“I would go to a carol service or a friend’s wedding, and there would be so much about it that I really liked – the togetherness, the rituals – but I just couldn’t get past the God bit.” Atheism has been caricatured as a cold, empty position, he says, “but for me, my not believing in God if anything makes my life more precious, knowing that we are here for such a tiny amount of time.”
The Sunday Assembly may be godless, but a churchgoer who stumbled through the wrong door would find much they recognised.
The service opens with a song, led by Evans and an enthusiastic band at the front; instead of a hymn, however, it is “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen (“We’ve chosen something that allows hamming it up to the max”). The service features a reading, a moment of reflective silence, even a collection to pay for the rental of the church, during which people are invited to turn in the pews and greet those sitting beside and behind them. The plan in future is to engage members in community-based good works.