Happy Birthday AA!
In June 1935, during a business trip in Akron, Ohio, Bill Wilson, sensing his newfound sobriety under threat, reached out to a local Oxford Group member who put him in contact with Dr. Bob Smith, a suffering alcoholic.
Bill explained how he was able to become sober through working with the Oxford Group. This had a profound impact on Dr Bob. On 10 June Dr Bob had his last drink, and this is marked as the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded on the simple principle of one alcoholic carrying the message of a spiritual solution to another.
This week we celebrate the 87th birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. To mark this anniversary, every year the fellowship in this country is invited to observe ‘Gratitude Week’ (or gratitude month if you’re a bit late…)
Members are invited to make a financial gift in line with what they would have spent on one day’s drinking, but at today’s prices. Please dig deep if you can! Obviously not everyone is in a position to do so, and we all give in different ways…
Individuals can donate with the reference ‘Gratitude’ to their Intergroup or directly to GSO.
Go to the Info for Groups page for how to make your donation.
The Oxford Group
In early 1933, Dr. Bob and Anne had come into contact with the Oxford Group. It was a spiritual movement that sought to recapture the power of first-century Christianity in the modern world. Members of the Oxford Group sought to achieve spiritual regeneration by making a surrender to God through rigorous self-examination, confessing their character defects to another human being, making restitution for harm done to others, and giving without thought of reward-or, as they put it: “No pay for soul surgery.” They did, however, accept contributions.
Emphasis was placed on prayer and on seeking guidance from God in all matters. The movement also relied on study of the Scriptures and developed some of its own literature as well.
At the core of the program were the “four absolutes”: absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, and absolute love. The Oxford Groupers also had the “five C’s” and the “five procedures.” The C’s were confidence, confession, conviction, conversion, and continuance, while the procedures were: Give in to God; listen to God’s direction; check guidance; restitution; and sharing for witness and for confession.
There were slogans as well: “Study men, not books”; “Win your argument, lose your man”; “Give news, not views.” In addition, a member recalled how Groupers would go around smiling enthusiastically and asking each other, “Are you maximum?”.
From Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers
The Founding of AA in Britain
The venue for AA’s first meeting in Great Britain was Room 202 of London’s Dorchester Hotel, and it took place on Monday 31st March 1947.
Grace O, an American AA, visiting London had been asked by GSO in New York to contact several people in Britain who wanted information about AA.
Among the original members at that first meeting were Chris B, ‘Canadian’ Bob B, an American serviceman Sergeant Vernon W, and Norman R-W (who was still drinking), Tony F, an Irish airman, Flash W, an American and Pat G, a female member from California.
Early meetings were held in Canadian Bob’s house in Kew as well as in cafés. By January 1949 meetings in London were being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Chandos Street and membership had passed the magic 100.