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East Meets West – Music Making in the Meeting House

The wonderful acoustic qualities of our 18 Century  Meeting House hall were put to good use by a local duo, Clare O’Connell and Eleanor Turner. They set up a music studio to record their latest album. It sounds amazing.

 

 

The whole performance will be aired online on 2nd May 2021:

Clare writes,

Join us for a evocative and uplifting mix of of delicate and nuanced Eastern inspired classical music arranged and performed by Eleanor Turner (harp) and Clare O’Connell (cello) at the Quaker Meeting House in Hemel Hempstead.

The programme includes new arrangements of Pagodes by Debussy, Laideronette by Ravel, two Gnossienes by Eric Satie, an improvised Raag by Eleanor Turner and Ravi Shankar’s Sonata for cello and harp.

Book at www.behindthemirror.org

 

Clare selected the Meeting House for its acoustic qualities.  We hope to resume our musical programme soon! If you are an acoustic  musical artist who would like to perform in a very special space, with an appreciative audience please get in touch.

We also welcome enquiries from musicians interested in recording.  Contact our premises and hiring team

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Celebrate!  Nuclear Ban Treaty Zoom Event Friday, 22 January 2021, 7 – 9 pm

We encourage all Friends, attenders and visitors to celebrate the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty which comes into international law on 22 Jan.

Here are some actions

  1. Join a web event organised by Cambridge Quakers on Friday 22 January 2021

Inspired work, begun by a small group of concerned people in Melbourne Australia, and taken forward by peace campaigners from around the world, has produced the  International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN,

This campaign won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Join us on Zoom to hear the story, find out more about the Treaty,  and what you might do to: pressure the UK government to scale back its weapons,  put a stop to the manufacture of nuclear arms.  Entry to the event is free.  Just sign up with https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nuclear-weapons-now-banned-a-step-towards-peace-tickets-133129105739

More information from: Cambridgeshire Quakers: hanmorrow@icloud.com

2. Support the Treaty by displaying a window poster

Quakers in Britain have designed a number of downloadable posters which you can put in your home windows on 22 January.

Please download from this page about  Quakers national action on nuclear treaty

Our local action on Trident

So far, the UK government is refusing to engage with the Treaty. Quakers in Britain are urging the government to sign up to the Treaty and not to boycott it.

 

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Hemel Quakers Celebrate the Light with other Faiths and Denominations

Light…

Mermie Karger is a member of Hemel Hempstead Local Quaker Meeting. She took photos of the countryside around Hemel Hempstead and edited this video for sharing with the Dacorum Interfaith Network’s end of year celebration held on Zoom in December 2020.

In the manner of Quaker silent worship, the video proceeds slowly, allowing reflection.

 

These are the spoken words:

We celebrate the Light which is sacred in all people ~ God, the light within, a universal goodness, love.

We worship in silence, listening to that Light within each of us, sometimes spoken, often not.

Our belief that the light of love is at the centre of existence, that all human life is of equal worth, and that each person is unique leads Quakers to ‘live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.

Our belief that everyone is equal inspires us to try to change the systems that cause injustice and that stop us being genuine communities.

Living according to the deepest truths of the light of love means speaking the truth at all times. As we are guided by integrity, so we expect to see it in public life.

The light of love is in the Earth and all of its creatures. We campaign for climate and energy justice, and for an economy that is clean and fair to all. The light of love means living simply and celebrating what really matters: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of stillness.

We are the Light of the world and our role is to touch the world with that Light.

…and sound

At our Christmas meeting for worship on 20 December we listened to a beautiful recording ‘The mystery of Christmas’, narrated by Jane Levy. Thanks to our Friend, Jonathan Kempster, who produced this for churches around Berkhamsted. It can be enjoyed here:

 

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Speaking Truth to Power: A dozen ways forward for the environment in Dacorum

 

Our first ever online Climate Justice event took place on 17 September 2020. We were delighted to host this event with 27 registrants from a wide spectrum of climate allies in Dacorum. 

They shared their ideas and experiences of trying to influence local government about critical environmental issues. It was great to have so many well informed and expert participants. 

We all learned a great deal from our host speaker and climate advocate, Rebecca Woo, who is keyed into all the very latest thinking and action on climate justice in the UK and round the world.

Workshop Output

Everyone pledged to take steps to learn more or take action.  Here are a dozen things, large and small people committed to:

    1. Try to find and join a local group relevant to my area of concern, and try to put aside time to engage with it at defined times every month.
    2. Engage more with councillors. 
    3. Finish Sunnyside Rural Trust’s environmental action plan
    4. Check and progress Dacorum Environmental Forum Steering Group action to send Climate Change letter to someone at Dacorum Boro Council.
    5. More networking with like minded people
    6. Identify potential allies more systematically.
    7. Put the anniversary of the climate emergency declaration of Dacorum Borough and Herts County Councils in my calendar and check their progress against stated intentions.
    8. Discuss next steps with Dacorum Environmental Forum in view of presentation
    9. Encourage councillors to reach out to developers in positive green routes in all housing development.
    10. How to try to get local authorities to insist on better standards of insulation in newly built houses. Also in existing houses.
    11. Share ideas from this meeting with Watford Quaker Climate Justice group to help us shape our next actions. 
    12. Try to find out the exact trail of recycled goods from the home to their final destination.

