Sunday, February 28, 2010

A.A. Sketches on Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. (Cofounder of A.A.)

A.A. Sketches on Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. (Cofounder of A.A.)

Dick B.

This year (2010) is a year to learn about Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, a personal friend of Bill Wilson, a well-spring of A.A. ideas, and a cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Shoemaker has been honored in the Episcopal Church itself; and two events are planned or have already been conducted, at the two major churches where Sam was the rector—Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, and Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.

And now, what about Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.? Where did his A.A. role begin? What did his activity do to further the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the origins, founding, program, Big Book and Twelve Steps, and A.A. fellowship itself?

We will take these Shoemaker items—piece by piece. And you can find specific documentation in my book New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed. (; in Sam’s many books and articles; and in my own extensive articles on the web that deal with Sam.

An Outline of Some Major Shoemaker/A.A. Facts

We start with Shoemaker’s first significant book, Realizing Religion, published in 1923:

Some chapter snippets: (1) The spiritual malady—Separation from God; The solution—You need to find God, You need a vital religious experience. You need Jesus Christ. (2) The Fact of Sin—“not a monster to be mused on, but a weakness to be gotten rid of.” It has “binding power, blinding power, multiplying power, deadening power.” “Repentance is to leave. The sin we loved before. And show that we in earnest grieve. By doing it no more.” “To realize the meaning of sin in feeling and in thought is not the mark of a sick soul, but rather the sign of return to spiritual health.” (3) Conversion—“a breach, a breaking off, a turning, a change?” “Now the ability to change people is the unique possession of religion.” “We must want it with all our hearts and put ourselves in the way of it. God on His part has longed to win us for years. It is we who have been unwilling. We must open ourselves to Him, and be prepared to accept all that it will mean to be a child of God.” “Best expressed in the old idea of self-surrender to God.” “Self-surrender has always been and always must be regarded as the vital turning point of the religious life.” “You and God are reconciled the moment you surrender. You know it. The shackles fall away. Self recedes, God looms up. Self-will seems the blackest sin of all, rebellion against God the only hell.” “The impartation of Himself to us is God’s part in conversion.” “Our part is to ask, to seek, to knock. His part is to answer, to come, to open.” “I realized suddenly that I might be a disciple, as really as the Twelve had been; even now that Christ as the Master, the Spirit of His mastership, still lives on earth, and Him I can follow today and here!”

Other chapters: (4) The Way Jesus Christ helps—“The Cross is the outcome of His deepest mind, of His prayer life. It is more like Him than anything else He ever did. It has in it more of Him. Whatever He was, whoever He is, whatever our Christology, one fact stands out. It was His love of men and women and His faith in God that took Him there.” (5) What Religion ought to do for us—“So if, after a conversion, your religion drives you to do something out of the ordinary, different from the usual run of Christians, take it as an earnest that something real has happened.” “The great achievement of Christ is that henceforth religion by itself is imperfect. Its end is the blessing and the redemption-- moral, social, and physical—of humanity. It is this which makes the Christian religion and new and at the same time a unique religion.” “Oh for a few more to take the Gospel literally! Must Christianity, as Jesus lived it, remain forever revolutionary and a dream? Must it always be that a man who takes it seriously and follows it be called a fanatic?” (6) Driving Power for the New Life—“We have had altogether too much indefinite exhortation to pray and read our Bibles, and too little definite information as to how to do either.” “The Church is the family of God’s children. Here, under the leadership of men trained for this service, we are led in our devotions, and instructed in our practice of the spiritual life.” (7) Wanted—Witnesses—“People do not so much listen to sermons: they listen to men, and a man on the level with them has a better chance than one in the pulpit.” “Christianity is running at second speed when it is not a positive evangelizing force, in a land or in a life.” “There is no more delicate business in the world than relating human lives to God.” “This word needs preparation. And the first thing is this: “Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right sp;irit within me. . . . Then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” “And how do you do it? It may help to keep our object in view if we choose five words which will cover the usual stages of development: Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, Conservation.
The second stage follows this quite naturally. . . . I have found a way to draw confession from others. It is to confess first myself.” “By ‘conviction’ two things are meant: conviction first of sin, and then a growing assurance that Christ can meet the need.” “Lastly, they want means to live this life of grace. Too much stress cannot be laid on private prayer and Bible study, and public uniting with the church. And there is no more empowering habit in the lives of those who seek to live the Christ-life than this “fishing for men,” as Jesus called it.”

