Reflections on the Cleveland Sunday Assembly


Yesterday saw the kickoff around the globe of 35 new Sunday Assembly programs to add to the 28 existing ones and I attended the Cleveland one. The event was a lot of fun. Special credit must go to organizers Layla Nelson and Eric Tawney who rounded up an impressive array of volunteers to put together the whole thing and did an excellent job. There must have been close to 100 people present. They had a nice array of refreshments for people to help themselves before, during, and after the event, and when it was finally over about 40 people went to an adjacent Mexican restaurant for lunch. I had an enjoyable conversation with people and an enlightening discussion with a philosophy teacher whom I happened to sit next to.

The Guardian newspaper sent two videographers from their New York office to cover the event. They had picked the Cleveland event to highlight the inauguration of so many Sunday Assemblies in the US and they recorded the entire event and interviewed many of the people who attended, including me. I have no idea when it will be broadcast but will post a link when I find out. As is often the case, they will have to distill the hours and hours of video into a couple of minutes, which I always think of as a real challenge but these people are pros.

I gave my talk with the title Why it is the Non-religious Who Can, and Must, Save the World and used it to riff on the Sunday Assembly motto of Live Better. Help often. Wonder more. I will post the text of the talk later today or tomorrow.

It is amazing how much good live music adds to events like this. In this case, the music was provided by area freethinker activists Mark Tiborsky and Gordon Oliver. I knew from before that they were both musicians but I had no idea that they were so accomplished. The duo rocked out five songs during the program and the lyrics were thrown up on the screen so that we could all sing along with them. Being an out-of-touch dinosaur, only the two songs by the Beatles (Here Comes the Sun and Revolution) were known to me from earlier, but I enjoyed the others (Stand by Sly and the Family Stone, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO, and Give a Little Bit by Supertramp) too.

The Sunday Assembly will meet at the same location (Old Town Hall, 18825 Royalton Road, Strongsville) at 10:30 am on the last Sunday of every month, so the next one will be on October 26th but the organizers are hoping to have other events that combine support for good causes with socializing. As one of those auxiliary events, they are meeting for lunch on Saturday, October 18th at a French restaurant named Edwins that was started by a former prison inmate in order to help other felons who get out of jail learn a trade that will enable them to reintegrate with society and avoid becoming recidivist. The restaurant is very close to my home and its story was featured in the latest issue of the local community magazine. I am hoping to attend the lunch. If anyone in the area wishes to join the group for lunch or learn more about the local Sunday Assembly, you can email sundayassembly@gmail.com or go to their Facebook page.

I had a really good time yesterday. As I have said many times before, I tend to be asocial but when I do go to functions like these, I enjoy myself mainly because the people who attend are so nice.

Update: The video of the event by the Guardian has been posted on its website.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    Really, live music and such? I’ll have to check out if there’s a Sunday Assembly around me. I kind of doubt that it’s really my thing, but it can’t hurt to try.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    Being an out-of-touch dinosaur, only the two songs by the Beatles (Here Comes the Sun and Revolution) were known to me from earlier, but I enjoyed the others (Stand by Sly and the Family Stone, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO, and Give a Little Bit by Supertramp) too.

    I am familiar with all those songs, but I’m still an out-of-touch dinosaur, too!