On Friday 18th May 1956, six people met at Balham Park Hall, south-west London by invitation of medium Bertha Harris (affectionately known as "Battling Bertha") accompanied by Ben Harrington, O.B.E and medium Russell Harwood to discuss the formation of a new organisation for mediums and mediumship. A donation from those present, including Harold Vigurs, enabled letters of invitation to be sent to all known London mediums, if interested, to attend the next meeting.
An illustrious register of names records the strong support readily given and a Constitution was drafted, the name of the Union of Spiritualist Mediums chosen and preparations for public meetings to offer evidence of Spiritualism's truth. A quarterly posting of information to members was promoted, to be called "The Medium" which today is the organisation's official journal. Small meetings were planned to promote new young mediums and provide provincial mediums with a chance to show what they could do before a London audience, termed "Fledglings' Meetings". When the standard by these workers is suitably proficient the Institute awards them a Probationer's Certificate as a foundation for public work, whether members or not.
Spirit guidance was sought through member-Medium Nan Mackenzie and her control "Running Water" and the teaching practices began, slowly but surely. Such was the interest that appointed Area Representatives were selected to form sub-committees in localised areas. They were to run monthly meetings for members and friends, to promote further interest on educational matters as well as offering evidence of spiritual life after physical death. These are called "Branches" by decision of the membership and continue in three areas at present. Due to the Covid pandemic we are offering our teaching online using Zoom, allowing our teaching not to be limited to our branches.
Becoming registered as a Charity, the members defined specifically "the training of prospective workers - young and old - in the principles of the religious philosophy of Spiritualism" which naturally includes speakers, mediums of many kinds, healers etc. especially those who give public service. To this end, offers of firstly evening events, then daytime teaching lectures and workshops, with audience participation started a new trend in Spiritualism and the first full Residential Study Weekend on mediumship was held at the end of April 1970. This has since become an annual event, held at several different venues, dealing with various facets of mediumship, including physical phenomena.
Celebrating its Silver Jubilee in 1981, the name was changed more fittingly to The Institute of Spiritualist Mediums and a sub-section, the ISM Home Circle Link, was announced. The Home Circle Link offered registered small bona-fide home circles teaching through literature and correspondence and a quarterly magazine. Registered circles could obtain advice and guidance if required and were guaranteed confidentiality. This continued for almost 16 years, but under the same Spirit guidance by which it came into being, it has now undergone immense change, whereby guidance is available for any development circle - world-wide, in need of prompt assistance.
It should be noted that the ISM does not own property, nor hold regular church services, but has become and insists it remains "a vehicle for the work of Spirit". Members who are working mediums of experience may apply for Registration as an Approved Medium (ISM/RAM) of the Institute which requires a high standard of ability, detailed knowledge of Spiritualism and Mediumship, as well as expertise on the public platform.
During the course of its history, it has become known for the high standard of its teaching and presentation, its forward-looking progressive attitude, all achieved without any paid employees at any time. All the administration is carried out by volunteer committee members, mostly in their own homes. All funds raised are used to defray necessary expenses to fund events for teaching purposes and ISM Tutors give their time freely in service.
The internet allows access for so many more seekers of spiritual development. We offer Open Circle fortnightly online and monthly workshops online using Zoom
Membership of the ISM is not an accredit for good Mediumship or ability, it is a demonstration of support for the work of the Charity. Teaching is available to all and invitations to conduct events for other organisations are often accepted, including some overseas, to promote higher standards of development and presentation of Spiritualism's Truth.