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Atheist church for open minds is going global on "40 dates 40 nights" roadshow

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 September 2013

Sanderson Jones outside the Atheist Church

Sanderson Jones outside the Atheist Church

Dieter Perry

The pastor who set up the world's first Godless congregation is about to embark on a "40 dates and 40 nights roadshow", spreading his belief as far afield as Los Angeles and Adelaide.

Growing from one congregation in Islington at the start of the year, the non-religious Sunday Assembly plans to have more than 30 by the year end and co-founder Sanderson Jones claims it is “the fastest growing church in the world”, with a 3,000 per cent growth rate.

The Sunday Assembly garnered worldwide attention when Mr Jones, of Upper Clapton, and Pippa Evans founded it in January to celebrate the “wonder of life”.

With a tag line “live better, help often, wonder more”, tracks like Bill Withers’ Lean on Me have replaced hymns, and up to 600 people regularly attend services.

The pair hope to raise £500,000 thanks to a crowd funding campaign to set up the 35 new assemblies all over the world between October 20 and December 15 on their roadshow.

Digital

The money will also go towards building a digital platform next year to facilitate launching and growing congregations, and the idea is also to hire paid congregational support representatives in Australia, the US and the UK.

Mr Jones said: “When there are hundreds and – if all goes to plan – thousands of communities on the site, it will be a Wikipedia for good deeds and open sourced community action. It’s ambitious, but let’s have a bash.”

In April he claimed his congregation had been kicked out of the Nave at St Paul’s in Canonbury by “moralistic” Christians, although the Steiner School which leased out the hall said health and safety reasons were behind the decision because it had attracted so many followers.

The group moved to the British Humanist Society’s Conway Hall in Holborn, then York Hall in Bethnal Green before going back to Conway Hall because of the acoustics.

The London Assembly, as it has been dubbed, now meets every fortnight. Dan Snow, the history hunter for the BBC’s The One Show, will be talking at the service on Remembrance Sunday on November 10, and TV chef Lloyd Grossman will host it at Christmas.

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