Sunday Assembly

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Sunday Assembly
Sunday assembly at Conway Hall.jpg
The assembly at Conway Hall on 19 October 2014
Motto"Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More"
Formation6 January 2013; 6 years ago (2013-01-06)
FoundersSanderson Jones and Pippa Evans
Legal statusCharity: No. 1162995[1]
  • UK, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Nertherlands, New Zealand, United States

Sunday Assembly is a non-religious gathering co-founded by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans in January 2013 in London, England. The gathering is mostly for non-religious people who want a similar communal experience to a religious church, though religious people are also welcome.


Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans started the first Sunday Assembly in North London in January 2013 as they "both wanted to do something like church but without God".[2] The first event, attended by over 300 people, was held in a deconsecrated church in Islington,[3] but due to the limited size of the venue later meetings have been held in Conway Hall.[4] Since then events have continued to be held, twice a month, with one attracting as many as 600 people.[5][6]

In October 2013, Sunday Assembly started an Indiegogo campaign that raised £33,668 out of a £500,000 goal[7] to fund building a digital platform to help grow the organisation. The formation of satellite congregations was promoted with a 40-day comedy through the United Kingdom, Dublin (Ireland), the United States and Australia.[8][4][9] The platform is designed to help provide a resource for people wishing to set up their own assembly and to connect with each other.[10]

Local assemblies[edit]

Following the initial events held in London, Sunday assemblies have been held in about ninety cities, both in the United Kingdom and in other countries around the world:[11] including the United States (New York City, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh,[12] and San Diego, amongst others), the Netherlands[13], Germany[14][15], New Zealand[16], Australia, Canada and Hungary. Satellite assemblies must adhere to the central charter; a document outlining the principles of The Sunday Assembly and some rules which have to be followed for at least some time.[9]

Amy Boyle Executive Director of Sunday Assembly Los Angeles speaking at the 8th Freethought Alliance Conference in 2018


Attendees listen to talks by speakers such as Sandi Toksvig,[17] socialise, and sing songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Queen.[2][18][19]


Sanderson Jones has said that he does not "expect much objection from religious communities. They are happy for us to use their church model," but he suspected that there may be "more aggressive atheists who will have an issue with it."[20] However, some Christians objected: William McCrea, the DUP Member of Parliament for South Antrim (Northern Ireland), called the assembly "highly inappropriate", apparently because he felt it as a rejection of God.[21] During the initial promotion tour in 2013, Kimberly Winston of the Religion News Service stated that some atheists felt that "getting money is their goal".[22] Part of the New York City branch split off because they wanted to emphasise the atheist element more than the founders liked.[23] Responding to questions about lack of diversity in the people to whom Sunday Assemblies appealed, Sanderson Jones said "I don't [think] there's anything that's inherently elite about people getting together to sing songs and think about themselves and improve their community. But we can't wait to see people doing it in all manner of different places in all manner of different ways, that appeal to all manner of different people."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SUNDAY ASSEMBLY". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Charity Commission. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b Pigott, Robert (1 November 2013). "Doing church without God". BBC News. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  3. ^ Wheeler, Brian (4 February 2013). "What happens at an atheist church?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Wholly spirit". The Economist. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Emma (18 October 2013). "'Church without god' looks for new ways of funding mission". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  6. ^ Shaha, Alom (March–April 2013). "Why we need humanist churches". New Humanist: 28–30.
  7. ^ "Godless Congregations for All: The Sunday Assembly Global Platform". Indiegogo.
  8. ^ "(Non)Mass movement: Atheist mega-churches take Western world by storm". RT. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Addley, Esther (14 September 2013). "Atheist Sunday Assembly branches out in first wave of expansion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  10. ^ Solon, Olivia (20 October 2013). "'Atheist church' seeks £500,000 in crowdfunding to build online platform". Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  11. ^ Sunday Assembly. "Global Assembly List". Celebrating Life Together Through Inspiring Events and Caring Communities in 70+ Cities Worldwide; as of 4 February 2018, the list mentioned 92 places, however not all of them active at the time.
  12. ^ "Sunday assembly: A godless congregation that aims to do good". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2015-02-01. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Kerk zonder geloof loopt vol". Trouw. 29 September 2014.
  14. ^ Torsten Landsberg, Dieses schöne Gefühl der Gemeinschaft, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 8 February 2015, p. 44
  15. ^ Ruth van Doornik, Es ist eine Art Kirche - nur eben ohne Gott, ‘’Die Welt’’, 22-10-2017
  16. ^ "Godless church launches in Christchurch". TV3 (New Zealand). NZN. 2014-09-27. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Hackney's atheist church aims to 'do good without God' as it prepares for world tour". Hackney Citizen. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  18. ^ Fransen, Sietske (10 April 2013). "Always look on the bright side of life". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  19. ^ Richman, Simmy (27 October 2013). "The Bonus Track: Sunday Assembly wants you, Daughter get lucky, froggin' country and Midlake's new video". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  20. ^ Engelhart, Katie. "Atheism starts its megachurch: Is it a religion now?". Salon. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  21. ^ Rutherford, Adrian. "DUP MP criticises first Northern Ireland meeting of atheist 'church'". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  22. ^ Winston, Kimberly (29 November 2013). "Sunday Assembly 'Atheist Church' Provokes Criticism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  23. ^ The remaining group in New York halted organising its Sunday Assemblies in 2016: Assemblies Are On Hiatus…But We Aren’t Stopping! – Sunday Assembly NYC, 19 January 2016. See also Kimberly Winston's article and the general Sunday Assembly Website FAQ.

External links[edit]