Sacramento’s new Sunday Assembly chapter offers ‘church’ for the nonreligious

It is a church, of sorts, but its congregants are mostly atheists and agnostics.

They gather on Sundays, but not to read Scripture, sing religious songs or talk about God.

The Sunday Assembly, a “godless congregation” that began in London last year and now boasts dozens of congregations around the world, has come to Sacramento.

The organization has no doctrine and no deity, according to its public charter. Its motto is “live better, help often and wonder more,” and its mission is to “help everyone find and fulfill their full potential.”

“A lot of people have left the church, left religion altogether, or never had it,” said David Diskin, spokesman for Sacramento’s fledgling group. “But they still have a hole in their hearts and want to reach out to other people and be part of a community” of people who share ideas, values and goals, he said.

“Our church is a place to meet people, to learn things, to network, maybe to meet a significant other,” said Diskin. Although most of its congregants likely will be atheist, agnostic or “lightly spiritual,” he said, anyone is welcome to attend the gatherings.

“Anybody can come, whether they are atheist or fundamentalist Christian or something in between,” he said. “Whether you are religious or spiritual or nothing at all, gay or straight, young or old. But people should know that we won’t be discussing religion at all. There will be no talk about God. It will be inspirational and uplifting, a celebration of life.”

The Sacramento group will meet for the first time Sunday morning at a location near Cal Expo. The building can only accommodate about 100 people and all seats have been claimed, Diskin said, but depending on demand, the group may move to larger quarters in the future. Anyone interested in future gatherings, he said, should go to Sunday Assembly Sacramento’s Facebook or Meetup pages.

Sunday’s debut service, Diskin said, will feature a live band playing songs by Journey and Grand Funk Railroad, among others, and a poem from a local elementary school student. A cancer survivor will speak to the congregation, as will a UC Davis student who took part in an overseas “secular service corps” this summer. A potluck will be held after the service.

Diskin and other like-minded people launched the Sacramento Sunday Assembly on social media about six months ago.

“We thought it would be great to get 30 or 40 people interested,” he said. “All of a sudden, people started jumping in.”

About 300 people attended the first Sunday Assembly in London in January 2013, according to media reports. Since then, satellite groups have sprung up around the world, including around the United Kingdom and in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.