We are pleased that the representatives of so many local organisations felt reinvigorated in their commitment to preserving our precious ecosystem. 

To get involved in supporting them, please visit their websites and contact their representatives:

Boxmoor Trust

Dacorum Environmental Forum

Halsey Field Wildlife Site

Plastic Free Tring 

Sunnyside Rural Trust 

Herts County Council – (represented at the event by William Wyatt-Lowe, Hemel Hempstead) 

 Extinction Rebellion Dacorum 

We are grateful to Rebecca Woo, Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator, Quaker Peace and Social Witness for her detailed presentation. 

Useful guides for speaking to people in power:

Community wealth building:

Community municipal bonds or investment:

Other links and groups Rebecca mentioned:

  • The amazing 4Cs project
  • The work the New Economics Foundation is doing on the modelling for a minimum income guarantee
  • The work student-led group Rethinking Economics is doing to build a better understanding of economics in the classroom
  • The 3.5% rule (Erica Chenoweth – Harvard)
  • The Build Back Better campaign, which provides an invaluable opportunity to ensure your climate action reflects recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting point for this is their website (in the slides) but you’re also welcome to look at the Build Back Better Briefing for Quakers.
  • The role of young people and indigenous peoples in creating more caring and sustainable society:   Meera Ghani’s words in Oxfam’s ‘Climate Justice: Feminist Journeys’ Zine 

 

If you have any questions about the slides or content please contact us using our contact page

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Difficult questions in a time of change

Shrubs in flower

A beautiful image from our Quaker Meeting House garden.

During a pandemic with no end in sight, and as the effects of climate change continue, it’s not an easy time in our lives.

Yet even as we ’stay at home’ or ’stay alert’, there’s important work we can do.

We, as a Meeting, have already decided to confront the challenge of climate change.

We seek clean energy, clean air, clean water, in a safe habitat for humans and wildlife alike.

Far-reaching changes in energy generation, green space, transportation, housing, food distribution, even jobs, education, and health care will be necessary to achieve the goal.

 

Quaker Advices and Queries 34:

‘Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs.

Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.’

Do we, as a Meeting and as individuals, have the resolve, and the caring, to work among ourselves and with officials and residents of Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum Borough to rise to meet the challenge of climate change together?

During our recent online meeting for worship,  we shared feelings about climate change and our responses to this question.

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News from the Garden

Spring has sprung. Enjoy these lovely photos taken by Roger.

 

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Coronavirus and Meeting for Worship: Update

We have decided to suspend Meeting for Worship for the foreseeable future in the light of the government’s advice about avoiding all non-essential contact, especially for those in vulnerable groups, which includes all aged over 70.

This evening we have received a message from Friends House that this is their advice too.  Here is part of what they said:

We advise meetings not to gather in person while the current social distancing guidance is in force.  Current guidance is that everyone should avoid all large gatherings and any gatherings in smaller places (such as cinemas, restaurants, pubs).  Government statements have made clear that religious gatherings are included in this category.  Many faiths and denominations have announced they will cease public acts of worship.”

They note that meetings will need to think about how they maintain their community when they are not meeting face to face, and how important it is to stay in touch by other means, e.g. over the phone.  We will certainly be trying to maintain contact with everyone by phone and email.

We will also be looking at possibilities for using IT to create “virtual” meetings for those who would like to try this.  Friends House has some information on this and is actively working on how they can support meetings.  Some Friends might like to set aside time for silent reflection at home, especially on a Sunday morning, knowing that some other Friends will be doing the same and will be with them in spirit.

How long it will be before we can restart Meeting for Worship, we don’t know.  But even if we are not able to meet on a Sunday, let us continue to support each other in spirit and in practical ways until the situation improves.

Wishing you all good health,

In Friendship,

Kathy

Kathy Lazenbatt

Clerk, Hemel Hempstead Local Quaker Meeting

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People Not Borders – a local charity for refugee support

I am me picture book - quilted heart and wordsFront cover of Sue Hampton’s ‘I Am Me’, a picture book sold to support young refugees, illustrated by Hemel Hempstead artist, Paula Watkins.Our charity for May and June will be People Not Borders, one of whose Trustees, Sue Hampton of Berkhamsted Quaker meeting, will address the meeting briefly on 19th May to inform us about the charity’s work. Find out more about the latest appeals for support for refugees. https://www.peoplenotborders.org/appeals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ian Kelleher – Classical Guitar Recital – Sunday May 19

SUNDAY MAY 19TH: 2.30pm

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Johann S Bach

Leo Brower

Astor Piazzolla

Yuqijiro Yocoh

+ many others

Come and enjoy the peacefulness of the Friends Meeting House and garden. In preparation for the week ahead allow the music of the guitar of the past and present to lift your spirits. Returning after last year’s successful Tercentenary concert Ian Kelleher invites us to hear a selection from his extended repertoire of pieces from around the world.