If you are wondering what Bill Wilson and his friend Ebby Thacher heard or learned from Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., stay tuned for more. And you will soon see why Bill Wilson asked Sam to write the Twelve Steps, and why he declared years later that the substance of Steps Three through Twelve came directly from the teachings of Reverend Sam Shoemaker. Also that Sam was the well-spring from which all the ideas flowed.;;

Gloria Deo

A.A. and Tweet, Tweet, Twitter

A.A. and Tweet, Tweet, Twitter
An Emerging, Vital Resource for Busy Christian Participants in the Recovery Arena

Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved

2010—Things are Changing for the Better!

For 20 years, we have been grinding out research, writing, books, articles, audios, conferences, links, blogs, and other resources designed to keep you up to date on our quest to learn and report on the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.'s astonishing successes, and how the lessons learned by the highly-successful, original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” can be used today to help more effectively those who still suffer.

Those resources may be found on our web sites: [The International Christian Recovery Coalition] [current blog posts] [older blog posts]

They may also be found on ( and on many other sites graciously supplied by helpful AAs and Christian supporters—thousands of them.

But voluminous reporting is phasing out in the newspaper industry, in the book-publishing
industry, and now even in the Internet field. Is it being replaced? No. It’s there and increasing in volume. But folks are switching to cell phones, blackberries, social networks, Facebook, YouTube, forums, chat rooms, and all the rest. But they can’t hear or see or absorb much of the truth with a single Tweet.

We believe there is an emerging and better approach. And we are going to be a part of it. The approach is for us to include in our publishing efforts Tweets for you to follow via Twitter.

What We Will Begin to Do

As the young bucks (Dick B. and Ken B.) on Maui learn new tricks, we will begin to make available Tweets for those who want the convenience of short lead-ins to longer communications.

When We Will Start

Now! And we ask your patience, kindness, and support while we learn and try to serve—keeping in mind that it is our heavenly Father who needs to be sought for wisdom as to how to more effectively serve Him and others.

Happy 2010 and Tweet, Tweet, Twitter!

Dick B.'s email:

Dick B.'s main web site:

Gloria Deo

Monday, February 22, 2010

A.A.'s Salvation Army Factor

A.A.’s Salvation Army Factor
Dick B.
©2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
One of the Key Christian Roots of Early Alcoholics Anonymous
We are here revisiting the subject of A.A. and the Salvation Army. We do this in 2010 because so much has been made clear by our research in the last two years. And most of the subjects just never made it on the radar of A.A. discussions or history. Much of what we have found is embodied in our recent title Dick B. and Ken B. Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont.
The facts are becoming ever more clear. They arise when one researches and reports on the Christian and Bible training A.A.’s two founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob received as youngsters in Vermont. Bob first from his family, North Congregational Church, Sunday school, Christian Endeavor Society, YMCA, daily chapel, and St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Bill second from his family, East Dorset Congregational Church, Sunday School, Manchester Congregational Church, Burr and Burton Academy, daily chapel a four-year Bible study course there, and his presidency of the YMCA. Some of this material is covered in our recent title Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.
And there is much more to the picture. Why did Bill Wilson talk so much about conversion to Jesus Christ? Why did the Original Akron “Christian Fellowship” founded by Bill and Bob insist on belief in God and a decision for Christ? Why did Dr. Bob state that the basic ideas for the Twelve Steps came from the study and effort in the Bible? Why did early AAs emphasize the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13? Some of these answers are covered in Dick B., The James Club and The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials. Why did Dr. Bob say he had received excellent training in the Bible as a youngster? Why did Dr. Bob mention his church, Sunday school, prayer meetings, Bible study, and activity in Christian Endeavor? Why did Bill W. believe Dr. Silkworth when Silkworth told him that Jesus Christ could cure him? Why did Bill conclude that Ebby had been born again at Calvary Rescue Mission? Why did Bill go to the Mission and make his decision for Christ, declaring that he himself had been born again? Why did Bill finally decide to call on Jesus Christ for help? Why, when Bill was cured in his white light experience at Towns Hospital, did Bill immediately go out witnessing with a Bible under his, tell people they needed to give their lives to God, and state that the Lord had cured him of his terrible disease?
And why all the biblical words and phrases in the Big Book text?s
Part of the answers come from the seven major Christian organizations and leaders that influenced early A.A.’s ideas: Evangelists and revivalists, Rescue Missions, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society, and later the Oxford Group, and
finally the teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., an Oxford Group leader and the man Bill Wilson called a “cofounder of A.A.”
And almost all were contributing specific factors to the thinking, planning, and Original program that came from the experiences of the two co-founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob.
This is an edited version of the Salvation Army Factor Article we wrote sometime ago.

