There are several Spiritualist organizations that set standards for Spiritualists and mediums and provide common frameworks of beliefs.
The main church in the UK is the Spiritualists’ National Union, and in the USA is the National Association of Spiritualist Churches. Other spiritualist organizations also exist in both countries.
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Spiritualists’ National Union
The first united organization of Spiritualist churches in the UK was the Spiritualists’ National Federation, founded in 1890. This organization was succeeded in 1902 by the Spiritualists’ National Union (incorporated 1901).
The Spiritualists’ National Union now has 350 affiliated Spiritualist churches or centers, with almost 16,000 full members and over 2,000 associate members.
Local churches, which are run by elected committees, have considerable freedom to arrange their own activities, as long as they remain within the organization’s rules and accept the Seven Principles.
History Of Spiritual Churches
The origin of mediumship is usually linked to the fake séances conducted by the Fox sisters at Hydesville, Arcadia, New York in 1848, but some believers date the unofficial beginning of modern American Spiritualism to the Shakers and similar religious groups.
By 1853 the movement had reached San Francisco and London, and by 1860 was worldwide. The Fox family remained very active in Spiritualism for many years.
Other notable Spiritualists of that era were Mercy Cadwallader, who became a sort of missionary for the movement, and Emma Hardinge Britten, who wrote for the first Spiritualist newspaper in Britain, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph.
The National Spiritualist Association of Churches
The National Spiritualist Association of Churches was incorporated in 1893 in Washington, D.C., as a non-profit religious organization.
A Spiritualist church is a place where spiritualism is practiced. It may be a special church building, but it can be a hall or any other suitable place.
Churches in the Spiritualists’ National Union hold services every week, usually led by a medium, which the public is welcome to attend.
During these services, a medium will ‘link’ with the spirit world.
The main service takes place on Sundays and consists of prayers, hymns, a reading, and a talk from a medium – usually with the help of their Spirit Guide – about the philosophy of Spiritualism and related subjects.
Spiritualists say that the medium also spends some time linking with the spirit world and passing on messages to members of the congregation.
Unlike many religions, Spiritualism doesn’t have a sacred text and relies instead on the Seven Principles – a model of living that guides rather than preaches, and allows followers to interpret the Spiritualist values.
- The Fatherhood of God
- The Brotherhood of Man
- The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
- The continuous existence of the human soul
- Personal responsibility
- Compensation and retribution hereafter for all the good and evil deeds done on earth
- Eternal progress open to every human soul
Spiritualism and Christianity
Many Spiritualists believe that Christianity and Spiritualism are compatible, but many Christians would disagree.
One way Christianity and Spiritualism have been combined is this code of beliefs from The Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association:
- I believe in one God who is Love.
- I accept the Leadership of Jesus the Christ.
- I believe that God manifests through the illimitable power of the Holy Spirit.
- I believe in the survival of the soul and its individuality after physical death.
- I believe in Communion with God, with His angelic ministers, and with souls functioning in conditions other than Earth Life.
- I believe that all forms of life created by God intermingle, are interdependent, and evolve until perfection is attained.
- I believe in the perfect justice of the Divine Laws governing all Life.
- I believe that sins committed can only be rectified by the sinner himself or herself, through the redemptive power of Jesus the Christ, by repentance and service to others.
Here is a cluster of spiritual churches near you;
- Agasha Temple of Wisdom
- Arthur Findlay College
- Camp Chesterfield
- International Spiritualist Federation
- National Spiritualist Association of Churches
- Spiritualist Association of Great Britain
- Spiritualists’ National Union
Styles of worship
Spiritualist churches are places of worship for the practitioners of Spiritualism. The Spiritualist service is usually conducted by a medium.
Generally, there is an opening prayer, an address, the singing of hymns, and finally a demonstration of mediumship. Healing circles may also be part of the formal proceedings.
Liturgical And Iconographic Variations
Some Spiritualist churches maintain that Spiritualism is a religion in its own right, and has no relationship to any other religion.
Other Spiritualist churches draw inspiration from Christianity. African American Spiritualist churches tend to encourage ecstatic worship styles derived from African-American Protestant Baptist and Pentecostal practices.
The churches that directly descend from the teachings of Leafy Anderson are also distinguished by special services and hymns that honor the spirit of the Native American war chief Black Hawk, who lived in Illinois and Wisconsin (Anderson’s home state).
The third group of Spiritualist churches propose the idea of the Universe as the creator and does not necessarily follow any specific religious doctrine or dogma.
Mediumship Within The Churches
Spiritualists believe that when people die physically, an aspect of the personality or mind survives this and continues to exist on a spirit plane, sometimes referred to as the spirit world.
Spiritualists use the word Spirit as a plural, which describes all minds and entities who have entered into the spirit world.
The purpose of the medium is to provide some evidence that a human has survived by describing the person to their surviving relatives.
The degree of accuracy with which the deceased are described goes some way to convincing the living relatives and friends that the medium has some contact with the spirit.
Healing Circles Within The Churches
Spiritualist healing, as practiced in some Spiritualist churches during formal liturgical services, is a form of mediumship that involves a technique of directing healing energy to the patient from a higher source.
The healer uses his or her hands to affect the repair of damaged or diseased tissue, and it is claimed all or part of the patient’s good health is sometimes restored.
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