Over the past few months, I’ve watched with keen interest as Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two British comics that I hadn’t heard of before, founded and started hosting The Sunday Assembly in London. They billed their show as “part foot-stomping show, part atheist church” and set off with the goal of encouraging people to “live better, help often, and wonder more.”
What really got my attention was how successful they were in such a short period of time. The paradoxical marketing as an “atheist church” clearly had legs and was picked up by media around the world. The coverage created curiosity and a crowd of a couple hundred started to grow and spawn interest in America and Australia for more of these things.
Now, with several hundred attending The Sunday Assembly in London each month and new Sunday Assemblies across the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada each attracting the attention of hundreds of people – Brighton hosted 230 at its first event, Vancouver has nearly 300 interested, and Los Angeles is looking for a venue to accommodate over 400 – the evidence is fairly clear: There’s something to Sanderson and Pippa’s secret formula.
I was fairly on board with the idea from my first hearing of idea in late 2012/early 2013 and stepped up to get Vancouver and Leeds on board for the upcoming #40Dates tour that will be used to launch Sunday Assemblies across the planet. The BC Humanists have taken on the Vancouver event, which will be held on November 13th, while I’ve met some great new friends here in Leeds who I’m working with to launch ours on October 29th.
We’ve got a good start going but things are really going to pick up soon as our event is just over a month away.
We have a website www.sundayassemblyleeds.com and social media links (EventBrite – for registrations, Facebook Event, Twitter, Facebook Page, Facebook group, and MeetUp.com) and our next organizers meeting is Sunday at 10 AM (over brunch) at Stick or Twist in Leeds City Centre.
Our tentative venue (which will hopefully be confirmed by Monday or else a couple of us will be making some frantic calls early next week) is the gorgeous Church of St John the Evangelist, the oldest church in Leeds. I shot some pictures of it last week:
It was built in 1634 and was deemed redundant by the Church of England in 1975. Since 1977 it has been part of The Churches Conservation Trust, which seeks to preserve the heritage of old English churches.
While a great venue, we unfortunately won’t be able to use it throughout the winter, as it has no heating (and we can’t use space heaters because of the liability and potential stress to the wood).
Nevertheless, hopefully we’ll be able to put on an exciting first night (albeit, probably a bit chilly) and move to a warmer venue for the subsequent months (when our Sunday Assembly will actually happen on Sundays).
I’ll keep you up to date with how our event goes and I’ll also try to follow this post with a few addressing the debates around whether it really is a “church for atheists.”