THE HISTORY OF RYDE SPIRITUALIST CHURCH
This is the story of the origin of the Ryde Spiritualist Church as given by Mrs. Daisy Perkis who founded the church in 1922. It was affiliated to the Spiritualists’ National Union in 1923.
“It was a week before Christmas in the year 1921. I had just gone to bed and, as I lay my head on the pillow, I heard a voice calling me by name. Looking up I saw my father standing by my bed calling me again by name. He had been in the Spirit World for 17 years. He said “Come” and almost immediately we were entering my sister’s home in Walthamstow, London. We went upstairs to the bedroom where my sister (Mrs. Sleeman) lay in bed crying. My father went and stood at the foot of the bed while I remained standing in the doorway. He then stretched out his hands over her and appeared very distressed. He said “My poor girl. What will she do?” Looking at me, he said “Great trouble is coming to her. No one but you can comfort her. Promise me you will come to her.” Suddenly, I was aware of a big jerk and I was back in my bed in Ryde.
I thought that my father had been unnecessarily worried and mistaken because I had only that day heard from my sister saying they were all well except that she was suffering from unaccountable fits of depression. She said “I wish you could come to see my two bonnie children. I am busy dressing a Christmas tree for them.”
During the rush of Christmas I almost forgot my father’s visit until a fortnight later when a telegram came from my sister saying ‘Do come if possible. Baby is dying.’ I rushed off at once, praying all the time that he be spared until I got there. I arrived just three minutes before the Angels carried him away – just in time to take my poor sister into my arms to try to comfort her as well as I could. He was a beautiful boy just 20 months old and the light of her life.
That night I saw what appeared to be a brilliant searchlight streaming right down through the ceiling and, looking up, I saw my mother at the end of the ray with our little boy in her arms. She said “Tell my poor girl not to grieve. See, I have him safe, he’s asleep.”
The next night my father came to me and told me to get a Planchette as it would be easier to communicate. But he said “There is always a danger in these things if not understood. Always pray.” I got in touch with some Spiritualists in Walthamstow who gave me a planchette and instruction for Table Phenomena. I asked my brother-in-law to sit with us and we at once got wonderful results. Before returning to the Island I went to the local Spiritualist Church and, at the close of that Service, I knew at last a Truth that all my life I had been searching for. To the astonishment of both my brother-in-law and myself I walked up the aisle and on to the platform and asked the Medium to help and advise me. Strange to say, he knew some Spiritualists living in Ventnor and gave me their address.
When I got back to the Island I found it very difficult to continue my investigations owing to the opposition I had to face – all kinds of opposition and persecution, even among friends. I decided for the sake of peace not to write to, or go to, Ventnor, but Spirit People continued to urge me to do so.
Eventually, I went to see them and they were a wonderful help and comfort to me. They were just starting public meetings and a circle at Ventnor which I attended regularly. Then my husband became interested and we started holding little Sunday meetings in our home (in 1922), paying the Mediums ourselves and not asking for a collection at that time.
In May 1923 I was strongly impressed to found a Church and I wrote to a Mr. MacFarlane and a Mr. Newton, the Secretary and President of the Southern District Council of the Spiritualists’ National Union, asking for their help. They came to see me and arranged for the ‘propaganda meetings’ in Ryde. By the end of May these were well attended and caused a lot of comment locally. We gathered together a few more interested friends - and on July 3rd a Dr. Scofield held a meeting in opposition to Spiritualism in Ryde Town Hall and had a very warm time! The following week (July 1923), Mr. Newton (President of the SDC) brilliantly replied to this attack in a public hall with the result that a few more were added to our numbers.
Ten of us now formed ourselves into a small society and held our meetings every Thursday evening in a school room lent to us by an interested friend. Our congregations averaged 21 and all this time Mr. Newton and Mr. MacFarlane gave us every possible help and advice. I, myself, could never have fought through the great storm of opposition and persecution levelled at us by the whole town of Ryde without their help and valuable support and encouragement.
On August 10th 1923, having by this time rented the Angelsea Hall, we held an inaugural Meeting at which Mr. Macfarlane presided, the object being to form ourselves into a constitutional body, to elect officers and apply for affiliation with the S.N.U. Mr. Oliver Perkis was elected President, Mrs. Daisy Perkis - Secretary, Mr. Chipps - Treasurer and the remaining Committee Members were Mrs. Stainer, Mrs. Kent, Mrs. Winter, Miss Reeves, Miss Neil, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. Our application for affiliation was accepted by the SNU and on Sunday September 16th 1923 we commenced regular Sunday Services, in addition to the Thursdays, with Mr. Newton taking the first Service.
So, the official Spiritualist Church came into existence in Ryde and since then we have never faltered in our efforts to keep the flag flying high in the glorious cause of Spiritualism.