What's Been Going On?

The Sunday Assembly Brisbane Blog

Let’s Build Community!

Our event this coming Sunday will be our THIRD ANNIVERSARY! If you haven’t been to Sunday Assembly before, it’s a non-religious group that celebrates life and urges us to wonder more about the world. We have a variety of guest speakers that share their insights on subjects ranging from science to technology, philosophy, activism, and the arts. Especially in uncertain times like this, we all need to actively build thoughtful, considerate community bonds more than ever.

As always you can find out about our upcoming events on meetup or Facebook.

Critical Thinking & Free Speech (Sept 2016)

We had a great assembly today, with our guest speaker Peter Ellerton, director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. He explained the difference between free speech and free inquiry, and pressed home the idea that all speech should be welcome, as long as it is framed within the context of inquiry to discover the truth. It should be open to discussion and debate, regardless of how difficult we might find what they have to say.

I’d also like to give a huge shout out to our guest Ami Phi from Griffith Uni who spoke to us about her upcoming short film project, “Pinapplism”, which she is entering into Tropfest later this year.

And Casey Davidson who gave an excellent reading from Carl Sagan’s book “The Demon-Haunted World”.

Casey and Zac Syme also came loaded with a TON of great food for the kitchen, including a million watermelons and vegan burgers!

And a huge shout out to Roger who came along for the first time, AND played keyboards, AND played the cowbell AT THE SAME TIME, AND did harmony vocals.

And of course a massive thanks as always to the hardest working secretary Amanda Kippax, who not only reminds me when I’m later for a committee meeting but also takes the minutes, sends them through within seconds, then gets to the hall early, brings the coffee and milk, sets up, packs down, handles the AV clicker during the songs, and does Sagan Knows what else when I’m not looking.

And finally my lovely other half Chrissy, who sets up the kitchen, wrangles Fox AND plays violin like a mofo.

Don’t forget about our working bee next weekend, Wonder Club on Oct 8, and see you all next month when our guest speaker will be David Gillespie, author of “Sweet Poison”.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

On July 17 the theme of our assembly was how to survive a relationship break-up – something most of us have been through or will go through some day. We were lucky to have Jenny, a divorce and separation coach, join us to share her wisdom, as well as regular member Daryl who has worked to help men through separations for many years.

Some of the ideas that members shared included:

  • moving your body
  • pain is not alcohol or drug soluble
  • we are not taught how to relate in relationships
  • put yourself first
  • you can’t love a guarded heart
  • Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief apply to separation
  • there is a dark night before the dawn
  • relationships need skills
  • the “I” statement
  • use journaling to get your feelings down on paper – and then burn the journal

Our next assembly will be on Sunday August 21 at 2:30pm at Hamilton Town Hall and our guest speaker will be Malcolm Burt who will be talking about “Virtual Reality and the Future of Entertainment!” After the assembly, we’ll be holding our annual general meeting to pick new leadership and discuss how to make SAB stronger in the next year!

Keep an eye on Facebook and Meetup for further details.

Losing My Religion

Our June assembly featured guest speaker Peter Kennedy, the former Catholic priest, who was kicked out of the church about seven years ago for doing outrageous things like allowing women to speak and for celebrating LGBT relationships. He and most of his congregation walked away and started their own church down the road, which they call “St Mary’s In Exile”, and have 150 people turn up on a Sunday morning. Peter told that these days he no longer considers himself a Christian, and doesn’t believe in God. It was a fascinating session. Then we also had Jane read to us from Michael Leunig, Kristiana told us about leaving her religion as a child, and we sang songs from REM, The Eurythmics and Journey.

Our next assembly will be on Sunday July 17 at 2:30pm at Hamilton Town Hall.

Keep an eye on Facebook and Meetup for further details.

March’s Assembly Was Great!

Big thanks to Professor Mohamad Abdulla and Dylan Chown who spoke about radicalization, Jihad and the Australian culture, leadership and media who feeds misconceptions about Islam. (Did you know that Muslims came to Australia 100 years before Captain Cook to trade with indigenous Australians?). Respect.

Our next assembly will be on Sunday April 17 at 2:30pm at Hamilton Town Hall. The theme is ECO VILLAGES.

Keep an eye on Facebook and Meetup for further details.

November Assembly Wrapped!

David and Marie's birthday at SAB

The theme of our November assembly (Sunday 1 November) was “PRESUMPTION” and Andrew McLean, one of our members and an ex-Lutheran pastor, spoke about the kinds of “judge a book by its cover” presumptions that we often make of people and, once we take the time to get to know them, how often those presumptions aren’t true. Keeping with the theme of presumption, our other speakers talked about the presumptions we sometimes have about what will happen to us if we leave the religion we grew up in.

Daryl talked about the Kubler-Ross “DABDA” process and how it applies to leaving your religion. And Andrew Lamb, an American visitor who comes from 5 generations of Baptist preachers (including his great-grandfather who sold over 32 million copies of one of his evangelical books), read one of his original poems about how taking a geology class at university lead to him questioning and leaving his religion.

And we sang Happy Birthday to David and Marie Fisher. David turned 90 this weekend (!) and Marie had her birthday a couple of weeks ago.