Various respected writers and speakers like the clergymen who spoke at the Yale Summer School Lectures in 1945, where Bill Wilson also delivered his talk, have alluded to the relevance to A.A. History of the religiously oriented program of the Salvation Army. Mel B. mentioned the influence in his study of the spiritual roots of the 12 Step miracle. And Mark Guldseth wrote a little known book about Oxford Group origins and called attention to the “Streams” that contributed to the ideas. These streams included General William Booth, Dwight Moody, Henry Drummond, Henry B. Wright, and others mentioned in my Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous title. [Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works]. Moreover, British writer Harold Begbie wrote his classic book Twice-Born Men vividly describing the work and successes of Army people in the slums of London. And recently a Twelve Step website favored us with lengthy re-writes of articles on Findley and General Booth that helped fill in the still porous picture.

What was the Salvation Army program? Which descriptions are better and reliable? Did the Salvation Army develop some ideas that were directly parallel to those used in early Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship? If so, was this simply the tide of the times; or was there a more direct link? In any case, to the extent that the Salvation Army program of yesteryear resembled and was as successful as the Akron A.A. program, does this warrant a further examination of both to see how these historical landmark programs may be of aid and comfort to believers in recovery and Twelve Step programs today?

Don’t expect to find all the answers in this article. But I hope it will stimulate further research and interest in exactly what can be accomplished by adding an historical Christian recovery element to regular programs, to regular treatment programs, and to Christ-centered, Christian Track, and Christian counseling and therapy. The reader can decide for himself about the utility of taking up the challenge.

Keeping the Early A.A. Pioneer Program in Focus

I’ve written extensively on the major roots of the early program. And they are seven in number: (1) The Bible. (2) Quiet Time. (3) The contents of Anne Smith’s Journal. (4) The teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker. (5) The life-changing program of the Oxford Group. (6) The Christian literature early AAs read. (7) The principles and practices of the United Christian Endeavor Society of Dr. Bob’s youth.
Sources are listed in the bibliography below. And it should not be assumed that because a particular root contributed to the program the program consisted exclusively of that root and did not include other sources such as Carl Jung, William James, William D. Silkworth, Richard Peabody, and New Thought writers like Fox and Trine. Therefore this focus will highlight how the various major roots employed the Bible, fellowship with and reliance upon the Creator, and acceptance of Jesus Christ, and fed those elements into A.A.

We’ll just focus on three major sources of the Akron program—all deriving their ideas from the Bible.

First, the Oxford Group. As recent information is making more and more clear, the early Akron program differed more from the Oxford Group program and ideas than it resembled them. Oxford Group doings played heavily on the earliest Akron events—the healing of Russell Firestone with the help of Jim Newton, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and the Denver train trip; the famous Akron events of 1933 when the Oxford Group came to Akron in force and swept into its fold the enthusiasm of Henrietta Seiberling, Anne Smith, and T. Henry and Clarace Williams; the little “clandestine lodge” of the Oxford Group at T. Henry’s home where prayers were given by and for Dr. Bob for his recovery; and the remarkable appearance of Bill Wilson in Akron with the declaration that he was a “rum hound from New York” and a member of the Oxford Group. Without those Oxford Group beginnings, there would have been no A.A. at all—either in Akron or in the heavily Oxford Group influenced beginnings in Bill Wilson’s past. Moreover, certain Oxford Group ideas like the Four Absolutes, confession, inventory, guidance, and restitution very definitely had a common origin in Christian Endeavor influences and exerted a specific and powerful influence on Akron practices. Later, when Bill departed from the simple Akron program and fashioned his Big Book and Twelve Steps, he largely incorporated the Oxford Group life-changing program into his new venture.

