Friday, 24 March 2017

The Art of Hiding the Truth - PSEEG

    Showing the film 'Merchants of Doubt' started the evening at Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group's (PSEEG) March meeting.  This explained clearly how the art of denying facts has been honed since the 1950/60s.

In 1958 the tobacco industry knew that heavy smoking contributed to lung cancer and by 1960s it also knew that nicotine was addictive.  This did not stop their representatives claiming in 1984 that they did not know that it caused lung cancer or in 1994 telling Congress that it is not addictive.

Their 'Playbook Strategy' included cast doubt, question the science, create controversy, find friendly scientists, attack the messenger, shift the blame and delay regulation.  This has been followed in many areas – oil, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, flame retardants – and of most concern to PSEEG Climate Change.

Back in 1988 James Hansen worked for the NASA Goddard Institute.  He warned of the problems of climate change and – being a scientist – thought the evidence would be enough to convince politicians to act to reduce CO2 emissions.  He had no idea of the influence of the forces ranged against him – funded by fossil fuel vested interests.  In 2002 Naomi Oreskes looked at all peer reviewed published articles on global warming and climate change and found that 97% of scientists agreed.

The vested interests – too many to mention - invested huge amounts of money in following the 'Playbook Strategy' in order to deny the problem existed and that burning fossil fuels caused the problem.

Over the last eight years America has made strides to reduce its carbon footprint and now the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is one Scott Pruitt who only a couple of week ago said 'He did not believe that the release of CO2 was pushing global temperatures upwards'.

Fortunately over 195 counties are signed up to the latest Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change as they clearly see the current results of increasing temperatures.

Janet Roberts followed up with a very short presentation.  The first section was about 'dark money' which is how millions of dollars are poured into misinformation machines - such as think tanks, bloggers and fake citizen groups.  Second section was about the 'dark internet' where Tim Berners-Lee fears that the global open web which he created is now under threat saying 'We've lost control of our personal data' and 'Its too easy to spread misinformation on the web' and 'Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding'.  Both the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner's Office are looking into any affect on election outcomes.  Finally we had a short word about 'Bots'.  These are automatically generated e-mails or Facebook or Twitter posts which are used to alter or harden peoples views.

Finishing the evening with tea/coffee and biscuits we discussed the film and its implications. 

organised by a member of Narberth Quaker Meeting


Monday, 13 March 2017

A Brief History of Quakers in Narberth

The Quakers first came to Pembrokeshire in the 1650s.  We know that in 1657

George Fox visited Tenby, Pembroke and Haverfordwest.  We do not know is whether he visited Narberth, but we know that the Quakers were holding regular meetings at Narberth from these very early days.

During the thirty years following the death of Cromwell in 1656, no day passed without the presence of a Quaker in the prison at Haverfordwest.  For example in August 1661, we know that Lewis Davies and his wife Susan, James Lewis, Alice Lewis, Evan John and William Thomas, all from Llandewi Velfrey, and presumably from Narberth Meeting, were imprisoned in Haverfordwest Castle for refusing to keep away from Meetings for Worship.

We know from his journal that Richard Davies preached Quakerism in Narberth in 1665 to what was referred to “as a great multitude”.

In 1682 the first Welsh Quaker Yearly Meeting was held at Narberth Meeting House, which was situated on the right beyond Bloomfield, just before the junction of the A40.  This suggests that Narberth Meeting was considered significant.

From 1692 onwards, many Pembrokeshire Quakers emigrated to William Penn’s Pennsylvania in order to escape the severe persecution and confiscations they were suffering at the time.  One of the first to go was the afore-mentioned Lewis Davies of Llandewi Velfrey who bought 3,000 acres of land, later selling most of it to other Friends who came to join him.  Because of this, Narberth Meeting House became disused in the years which followed.

In 1816 occurred the last meeting at the old Narberth Meeting House when Henry Knight married Sarah Lewis.  Even then only half the roof remained.  By 1820 the building was in ruins.  In 1822 the land and what remained of the building was sold to Evan Protheroe for £45.

Now we come into more recent times.  By the 1980s Quakers who were living in the Narberth area had no local meeting.  The only possibility was to travel up to 50 miles each Sunday to the established Meeting House in Milford Haven.

In the 1990s it was clear that there were people living in the Narberth area who would have liked to attend Quaker meetings, but it was not possible for them to get to Milford Haven.  It was decided that a meeting would be held once per month in a Narberth member’s home.  However, this proved not to be a completely satisfactory arrangement.  Then on 25th September 1994, it was decided to try again, this time meeting on the last Sunday of each month in a room upstairs at the Queens Hall in Narberth.  Fifteen people came and that was really the new beginning of Narberth Quaker Meeting as we have it today.  An old Quaker expressed it in the translated words of a Welsh saying, “A fire burns best on an old hearth”; which meant that the new Quaker Meeting should prosper and do good things, and so it has come about.

By 1996 Narberth was a recognised meeting.  Then in 1998 it was requested by local members that we should meet twice per month on the second and last Sundays.  This was agreed to, and meetings continued on that basis for some time.

Then in 2000 an unusual exchange took place. What happened was that the Evangelical Church which had been meeting at Bloomfield Community Centre had increased in numbers so much that there wasn’t a room big enough to accommodate them.  So, they decided that the big hall at Queens Hall would suit them fine and they decided to move there. Their form of worship with singing and clapping did not fit well with Quaker silent worship and so, by amicable arrangement with the Evangelical group, it was decided that the Quakers would move to Bloomfield and the Evangelicals would continue to hold their meetings at the Queens Hall.  So a good swap was done!  Several years later the Quakers agreed to move at Bloomfield into the larger and more pleasant Jackson Room where we continue to meet at the present time.

