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Our History

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On the 18th of May, 1956, a notable gathering took place at Balham Park Hall, in the south-west

of London. This assembly was convened at the behest of the esteemed medium Bertha Harris,

endearingly known as "Battling Bertha", and was graced by the presence of Ben Harrington,

O.B.E, alongside medium Russell Harwood. The purpose? To deliberate the creation of a

novel organisation dedicated to the art and practice of mediumship. The generosity of

those in attendance, including Harold Vigurs, facilitated the dispatch of letters inviting all

known London mediums to join the forthcoming meeting, should their interest be piqued.

A prestigious roll call bears testament to the enthusiastic support that was promptly offered. A constitution was meticulously drafted, the Union of Spiritualist Mediums was christened, and the stage was set for public assemblies aimed at showcasing the veracity of Spiritualism. An initiative was launched to circulate a quarterly newsletter to members, aptly named "The Medium", which continues to serve as the organisation's official periodical to this day. Moreover, intimate gatherings were envisaged to spotlight emerging talents among young mediums and to afford provincial mediums the opportunity to exhibit their prowess to a London audience. These were affectionately termed "Fledglings' Meetings". Upon reaching a commendable standard, these practitioners were awarded a Probationer's Certificate by the Institute, laying a solid foundation for their public endeavours, membership notwithstanding.

Guidance from the spirit realm was sought through the mediumship of Nan Mackenzie and her guide "Running Water", marking the commencement of pedagogical endeavours. Such was the fervour that Area Representatives were appointed to spearhead sub-committees across localised sectors. These committees were tasked with organising monthly gatherings for members and allies, aimed at fostering educational pursuits and providing attestations of life beyond the corporeal. These gatherings came to be known as "Branches", a nomenclature chosen by the membership, and they persist in three locales currently. In response to the Covid pandemic, we have transitioned to offering our instructional sessions online via Zoom, thus transcending geographical limitations previously imposed by physical venues.

The organisation's registration as a Charity crystalised its mission: to educate prospective advocates—both young and seasoned—in the religious philosophy underpinning Spiritualism. This encompasses a broad spectrum of roles including speakers, various types of mediums, healers, and notably, those engaged in public service. Initiatives ranging from evening events to daytime educational lectures and workshops inviting audience participation heralded a new chapter in Spiritualism. The inaugural Residential Study Weekend dedicated to mediumship took place in April 1970, evolving into an annual affair that explores myriad aspects of mediumship, including physical phenomena.

Marking its Silver Jubilee in 1981, the organisation aptly rebranded itself as The Institute of Spiritualist Mediums and introduced the ISM Home Circle Link. This initiative extended support to small, legitimate home circles through educational materials, correspondence, and a quarterly magazine, ensuring confidentiality and providing counsel as needed. This programme flourished for nearly 16 years, guided by the same spiritual influence that inspired its inception. It has since undergone significant transformation, now offering guidance to any development circle in need of immediate support, globally.

It's noteworthy that the ISM neither possesses property nor conducts regular church services. Instead, it staunchly remains a conduit for spiritual work. Experienced mediums within the membership may seek registration as an Approved Medium (ISM/RAM) of the Institute, a credential that demands a superior level of skill, comprehensive knowledge of Spiritualism and Mediumship, and proficiency on the public platform.

Throughout its history, the Institute has been celebrated for its exemplary teaching standards, progressive outlook, and all achieved through the dedication of volunteer committee members, without reliance on paid staff. All funds raised are judiciously allocated to cover essential expenses and to finance educational events, with ISM Tutors generously donating their time and expertise.

In this digital age, the internet broadens our reach, enabling us to connect with an ever-expanding community of spiritual seekers. We now offer an Open Circle fortnightly and monthly workshops online via Zoom, extending our educational outreach.

Membership in the ISM symbolises not just a recognition of mediumistic talent but a commitment to supporting the charitable work we undertake. Our teaching is accessible to all, and we frequently accept invitations to host events for other organisations, including international engagements, to elevate the standards of development and the presentation of Spiritualism's truths.

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