Congregation celebrates Sunday – without religion
British comedian Sanderson Jones left a Christmas concert six years ago feeling uncomfortable – he no longer believed in God, but he sure liked singing carols.
Jones also missed other things about being in a church – the sense of community and time spent thinking about being a better person – just not the religion part.
“I wanted to celebrate being alive,” said Jones, 32. “Being alive is one of the most magical, mystical things we’ve been given.”
So Jones and his friend, actress Pippa Evans, got together in January in London for a first “Sunday Assembly,” a service they say is not just for atheists, but for anyone who wants to “live better, help often and wonder more.”
The London congregation now has 600 people, and Jones and Evans are taking the idea on a “road show” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the U.S., Canada and Australia to help start new assemblies.
The U.S. tour starts in New York City on Monday followed by dates in Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities listed at sundayassembly.com. The November 8 Chicago event has already filled up and has 100 people on a waiting list.
The Assembly idea may tap into a small but growing part of the U.S. population: the religiously unaffiliated, which includes atheists, has grown from 15 percent in 2007 to almost 20 percent, according to a 2012 Pew Research survey.