Ian Kelleher`s formal guitar study culminated with the completion of the prestigious Advanced Solo Studies Course at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama way back in 1990! Since then he has developed his passion for teaching and continued to pursue his performing interests in both solo and ensemble playing.

He has enriched his musical understanding with travel and two Masters Degrees. Ian’s recent project is running the Great Dunmow Guitar Club to help players develop their performance skills and to promote the guitar and its music. He currently teaches in Essex and Hertfordshire.

Ian recorded his first CD “Imagens” with guitarist Sue Williams in 2012. His first solo CD “Far from Home” was released in 2014 and his latest recording “Time and Place” was released in April 2016.

The last few years have seen an ever-increasing performance schedule. Performances throughout the South-East, both as a soloist and in duo with cellist Charles Ellis, have included Wimpole Hall (National Trust), Benslow Music (twice!), Southend Civic Centre, Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), The Foundling Museum (London).

Future concerts include Chelmsford Cathedral, Brentwood Cathedral and performance of Ramirez`s Misa Criolla with the Chamber Choir Carillon in St Albans.

www.iankelleher-guitar.co.uk

TICKETS £12 : Contact: Roger Ramsden 07770971218

or roger.ramsden@ntlworld.com PLEASE QUOTE: ‘May 19th’

 

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Apple Day play brings our history to life

The Spirit of the Old Town’s Kimberly Black as Elizabeth Stirredge

 

Quakers and friends from other community groups got together on 29th September to celebrate the last weekend of a long hot summer in a garden ‘Apple Day’. The event was to mark the occasion of three hundred years of the establishment of the Quaker Meeting House in Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town. 

The event attracted dozens and drew in members of the Friends of Jellicoe Water Gardens who made the meeting house garden the final destination on their heritage walk along the Gade.  People of all ages basked in the Indian Summer sun, and enjoyed freshly pressed juice from the two trees in the garden, which was established as a walled burial ground for the Quakers in 1718.   

The highlight of the afternoon was an outdoor performance by Spirit of the Old Town of a short three-act play specially commissioned for the event. Called ‘300 Years in Hemel’ it explored the rich lives of three historical figures who lived and worked in Hemel Hempstead. Kimberly Black, founder of Spirit of the Old Town Productions, wrote and directed the play and performed the role of Elizabeth Stirredge, a Quaker prophetess who came to Hemel Hempstead in 1688. Her stirring monologue recounted her encounter with King Charles where she blamed him for the persecution of Quakers and other non-conformists around that time.  She leaves behind a published memoir, and is buried in the old Quaker burial ground in Wood End, which is now the site of a planned new housing development.

Joseph Cranstone Junior (1793 – 1878) and his son,  Lefevre Cranstone (1822 – 1893), were two Victorian Quakers whose lives made an impact on their local community and the wider world.

“Man of Iron”, Joseph, played with passion by Mark Crane, told the audience of his work setting up the iron foundry in the Old Town and his contributions to the local civic life and urban landscape. Lefevre, played by Tom Watkins, was an artist who left the town and the Quaker meeting to marry a non-Quaker and seek his fortune by travelling to the  US and Australia. His social documentary paintings of scenes of daily life are now on display in galleries and the US White House. ‘Lefevre’ told the poignant story of leaving his wife Lillia and children behind in Hemel Hempstead where she established a school in the town. Lefevre died in Australia.

Joseph Cranstone Junior was buried in the garden in an unmarked grave. The afternoon took on a greater resonance when  his final resting place was revealed to be the exact spot where Mark Crane was due to deliver Mr Cranstone’s final monologue. Mark said afterwards, “I felt the hairs at the back of my neck go up. It was an emotional moment!”

Around 20 kilos of apples were pressed and squeezed through the course of the afternoon and every drop was drunk.  After the show, Clerk of the Meeting, Audrey Pitchforth thanked the Spirit of the Old Town saying, “We have read the history but seeing the actors made the names come to life. It made us all realise that they were real people and it was very moving.”

The Apple Day was part of a series of events organised by the local Quakers in their tercentenary year. They have included a pilgrimage to the original burial site beyond the town boundaries in Wood End, a special Meeting for Worship and musical events. The final event will take place on 28 October at 7pm – a performance by the London Klezmer Quartet. The complete history of the Quakers to the present day in Hemel Hempstead is recorded in an anthology of writings called “We Go Deep” which is on sale at £5.00 from the Quaker Meeting House, St Mary’s Road.

Mark Crane and Tom Watkins played Joseph and Lefevre Cranstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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