The Top Notch 12-Step/A.A. Leaders Who Spoke at Maine Conference
The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference Sept. 2013
© 2013. Anonymous. All rights reserved
Participants in the September 6-7 First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference on Friday and Saturday in Portland, Maine were blessed to hear extensive presentations by top notch, hands-on 12 Step recovery leaders – well versed in A.A. history – at our recent International A.A. History Conference. Moreover, all were given further summary time after their presentations and at a later point to speak further on their topics.
These speakers traveled from afar to share their knowledge, experience, and practices emanating from A.A.’s origins and historical roots in New England and particularly in Vermont from the 1850’s to present-day 12 Step recovery practices. They came from Toronto and Collingwood Canada, from Texas, from Colorado, from the State of Washington, from Connecticut, from the States of Maine and Hawaii, and from Missouri. They gathered in the historical location of Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor in Portland where a large portion of the program ideas of early Akron A.A.’s recovery program poured into the old school Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship Group Number One founded by Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and attorney Bill Dotson on July 4, 1935.
As the months roll by, you will see a number of materials presented by the speakers. And here, I will simply summarize the heart of their talks.
The history conference was grounded on the 29 volumes of A.A. history reference titles published by Dick B. and Ken B. and on display at the meetings..
Father Bill W. is a long-recovered Episcopal priest who traveled from Austin, Texas to speak at length on his intense interest in Quiet Time and the Eleventh Step. Father Bill W. has been doing alcoholism and addiction recovery treatment work for many many years. He was president and chief executive officer of Austin Recovery—the largest treatment center in Texas. He retired briefly to become a chaplain there. But Bill is an author, an A.A. historian, a researcher, and a Christian recovery leader. He is one who has written on many aspects of the Big Book, the Steps, and religion. He has traveled from Austin to many of our conferences, including those in Irvine, California; Westminster, California; Brentwood, California; and Portland, Maine Father Bill is now Chair of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Recovery Committee; and he and his colleagues have established and are conducting study groups that practice “listening to God” and other aspects of A.A. Eleventh Step and Quiet Time traditions. Father Bill is a benefactor member of the Agape Circle, which helps support our work. He frequently communicates with Dick B. and Ken B. on Christian recovery, 12-Step work, and various treatment modes. Bill is a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition.
Jim H. recovered A.A. and archivist from the State of Washington. Jim has been part of our historical research team which traveled throughout all of Vermont, Akron, Cleveland, as well as Massachusetts and Portland gathering photos exceeding about 1000 in number which will enable viewers to see for themselves the many treasures available to AA history lovers, researchers, and leaders who travel to those historical places and repositories or who wish more visual information about them. At his own expense, Jim has been a tireless history researcher, sponsor, A.A. service worker, and is presently a participant in A.A.’s national archivist conference each year. He has also drive Ken and myself to many areas were we have researched, photographed materials there, interviewed people we met, and established a website with A.A. historical photos. Jim has long been interested in A.A. history, A.A. archives, and the Christian roots of A.A. itself. He is a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition.
Gary A.. long-recovered A.A. and retired counselor at prisons and with veterans for many years, is from the State of Connecticut. Gary has been in touch with us for many years and has devoted an immense amount of time learning, filming, and circulating video materials on where A.A. came from and got its ideas. And now he has put together an excellent videos series on A.A. historical materials, locations, and people who had so much to do with A.A.’s spiritual beginnings. His videos tell the early A.A. history briefly, graphically, accurately and well. And they have become the seed for a video series that Ken and I will be putting together on the entire early A.A. history picture in a way that has never been done to serve the recovered population and those who still suffer. Gary is a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition..
Robb Hicks, M.D. is a neuro-scientist who has researched and now practices techniques for the prevention of relapse among alcoholics and addicts of all types based on medical knowledge recently expanded. He maintains his office in St. Louis, Missouri. His practice offers help to impaired physicians. He maintains a website and belongs to relevant professional organizations. He had just spent over a week with Ken and myself on Maui learning in depth many aspects of the spiritual and other history of Alcoholics Anonymous. He traveled from Maui to Maine to make his medical knowledge available at the A.A. History Conference; and he joined us on our short, but intense visit to Dr. Bob’s home village of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Dr. Hicks there met with the village leader of the new history museum. He audited the community TV interview of Ken and myself in St. Johnsbury. He attended a luncheon conference of Vermont Christian leaders intent on bringing the Christian roots and history of early A.A. to the fore. He joined us in meeting with a prosecutor at the St. Johnsbury court system who has suggestions on how to produce more effective recovery among alcoholics and addicts soon to be arraigned and sentenced. And he joined us in meeting with Covered Bridge—a residential A.A. treatment facility in St. Johnsbury which is planning on working with the prosecutor and courts and also holding historical meetings and spiritual meetings in its facility. Robb also visited North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury and viewed the Dr. Bob Core Library and other historical records available for view in that church.
