Descriptions of past rallies was given by Lesley James.
That this was an annual event started by The Past President of Aylesbury Church, Billy Elton. It was run for more than 35 years.
Each year a Spiritualist National Union (SNU) Church would play host to running the event for that year. All the other SNU churches in the SNU North West London District would attend. This area covered from North Oxford to Swindon. The event would run the whole day from 10.00am in the morning to 8.30pm. It was a FREE event open to these churches, and the mediums that served them, and that long period of time gradually – the new up and coming Spiritualist Centres came along, if they knew about it.
Each host church would need to book sufficiently sized premises to hold these events. There would be workshops and/or lectures, healing, 1-2-1 readings, an area where food and drinks were sold. Sandwiches, biscuits, cakes, sausage rolls, AND of course whilst Billy – a baker – was actively involved; loads of hot cross buns!
There were also one or two stalls or tables selling goods and over the years more of these came along. Spiritualist books were a great treat on the first 20 odd Rallies, but as the internet came in and the labour of transporting hundreds of books to a one day event perhaps made that prohibitive? (I did miss that stall as my heaving bookcases can attest.) Gifts, Angels, candles, dream catchers, spiritual ephemera, numerology, Aura Camera all over the years became available for sale. (This was ALL before Body, Mind & Spirit events.)
Within the DAY there was usually a piano or keyboard pianist playing to bring us Community Singing, not just spiritual hymns and songs. For many years this was the gifted Ron Holding, whom many will know from his playing at the SNU Stansted Hall events and Sunday Services.
Churches put their own individual spin on their year – if they had a gifted Trance medium (Such as Peter Kent from Reading church) they had that as part of their offered provision. One of the last Good Friday Rallies was held by Maidenhead church; they had good contact with a local young children’s choir ‘Rosie’s Rainbows’ as one of their congregation ran a ‘theatre school’ and this choir was an offshoot to keep alive the memory of Rosie who had died of Cancer at a young age; and their singing at functions raised money for a cancer charity. Also that year was a performance from an adult African, Dance Troupe. Then Lesley continued to speak and it pre-empted the next question:
Maidenhead, ran the last Good Friday Rally and they had a good strong committee and were a well established church congregation. But at the end of that year’s event there was no other church willing to take on the event.
This may have been that as ‘The Rally’ had so many component parts – finding a venue to accommodate an unknown number of people, finding volunteers from within that church to organise the food, the programme, the publicity, the guests for the Evening Service, the raffle, printing a programme and a service sheet. Plus of course the cost of it all and the time it took to organise. Each year it was at a different place.
The Biggleswade Centre, with Brian Lloyd and his wife, ran a version of a rally a couple of years later. There was a charge for the entry and the event was in two areas within a school. Those that attended loved it. It made a loss.
It was agreed in principal, by those attending the meeting, that THEY wanted to resurrect an updated version of a Good Friday Rally.
It was to be understood that this and any future Good Friday Rally’s we work on would be open TO ALL SPIRITUALIST CHURCHES AND CENTRES WITHIN THE REGION, AND TO ALL INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS.
Discussed - the aim of the day - unity between local churches and groups. To draw in newcomers across the region, to raise the profile of Spiritualism and as a Celebration of Spiritualism.
After discussion, it was identified that income on the day will come from the collection at the evening service, donations for healing, the charge for event stall hirers, the private readings, and if provided, meals. It was also suggested a box for donations be put out on the day, to further help fund these events.
It was agreed that an internationally known medium to demonstrate would attract folks and we agreed to try to book Tony Stockwell, Billy Cook or Chris Drew initially. This will need to be booked asap. Lesley rang a contact to ask Tony Stockwell, and we await a response. The cost of this is likely to be in the region of £800 as usually he works on about 150 people paying entry and he takes half the profit.
Ideas for the days programme were discussed. Suggestions included mini demonstrations in the afternoon and the church service in the evening, a psychic art demonstration and another 1 or 2 ‘good quality’ workshops in the morning, and two short sessions of community singing in the afternoon.
The provision of refreshments is still to be agreed but maybe the centre could be paid to provide two varieties of packed lunches, meat or vegetarian, which could be pre booked. Making sandwiches on the day at the centre would not be easy due to limitations of space AND volunteers. Another suggestion was to ask people to bring their own packed lunch. The centre has a bar which is likely to be open from 12.30. Provision of tea, coffee and soft drinks will need to be organised.
The areas the committee would need to develop plans and people for were: mediums to give readings, mediums to run workshops, event stallholders, certified healers to give healing, folk to ‘man’ refreshments, folk to ‘man’ drinks area, people to co-ordinate the different throughout the day for sessions of time, and the main hall morning workshops.
Fund raising for this event has been suggested, but we are all aware of the need for some other spiritual churches and groups to raise their own funds in order to remain open. Lesley plans to run an evening of mediumship at the centre in Stevenage and will donate the profits.
Other ideas were a Grand Draw, a cream tea or a psychic supper, a Christmas carol concert, a musical evening and a quiz night. Each person attending to give this some thought and talk to their church committee.
Contact information was shared and all agreed to meet at The Whomerly Centre on Monday 10th July at 7.30pm. Others who were unable to attend this evening may be able to join us then. ALL WELCOME.
Within two or three meetings the group had seven members. There became the stalwarts of the Successful 2018 Spiritualists Good Friday Rally.
After a break of three months the group came back together and from each having sent in their thoughts, the group looked at things that needed to improve.
This list became the blueprint for the 2019 Spiritualists Good Friday Rally.