Category Archives: News

Quakers Gather Plant Data as Act of Peaceful Resistance on Armed Forces Day

 

On Saturday 25 June this group of 8 Friends came together in the Meeting House Garden. We conducted a biodiversity survey of our wildflower meadow, newly established in 2022.

The range of species identified was impressive. Using a plant identification app called Picture This, we photographed wild plants and flowers in the grass area. We uploaded these results to a record section on the Royal Horticultural Society website.

 

 

The event was inspired as a response to Armed Forces Celebration Day. A number of us were led to write a letter to our local newspaper, the Hemel Gazette.  This is an interview with Friends. Hemel Hempstead member Jonathan Kempster,  who is also an audio journalist and podcaster,  recorded it on the day and posted it on his Oral History series on Soundcloud.

Quakers are opposed to war.  The Peace Testimony has been a source of inspiration to Friends through the centuries, for it points to a way of life which embraces all human relationships. As a Society we have been faithful throughout in maintaining a corporate witness against all war and violence. However, in our personal lives we have continually to wrestle with the difficulty of finding ways to reconcile our faith with practical ways of living it out in the world.

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Sharing in the silence of us

It’s secret friend hugs and the hokey-kokey at sunrise.

It’s silence seeping through the being of me.

It’s turning the pages (in my mind).

It’s expanding my views.

It’s challenging myself: thinking about EVERYTHING.

It’s stimulating, concentrating, contributing, supporting, reflecting, thinking, feeling, hoping.

It’s crafting and folding.

Making paper cranes for peace.

It’s listening.

It’s loving.

It’s sharing.

 

A collaborative poem by young Quakers aged 11 – 18 written at the Britain Yearly Meeting, May 2022. 

Over 1,000 Quakers met for their Yearly Meeting at Friends House in London and online for the largest single Quaker meeting in History. There , they decided that Quakers would make practical reparations for the economic injustices and exploitation of the slave trade.

Read the epistle (an advisory or admonitory letter, sent to a group of people)

 

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Roger Ramsden Tests the New Piano – Listen on Soundcloud

Here is Roger Ramsden, an active member of the Meeting, trying out the recently installed Broadwood baby grand piano. 

“It will sound wonderful once a skilled piano technician has tuned the instrument.” says Roger. We think it sounds pretty wonderful already.
Performance, rehearsal, recordings, and spiritual outreach through music are among the Meeting’s ambitions.

Quaker Meeting House Piano By Oral History Sound Recording & Storytelling is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Goodbye to Bob Parsons, a cherished Friend 

Hemel Hempstead Friends are sad to announce the death of Dr Bob Parsons  who died on 29th March at the age of 88 following an 18 month decline in health.

Bob was a well-loved Friend and had been a member of our meeting for many years. His strong Quaker faith inspired him to work in social justice, and he founded the Hope for Children charity in Hemel Hempstead following his retirement in 1994, with the mission to create opportunities for children living in extreme poverty.

At a meeting for worship shortly after his death was announced, numerous Friends gave ministry, recalling the man who had not only inspired them with his faith, but entertained them with excellent humour, and cared with enormous empathy. 

Our memories of Bob  

 

The Quaker advice of George Fox in 1656, was shared at the meeting: 

“Be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone”   Quaker Faith and Practice 19.32

Bob Parsons certainly lived up to this advice and he will be very much missed. 

In a statement released by the charity, Hope for Children, Bob was described:   

“This man was an amazing person; an energetic Christian socialist and philanthropist with a strong Quaker faith. 

“Peace and social justice were at the centre of his life and work. The charity he founded, Hope for Children, is determined to carry forward that work. The charity continues to strive to deliver Bob’s mission, to create opportunities for overlooked, vulnerable and exploited children living in extreme poverty.”

Bob’s funeral took place on Friday 8 April at Garston Crematorium. It was attended by Friends, colleagues and Bob’s family including children and grandchildren who had travelled from far and wide.

According to Bob’s wishes, his ashes will be buried in the Meeting House Burial ground gardens. A meeting for worship will be held in memoriam at which we hope to welcome Friends from near and far. The date Sunday 24 July. Bob’s beloved wife Anne who died several years ago will also be remembered. 

