed in the Methodist Church newsletter as a united service, ‘Songs of Praise’ at the Parish Church, and at which the Community Choir containing Deacon Reverend Cathy Gibb DNSS and four friends who have also visited the local Spiritualist Church meetings, were performing three songs, she enjoyed the occasion. Rev Lyn is an occasional attendee at the local Methodist Church being a great fan of John Wesley and is always welcomed. She was also pleased to see some of that congregation present at the Parish Church that afternoon.
Thinking with her journalist’s hat on, Reverend Lyn asked the local newspaper’s Chief Reporter whether they had anything from the Church and if not whether he would like a few words on the event for the paper’s ‘community life’ section. She then sent it to Reverend Howard Robson, the Vicar who’d led the service, only to receive an email telling her he’d asked the paper not to print it. He did not tell the Chief Reporter, Daniel Mansfield, why. Reverend Lyn however remedied that, explaining the email she had received referring to the fact that her Church is not part of the ‘Churches Together’. However, if you would like to read about what was a lovely service, sincere and tuneful - here is the unedited, and unprinted, original article.
United Songs of Praise at St George’s Littleport
After a successful fete and informal flower festival last Saturday, on Sunday June 28th at 5 o’clock, St George’s Parish Church in Littleport hosted a ‘Songs of Praise’.
This was one of the regular united with other denominations in the village services, and testament to its popularity the flower filled 15th century church was packed to capacity.
Probably the largest contingent from another congregation was from the more recently built 19th century St John’s Methodist Church.
The even more recently established late 20th century Littleport New Spiritualists’ Society church also attended.
The congregation sang with gusto all the old favourites – even if there was the odd unfamiliar tune to well-known words, and the Littleport Community Choir gave beautiful renditions of ‘How much more’ from ‘Hosea’, the Spiritual, ‘Silver Trumpet’ and ‘Any dream will do’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s ‘Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat’.
The riveting main sermon given by St George’s Vicar, Reverend Howard Robson, elaborated on the flower festival, the bounty and beauty of the natural world, with many examples of the good solid proofs of God’s creation of our world. He included a personal anecdote from his childhood. The rapt audience heard how he had been impressed on his many journeys across the Pennines by a tree growing through the middle of a huge rock!
Reverend Robson was ably supported by his St George’s lay readers who read relevant passages from the prophet Isaiah and the gospels in between the hymns.
The next big occasion for the choir will be the Harvest Festival, so they are already rehearsing for that!
This Sunday July 5th there is a ‘Messy Church’ – a short service with a talk and eats afterwards. The theme for July is ‘Light’.
That was the submitted item.
The fact is that prior to the Human Rights Act that allows all European Union member states’ citizens freedom of worship and religion, all religions/religious denominations used to be allowed to operate and function in England by let and favour of the Church of England, headed by the Monarch whose motto is Dieu Et Mon Droit – God and My Right. The Upper Chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords, has a bench with a full complement of 26 Anglican Bishops. But we are a modern democracy, not a theocracy. However as long as this political and particular religious mix prevails in government, the C of E’s imitation of an ostrich in trouble whenever Spiritualism manifests itself too near it or too close for comfort, will presumably continue for some time yet.
As for the foreseeable future? It will change.