Discovering Quakers - Daniel Flynn

5th September 2023

Two questions with responses from my personal experience

(1) What attracted me to Quakers?

  • Warm welcomes at Friends House and Westminster Meeting House, London.
  • Sincerity of the people involved.
  • Spiritual principles called ‘testimonies’ to live by.
  • Guidance offered without rules or commandments.
  • Quaker literature and other writings by Quakers. For example, Christian Alternative Books and The Friend.
  • Woodbrooke Learning courses
  • The initially shocking and challenging silent Meeting for Worship revealing yet another way to discover on a regular basis, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’

(2) Why do I remain a Quaker today?

Because of this statement in Quaker Faith and Practice books in Yearly Meetings of Britain, Ireland, France, and Germany.

From the Introduction to Advices and Queries in Britain and Ireland:

Our diversity invites us both to speak what we know to be true in our lives and to learn from others.

De Quakers en France Expérience et Pratique, page 109:

Notre diversité nous incite à dire ce que nous savons être vrai dans nos vies et, à la fois, nous incite à apprendre en écoutant les autres. 

Auf diesem Satz aus der Einleitung zu den Ratschlägen und Fragen der Quäker: Unsere Mannigfaltigkeit lädt uns ein, über das zu sprechen, was wir als wahr in unserem Leben erfahren haben, und gleichzeitig von anderen zu lernen.

For me, this statement recognises that no one has ‘the answer’, but that, when coupled with George Fox’s famous ‘that of God in everyone’, each of us has part of ‘the answer’ within to the ultimate question, ‘Why are we here?’ (George Fox was the founder of Quakerism.)

The third part of the statement, ‘to learn from others’, for me suggests practising humility – ‘I don’t know. Others might. I need to listen.’

I have come to believe that life is life-long learning, and that humility and silent listening and observing without judgment are the foundation that makes learning possible. It gives me the opportunity to practice one of three highest human capacities – intuition – that distinguishes us from anything else we know in creation and enables our freedom of choice, and yet is often never practised as great musical, visual and performing artists, athletes, inventors and research scientists do.

As human animals, our essential four ‘parts’ are physical, emotional, mental/rational, and intuitive/spiritual. Our four parts need care and practice.

Quakers worldwide (in nine languages: Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) are one of the five international associations I do service in today that seek to make our world better for all through the practice of spiritual/moral values/principles. Quakers offer me a tool kit for practising my intuitive/spiritual part. As a result, my physical and emotional health improves over time, and my mind and vision (perception) become clearer and broader.

I have come to believe that I need to practice on a daily basis in all my affairs:

  • Humility – I don’t know, others might, I need to listen to learn and gain new perspective.
  • Equality – I can learn from anybody.
  • Community – I need others.
  • Compassion/empathy – caring about and for others.
  • Curiosity – asking Why?
  • Imagination – imagining Why? through unplanned thoughts called intuitions.
  • Positive Choice – choosing positive rather than negative, light rather than darkness, creation rather than destruction. Life becomes what we think it is, ancient wisdom tells us. We become who we think we are.
  • Courage – facing the challenges at every level of this life, using Marcus Aurelius’ Serenity Prayer to know what we can change and accept what we cannot.
  • Hope – believing in a better life that we cannot yet envisage.
  • Gratitude – for the free gift of life we have all been given by power greater than us.

I have been aware of Quakers all my life, but as a young lad was raised in a church that said ‘we had The Truth’ and everybody else was wrong, I was cautioned to stay away from the beautiful Quaker house in my city of birth.

Decades later, I started attending a local Quaker meeting and applied for membership a year later.

Almost immediately, I began to serve that meeting by publishing their newsletter and to explore the greater Quaker world. 

I have since done and continue to do service for Woodbrooke Learning and Woodbrooke Worship, in four Quaker special interest groups, and in one group affiliated with Friends World Committee for Consultation:

Quakers Uniting in Publications,

Quakers and Business Group,

Quaker Action on Alcohol, and Drugs,

Europe and Middle East Young Friends where I have led my Life Reflections workshop in person and online,

and Quaker Universalist Group for whom I have written and spoken My spiritual journey, from obedience to choice.

There is unending opportunity to be explored in Quakers. I hope to meet you sometime in person or online in the greater Quaker world where you are very welcome.


Daniel Flynn