The “band” lead us in four fun songs: Losing My Religion (REM), Video Killed The Radio Star (The Buggles), Solid Rock (Goanna) and I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash).

Our next assembly will be on Sunday December 6 at 10am – and it will be our last assembly held at Ashgrove State School hall. In January we will be moving to the Hamilton Town Hall and we’ll also be changing from the 1st Sunday of the month to the second Sunday of the month –  and moving the time from 10am to 2:30pm. Keep an eye on Facebook and Meetup for further details.

The theme for December will be “GRATITUDE” and instead of our normal run sheet, we’ll just be inviting everyone in the room to get up on the mic and talk for a few minutes about things they have been grateful for in 2015. Should be inspiring!

David and Marie's birthday at SAB

David and Marie’s birthday at SAB

July Assembly Wrap Up

We just got home from another wonderful assembly! Our theme was “Against All Odds” and our keynote speaker was Arwin who arrived in Australia in 2012 at the age of 17 as a refugee from Afghanistan. He told us about his life in Afghanistan, where his father and brother both disappeared and where he was captured by the Taliban, and his eventual decision to leave before he also disappeared. Then, after a treacherous journey over many months, including boats, smugglers and a stay in Indonesia, he finally made it to Australia. Today he is studying Business at Griffith Uni, writes poetry and is very happy to have a place where he can live without fear. Claudia took us through the current stats and state of the legislation for refugees coming to Australia. Rob was our MC. And we sang “Shiny Happy People” by REM, “Happy” by Pharrell, “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins and “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff with Cameron and Andrew bashing away on acoustic guitars and Chrissy on violin for the first track. Then a bunch of us went out to lunch. It was a great day! Thanks to everyone who came!


Our next assembly will be Sunday August 2 10am but don’t forget we also have Wonder Club on Saturday 18 July where the topic will be GREED. And Rob is arranging a bush care day also on that day. Check Facebook for details!


Upcoming Events!

We have a casual social picnic tomorrow, Sunday June 28. It’s being held at the Roma Street Parklands. Everyone welcome, old and new! It’s just a chance to sit around, enjoy the weather and meet new friends.


Our next assembly will be on Sunday July 5. The theme is “Against All Odds” and our guest speaker is a young man who arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker.

And our next Wonder Club (a philosophy discussion group) will be on Saturday July 18th. Our topic is GREED.

Check out the details of all our events on Facebook or Meetup.

May 2015 Assembly Recap

Well we had another fun assembly today! Despite a fire alarm that wouldn’t quit and a last minute illness throwing our AV and Reading into a bit of a mess, we pushed on and I think everyone had a good time.

Heather Shearer gave a great keynote reminding us about the little things we can each do every day to make an impact on saving the environment – for example, going veggo one day a week, riding our bike to work one day a week, buying local produce. She also talked about some of the success stories where communities have banded together to change business practices that were going to damage the environment.

Jennifer Gleeson’s reflection involved telling us about her family has recently started using worms and compost bins to deal with their scraps, and she also helped us understand the finer points of how to recycle correctly.

Cameron Reilly did a reading from Dr Peter Ellyard’s book “Designing 2050”.

Philip Bradbury did a great job as our MC, especially considering the fire alarm, and we sang a weird and wonderful collection of songs, including “Calypso” by John Denver, “The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit The Frog, “Mamma Mia” by ABBA and “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

We also sang “Happy Birthday” to little Fox who was welcomed to the world at a Sunday Assembly one week after he was born and will be turning one year old next weekend!

Thanks to all of the new people who came along and to the people who came back – and a special thanks to everyone who helped out, setting up chairs and tables and coffee and food – and then cleaning up again at the end. We appreciate you!


Can We Be Positive About The Environment?

Our May assembly is about “Positive Environmentalism” and our guest speaker is Heather Shearer​!

Heather became frustrated by the consistently negative communication of environmental issues in the media and from colleagues, friends and relatives. Every day stories of doom and gloom and the state of the global environment were juxtaposed with articles blaming the individual. This is no more obvious than in the case of climate change. You read that China and India have over 2 billion people, and are buying Australian coal, or multinational companies own the entire world, or the US Government spends trillions of dollars on warfare and some States have banned the phrase “climate change”. Little wonder people throw up their hands and say, what can I do? But people CAN do things. Who votes for the politicians? Who buys imported cheap plastic rubbish? Who has shares in fossil fuel companies like BHP Billiton? Yep, you and I. And throughout the world, people ARE doing fantastic things for the environment, but we rarely hear good news stories. Of course the environment has problems, but are these going to be solved by burying our heads in the sand, and feeling sorry for ourselves? We all can DO things to help. Heather began a Facebook page and a book (um don’t ask) to communicate what she calls Positive Environmentalism; good news stories of ordinary people around the world, getting together, or working alone, to make a difference. She also sought to quantify and make environmentalism a norm, not the exception. Heather gave a longer version of this talk at Woodford Folk Festival last year, and perhaps may even finish her book sometime in the next decade.

Check out her Facebook pages:




And of course we’ll be singing songs (check out our Spotify playlist) and eating some cake afterwards, so come along and help us live better!

As always, the assembly will be held on the 1st Sunday of the month (May 3) at 10am at the Ashgrove State School Hall.