Live Better. Help Often. Wonder More.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Live Better. Help Often. Wonder More.

  1. I’ve been to two. One in Leeds and one in Glasgow. Although they were enjoyable I’m still not entirely convinced by the format. It felt a bit too much like church and I’ve heard so many people using it as an excuse to call atheism/secularism “just another religion”.

    However I do understand that many people find it great to go out and meet others with the same points of view and it seems great for that.

    Formats like skeptics in the pub seem “more me”. 🙂

    • Because it was a university event, I’m not sure if I experienced the real thing, or just a taster.

      The session happened in the function room of an old pub and lasted about half an hour. The premises of ‘you will sing along to the song, you will do a) b) c) were still very much prominent, as they are in a Catholic church for example.

      The only reason why I’m not convinced about it’s format, is that I still don’t really get it. Is atheism then just a religion for non-believers? As they believe in not believing… haha, who knows.

      All the same, after working on my dissertation for most of the day, it did provide a good evening’s entertainment. I ended up really enjoying myself.

      • The event I was at in Glasgow was with Sanderson and the event in Leeds was Sanderson and Pippa. They both followed the format you appear to be describing.

        I agree, they were very enjoyable but they did seem to be quite a tight format following the church model quite closely right down to passing round a collection plate.

        I agree with your conclusion that you probably wouldn’t go as often as weekly.

      • Yeah definitely not. I think I enjoyed it all the more because I often just stick to my bedroom.

        Totally didn’t even think about the collection plate! Definitely agree with you on that one

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