Sunday 22nd March: Conflict

134 people came along to our service on 22nd March to explore the theme of ‘Conflict’, wonderfully hosted by Anita and with musical accompaniment by our house-band and choir.

We were spoilt for choice with conflict-themed melodies, but – having thrown out suggestions such as ‘Street-Fighting Man’, ‘I Predict a Riot’ and ‘Kung-Foo fighting’ – we kicked off the proceedings with The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’  Thankfully, congregants opted for the former.

We were thrilled to introduce Chris McDermott as our main speaker.  Chris has a particular interest in mediation and conflict-resolution, and spoke animatedly about the subject.  He asked ‘who has ever experienced conflict in their life?’, and added ‘who would like to have a life free of conflict?…..well, I’m sorry but you can’t have it!’  Regardless of the nature of our anguish, conflict is as normal an emotion as happiness and, perhaps through techniques such as meditation and mindfulness, we can learn to ‘make friends’ with our negative emotions as well as the positive ones.  He elaborated by explaining that conflict is an important feature of human life, and it’s not always a bad thing as crisis can provide us with opportunities for personal development and growth.

His take-home messages to help us cope with conflict were:

  • Use the breath to stay grounded and calm
  • Be aware of your thoughts: the background commentary is probably not reality
  • Befriend the most uncomfortable emotions
  • Nurture compassion

Our second song, Let it Be, was dedicated to Colin Jolly, a regular attendee of Sunday Assembly Brighton who died unexpectedly last month.  Our thoughts and condolences go to his family and those who knew him.

Our resident science aficionado Russell asked ‘War, huh, yeah – what is it good for?’…As it turns out, quite a lot!  Amongst other things, incidental inventions during wartime efforts have included the neoprene wetsuit, the electronic computer and the use of microwaves for cooking leading to the development of the not-so-compact 6-foot tall ‘Radarange’.

Our ‘This Much I Know’ slot was filled by Tracey.  She spoke about her personal and traumatic experience of being burgled, and gave an emotive account of her brave decision to agree to meet her perpetrator as part of Victim Support’s ‘Restorative Justice’ programme. Tracey now volunteers for Victim Support and inspired us by showing that despite her ordeal she is able to help many other people.

Our service was wrapped up with Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Our theme and our speakers reminded me of something that I heard recently on the radio.  In answer to the question ‘what makes us human?’ Val McDermid, Scottish crime writer, surmised that ‘the ability to show love, compassion and kindness – that’s what makes us human’ and it shows strength and courage to be able to show forgiveness, even when we have experienced suffering.

As a quick reminder, our notices included:

  • Our next service on the fourth Sunday 26th April at 11am at St Andrew’s
  • Planning meeting on the first Thursday 2nd April at 7pm at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Second Sunday at 3pm at Café Rouge in Haywards Heath, for those wanting a sort of Sunday Assembly ‘lite’ in the Mid-Sussex area
  • Third Thursday, our monthly informal social at the Earth and Stars from 7.30pm
  • Our May service will move from its regular time and place to be held on Sunday 3rd May at 2pm at the Brighton Spiegeltent as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival.  Please note, this is a ticketed event so you will need to obtain tickets in advance.  Tickets are free but are subject to the Brighton Fringe’s booking fee of 95p per ticket.

If you would like to contribute a reading, a main talk or an experience to share in the ‘This Much I Know’ slot or if you have any questions or feedback you can contact us at

Look forward to seeing you next time.

Jo x


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