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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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Getting ready for Apple Day

We are busy collecting apples off our two trees ready for pressing on Apple Day, 29 September.

There has been a bumper crop this year, but the apples are falling very early so we are wrapping them carefully to keep them fresh.

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Folk at the Meeting House

Free Tercentenary Celebratory Folk Music Event

Friends Meeting House

Hemel Hempstead Old Town

July 21st 2018

Arrive from 2.00 pm

Enjoy the Chesham Folk Club players, Roy Adams and Alan Bickerton singing and playing steel strung guitars; Annette Burrows and Bob Templeman duo with songs guitar,  ukelele and bouzouki, and from Hemel Hempstead the multi-instrumental Lea Rig Band.

The performance will be outside in our lovely garden – weather permitting

The programme starts at 2.30 and finishes 5.30 with a mid-programme break for tea.

We welcome everyone to listen, dance or sing along.  Bring a picnic!

Entrance is free but please reserve your place by email on hemelhempsteadquakers@gmail.com

Please note alcohol is not permitted in the Meeting House grounds.  

 

 

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300 years of Quakers in Hemel

Signatures of our earliest members from the deeds of the purchase of land in 1718.

Celebrations continue throughout 2018 at our wonderful Hemel Hempstead Friends Meeting House, located behind the Old Bell Inn on Hemel Hempstead Old Town High Street.

Since the 1600’s Quakers have met and worshipped mainly in silence. They have no clergy, no creed and no dogma. All are welcome to meetings. They are committed to peace, and the equality of all people, believing there is “that of God” in everyone.

A lively range of activities are arranged for summer and autumn 2018:

  • 21 July – open garden with folk music – come and enjoy local musicians play traditional acoustic instruments in our flower filled garden, 2.30 to 5pm FREE
  • 29 September – open garden with apple juice pressing and a play commissioned by  Quakers from ‘Spirit of the Old Town Ghost Walks’ to celebrate their historical links with the Cranstone family, ironmongers of the Old Town, and Elizabeth Stirredge – early Quaker non-conformist activist, author and prophet.
  • 28 October – musical celebration with ‘Shekoyokh’ klezmer band

    To reserve your place at any event, please email hemelhempsteadquakers@gmail.com

Our Anthology

We have also published an anthology of Quaker writings and art; memories of the 20th Century; the lives of local conscientious objectors and an in-depth local history going back to 17th Century when Quakers first started meeting at Wood End. The fully-illustrated 128 page illustrated book,  ‘We Go Deep’ is available from the Meeting House and to borrow from the local civic library.

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Our tercentenary Meeting for Worship

Attendees, visitors and Quakers at our Tercentenary Meeting for Worship, May 19 2018

 

We were pleased to welcome visitors from faith groups in our local community to celebrate 300 years of Quaker worship at the Friends Meeting House, Hemel Hempstead.

The weather was glorious – perfect to enjoy our new patio seating and a delicious lunch!

 

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