Thanks so much for the concern that has been shown about our health following a somewhat shrill and alarmist article on CNN, but there’s no need to worry. We’re doing great. Better than great. In fact, it is our first birthday today and we’ve never been stronger.
Before we look what we achieved since January 6th 2013, can we quickly answer the article’s central claim that we’ve moved away from atheism? Or as the journo puts it:
Warm-and-fuzzy atheism gave way to not-quite atheism: or at least a very subdued, milquetoast nonbelief. Sunday services made much mention of “whizziness” and “wonder”—but rarely spoke of God’s nonexistence.
You see, anyone with half an interest in the SA would see that we have never been anti-religious, instead concentrating on celebrating life, and helping people live better, help often and wonder more. Our mission is not to remove religion but to help everyone live this one life as fully as possible. Sheesh, we’ve always said that our job has been to inject a little whizziness into the everyday right from day one.
And look at our friends and speakers. We had Hugh Rayment-Pickard, an ex-vicar, speaking at our Assembly in March, a working vicar, Dave Tomlinson, spoke in April and in May, Anita, one of the founders of Sunday Assembly Brighton, wrote a blogpost for us explaining why she, a Christian, wanted to start a Sunday Assembly as:
An opportunity to create a space for all people, without it being conditional on conforming, a space to develop so our lives became fuller and more rewarding, that constitutes my faith and motivation for Sunday Assembly
To say we changed tack to move away from atheism is, sorta, kinda, like – you know? – totally NOT true. There’s certainly no God at the Assembly, but there’s also no anti-theism.
SIDENOTE: our favourite criticism in the article is this: “What’s more, instead of just hop, skipping and jumping over to a local venue, as I once did, I now had to brave the tube and traverse the city.” Should we arrange a cab?
Well, that’s the negative out of the way, let’s look at all the good things that have happened in just one year.
- There are 28 Sunday Assemblies up and running across the world.
- Sunday Assembly Brighton has been going for since September and regularly gets 200 people.
- Sunday Assembly Los Angeles launched with 400 people.
- Sunday Assembly Sydney had to have two Assemblies on the day of its launch due to demand.
- Sunday Assembly Melbourne has been running since May and has congregations of 80-150.
There are also Assemblies in some surprising places like Nashville, Atlanta and Belfast. How exciting is that? Now we’re helping these congregations grow and flourish. What’s more there are thousands more people who have got in touch to start their own.
The Assembly I know best is in London, and with the help of a ton of volunteers lots has been accomplished including getting our service projects going:
- Donated food to foodbanks for Harvest Festival
- Donated clothes to CRISIS for Christmas.
- Sorted through winter coats for a charity.
- Picked up litter in Bethnal Green for Clean Up Britain.
And this Sunday we’re decorating a room like a pirate ship for the excellent educational charity Hackney Pirates.
We are also building a community and we have:
- A book club.
- A philosophy club.
- SMOUPs – small groups for peer-to-peer support and self-help.
- The Curious Kids club (kindly run by Paul from CampQuest).
On top of all that we found time to have the UK’s first ever humanist Remembrance Service.
The Sunday Assembly has never been in ruder health. We’re going to spend the first half of this year helping our current crop of Assemblies, and in September we’re going to launch some more. And not only in English speaking countries either, we’ve got demand in France, Germany, Singapore, Philipines, Hong Kong, Mexico and many other brilliant places.
The point is, this year has been unbelievable and it is all down to the excitement, work and energy of you guys. You the Sunday Assembly supporters. The people who give hours to find bands, speakers and venues. The people who bake the cakes and stack the chairs. The people who find public liability insurance. The people who dip into their own pockets to get this going. The people give themselves for others because they believe in good. Because they want to help everyone live this one life as fully as possible.
Without YOU. Yes, you, reading these words. None of this would be possible. Thanks so much. And let’s make sure 2014 is even better.
Sanderson, Pippa and The Sunday Assembly
TLDR: if this is what trouble tastes like, make ours a double.