Second, the United Christian Endeavor Society. Scarcely mentioned until I began unearthing the facts, the ultimate form of the alcoholic squad in Akron, its Christian Fellowship, its Oxford Group backdrop, and its meetings at T. Henry’s home quickly took on the form of United Christian Endeavor. This meant: (1) Confession of Christ—not an Oxford Group requirement. (2) Conversion meetings—part of the Akron surrenders and not of the Oxford Group. (3) Bible study meetings—regular fare in Christian Endeavor and in Akron—not a major feature of Oxford Group activity. (4) Old fashioned prayer meetings—unique to Christian Endeavor and Akron practices. (5) Religious reading—Christian Endeavor and Akron, with Oxford Group focus largely on Oxford Group/Shoemaker/quiet time books rather than on other writings. (6) Quiet Time—common to Christian Endeavor, the Oxford Group, and Akron—largely because of the influence of Dwight L. Moody, F..B. Meyer, Henry Drummond, John Mott, and Henry B. Wright on all three. (7) Favored church attendance—a must in Christian Endeavor, a recommendation in Akron, a non-issue in the Oxford Group. (8) Fellowship—a common Biblical root of all three. (9) Witness—a common Biblical root of all three. (10) Love and service—prominent features in Christian Endeavor and in Dr. Bob’s view and descriptions.

Third, the unique elements of Akron’s Christian Fellowship and program of recovery. The one authentic, objective, and complete discussion of the Akron program can be found in the report of Frank Amos to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The report named five required elements and two recommended elements in Akron’s program. It very much resembled a program long a part of the Salvation Army approach, and it omitted mention of several vital Akron elements that were not a part of the Oxford Group but were Biblical in character: (1) Hospitalization a must. (2) “Half-way” residential houses such as those found in the home of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith and others. (3) Teachings from Anne Smith’s Journal. (4) Counseling with Dr. Bob, Anne, Henrietta Seiberling, and T. Henry Williams. (5) Prayer sessions “upstairs” in which the newcomer accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, asked God in that name to take alcohol out of his life, and asked to be guided and strengthened to live by the cardinal principles of Jesus Christ—including the Four Absolutes. (6) Emphasis on the importance of the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13.

The Akron program elements reported by Frank Amos to Rockefeller were, in brief summary form, as follows:

(1) Complete abstinence. (2) Reliance on the Creator. (3) Elimination of sinful conduct. (4) Quiet Time with Bible study, prayer, and religious reading. (5) Helping other alcoholics. (6) Recommended religious and social comradeship. (7) Recommended religious service attendance weekly.

Now for Various Descriptions of the Army Program

At the Yale Summer School Lectures in 1945

“Much work was done in city missions and particularly by the Salvation Army. The Army, however, has focused its efforts on the conversion experience and has made use of its own general facilities and other community resources when these were needed in aftercare. Those who wish to read a portrayal of the Salvation Army’s methods and approach may consult Hall’s biography of Henry F. Milams (Out of the Depth).

“Generally speaking, the Salvationists have capitalized on the same techniques that have made other reform programs work: (1) Insistence on total abstinence; (2) reliance upon God. (3) the provision of new friendships among those who understand; (4) the opportunity to work with those who suffer from the same difficulty; and (5) unruffled patience and consistent faith in the ability of the individual and in the power of God to accomplish the desired results” (pp. 414-415).

Harold Begbie’s Twice Born Men in 1909—a book widely read in the Akron fellowship

Treat yourself to a reading of Begbie’s book. In story after story, he tells of the message- carrying Salvationists to down-and-outers in the slums of London. The bum in the slum is impressed with the success of the message carrier. There is an invitation to accept Christ and be converted. There is a complete change. There is life-long victory. And the derelict recovered is invited to join “God’s Army” and help others get delivered in the same fashion. And when there is relapse, it is rightly attributed to the ongoing struggle man must make with his newfound power against temptation to sin. There are not enough pages here to do Begbie’s writing justice. But the following gives a taste:

“The phrase “a new birth” is not a rhetorical hyperbole, but a fact of the physical kingdom. Men, who have been irretrievably bad, and under conversion have become ardent savers of the lost, tell us, with all the pathetic emphasis of their inexpressible and impenetrable discovery, that in the change which overcame them they were conscious of being “born again.” To them, and we can go to no other authorities, this tremendous revolution in personality signifies a new birth. It transforms Goneril into Cordelia, Caliban into Ariel, Saul of Tarsus into Paul the apostle.

There is no medicine, no Art of Parliament, no moral treatise, and no invention of philanthropy which can transform a man radically bad into a man radically good. If the State, burdened and shackeled by its horde of outcasts and sinners, would march freely and efficiently to its goal, it must be at the hands of religion that relief is sought. Only religion can perform the miracle which will convert the burden into assistance. There is nothing else; there can be nothing else. Science despairs of these people and pronounces them “hopeless” and “incurable.” Politicians find themselves at the end of their resources. Philanthropy begins to wonder whether its charity could not be turned into a more fertile channel. The law speaks of “criminal classes.” It is only religion that is not in despair about this mass of profitless evil dragging at the heels of progress—the religion which still believes in miracle.