A full obituary to Dr Bob Parsons, OBE,  was published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette
https://www.hemeltoday.co.uk/news/people/obituary-tributes-paid-to-bob-parsons-founder-of-hemel-hempstead-charity-as-hope-for-children-3640963

 

           

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Beautiful New Baby

We are delighted to welcome a new baby to Hemel Hempstead Quaker Meeting House. A Broadwood Baby Grand piano!


We hope the piano can be enjoyed by music groups using our main hall,  which we have been told,  has excellent acoustics.

We were treated to hearing it played by Lewis of the Parsons family who said that when he sees an unfamiliar piano, he is compelled to play to see if it’s in tune. It responded wonderfully, and he played well.  Many thanks to our premises manager,  Roger Ramsden for all he did to research and source this wonderful instrument.

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Meeting for Worship Free From Government Pandemic Restrictions 

We have decided to continue with 

  • Ventilation – one of the most effective ways to mitigate transmission
  • Hand sanitising – keep available 
  • Mask wearing – down to personal choice 
  • Shaking hands – hand shaking will be reinstated but can be refused without offence.
  • Hugging – is permitted at the discretion of the individual – indicate if you do not wish to accept a hug
  • Hospitality – the coffee rota will be reinstated.
  • Zoom – we have discontinued blended meeting on Zoom until further notice.

In January 2022 we experimented with joining an online area meeting for worship from the Meeting House. This was very well attended by 100 Friends from Meetings across our area including Ampthill, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Leighton Buzzard, Harpenden, St Albans and Watford. The Area Meeting is reviewing the success of the worship and we have indicated that we would be happy to join in again in future.

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This is what love demands

Friends Leslie Tate and Sue Hampton talk about the latest climate science and what it means for our children. Sue gives a personal testimony about why it’s important to act. The video also covers the oil industry, climate justice and why we use non-violent civil disobedience.

 

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HEADING FOR EXTINCTION

Friends are invited to come to this talk about the latest climate science and what it means for our children

Berkhamsted Quaker Meeting House, 289 High Street Berkhamsted HP41AJ Feb 15th 19.30-21.30

 You will be given the full story: the risks we’re running, why so little is happening and how we are working together as citizens to change all this. You’ll be made welcome and can share your views in small discussion groups.

If you can’t make it, you can watch the video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnhFA7uKQXE

To talk to us, email: xr-dacorum@protonmail.com

 

 

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by | 12th February 2022 · 4:57 am

Interfaith at the Meeting House : Monday 8th November

Happy Diwali to our friends celebrating their New Year.

The Friends Meeting House is hosting the Dacorum Interfaith Network (DIN) on Monday 8th November at 7:30pm

This will be a Social Get Together with Bring & Share Food and Drink, celebrating Interfaith Week.

If you are able to attend please bring some food to share:

Sweet or Savoury, with an Interfaith theme requested to celebrate diversity, many cultures.

The cultures might include a few traditional “English” items and you might bring items not necessarily representing your own culture, for example Italian or Far Eastern Asia. There are facilities to microwave or oven heat but where possible bring pre-cooked or fresh items. Such Bring & Share events generally produce more than enough quantity and variety of food without needing advance planning. Remember that many of our friends are vegetarian, foods containing meat or fish are welcome but please label them clearly.  Also if you have special dietary limitations (e.g. gluten free) please label. Fruit juices or cordials welcome.

If you would like to attend please email Norman Spink NormanSpink@hotmail.com

Local Interfaith Events for Interfaith Week

Saturday 13th and Saturday 20th November – Tree Planting at Little Hadham

North Herts Interfaith Forum has been working with the owner of a field in Little Hadham to start an interfaith peace forest.  We now have dates for the first planting of 150 saplings:  2021, . Meet in the car park at Little Hadham Village Hall, SG11 2BP.  Trees don’t just combat climate change – they are symbolic in many faith traditions of growth, harmony and reaching upwards.   Bring your friends! Bring the family!  There will be children from the local school helping too.  Bring your own refreshments. The saplings are small so the work shouldn’t be too hard. 10 am – 12 noon

Any other queries, contact me. Chris Kell chriskell37@gmail.com

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Sunday 21st November: Annual Watford Inter Faith Pilgrimage

Synagogue, Sunni mosque, Shi’a Mosque, Parish Church,  Catholic Church, finish at Gurdwara.

