Recently, Jeff Sargeant from Sunday Assembly Los Angeles took trip around three UK Sunday Assemblies. We asked him to write a blog about his experiences. Take it away, Jeff!
When I found I had enough credit card miles for a free plane ticket, I didn’t hesitate on where I where I should go. I took a trip to England to see where it all began and visit Assemblies in Oxford, London, and Brighton.
The first weekend I spent in Oxford, and stayed in one of the historic colleges. On Sunday morning I walked out to Bury Knowle Park in Headington. They were taking a summer break from a full Assembly, and were having a picnic instead. I helped organizers Sam and Joe set up a gazebo, and Joe laid out quite the spread of picnic snacks. People started trickling in and asking “Is this the Sunday Assembly?” Of the fifteen or so that came, nearly half were finding Sunday Assembly for the first time. It really shows the need for secular community that Sunday Assembly provides. After some snacks and chats, Sam gave a bit an introduction of what Sunday Assembly Oxford, I gave a short talk about what Sunday Assembly means to me (hint: enough that I would tattoo the logo on my body), and Sam pulled out his guitar and a notebook of lyrics for some summer classics. It was a lovely way to spend a summer day.
A week later it was off to Sunday Assembly London. I’d never been to Conway Hall, but it immediately felt like home. It was great to see Sanderson again and finally meet Jacqueline. The Assembly was top notch. probably the highest energy of any I’ve been to. I think equal credit goes to Sanderson and the great band. Their singalong participation is huge. Afterwards, Conway Hall turns into a giant coffee shop. I loved the idea of their conversation tables including one for new attendees, and one for feedback. Then it was off to the pub. We arrived at the pub around 1pm. I and the last of the stragglers finally left around 11. I think this is really a testament to the strength of the community. Strangers become friends. They even scheduled another social event before I left just to have chance to hang out again.
A few days later I went to Sunday Assembly HQ to have lunch with Sanderson, Jacqueline, and new intern George. Right now. I’m so glad I got to see where the magic happens at a shared a co-working space that used to be a laundry. It really makes me proud to see where they are now and imagine where they’ll be in the future.
My third weekend it was down to Brighton, which was thrilling for me because I studied briefly at University of Sussex, and was flooded with memories around every corner. Sunday morning, I walked over to St. Andrew’s, a former church, in the pouring rain. What a place to have an assembly! I loved that they put the morning’s songs in the hymn boards. After I did “This Much I Know” and showed off my dedication to Sunday Assembly, Maggie brought me up a cake, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It’s the first time in years that anyone’s done that for me. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than with all my new friends.
I’ve now been to 27 Assemblies in 8 different cities, in 2 countries. There’s no place I’d rather be than a union hall, a forest, a bar, a movie theater, a women’s club, a park, an ethical society, or a deconsecrated church. Like I’ve now told Assemblies in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Oxford, London, and Brighton. I love you all, and wear you on my sleeve forever.
I’m hooked. I maxed out my vacation days, but I’m already thinking of which Assemblies to visit next. Australia?