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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Quakers Send Letter to Hemel Gazette: Celebrating Peace on Armed Forces Day

Quakers are inspired by a 350 year testimony to peace:

“All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.”
(Quaker Declaration to Charles ll 1660)

We sent this letter to the Gazette this week.

Dear editor 

“Preparation for war” is what it says on the tin. Quakers believe that peace, not war, is the way to peace. 

As we approach the celebration of Armed Forces day in Hemel Hempstead, the announcement this week by Patrick Sanders, the new head of the British army, that a new generation must prepare to fight in Europe is chilling and a challenge to Quakers to act in faith against all war, and preparation for war. The belief that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests is preparation for war. This makes the world less, not more secure. 

Quakers believe investment in humanitarian, peace-building and development efforts will wither the roots of war and build true security. We work closely with other organisations such as Forces Watch, Veterans for Peace UK, Global Campaign on Military Spending UK and Rethinking Security.  

The Quaker Friends Meeting House was established in Hemel Hempstead Old Town 300 years ago. In the last 100 of those years war has been waged almost continually at home and abroad by British forces.  While considering this truth, a small group of Quakers will be drinking coffee, eating cake and cataloguing the biodiversity of the plant-life in our historic walled garden on Saturday 25 June – the morning of the war fete to be held in Gadebridge Park. In good faith, we welcome anyone who wishes to join us for thought-provoking conversations. We will willingly share the stories of our conscientious objectors and other war resistors. 


Yours sincerely

Madeline Edmead

Mermie Karger

Alison Kempster

Jonathan Kempster

Roger Ramsden

Suzanne Watts  

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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



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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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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:


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




by | 12th February 2022 · 4:57 am

Notices for January

clerks notices Jan 22

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