Why I am a Quaker ~ Pam ydw i'n Grynwr

Milford Haven Meeting House

Can it be 20 years since I first went to a Quaker meeting? I had worked with one of the Milford gathering on a major environmental project so I eventually found myself nervously attending the purpose built meeting house in

It was an uplifting experience. The people were friendly and, I soon discovered, tolerant of my inconclusive ideas. I have recently read that early were associated with Seekers or Protestant free thinkers. 

After a gap of some years, during which my circumstances changed, I could no longer make the 15 mile journey, I found another welcoming local group that holds zoom meetings.

I like the contemplative silence of group meetings and the supportiveness of it's members. There is no pressure to turn up, and people attend if and when it suits them. Quaker tolerance extends to cover a Universalist sub group for people who have modern spiritual ideas, and even an atheist sub group, though the basis of many or most members beliefs are traditionally Christian. 


Alan Dearing Fishguard & Goodwick

photo: Maura Hazelden

At age 16 I started a spiritual journey and attended a few places of worship including a Quaker meeting. I was uncertain of my direction but had well-formed set of values that didn't seem to fit membership of churches. Though I had a deep respect for the teaching of Jesus it was accompanied by a healthy scepticism of the teaching of Paul and so found churches inconsistent, muddled and staid. I never could get past the shift from 'you should' to 'everyone else should' approach to leadership, guidance and teaching so a state religion, state church which then 'enforced' Christianity seemed incongruous with the urge of the man Jesus, that an individual consider their own path and relationship rather than judging the paths of others.

I called myself 'Jesian' most of my life and actually did bible studies and bought and immersed myself in a red letter bible. Then A levels, social awkwardness, itchy feet and joining the Royal Navy, where I encountered and respected the Royal Sailors Rest Christian fellowship at or near bases. An injury put pay to that career choice and then my journey took me into social work, particularly Disability and more recently End of Life palliative support. All these life junctions included an awareness of spiritual 'discomfort'.

The meeting house in Stevenage Herts was a welcome refuge and Sunday home during my social work training and I became a member. I moved to join North London (Bunhill Fields) and now have returned home to Wales. The souls I have encountered on the Quaker path enriched my life and have been as autumn colours of reds and gold. I have returned to South Wales meeting and am seeking to participate in my local meeting near Narberth. Also I am privileged to serve as Treasurer to Quaker Disability & Equality Group.

The shared silence of meetings in the Society of Friends is incredibly meaningful to me. I feel that prayer, contemplation, mutual upholding and all manner of unconditional positive regard for others is my spiritual home. Allowing an individual to find their own path and to shed the limitation of doctrine and rulebooks. Managing the silence is a complex experience at times but I've learned the waves of business and worry I bring to meeting eventually wash up on peaceful reflective shores often guided by inspired ministry.

Latter years have seen my journey encounter 4 consecutive cancers and feel somewhat overdrawn on my NHS account. This all coincided with covid and lockdown and thus the impetus driving the shift to online meetings was one of the many small mercies I have been grateful for. While a fifth cancer looms/lurks, current and form, advices and queries have been my safe port.

Living in a very rural county (Pembrokeshire), lack of public transport means I have never actually attended meeting in person here. The ability to manage 'mute' and 'camera off' has been an absolute blessing to managing meeting attendance, my PEG food pump into my tummy was never a distraction, the excessive sunburn of radiotherapy or my vanity 'half beard' (one side no longer grows) are all manageable online as are coughing fits.

21st century Quakership, with podcasts, websites, zoom meetings, is just right for my particular stage of a spiritual journey and I urge meetings to promote the option, as a parallel experience to meeting in person which remains the heart of what we do.


Michael Albero, Arberth / Narberth 

Milford Haven Meeting House

Mae'n ddrwg gennym ond nid yw'r dudalen hon yn cael ei chyfieithu i'r Gymraeg, er y gallai Cyfaill ddewis ysgrifennu yn Gymraeg