On May 14th 2019, the trustees of the historic ‘Park Street Mission’ in Gloucester, made substantial donations to two of the three local organisations chosen as beneficiaries. The money came from the sale of the historic building in Park Street, Gloucester, following closure of the Park Street Mission. The building has been a place of worship for over 340 years, with Edith Sessions, a Quaker and the first woman magistrate in Gloucester, setting up the ‘Park Street Mission’ there in 1880.
The money has been donated to Stroud Women’s Refuge and The Family Haven, and a presentation will shortly be made to The Nelson Trust. This is in accordance with the original Trust Deeds which specifies that, if the Mission ever was to be closed and the building sold, the money should be used ‘as the trustees see fit’ or – preferably – be given to the ‘Home of Hope’ in Gloucester (also founded by Gloucester Quakers).
The Home of Hope was a refuge for unmarried mothers (mostly women in service who had been ’taken advantage of’) situated on part of the area now occupied by Gloucester Royal Hospital. Its site is now occupied by Hope House, part of the hospital, promoting sexual health and helping victims of sexual violence.
As The Home of Hope no longer exists, the trustees have honoured the original intention by selecting three local organisations who help ‘vulnerable and hurt women and their families’ to receive the proceeds of the sale. We feel sure that Edith Sessions would approve of their choice.
Gloucestershire Quakers are a Sanctuary Area Meeting. Local Meetings at Cheltenham and Nailsworth are as well. This means we are committed to creating a culture of welcome for all those seeking sanctuary in Britain, by – joining local efforts to oppose the ‘hostile environment’ – exposing the destitution and suffering caused by the present system – confronting racism wherever we meet it – campaigning for justice in the laws on detention and deportations We support http://www.garas.org.uk who work with refugees and asylum seekers in Gloucestershire.
Mary Brown’s new book, “The Undiscovered Country : Conversations about Death and Dying”, was published in October. In it, she confronts the taboos surrounding death by talking to those who have lost loved ones, and to those who work with the dying and their families. She brings out their unique experiences of and perspectives on death and shows that it is not something to fear, but part of life to be acknowledged and discussed openly.
Mary is a member of Stroud Quaker Meeting. “The Undiscovered Country : Conversations about Death and Dying” can be ordered at bookshops or online for £20, or from Mary herself for £10.
Nailsworth Quaker Meeting are making a special contribution to the Nailsworth Remembers activities to mark the end of the First World War. Members of the meeting are making a large fabric banner (12′ by 5′) to hang in front of cottages adjacent to the Meeting House in the week leading up to Armistice Day (11 November). The banner is inspired by the description of the official war artist William Orpen who visited the Somme six months after 415,000 men had been killed there. He wrote:
I had left it mud, nothing but water, shell-holes and mud – the most gloomy abomination of desolation the mind could imagine; and now, in the summer of 1917, no words could express the beauty of it. The dreary, dismal mud was baked white and pure – dazzling white. White daisies, red poppies, and a blue flower, great masses of them, stretched for miles and miles. The sky was dark blue, and the whole air up to a height of 40 feet, thick with white butterflies.”
The banner will carry the words “In memory of victims of conflict everywhere and in the hope of peace”.
Anyone who would like to contribute is invited to make red, white and blue flowers in different mediums (fabric and felt as well as knitted). These can be left at the Meeting House over the next few weeks – by 21st October at the latest, please. The butterflies can be knitted or more easily made from white felt. Patterns and templates have been circulated via News of Friends and can be downloaded here.
“The Friend” has recently published two articles by Gloucestershire Quakers. Helen Peters of Painswick Meeting has written about Money, while Noel Baker of Cheltenham Meeting has revealed his love of Strictly Come Dancing!
At our Area Meeting in June, we heard about the experiences of Friends in Cheltenham and Forest of Dean meetings of promoting white poppies as a commitment to peace building on Remembrance Sunday in November. But what are poppies, red and white, all about? Friends in Nailsworth Meeting have recently written this short article about the history or red and white poppies, and explaining why they are both relevant today.
Quakers have kept records faithfully since the very beginning of the Society in the 17th century. Written records give us a glimpse of the life of a meeting in earlier generations and we in Gloucestershire do our best to preserve these in good order. In July 2017 Nailsworth Meeting produced a compilation from one section of their past minute books. We attach a copy here for the use and enjoyment of others beyond our Area Meeting.
A community carbon reduction workshop in action. Photo by Alison Crane.
We will be running another facilitator training weekend on 30 September – 1 October, in Gloucester. Because places are limited and we want to take the maximum value from the training, we ask that participants are actively recruiting a group in their local area, and have a start date for sessions. There should be two people from each group at the training, who will then co-facilitate their group together.