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Assemble! Conference Recap By Alysha Wood

By Alysha Wood, Sunday Assembly Crystal Palace

Chopping Vegetables Is Fun! (And other lessons Assemble! has taught me.)

by ahmadpi
by ahmadpi

It’s Monday May 5th. I’m sat in a kitchen, chopping vegetables. I’m happy. Actually feeling happy chopping cucumber and carrots into sticks. All around the kitchen, people are doing various other forms of prep: pasta salading, burger mix making, crisp packet opening, marinating… I step back for a moment to appreciate all this. I can’t help but be a bit awestruck by this happy prepping, the laughing, the chatting. Five days ago the majority of us met for the first time. Now we’re a community, a family. It’s amazing, right?!

The First ever Sunday Assembly Conference, Assemble! Brought us together. Training days, seminars, talks and brain-storms, all designed to help us create an awesome Assembly in our own towns. Being a new Assembly organiser, I wanted to learn some hardcore knowledge, man! What I came away with, was so much more than that.

Emotional knowledge, new and dear friends, laughs, a feeling of such strong belonging, a loud, teary anticipation of what is to come…

I’d loved Sunday Assembly from the moment I first set foot in the Conway Hall earlier this year. For me, I loved that people got together to sing, learn and leave feeling full of purpose and inspiration. I knew how much good it was doing for me and my friends, but I had no idea what the extent of this good has been, could be and will be throughout the world. Grasshopper had a lot to learn.

Day 1 had only just begun when slowly everything became real: hearing about how some assemblies have been a place of refuge for those wounded by religion, seeing just how many Assemblies there are going to be by the end of the year (100, in case you haven’t seen yet!), meeting an array of people from California to Amsterdam, talking about the social impact we can have both in our own internal congregation and our external communities…

It was overwhelming.

The difference we can make. The difference we will make. The difference we are making. Bringing back the community. Now that’s the Take That of come backs* (Sanderson as Gary Barlow?).

The General Assembly was exciting; voting Sanderson our CEO, voting our board members in, voting on the governance document. It may sound pretty mind numbing, all the official stuff that needs to happen before the fun begins. But that is why it was so exciting. The OFFICIAL stuff. We are now official! It was historic, monumental; a time that we will recall to our grandkids, a time that our grandkids will recall to their grandkids and that our grandkids, grandkids, grandkids, grandkids…. Well you get the picture.

What have I taken away from this conference besides new friends, historic events and general moments of teary sentimentality?

A super-fuelled drive to connect and expand our Crystal Palace community. Personally I’m setting up an “Acts of Kindness and Gratitude” club, inspired by Bernadette Russell’s beautiful talk on her journey “366 Days of Kindness.”

An ignited flame to get people excited about life, get them dancing, get them singing, get them dreaming, giving them an open space to bring those dreams to life.

A taller walk, a louder talk and a braver heart, knowing that what we are doing is important. Knowing that WE are doing it, all over the world. Knowing that life is important. You are important. We are important**. It’s a pretty cool thing to dedicate yourself to, and it’s happening all over the world. We got together, this shared dedication creating our community, and we learned, we laughed, we cried, we inspired, we chopped vegetables whilst doing all these things.

And if you’ve found a way to make veg chopping a happiness inducer… You’re on the right track in life.

I think Henry Ford said it perfectly;

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”

Big love x

*I am a 90s kid, so that was a pretty epic moment for me, no sarcasm involved.

** Important sounds weird now…