but thx anyway
Sanderson Jones' Sunday Assembly comes to Canberra
When British stand-up comedian Sanderson Jones and a fellow comic began the godless congregation of The Sunday Assembly in London this year, they didn't imagine how far it would spread.
Mr Jones was at Canberra's first assembly on Monday night, joined by 140 people young and old who sang to the Beatles and Ben Harper, listened to a psychologist and then chatted over tea and cake."We get so many different types of people who come," Mr Jones said.
"Some people who go to standard atheist and humanist movements are stunned at the diversity of our community."
The unique service at the Polish Club – in a church-like format but without the religion - brought together those with polar opposite views on the supernatural, Canberra co-founder Sonya Tirtajaya said.
"I had an atheist come up to me and said they enjoyed it, and I had a Minister from the Uniting Church come up and say she had a great time," Ms Tirtajaya said.
"People were so positive, I think they really connected, I think people were very sociable."
Mr Jones, 32, has traveled to five countries in as many weeks on a global mega launch for new assemblies, which now number 40 worldwide.
"It's quite a tried and tested formula [now], and we're operating in a market with very little competition ... It's very exciting," he said.
"We didn't start [it] as an international organisation."
Mr Jones – an atheist who lost a direct family connection to church after his religious mother died when he was 10 - said the motivation to recreate a church-like community was about embracing life.
"For me, it was just having a really transcendental sense of how wonderful it is to be alive," he said.
Canberra's inaugural event attracted families with children, many in their 20s and some in their 60s and 70s, who heard about the benefits of the beginner's mind from Australian National University academic Randolph Sparks, then joined in song to popular hits such as The Beatles' Twist and Shout.
The monthly assembly next meets on January 19, with a social event planned for December 18.