Weekend Thought Malc' Halliday: Other ways to ways to experience joy and community
The Sunday Assembly is an idea that appears to have caught on. Launched at the beginning of this year, the organisers describe what they do in this way: "The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that meets to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life. It's a service for anyone who wants to live better, help often and wonder more."
Starting in London, the concept has spread across the country. Exeter has its monthly meeting and, by all accounts, Plymouth will not be far behind when it comes to joining in. The founder of this "atheist church", who I heard speak recently, seemed a decent, well-meaning chap. He described how he had been to a carol service where he found much that resonated with him. He began to wonder how this could be replicated without reference to God. The result is a twice-monthly meeting in London's Conway Hall which regularly attracts crowds.
I suspect some will think that I, as a Christian minister, should be outraged at the idea of such things. If the Sunday Assembly comes to my home town, I expect I will hear calls for believers to picket the venues and decry the gathering of the faithless. But, and I am sorry if this offends, I cannot find such a response within me.
Indeed, I am sorry that churches over the centuries have failed to persuade people that all that they are looking for can be found within our faith and practice. After all, their slogan of "Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More" would not look out of place on our church noticeboards. At the same time I am not surprised that people are looking for ways to experience joy and community. We would differ in that I would say such desires spring from a creator of whom the Book of Ecclesiastes says: "He has set eternity in the human heart."
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
I hope those who go to the Sunday Assembly find what they are looking for. I hope they also realise the source of what they find lies beyond themselves.
Malc' Halliday is the centre manager of the Christian Resources Project Plymouth email@example.com