Who are we? What do we believe in? What happens at an SA service?
We are moms, dads and grandparents. We are college students and retirees. We are singles and families. And we come from a wide variety of occupations.
We are also freethinkers, skeptics, agnostics, secular humanists, the non-religious and atheists. We see no evidence for a supreme being, or reject religious dogma, or feel strongly that individuals are in control of their own destinies and must take personal responsibility to the decisions they make rather than looking to a supernatural entity to make things right. Most of us don’t feel that we “chose” atheism, but rather, that atheism “chose us.”
We stand with people like actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn, philanthropists Warren Buffett, Alfred Nobel and Andrew Carnegie; author George Bernard Shaw; and countless others who have believed as we do: that we can be Good without God.
But in SA, our focus is not on what we DON’T believe. It’s on what we DO believe. We care deeply about a wide variety of issues: environmentalism and climate change; endangered species; poverty and income inequality; human rights and social justice. We believe in our families, our communities, and the planet. We believe in tolerance and generosity and love.
And we wonder about many things, like the splendor of the universe, the beauty of nature, the intricacies of life. We want to learn all we can about the amazing world around us. Our lives aren’t empty. Rather, they are full.
Most people like to share their full lives with others, especially those who are like-minded. Just as religious people do, we seek community for ourselves and our families, we want to meet others with the same interests, and we want to be uplifted. We seek a congregation where we can learn and grow, where we can celebrate life’s milestones, and where we can join forces to help make the world a better place.
That’s what SA is for.
Sunday Assembly Madison, a chapter of Sunday Assembly in London, England, is one of more than 100 secular SA congregations worldwide. Our mission is to help people find and fulfill their potential, making the most of the one life we know we have.
Our services will be held the 4th Sunday of the month (currently at Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House). They will be uplifting, celebratory and open to all. Here’s what to expect at a service (from The Sunday Assembly, London):
What happens at a Sunday Assembly?
A Sunday Assembly service consists of songs (pop songs mainly) sung by the congregation, a reading (usually a poet), an interesting talk (that fits into live better, help often or wonder more), a moment of reflection and an address, which sums up the day and hopefully gives a take home message. Afterwards we have tea and cake (well, in Britain anyway!) to encourage people to stay and mingle with one another.
Outside of the event we organize small groups (Smoups), and other social activities such as book clubs and choir, peer-to-peer support and local volunteering.
Why do you use the phrase Atheist Church?
The phrase “atheist church” was something we used when starting out. It seemed like a good shorthand phrase to explain what it is (and definitely helped us get press attention which has been vital in getting Sunday Assembly off the ground). However, we focus not on Atheism but on celebrating life.
Is Sunday Assembly exclusively for atheists?
Absolutely not. We say in the Charter that we don’t do supernatural but we won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. One of the unique things about Sunday Assembly is that it is radically inclusive – allowing us to celebrate life together, regardless of what we believe in.
Is Sunday Assembly right for me?
Only you can answer this question. Are you keen to celebrate life? Do you enjoy meeting new people? Do you wish there was a community of like-minded people meeting simply to share the pleasure of being alive? Then yes!
Are you keen to find a way to spread your theory on why religion is evil? Want to tell the world why you are right about everything and everyone else is wrong? Then probably, Sunday Assembly is not for you.
Would we be allowed to be anti-theist?
There are so many exciting things about life. Stars, chocolate cake, love, dreams, tunnels, Greek mythology etc. Sunday Assembly is about finding these things that we can all share. Basically, we prefer to talk about the things that we do believe in, rather than the things we don’t, and by being anti-theist you exclude a lot of potential attendees who don’t identify as atheists. Lots of explicitly atheist events exist. This is the event that your religious grandma should come to and see that atheism isn’t just about not believing in God (and they certainly don’t eat babies!).