We used this responsive prayer by Krish Kandiah as part of our response to thinking about our local community at our Churches Together service for unity and prayer on Sunday, it worked really well, and maybe worth you keeping for a future occasion:
This was a “call and response” part of my sermon – I asked the questions and the audience replied “No its the church actually!”
Do you know who provides half of the parent and toddler support groups in the UK. Is it Surestart? No, it’s the church actually.
Do you know who provide the biggest network of debt couselling across the UK with 190 drop-in centres? Helping over 19 141 individuals last year alone? Is it Martin “Moneysavingexpert” Lewis? No it’s the church actually.
Who is it that donated 72 million hours of volunteer work to social initiatives last year estimating a contribution of 1.5 billion pounds a year? Was it the National Trust? No it was the church actually.
Do you know who will feed 100 000 hungry people this year in the UK is it the Redcross? No it’s the church actually!
Do you know who brought hospitals, schools, universities and democracy into our country? Was it the Vikings? No, it was the church actually!
Who invented Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Queen’s Park Rangers, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur Football clubs, was it the Football association? No it was the church actually!
When the doctors, the police and the social workers move out of an area and go and live somewhere else who is that moves in ? Is it Richard Dawkins and Militant Atheists? No it’s the church actually!
Who is it that is the hope of the world, is it NATO? No, it’s the church actually!
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.
Sanderson Jones, recently became the first person to sell out the Sydney Opera House by personally selling all tickets by hand, told The Islington Gazette:
“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. 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.”
It does leave me slightly confused as to why you would imitate a Christian service, but try and do it in the theological perspective of atheism, and deeply ironic to do it in an ex church. What does anyone else think?