Speaker Alert: the morality and conflicts of ‘end of life’ decisions

The theme of the Assembly this Sunday is ‘End of Life’. Dr. Hall will use fiction and personal experience to illustrate some of the ways in which healthcare at the end of life falls short of expectations. He will explore how this is related to concepts of autonomy and the technological imperative that drives much of modern medicine. He will point further to the kinds of conversations and the kinds of services that might begin to address the unmet needs of people seeking health care services in the last season of life. This includes advance care planning with living wills, POLSTs and healthcare powers of attorney, but goes further to a more honest conversation with ourselves and each other about the limits and finitude that define the human condition.

Speaker bio

Daniel E. Hall, M.D., M.Div., M.H.Sc. is Medical Director, High Risk Populations &
Outcomes for the Wolff Center at UPMC. He is also Associate Professor of Surgery at
the University of Pittsburgh, Staff Surgeon and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and
Core Investigator at the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. Dr. Hall
is practicing general surgeon with training in moral philosophy, theology, quality
improvement and health services research. His current research focuses on designing
care pathways that support value-concordant care of frail patients before and after

When: Sunday, October 20th, 2019 at 10 AM – 11:30 AM

Where: Community Forge
1256 Franklin Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221

Sunday Assembly to face difficult topic of ‘End of Life’

Our October assembly’s theme is End of Life. The guest speaker is Rev. Dr. Daniel Hall, who will be talking about counseling patients and families on end of life decisions. We’ll also be repeating the naming ritual from last October. Everyone is encouraged to bring in one item that they associate with a loved one who has passed away – a photo, a keepsake, anything. We’ll be displaying them on a table at the front of assembly. The ceremony will involve folks coming up to the table, saying the name of their loved one they are memorializing, and placing a small stone (we’ll provide it) in a bed of sand. All are welcome to join in or sit out.

When: Sunday, October 20th, 2019 at 10 AM – 11:30 AM

Where: Community Forge
1256 Franklin Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221

Sunday Assembly Pumpkin Day is announced

Pumpkin Day has become a Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh tradition. Every year the community drives out to Shenot Farm in Wexford, PA and engages in an afternoon of autumnal fun. Activities include a hayride, corn mazes, apple and pumpkin picking, and more.

Bring the family and friends, and join the community! Follow us on Facebook to stay connected!

When: Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 2 PM – 4 PM

Where: Shenot Farm
3754 Wexford Run Rd, Wexford, Pennsylvania 15090

Speaker Alert: CMU student to discuss dark matter at the next Assembly

In honor of 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the theme of this Sunday’s Assembly will be ‘Space’. The main speaker will be Alex Jackson, a physics student at Carnegie Mellon University. Check out their bio and a summary of the talk below:


Alex Jackson is a board of directors member and the current Activism Chair of the Pittsburgh Freethought Community as well as Physics student at Carnegie Mellon University. As a theoretical cosmology research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, she is currently investigating the way different theories and models of dark matter influence stellar evolution.

Dark Matter, an overview:

When astronomers look into the night sky they notice that things are not adding up, quite literally. Our universe has an abundance of “stuff” that we can’t see and can only indirectly measure, causing everything to be much more massive than we would otherwise expect it to be. This dark matter, as it came to be called, was a shock to scientists and ever since its discovery countless experiments have been conducted to observe, classify, and understand, what exactly dark matter is. In this talk I’ll address reasons we have to believe in the existence of dark matter, where the study of dark matter is today, and the most promising directions current research is going in.


When: Sunday, July 21st, 2019 at 10 AM – 11:30 AM

Where: Community Forge
1256 Franklin Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221

NASA’s space projects kids (or adults) can do at home

. Your kids don’t have to go to space to become interested in the topic – there are dozens of space projects on the NASA website. The projects range from making ‘universe’ slime to building a bubble-powered rocket.

The theme of the next Assembly is ‘Space’, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. We hope to see you there!

Check out the NASA’s projects here: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/menu/do/

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

The advice a pastor gave to a crowd of non-believers

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh described itself as a, “secular community that celebrates life”. Many of the members consist of atheists, agnostics, and people who don’t identify with any label. Pastor Natalie Hall was invited to speak at Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh. She gave five practices called the “Faith5” that families and households can adopt. The Faith5 is based on the idea that practicing “the content of your beliefs in conversation together, you are claimed as part of something good, which is larger than yourself”. Pastor Hall went on to describe the Faith5 as “a fierce, bold act of love and stability – both in your home and in the
world”. The Fait5 as described by Pastor Hall are:


The goal is to listen and really hear from the people you live with. You can circle
back another time for conversation. Now is just the time to listen.


