To badly paraphrase what Sunday Assembly is about, it’s a way to get the community of a church without the religion. They have three precepts that they follow – Live Better, Help Often, and Wonder More. The Adelaide assembly meets on the third Sunday of every month and I thought I’d go along today and see what it was like. You can read more about Sunday Assembly in general here and about the Adelaide one here.
I’ve written this piece a half dozen times now and I can’t really convey what I want to. The Adelaide Sunday Assembly is fantastic and I will most definitely be attending again. There’s a definite sense of community there and whilst I don’t feel a part of it yet, it’s fastest I’ve gotten close to feeling it since some of my friends and I founded a university social club (QUAC was awesome. Oh if only we hadn’t had to grow up).
I could tell you about the mechanical activities we went through – singing songs, a presentation about secular Buddhism’s approach to the everyday sublime and ensuing discussion, listening to a philosophical reading, a period of quiet reflection, and chatting over scones and tea (the scones were fantastic just in case you were wondering). But that’s not what I found surprising and amazing about this group. It was the sense of safe openness. People revealed things about themselves that I wouldn’t expect to hear as a stranger and it was met with simple, matter-of-fact acceptance when they did. People made an effort to come and talk to me and the other newcomers and not just a quick exchange of pleasantries. They made an obvious effort to have a conversation and to make us feel relaxed and welcome. I’m not exactly a people person. But I met half-a-dozen people today I’d actively like to catch up with again and I’m considering that damn near miraculous. It reminds me of the very early days of uni – the first week or two of first year. When no one knew anyone (or anything) and yet somehow we all had a new circle of friends before the month was out. I’ve been to a bunch of things where supposedly everyone is there to meet new people and find a sense of community. This is the first place that actually follows through on that concept.
Also, before anyone goes thinking because of the secular Buddhism discussion that it’s just new-age baloney or quasi-spirital crap, the presentations differ widely from month-to-month. Next month is about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and delivered by a practicing psychiatrist. The following month is on the topic of labels, and the month after on belief, confirmation bias and scepticism.
TL;DR – It was a welcoming and open community and I look forward to becoming a part of it. You should all go and check out your local Sunday Assembly, I’d love to hear how other groups compare.