Ambition and Momentum–Sunday Assembly

This morning The Sunday Assembly live-streamed their London service to a few hundred viewers across the globe.

I watched from Leeds and saw people on Twitter watching it bright and early in America and late in the evening in Australia. Conway Hall looked near capacity and many groups held get-togethers so it’s hard to know how many people saw the service, which featured two speakers and several pop anthems (ending with Meatloaf’s I would do anything for love).

You can re-watch the event online if you want to get an idea of what The Sunday Assembly looks like (note: you’ll need to register for the site or link with Facebook).

During the service, they introduced their crowdfunding campaign with their snazzy video:

Basically, the goal is to raise £500,000 to build an interactive website platform that helps establish future Sunday Assemblies. It also provides a barebones salary for Sanderson and Pippa, who up until now have been working full-time for free on this project (and actually throwing tons of their own money into it).

In just a few hours since launching, they’ve already raised over £3000 and you can help by donating in exchange for some sweet prizes.

Every pound raised over the first 24 hours is also being matched generously by Sanderson (up to £20,000).

While watching this video I realized what has attracted me to Sunday Assembly since it’s beginning: It is more ambitious than any other freethought group.

The video is slick, well-produced, and sets high expectations while still being fun.

It’s this attitude that’s lacking from many other groups that are content, or even excited, to see 30 or 40 people show up at an event. It’s lacking from the British Humanist Association when they have staff going on record as saying it merely reaches a “younger demographic” (thereby implying that Humanism is just for old people).

It’s that ambition and drive that have built the momentum behind Sunday Assembly. Momentum that includes 35 new Assemblies being launched in the next 40 days and likely more in very short order after that. Sanderson and Pippa receive thousands of emails from people wanting to start new groups in every corner of the globe.

Compare that with the well established Humanist, Atheist, and Skeptic groups that struggle to grow to a few new cities or campuses a year. The Secular Student Alliance is perhaps the only organization with comparable momentum (growing over the past decade from a handful to a few hundred university and high school campuses).

We’ll have to see how well this momentum keeps up. It’s always important to keep in mind that only a year ago, the Sunday Assembly was little more than the dream of a couple comedians on a road-trip.

Nevertheless, it’s an exciting movement that is doing a lot to reach out to audiences and demographics that have seemingly been abandoned by many freethought groups. We’ll have to see how long they take to catch up.