1.00pm-5.00pm.

17 th November: Annual Interfaith Week organised by the St Albans Anglican Diocese.

St Stephen’s Church Hall, Watling Street, St Albans AL1 2PT. The event includes stories and practical examples of living well together as good neighbours. Guests from other faiths have also been invited.

7pm – 9.30 pm

https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/Diocesan-Inter-Faith-Week-Event-2021.pdf 

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Monday 29 November:  Herts Samaritans Community Engagement Online Event

Annual Community Engagement On-Line Event

The meeting will include a number of short presentations to be made from a selection of Volunteers to tell you a little more about the very varied work (from Outreach to Fundraising) which the Branch undertakes. The aim is not only to inform but also to learn more about the needs of our community as we emerge from the very challenging times we have all experienced over the last two years.

7pm – 9.00 pm online

Please reply to this email by Monday 22 November (and by Friday 26 November at the latest) to receive a Zoom invitation. If you are unable to attend but know of another who would like to receive an invitation, please do let us know.
Jenny community@swhertssamaritans.org.uk

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We have no time but this present time

In its last session, Yearly Meeting agreed a general epistle to be sent to Friends  everywhere. It is published here. By convention the epistle is read in local  meetings on the Sunday following the Yearly Meeting.

Friends House,

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| T: 020 7663 1000

| E: enquiries@quaker.org.uk www.quaker.org.uk

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We send loving greetings to Friends everywhere 

We have no time but this present time 

Friends in Britain have gathered online at this time of great upheaval, amid the pandemic,  climate and environmental breakdown, and increasing social inequality and division. We  are grateful for technology, and the hard work of Britain Yearly Meeting staff, Agenda and  Arrangements Committees, the Woodbrooke team, and others in bringing us together. 

At this Yearly Meeting Gathering Friends have considered the theme ‘For our comfort  and discomfort: living equality and truth in a time of crisis’. We have been wrestling with  what it will mean to be truly committed to anti-racism and faith-based action for climate  justice. We have thought about how to better affirm gender diversity in our meetings. We  have discovered the challenges of attempting to make statements as a unified ‘we’ in a  way that acknowledges the different experiences among us

We have greatly missed the opportunities of being together as an all-age community that  we would have had in a face-to-face Gathering. We held a worship session during which  the children and young people shared their exploration of community, climate, equality  and truth. Junior Yearly Meeting asked how we could centre justice and equity in our anti racism and climate justice work. Only when all are listened to equally, may all be treated  equally. 

As in the days of early Friends, we sense this is a time of prophecy and want to uphold  the prophets in our midst and in the wider world. We must heed the Spirit’s call to urgent  action. Prophets are visionaries, calling out those in power, and reconcilers stand in the  middle of conflict: in this both run great risk.

A Friend of Colour spoke in ministry: 

All I have ever wanted for the longest time is to feel equal, 

and again, here in this room, I don’t. 

I hear people talk all week about George Floyd but we are here now, in the UK, in your meetings, feeling like outsiders every day. 

This is not the experience I was promised. 

Racism is systemic. To most white people – including white Quakers – it is largely invisible, like the air they breathe. As long as it stays unrecognised, systems and  institutions that perpetuate white power are left unchallenged. Racism and oppression  are often daily realities for those without the advantages conferred by white skin. 

As a Yearly Meeting in session we have declared our commitment to becoming an  actively anti-racist faith community. 

Our theologians and historians are helping us to root our action in our faith, reminding us  of the examples of Friends of the past who have listened to the voice of the Spirit and  followed the inward Light. They challenge the complacency of some white Friends’  perception of themselves as ‘good’ people. 