Dr. Hicks took the occasion to conduct extensive discussions with conference participant John Mooney, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harvard—a Christian physician who attended the earliest of the Dick B. heritage seminar weekends at the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont; has long worked to see Dick’s books lodged in the Harvard library system; who has frequently sent Dick scholarly materials written by his Harvard colleagues, and who is a benefactor of the work of Dick B. and Ken B.—belonging to the recently formed Agape Circle which supports their research, writing, and speaking work. The two distinguished physicians and recovery leaders were able to converse extensively on the relevance of their respective fields to recovery and the mental health field, and to review Dr. Mooney’s intense interest in Quiet Time and meditation based on Orthodox traditions and practices.
Mark G. is a long-time A.A. member who is a businessman and an ardent A.A. recovery worker. He lives in Collingwood, Ontario. He has been a speaker at several of our conferences and interviews. He has prepared extensive workbooks and guides which he uses, with his Canadian colleagues, to take AAs in large numbers through a demanding and vigorous recovery program patterned on the work of Dr. Bob and the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935. Mark frequently takes sponsees to Akron, calls his team the “Akronites” because so much of their work with newcomers and those still suffering is based on Akron A.A. history and practices. He is also a Christian recovery leader and member of our International Christian Recovery Coalition, and has led many suffering alcoholics and addicts to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ during his many years of work with newcomers. He has been interviewed more than once by Ken and myself on the Dick B. radio show on ChristianRecoveryRadio.com.
Mark is a no-nonsense worker in the recovery trenches using the program of A.A. and the early A.A. Christian recovery program as the medium for success.
Tim K. is a recovered alcoholic; employed in and residing in Colorado; has just been married; took his enthusiastic bride to our Portland Maine Conference; spoke there; and went with us to St. Johnsbury, Vermont to learn and enhance his knowledge of Christian A.A. recovery techniques. Tim is a shepherd of the Came to Believe retreats in Colorado that are held for AAs and their families—taking them through the Steps in an afternoon, and helping them to come to believe. He spoke at length at our Conference on these retreats, on their guidebook, on their locations in the United States and other countries. His great grand-sponsor was A.A. Co-founder Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. He has a special interest in acquiring, studying, stewarding, and reporting on the copy of the DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers printers manuscript—which contains many of the markings and notations like those found in the Original A.A. Big Book Printer’s Manuscript copy just published by Hazelden. Tim has been interviewed on our Christian Recovery Radio program, and he is actively working to report on and help grow the “Clarence Snyder Retreats” that have existed in so many places for so many years now. He is a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition.
Chris P. is a businessman, a long-recovered CA member, a Christian recovery leader, and a highly successful sponsor of addicts willing to use the Big Book, 12 Steps, the power of God, and the Bible to overcome their malady. Though associated with the same Traditions that A.A. has, Chris P.’s large group in Toronto was told by Cocaine Anonymous that it could not exist as a CA group because it was Christian in its character and historical presentations. Chris and his group worked tirelessly to assemble all kinds of evidence as to the number of agnostic organizations, atheist organizations, and spinoff groups in A.A. that were not besmirched with the attempt to label them unacceptable. Finally, after months of preparation, Chris and his group went before the powers that be and effected a 100% reversal that allowed them to meet and proceed. This courageous, rightful, persistent effort was carried on in part to alleviate similar restrictions occurring in other 12 Step groups and fellowships. And it stands as a mountain top achievement that simply says it is as appropriate for Christian 12 Step groups to study their Christian, biblical, religious history, roots, founding, and application today as it is for the atheist, Buddhist, humanist, gay and lesbian, airline pilots, and Matt Talbot groups to claim immunity from suppression and intimidation on the theory that Christians in recovery are somehow barred from using their own history and techniques in their groups today despite mountains of evidence that their beliefs and practices are totally consistent with the very programs, principles, practices, techniques, beliefs, and literature their founders used when today ‘s anonymous groups began. Chris presented literature as to precisely what his group does.
He is a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition. Chris is an Agape Circle benefactor of our work.
Wally P. is a long-recovered Christian businessman and active A.A. and Christian church member who established this conference, arranged for its meetings, welcomed the participants, and enabled the extensive use of his church’s premises for two day s of historical talks and exhibits and discussions. Wally is a benefactor and a member of the Agape group. He attended the formative meeting of International Christian Recovery Meeting in Irvine, California in May of 2009. He joined the research team that toured all of Vermont to gather accurate history on A.A.’s roots, the upbringing of cofounders Bill and Bob, and their religious training and Bible studies. AAs all over the world can be grateful for Wally’s dedicated interest in learning, reporting, researching, and enabling application of A.A.’s historical features in recovery today.
Of course, Dick B. and Ken B. gave extensive factual information about the history, origins, founding, programs, changes, and applicability of old school A.A. today. And this has been and will be reported further elsewhere.
Furthermore, almost every one of the speakers at the Maine Conference has been interviewed one or more times on the Christian Recovery Radio show conducted by Dick B. and Ken B.; or, if they have not yet spoken, they will soon be interviewed to enable them to speak further and for themselves on the purpose and accomplishments of the Portland Maine International A.A. History Conference and the role they play in A.A. history today.