How to Build an Atheist Church: Day 12, a roadmap
Your pathway to Sunday Assembly Everywhere
Hello, and Happy Monday to you. It is now Day 12 of our "How to build an atheist church" series and Pippa and I are totally wiped out. Trying to launch a global movement while doing shows in Edinburgh (and, because Pippa is crazy, she is doing THREE a day) is super tiring.
So, today, I've got a post from Mark McKergow, who runs the Sunday Assembly Everywhere Network. Mark is building the system that will allow us to grow as easily, and as well as possible. One key part of that is communicating that the Sunday Assembly Everywhere initiative is an initial starting condition, that will evolve over time.
Take it away, Mark.
"This roadmap, sets out the path to creating and sustaining a Sunday Assembly Everywhere. We hope it will communicate expectations and key steps along the way.
1. Initial enthusiasm – You want to create a Sunday Assembly in your town? Fantastic! First steps are look around and see if anyone else is already working on it. Check out the Sunday Assembly website, ask neighbouring SAs about any news on the grapevine, join in a Sunday Assembly to see more of what it’s all about and contact The Sunday Assembly and we’ll put you in touch with your local team.
2. Meet as a team – Once you are clear about the local situation, start to gather connections and people around you. Consider reaching out to other groups who may be interested - humanists, Skeptics in the Pub, local volunteer groups etc. Start to meet on a regular basis, maybe in a pub, to assemble a coalition of the willing, make plans, and begin to discuss topics connecting with the three key Sunday Assembly themes – living better, helping often and wondering more.
3. Build the team – Start to think about the skills you’ll need to draw on to run a great Sunday Assembly every month. These include marketing, press, venue, music/band, sound/PA, speaker finding/liaison, tea and cake making and serving, hosting, speaking and facilitating. Once you have a core group, positively reach out to others who can bring their talents to bear.
4. Apply for a Sunday Assembly Everywhere Charter – Once you’re confident you want to go ahead, get your team around and complete the application form for a Sunday Assembly Everywhere Charter. This is the key document, together with a licence agreement, which will give you the right to use all the Sunday Assembly materials, logos, positive vibe and goodwill to host your own Sunday Assembly. It’s worth taking some time over the details, the questions on the form are designed to help you make sure you have what’s needed to make your SAE a long term success. Someone from the SAE team will discuss your application, make sure everyone understands what they’re signing up for and offer ideas and suggestions to assist.
5. Form a legal entity – Once you have an initial thumbs-up, the next step is to form your group into a legal entity – the agreement is not with any one person, but with your properly constituted body. The easiest way to do this in the UK, US and Australia is to form an "unincorporated association", a lightweight form for clubs, societies and community groups which allows you to have a bank account and ensures proper accountability for decisions and funds on behalf of all involved. The SAE team can help you with guidance on the process and formalities – it’s quite easy to do!
6. Training – The Sunday Assembly are in the process of setting up opportunities for training and learning about what works and what doesn't in terms of establishing, running and sustaining a Sunday Assembly. Initially we intend to offer training days in the UK and other forms of support such as webinars and telecalls worldwide.
7. Stage I Sunday Assembly Everywhere – Once you and the SAE team are happy that the conditions for success are in place, your group will be invited to sign a SAE Stage I Charter. This is a "provisional licence", which gets you running your Sunday Assembly using our tried-and-tested formats and themes. You’ll have access to video material to introduce the Sunday Assembly concept, and possibly to talks and addresses to help you get started. This phase is about you getting comfortable with the day-to-day and month-to-month rhythms and activities of a Sunday Assembly without needing to invent it all from scratch – you will benefit from the work, learning and mishaps of those who have gone before.
8. Peer review – During your first 6-9 months you’ll be getting involved in our peer review process. People from the SAE team and neighbouring assemblies will come along and join your events, to see what’s working well, offer feedback and support and help you build your experience. We encourage you to visit other Assemblies too – they are a great learning experience, and are much better experienced than described!
9. Stage II Sunday Assembly Everywhere – Once your Assembly is established and peer reviewed, you can apply for a Stage II Charter. This is a "fuller" licence and is given to groups who have shown their capability. It gives you the chance to take a leading role in Sunday Assembly Everywhere by innovating on format and content, having more services and aiding the start-up of other Assemblies in your region and playing a leading role in the peer reviewing process. At this stage the SAE would still be run by a team.
10. Further on up the road – There may be some kind of Stage III where the SAE has it’s own trained and accredited Host and takes an even more leading role in their country/area. However, the first step in this direction is to get involved with Stage I.
Please get in touch with any questions.
It may well be that this road map and the supporting organisations will evolve as time goes on. In the case of the starting conditions for an SAE changing, these new conditions would not be enforced on those SAE already in operation (having signed the Charter), but the SAE would be welcome to adopt the new elements as they wished."
Thanks for this Mark!