From February 1st 2008 it was decided by members and attenders that Narberth Quaker Meeting should meet regularly every Sunday at 11-00am.  This meant that Friends who had been going to Milford Haven Meeting then had to make the choice of whether they would join the new Narberth Meeting or would stay as Milford Haven Quakers.  It was not an easy choice.  Some Friends decided they would stay at Milford Haven Meeting.  Others who lived locally were keen to start a new group.  It was a new start of a regular local Quaker Meeting at Narberth.

Today, in 2017, some 22 years after the original meeting at the Queens Hall in Narberth, new members and attenders have joined the group and it is now felt that the meeting has a momentum and life of its own.  It has grown gradually, just like “Topsy”.  A small meeting might consist of ten friends present; but occasionally when there is a children’s meeting and parents are present the meeting could rise to some 20 to 30.

We are a local Quaker group of the Society of Friends within South Wales Area Meeting.  Our meetings are open to everyone.  We meet together in silent worship which many find very comforting, free from the idle chatter of much of the world.  Someone may be moved to speak.  We are an open friendly meeting, accepting that each person is on their own individual spiritual search.  We try to live simply, with integrity, and with a concern for the whole of creation.  In the Quaker tradition we continue in our meetings in the search for truth, and in our efforts to promote peace, equality and justice for all people.
This brief history of Narberth Quakers was written by John Whittaker - our oldest member. We celebrated his 90th birthday in November 2016 with a cake created by the cake queen of Quakers from Milford Haven. Some photos....


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

March Notices

Books of the month LINK to pdf

Upcoming courses at Woodbrooke LINK to pdf

The Young Quaker Magazine – Issue 14, February 2017 This edition of the Young Friends General Meeting’s magazine contains young Quakers’ reflections on different kinds of relationship – from marriage to your relationship with a Quaker role.

Well worth a read even if you are not a young quaker! LINK to pdf

Q:Witness Listen to the new podcast from Quaker Peace & Social Witness at Episodes so far include nuclear disarmament, nonviolent
change in Kenya, new economy and much more.

What have you learned from the process of reading Quaker faith & practice?
The Book of Discipline Revision Preparation Group invite feedback from all those who have been reading our current book whether you have formed a group, read it alone, raced ahead or are taking it slowly. There is only one question: what have you learned from the process of reading Quaker faith & practice? Your comments will inform the process of discernment about whether it is time to revise our book of discipline, which Yearly Meeting will probably consider in 2018
Please complete the form at: or write to Michael Booth, Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ.
Survey from the North Wales Credit Union Group, supported by Quaker Peace & Social Witness, would like you to fill in their survey.
Maya Williams,, 020 7663 1056

Take action on fracking at ‘meeting for worship for witness’ on Pendle Hill
2pm, 6 May, Pendle Hill, Lancashire
Pendle Hill Friends invite you to a ‘meeting for worship for witness’ on top of Pendle Hill to draw attention to the threat of potential local shale gas fracking. This follows a statement by Meeting for Sufferings in February calling for a ban on fracking to help urgently tackle our climate crisis. If you’d like to find out more about the event or want to attend, please contact Maya Williams, 020 7663 1056
To find out more about fracking and other ways of taking action, visit

Nuclear weapons ban treaty Lobby of Parliament, 1 March
Multilateral negotiations for a new nuclear disarmament treaty begin in New York on 27 March. 134 countries will be taking part, and the UK is not one of them, despite ‘multilateral disarmament’ being government policy. We are being asked to write to our MPs and to the Foreign Secretary, sign a petition and attend a mass lobby of parliament on 1 March to urge our government to attend.

Advert for Ecumenical Accompaniers….
Based in the West Bank and Israel for 2018 for three months’ service
20 vacancies for three months’ service.
Information & apply:
Closing date for applications 28 April 2017.
Helen Bradford, 020 7663 1071,

Children and Young People
Family day
Friday 2 June 2017, Friends House, London
This day is a great opportunity for children, with an accompanying adult, to visit, find out about and enjoy Friends House and learn more about the work that goes on here.
Book online or contact or 020 7663 1013

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Of interest to Quakers: Pembrokeshire South East Energy group


This is the topic which will be addressed in Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group's (PSEEG) March meeting. We will be looking at the various techniques devised by the tobacco companies in the 1950/60s to hide and deny the fact that smoking caused cancer. 

These techniques are still being used today to discredit the work of scientists from around the world in their study of our changing climate. They cover so many specialisms and spend their working lives collecting data from the depths of the oceans to the top of the atmosphere;  from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

The Group will be showing the film 'Merchants of Doubt'. This analyses the techniques honed over the years by the vested interests – in the case of climate change the fossil fuel industry. 

Following the showing of the film we will have a quick update looking into the influence of the many so called 'independent think tanks' and trying to see where their funding comes from. 

PSEEG's meeting is on Tuesday 14th March at 7.00pm in the Regency Hall, Saundersfoot.

All members of the public, whether residents or visitors, are very welcome to join us.

We will then have tea/coffee and biscuits – no charge - and a chance to chat.

We hope that you will be able to join us for a very thought provoking evening - particularly as the deniers as in now in positions of power in some countries.