That’s the motto of The Sunday Assembly, known to some as the Atheist Church. Their vision is to create ‘a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.’ Tonight, I had the opportunity to attend ‘an evening of Joy and Wonder’ as it’s Reason Week at UoB; a week of events put on by the university’s Atheist, Secular and Humanist Society. The assembly was hosted by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, both very energetic people.
I had no idea what to expect, other than not to expect anything God related. The word ‘assembly’ made me dubious from the start. It’s a word that immediately recalls the memory of hours being spent in the school hall, being forced to wear the blazer that my mom promised me I’d grow into. (I never did.) By title, I’m a confirmed Catholic, but I haven’t practiced for years and I wouldn’t necessarily say I believe. It was to my surprise that the evening consisted of: singing along to songs, meeting new people, mini raves, dutch clapping and looking at my hands. I have to insist that the double vodka and lemonade I drank before the event helped me be a lot more open to what was going on. It was certainly an evening of Wonder, just as promised. Mainly me wondering what on earth was going on.
The Sunday Assembly is a 100% celebration of life. I wouldn’t say that I spent my evening celebrating everything about it, but it was wonderful being out among people, shouting along to Bon Jovi. It was like a snippet of a good night out, the best parts and without the hangover. The evening provided a lot of joy; and if that is the sole aim of these congregations, I’d recommend them. Maybe not as frequently as a Sunday service, but just when you need that bit of time out. It literally gives you time to just be.
We were encouraged by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who were thoroughly entertaining and encouraging hosts, to spend about a minute screaming. That was the highlight of the session for me and has left me feeling ultimately refreshed. More than anything, I appreciated that moment of being able to let go of everything without anyone judging me. It was nothing short of relieving to be able to release all of that crazy and then just walk away – leave it behind and rejoin the rest of the world downstairs, who had no clue in all the world as to what I’d just been doing.