It is the rejoicing, singing, irrepressible happiness of the Salvationist, which often makes him such a powerful saver of other men. . . an American writer, quoted by Professor James, to exclaim: ‘I am bold to say that the work of God in the conversion of one soul, considered together with the source, foundation, and purchase of it, and also the benefit and eternal issue of it, is a more glorious work of God than the creation of the whole material universe’.” (pp. 18-20).

The two-volume biography of General William Booth—founder of the Salvation Army

I’ve spent night after night reading this account. There is no time here to duplicate it though it can be found on the web and downloaded just as I did it. Suffice it to say that there was lots of struggle, lots of pain, lots of opposition, lots of unique effort that went into the Army’s beginnings. It did not always don Santa suits and ring bells at Christmas. Nor did it always consist of a uniformed brass band tooting on the streets. Or soup kitchens. Church officials opposed it. One courted it. And I suppose there are plenty who would hurl the usual weapons of detractors—calling those with whom they disagree a cult, an heretical sect, a schismatic group, a banned fellowship. It appears the Army went through these too. See Harold Begbie. The Gospel Truth: Life of William Booth Founder and First General of the Salvation Army (two volumes)

But if the original accomplishments bear the test of careful scrutiny and evaluation, it is very hard to reject the ideas the Army put into practice. It is hard to ignore their resemblance to the original A.A. program. There was no basic text but the Bible. There were no “steps” to recovery. There was an army of fervent, rescued, soldiers out to save souls and to do it with love and service. Abstinence, as in Akron, was required. Reliance on God, as in Akron, was required. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was required. Sin was renounced as in Akron. A Biblical foundation was at the root as in Akron. And personal work by one successful saved soul with another “medically incurable” and “seemingly hopeless” drunk was the catalyst out of which new births occurred.

Sounds to me like the A.A. of old—the A.A.I thought I was joining—and the general approach I took to changing my own life and passing on the “how to” be reborn message within our popular fellowship. It’s not the only A.A. by a long shot. It’s A.A. as I have practiced it with success.


Alcohol, Science and Society, Twenty-nine Lectures, Yale Summer
School of Alcohol Studies, 1945
B., Dick. Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939.
_____. Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts
_____. Dr. Bob and His Library.
_____. Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and
Early A.A.
_____. Henrietta Seiberling: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause
_____. Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Early A.A.
(comprehensive biblio)
_____. The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.
_____. The Good Book and The Big Book.
_____. The James Club and The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute
_____. The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous.
_____. New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.
_____. When Early AAs Were Cured and Why
B., Mel New Wine
Begbie, Harold. The Gospel Truth: Life of William Booth Founder and
First General of the Salvation Army (in two volumes), 1920.
____. Twice Born Men.
Clark., Francis E., Christian Endeavor In All Lands
Clinebell, Howard. Understanding and Counseling Persons with
Alcohol, Drug, and Behavioral Addictions..
DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
Guldseth, Mark O. Streams.
K., Richard. New Freedom: Reclaiming Alcoholics Anonymous
The Co-Founders Biographical Sketches and Last Major Talks.
Wells, Amos R. Expert Endeavor: A Textbook of Christian Endeavor.
White, William L. Slaying the Dragon.
Wright, Henry B. The Will of God and a Man’s Life Work

Note: The full bibliographical citations can be found in Dick B., Making Known The Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous: A Sixteen Year Research, Writing, Publishing, and Fact Dissemination Project. 3rd ed., Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006.

All Dick B. books can be purchased on or Dick B.’s site:

Dick B.,;;

Gloria Deo

Three Important Dick B. Resources for 2010

Three Important Dick B. Resources for 2010
and How to Bless Others with Them

1. Please check out our new, regularly-updated blog, “The Real 'Power' Behind Alcoholics Anonymous.” (

2.The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., by Dick B. and Ken B. (2010) is about to be published and may be purchased by using the “Donate” button in the center column of the front page of my main web site, This will enable you to plan, organize, and disseminate your own Christian Recovery outreach. It has all the latest historical information you can utilize: Buy it here:

3. If you would like to help us carry the facts about early A.A. history, here is a link that will enable you to feature our banner on your website, blogs, Facebook releases, and other dissemination outlets.