Read a text that is important to you. A text that you feel is meaningful and that you are interested in having shape your life. A proverb. A poem. A quotation. A brief story of some sort. Find something – or a variety of somethings – that works for your household. Consider having the various people in your home take turns sharing an important text. What do you want to hear that expresses meaning and purpose?

Talk (often thought to be the most difficult)

The goal is to figure out how the thing you read relates to you and the people in your home. You’re looking for two things: Pinch – something needs to change, and promise (where is the gift?). Briefly explore how what you read applies to your highs and lows. How
could the impact your daily life and work? Recognize, too, that there’s no “right answer.” It’s the conversation that’s important.


For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, this piece involves addressing God in some way, uniting everyone in that divine center of common faith. Yet, if you don’t believe in God, another way to view this step is simply finding a clear way of connecting with the members of your household that extends to a point beyond one another. For example, have a moment of silence in which you acknowledge that you’ve seen and heard one another.

Everyone of any belief system might reimagine this part of your evening conversation as standing together with those you love, pointing, and saying, “Hey, would you look at that! “Thank you for the joy. Help with the sorrow. Wow that was amazing today.” This is nothing more and nothing less – than a ritualized way of acknowledging one another and holding one another’s humanity gently and near.

Finally, Bless one another

A blessing is essentially a benediction (Latin for Good Word) – something you say and do at the end of an important time together. It’s the equivalent of a hug and kiss goodnight rooted explicitly in the nurturing conversation you had together – a safe touch that holds you close to one another, even after you go your separate ways to sleep.

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

Amazing photos from the Apollo missions: Celebrating 50 years

The next Assembly is on July 21st, and the theme will be ‘Space’ to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Upon browsing the web to find how other people are celebrating, I found an archive of thousands of photos uploaded to Flickr from the Apollo missions. Below are some of the amazing photos. Look at all the photos on the Flickr page: Project Apollo Archives

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

A quick history of Black Independence Day (Juneteenth) – June 19th

UIG via Getty Images

Juneteenth, also know as Black Independence Day is celebrated every year on June 19th. The day is celebrated similarly to the Fourth of July, with cookouts, music, education programs and gatherings. Here is a quick guide to its history.

At it’s peek in 1840, there were approximately 59,000 slaves in the United States. In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring freedom for all slaves in the Confederate states. However, it wasn’t enforced in the South. The Emancipation Proclamation was specifically difficult to enforce in Texas because of the lack of Union soldiers, in fact, after it was signed many slave owners moved to the state for this reason. By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the amount of slaves in Texas increased by tens of thousands.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger road into Texas with Union Troops and read the orders at the Headquarters District of Texas in Galveston. The orders read:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

From that day forward, freed people took the streets in celebration in Texas with song, and rejoicing together. The holiday slowly spread throughout the United States and is still celebrated today. Find events in your city and join the celebration!

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

An inspiring and caring group for the secular and non-believers in Pittsburgh

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is described as a “secular community that celebrates life” that has community events throughout the region for families and adults. Our Facebook page has over 1,460 likes and is growing. However, we don’t see as much engagement as we would like. We want to foster community so people can have inspiring and caring interactions in person and online. Where it be a first birthday or an awesome road trip, we want our community to share it if they wish. We also want to help people connect with others who share their hobbies within the group. Our Facebook group is called ‘Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh Community Circle‘, which has only about 188 members (up from only 50 a few months ago). Since we started focusing on the group we have seen a spike in engagement.

The goal is to grow the group so people can create the Pittsburgh community they need. Together we will build something amazing. Join us!

‘Stigma and Pride in Queer Mental Health’ (June Speaker)

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

June is Pride month. The month’s origins started as a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. However, it has grown into something much more. Pride is when we realize the struggles and, and the long denied humanity of the LGBTQ+ community. The speaker for the June Assembly will be Jay Yoder.

Bio: “Jay Yoder is a social justice, undoing oppression, nonviolence, queer feminist community organizer/activist. Yoder is the Director of Development at Persad Center. Jay’s previous roles include Victim Services Coordinator for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Field Director for the Universal Health Care Action Network in Columbus, OH. In 2008 Jay co-founded Pink Menno with brother Luke, a movement for LGBTQ+ welcome and liberation in Mennonite Church USA “. The topic of their talk will be, ‘Stigma and Pride in Queer Mental Health: Removing the Lens of Us vs. Them‘.

Please Join as at the June Assembly on June 16, 2019, at 10:00 AM at Community Forge located at 1256 Franklin Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15221.