We have heard trans and non-binary Friends and their loved ones talk about their gender  journeys and of being in Quaker community. Acknowledging trans or non-binary identity  can be compounded by unfamiliarity, ignorance and prejudice. Providing support can  lead to greater self-acceptance, enabling Friends to flourish and contribute. Belonging is  being accepted as one’s true self. Who are we to resist what God has created and  continues to create in all their glory? 

As a Yearly Meeting in session we lovingly acknowledged and affirmed the trans, non binary and gender non-conforming Friends in our communities. 

It is ten years since Britain Yearly Meeting in session committed to becoming a low  carbon, sustainable faith community. Friends across the world have long held a concern  for us to live in right relationship with creation. We grieve for the planet we love – our  home – but we have no time to despair. We must act with urgency and imagination – the  consequences of inaction are upon us. 

For those experiencing injustice, the need for transformation is urgent. We know those  who have contributed least to climate and ecological breakdown are the most affected:  the poor, the global majority, and vulnerable communities everywhere. We recognise and  abhor the legion of violent, deadly impacts of economic and exploitative systems on both  the people, other species and lifeforms, and the body of our Earth. The climate crisis is  fuelled by a system based on growth, consumption and systemic inequalities. If life on  earth is to survive we must push for a more democratic, compassionate and equitable  world. 

Britain Yearly Meeting has asked its central committees to emphasise the urgency of  work on climate and ecological justice and to cooperate with others across the world in  this task. 

Our individual tasks are our Quaker spiritual discipline: loving our neighbour – on our  street and across oceans; and caring, cherishing and protecting our natural world. Let’s  not be self-conscious about speaking of the Quaker faith that underpins our action.

Epistle from Britain Yearly Meeting | August 2021 Quakers in Britain 

Friends have talked about the need to let go of stories we tell ourselves about our shared  near-400-year history and hold fast to the essence of the Quaker way. Is it time to look  afresh at systems, structures, processes and procedures – and possessions like meeting  houses that might hold us back? We’re already starting to address this by agreeing to  change some committee responsibilities next year, and through our Simpler Meetings  project. 

Our Quaker forebears were wild about their faith. And they challenged the establishment.  Suggesting that anyone could have a direct, unmediated relationship with the Divine, and  that our relationship with God should not be confined to the steeple house, was  revolutionary and upended the status quo. Is it time to rewild our Quakerism? 

We will often get things wrong. But we have been comforted by the reminder that Jesus’  disciples often did not understand, they argued with him about who he was and what he  should do. When Jesus said, ‘Feed these five thousand’, they said, ‘you must be joking?!’  When it got to the really difficult stuff, they ran away. 

Faithfulness is not about always getting it right, it is about committing ourselves to  carefully seeing and listening. We need to walk together in the Light, so we can see what  we are meant to do and find the strength to do it. 

We have been heartened to hear through their epistles that other Yearly Meetings and faith bodies are grappling with the same issues. It is vital we work alongside and be led  by Friends and others across the world. We do not have to do things on our own and have learned the value of sharing our skills, resources and insights with each other. We  have enjoyed welcoming international and ecumenical visitors, exploring with them  common areas of concern. One of the things we have gained through the pandemic is  new ways to meet with one another, so that we are no longer limited by geography. 

We can meet one another on kinder ground, in our personal relationships, meetings,  wider communities, and on social media. We can help create listening spaces using our  skills and resources. We can help create a climate where the pursuit of truth is not about becoming dug into our rigid positions. 

We need to quietly listen, and tenderly explore difference, disagreement and areas of  discomfort, and thereby avoid a false peace. A commitment to truth requires us to be  open to new experiences with a readiness to learn, while weighing up what we hear and  see through the light of our faith. 

There is so much to do but we have been inspired by the prophetic voices we have heard  throughout our Gathering. We have pledged ourselves to continue to be a ‘gentle, angry’  people who dare to live for truth and justice in such a time of crisis. 

Our Salter Lecturer told us ‘I didn’t choose politics, politics chose me’. She asked us:  what work is choosing us at this time? 

Friends, we have no time but this present time. We should now do what love requires of  us. 

Signed in and on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting 

Clare Scott Booth, Clerk

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