Simon Nightingale visits the Sunday Assembly

Last Sunday I was staying with some of my children in North London and we went to the Sunday Assembly which is a form of secular service that I first heard about when I attended the BHA meeting in Leeds in early June.

It lasted an hour and was great fun and rather uplifting. The theme for this Sunday was “star gazing” and we sung popular songs about space. We had a short interesting lecture by an Oxford astronomy don, various poetry readings, a funny space madrigal sung by “The Kitchen Quartet”, a short period of quiet reflection and an amusing and inspiring sort of space-themed sermon/homily by Pippa Evans (one of the main organisers and a comedian by profession). We were encouraged to meet those sitting around us and at the end there were stands to visit about local community projects, a book club, a philosophy club, a choir etc. It was free, but a tin went round during one song for contributions.

It was most of what I once enjoyed about Christian worship without the religion. If there was one in Shrewsbury, I would go each week.

Here is their website and also for your interest a link to a Christian website that give a surprisingly fair review of the Sunday Assembly’s.

The Sunday Assembly

Church Without God

One Response to “Simon Nightingale visits the Sunday Assembly”

  1. shgadmin Says:

    I think it’s good that people enjoy these assemblies, although I don’t think they’re for me. One thing I noted right at the start that the founders were aiming for something that seemed to be very centralised and organised from the top down (see rule 1: “Your Sunday Assembly will be on one of the themes previously explored by Sunday Assembly London”). No thanks. I’m a freelance freethinker.

    What religion does have going for it is the social side, though this is not, of course, the reason for the existence of churches and to my own knowledge churches can be very patchy in their provision of social support. Whether we call ourselves humanists, secularists, atheists, agnostics or whatever we should still think about ways of promoting social interaction and support for those who need it who are not religious. I’m sure there are many ways of doing this, including through our own socials and meetings as a group and through personal follow-up.

    The Rationalist Association has started a programme to offer support for those who have left or who want to leave their religion (see I think there is a very strong need for this, especially as religious people can be very vindictive.

    Incidentally, in the Christianity magazine article, I was very amused to see the theologian Alister McGrath, who has made a bit of a career out of shadowing Richard Dawkins, dismissing the writings of a best-selling author of numerous books on the excitement of science as ‘standard dry, dull atheism’. Clueless is the word for it.

    Richard Burnham


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