I founded our local atheist group in January of 2009. It started on Meetup, we later added a Facebook page. There was never a complicated agenda. It was to be a place for god-free people to meet with one another and discuss whatever the hell they liked.
Our first meetup was in a big old rambling restaurant in downtown Columbia. Those present were my brother, myself, and a married couple, of which the wife was Catholic. So our atheist group started off 25% Catholic. That couple continued to come to meetings until they moved out of town.
We tried different restaurants about once or twice a month for awhile. We ended up settling on the big place that we’d had our first meetup. One night one of the regular members declared that he was having so much damned fun that we should meet once a week. So we have met every Wednesday night since.
Fast forward a little over five years. We now meet in a hotel’s breakfast room (we sometimes use their conference room for speakers or other special events). We also have a regular book club, movie nights, and the occasional party. People drift in and out as they will and can.
We had a little celebration yesterday. We’d planned to have it about 3 weeks ago but a shitload of ice and snow shut the entire town down about that time. We had about 25 people there, plenty of laughs and food, of course there was cake and ice cream.
The group continues to be a welcoming place for atheists. We hang out and discuss things important to us and plan activism and events. We blow off steam and unwind (and in some cases wind up) and make and meet friends.
A few photos from the party: