A History of Stourbridge National Spiritualist Church

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A History of Stourbridge National Spiritualist Church

A History of Stourbridge National Spiritualist Church

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Since being ordained an SNU Minister on 2 April 1976 – an office that requires sponsorship and special qualities as well as placing various responsibilities on those on whom it is bestowed – Eric had also been in demand to conduct weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals and other events not only at Stourbridge but in other churches, too. Eric also became president of the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU) when he took over from his friend of many years Gordon Higginson, on his sudden death in 1993 at the age of 73. Gordon had held that post for 22 years, and Eric had served him as vice-president since 1985, having already given more than 30 years of service to the Union in other capacities. I’ve had only two what I call ‘lightbulb’ moments in my life – those extraordinary spine-tingling encounters where there is an instant recognition and ‘knowing’ of a person you’ve never physically met before,” Sue explains. A bonus for Eric in his final years was that Sue’s dog, Suko, came with her and “became more Eric’s than mine”. She adds: “They had such a devoted bond, and throughout his last illness she refused to leave his side even for a moment, to the extent that she would not even go to the kitchen to eat. As Modern Spiritualism moves into the 21st Century, we continue to be excited by and dedicated to the excellent work of the spirit carried out within our Church and its neighbouring communities.

Become a Member - Stourbridge Spiritualist Church Become a Member - Stourbridge Spiritualist Church

It was evidence of this calibre that first persuaded Eric, in the 1940s, that not only do we all survive death but communication between this world and the next is a reality. It brought enormous comfort to the Hattons and Eric later described the message as “the cream on the cake” because “from that point on I became absolutely convinced of the continuity of life”. Being just five miles off the mainland, the Isle of Wight was heavily targeted by the Luftwaffe during World War Two, because early warning radar equipment was located there, and so, for their daughter’s safety, the Jermys decided to send her to Stourbridge, to be close to her sister-in-law.Born just five days before Eric, in 1926, but many miles away on the Isle of Wight, just off England’s south coast, Heather was the daughter of Spiritualists who had founded Ventnor Spiritualist Church in 1938, the first on the island. She became very familiar with mediumship from her childhood. Eric, who by then was involved with local orthodox churches, was highly sceptical but Laura was open-minded, having met a young man who told her of his regular visits to a Spiritualist church on the outskirts of Birmingham. She met her brother’s scepticism with this retort: “Well, you challenge it, and find out whether it’s really true that people who die continue to live in another dimension.” In a life that spanned almost nine decades, it is inevitable that most memories of Eric Hatton will be associated with the past and with people who have long since passed to the spirit world. But Eric, who had a mischievous sense of humour and was great company, was also very modern in his outlook.

Top medium at Stourbridge Spiritualist Church Top medium at Stourbridge Spiritualist Church

Furthermore, their dead brother described the circumstances of the aircraft’s crash and revealed that some of the crew had survived – information that had not yet been shared with the family by the Air Ministry. For the last few years of his earthly life I was profoundly privileged to share a home with Eric as his companion and helper. Those years were beset by health problems, some extremely serious and debilitating, yet all borne with the gracious, patient and indomitable spirit that so epitomised the man who became known as Spiritualism’s elder statesman. The church, which has been based its present location since 1926, is still going strong - despite the death last year of much-loved former minister and honourary president Eric Hatton, who was one of Spiritualism's best-known ambassadors.The subject was first raised by his older brother, Bert, when home on leave from the Royal Air Force. He told Eric and their sister, Laura, that whilst working on Catalina and Sunderland flying boats he and other crew members had “seen” colleagues who had been killed in aircraft accidents. They even experienced these phantom airmen walking straight through them.

Spiritualist DEMONSTRATION OF MEDIUMSHIP WITH - Sbridge Spiritualist

Much of Eric Hatton’s life story would have been lost to us had it not been for the encouragement of Susan Farrow, when she was Editor of Psychic News, to commit it to paper and share it with a wider audience. Here’s how it happened: Laraine Killarney, president and acting minister at Stourbridge Spiritualist Church, said: "They've all done more than 25 years and they've all worked on committees or as healers - giving service to the church to keep it going. That's an awful lot of experience and dedication." Her passing, ironically from a viral infection following successful heart surgery, was a huge loss to Eric, even with his knowledge of survival. His commercial skills – he was a successful businessman – were also in demand within the Spiritualist movement. Eric was president of Stourbridge Spiritualist Church for almost half a century, from 1963 until he stepped down in 2011, but had held other posts at the church since 1948. At the time of his passing he was honorary president. The second of those occurred early in 2008 when Eric Hatton walked into my office at Psychic News. Our meeting was intended to be brief, but I recall that we talked for about two hours, non-stop. I listened spellbound to his accounts of the great mediums and speakers he had known, plying him with questions, recognising that he possessed a depth of knowledge, experience and wisdom unmatched by anyone in the Movement.Jamie Beech, his grandson, wrote: “So sad to lose my grandfather this weekend but knowing he is free of pain and suffering makes this all a lot easier. Words can’t describe what he was to me so I will just say, he was my inspiration, hero and best friend all at the same time.” In addition to all his dedicated services, most of them performed in the public eye, Eric and Heather were both trustees on a number of charities, most notably the JV Trust which gave millions of pounds for renovations to the Arthur Findlay College, also known as Stansted Hall, and financial support to numerous churches.

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