This is What an Atheist Assembly Could Look Like September 30, 2013

This is What an Atheist Assembly Could Look Like

Last week, Sunday Assembly Brighton held its first gathering at St. Andrew’s Church and ITV was there to check it out:

Highlight of the video clip comes at the 1:10 mark, when Jesus offers a little girl a sandwich and she completely ignores him.

Seriously, though, just look at how massive that audience is! I’ve been to atheist conferences that have far fewer people than this free service draws in every month. If an “atheist church” can bring this many people together, imagine what they can do when it comes to volunteering or making their communities better places to live.

Simon Clare, one of the organizers, writes:

… The congregation had no idea what was in store, but after the first song, “Build me up Buttercup,” there was a huge round of applause and a real sense that something special had begun.

After a short poem, the congregation were treated to a hilarious and inspirational sermon from Mark Stevenson, based on the theme of “Beginnings” in which Mark explored the difficulties and rewards of converting good ideas into reality. A moment of silent reflection was followed by a period of chatting with someone new as the collection hat went around.

In addition to listening to a further reading on the subject of “Doing Your Best,” the audience gave rousing renditions of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” which brought a smile to everyone’s faces.

After the service, free tea and cakes were feasted upon as dozens of people hung around and helped to tidy everything up. Many people remarked on how positive the content was and how there was no religion-kicking. This is exactly what we were trying to achieve so we’re enormously proud to have made it happen and grateful to everyone who came along and who supported us leading up to the event.

The only thing weird to me in that passage was the bit about the collection plate — it’s not that anyone is required (or pressured) to give, but there is a cost associated with renting the space and the plate seems to be a common way of acquiring that money. If anyone has better suggestions for making that work, I’m all ears. I’d love an alternative for the Chicago assembly in November.


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