Search

Stand up comedians launch UK’s first atheist church in Islington

PUBLISHED: 06:44 20 December 2012

Sanderson Jones

Sanderson Jones

Archant

The first atheist church in the country is set to open in Islington at the start of the new year.

Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans will bring together a godless congregation in the Nave in St Paul’s Road, Canonbury for services – with wedding ceremonies and funerals for non-believers even on the cards.

News of the church, which will meet on the first Sunday of every month starting with a service on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, comes after the census results revealed last week that nearly one in three residents are atheists.

Mr Jones and Ms Evans, a musical improv comedian who had a BBC Radio 4 show called Showstopper, came up with the idea for The Sunday Assembly after agreeing they liked many aspects of religion but didn’t believe in a god.

“We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement,” said Mr Jones, who recently became the first person to sell out the Sydney Opera House by personally selling all tickets by hand.

He continued: “It’s part atheist church and part foot-stomping show. There will be a speaker on a theme each month but there will also be an awesome house band, which Pippa will lead. We’ll be helping people try and stick to their new year’s resolutions in the first service.”

The comics will invite speakers to talk on a theme every month, starting with children’s author Andy Stanton, who writes the Mr Gum series, on the topic of beginnings. Future guest speakers include fellow comedians Josie Long, Lucy Porter and Arthur Smith.

Mr Jones added: “We all should be ludicrously excited every single moment to be alive in one of the best countries in the world. If the church becomes a useful place for others, that would be a good thing. We just want people to feel encouraged and excited when they leave.”

But the Rev Saviour Grech, Catholic parish priest of Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church in Amwell Street, Finsbury, said: “How can you be an atheist and worship in a church? Surely it’s a contradiction of terms. Who will they be singing to?

“It is important to debate and engage with atheists but for them to establish a church like any other religious denomination is going too far. I’m cautious about it.”

0 comments

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 17:50

Business owners in Angel whose livelihoods were destroyed by the Upper Street flooding in December have no idea when their much-needed insurance claims will be dealt with.

Yesterday, 17:20

Politicians, businesses and neighbours met on the fringe of Finsbury Park on Saturday for a five-hour discussion about the area’s redevelopment. The Gazette was there for all of it.

Yesterday, 14:33

In a new weekly feature, we profile a fascinating company doing business here in Islington. This week, we visit Sunday in Barnsbury, a cafe so popular that people happily spend hours of their weekend queueing to get in.

Yesterday, 11:08

An unemployed Highbury man was grilled in court about why he had so many children.

Yesterday, 09:13

The family of Jonathon ‘JJ’ McPhillips will finally be able to grieve at his funeral on Friday. But with his killer still at large, mum Michelle McPhillips says his death has ‘ripped the heart’ out of her family. She speaks to James Morris.

Tue, 13:48

The mysterious “Billy” who saved a man’s life in Essex Road by performing CPR is a scaffolder from Essex who was passing in a cab, the Gazette can reveal.

Tue, 12:42

Four people have been charged with “aggravated vehicle taking” after a car smashed into pubgoers in Essex Road on Saturday night.

Tue, 11:34

A man was subjected to a prolonged sexual assault on a packed rush-hour Tube last week after getting on at Finsbury Park.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now