The Christian Upbringing of A.A.’s Dr. Bob, Bill W., and Ebby Thacher
One of the most rewarding things about our recent Vermont Workshops was the discovery of the common and similar Christian upbringing Dr. Bob, Bill W., and Bill’s “sponsor” Ebby received in the State of Vermont long before Alcoholics Anonymous was founded and Alcoholics Anonymous History began.
We visited the North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury, where the Smiths attended. The emphasis on salvation and the Word of God was quite apparent at the family level, the church confession, sermons, Sunday school, and Christian Endeavor that Bob attended. Also at St. Johnsbury Academy which Bob attended.
We visited the East Dorset Congregational Church of East Dorset and saw the same picture as we looked at the Christian principles and practices centered around the little white church that lies between the homes of Bill’s grandparents—the Wilsons and the Griffiths.
We visited the First Congregational Church in Manchester (where Ebby lived much of the year), attended Burr and Burton Academy, and where all students were required to attend, to go to daily chapel, and to study the Bible, and even to be present at Graduation exercises and other events. And where Bill attended for four years. Burr and Burton Academy had the same polity and so on.
Each had the same type of polity, creed, confession, and structure.
The First Congregational Church in Manchester actually assisted in establishing the East Dorset Congregational Church. Ebby Thacher boarded with Rev. Sidney Perkins—pastor of the Manchester church and befriended Roger Perkins, son of the pastor, who also attended Burr and Burton. Ebby had generations of Christian upbringing through his family and through the First Congregational Church and Burr and Burton.
We visited Norwich University, the military academy at Northfield where Bill and Ebby both attended. And there was the same emphasis on daily chapel, church attendance, and connections with the YMCA that existed in St. Johnsbury and Manchester.
There will be many more details in our forthcoming new book: The Green Mountain Boys, Bill W. and Dr. Bob.