God Bless, Dick B.; February, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Are There Two A.A.'s?

Are There Two A.A.’s?

Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Present-day AAs—members of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous—certainly can’t be divided into two A.A.’s or ten A.A.’s. At least not the AAs that I met in April of 1986 when I entered the rooms. Nor the AAs I have fellowshipped with over the past 23 years. Nor the AAs I have met at International Conventions, regional conventions, gatherings like the “Spring Fling,” Big Book Seminars, Dr. Bob’s Home in Akron, the Wilson House in Vermont, the Snyder retreats in many states, the Roman Catholic retreat for AAs that I led in a monastery several years back, or just the plain old “meetings” that go on interminably in communities wherever I go. The people differ. The behavior differs. The groups differ. But the doors are open to all.

Is all this just naïveté? Not on your life. A.A. and its eager AAs fit my needs just fine as I came in, got a sponsor, had my seizures, spent time in treatment, spent time in the psych ward, even spent time in prison, learned about the Big Book, learned how to take and take others through the Twelve Steps, and finally discovered that—in the beginning—it was all about God. And, for me, it still is. No matter what others may do or say or think. I have found plenty of support for this position in the history of A.A., the contents of its Big Book, and the astonishing successes of the 1930’s that put A.A. on the map. I thank God in the name of Jesus Christ that He played a role in the whole founding and course of A.A.’s program and enabled me to find a new life that rested on the truths I found in the Bible. Nobody. Just nobody can drive a wedge that separates us drunks merely because of intolerance or variety or diversity. Not even those who claim we are heretics, cult members, on the path to destruction, or lacking in their doctrinal viewpoints.

The truth that I have observed is that there are not two, but dozens, of different types of A.A. gatherings; but all would probably deny that they belong to some separate organization from the gathering next door. Today, the A.A. Traditions still declare that any two AAs meeting for purposes of sobriety constitute an A.A. meeting. And today there are so many different shapes and sizes of these meetings than one can hardly simmer them down to two in number. Or twenty. Or one hundred.

Let’s take a quick look at the types of fellowships that have claimed A.A. affiliation through the years since 1935. First, there was the Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” founded in 1935. Its basic ideas came from the Bible. Its five required elements were summarized by Frank Amos and published in A.A.’s present-day literature. Second, before long, there were—according to Bill Wilson’s writings—some six word-of-mouth programs that preceded Wilson’s 1939 Big Book. And any careful review will disclose that none of the alleged six was anything like the Akron program, but they certainly involved A.A. affiliation. All the renditions differed in language and in principles—something Wilson himself admitted as he described them. By 1939, Bill had fashioned his own program primarily from his conferences with Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. and hence primarily from the Oxford Group’s twenty-eight life-changing principles. Then, just before the Big Book was presented for printing, there was a controversy and a compromise that spelled out a program without a necessity for God.
No sooner was this published than Clarence Snyder fashioned a highly successful program in Cleveland—one with a documented 93% success rate--that combined the Bible, the Oxford Group’s Four Absolutes, the Big Book, and the Twelve Steps. It certainly was about God, as an examination of the Cleveland Central Bulletin issues for the period quickly disclose. Again, nobody was claiming this was a non-A.A. program. In fact, Bill Wilson wrote that its results were of the best and far exceeded the fellowship growth elsewhere.

Following this, Sister Ignatia and Dr. Bob worked together on some new and very brief procedures during the short patient stays at St. Thomas Hospital; and some five thousand apparently followed them. But nobody has claimed the St. Thomas five to seven day hospital stay produced a new or different A.A. Then—during Bill’s long years of tremendous depression—all sorts of approaches sprang into view. There was the work of Richmond Walker. There was the work of Father Ralph Pfau. There was the work of Ed. Webster. There were the four pamphlets that Dr. Bob encouraged AA of Akron to publish. There was finally—after Dr. Bob and his wife Anne were dead—the turning over of the Society and the publication of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. But nobody claimed that any of these constituted the first, second, tenth, or unnumbered A.A. Fellowship. A.A. changed. The fellowship changed in composition. But AAs were still AAs. And they still are. One can attend meetings anywhere in the United States and Canada and believe he is in an A.A. meeting. And many that I have communicated with have made it clear that A.A. is still A.A. in England, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and Canada. In fact, the only two A.A.’s that I know of seem to exist in Mexico, but I’ll leave that to other reporters.

What’s the point?

The point is that as A.A. grew from the original, highly successful group of forty pioneers as of November, 1937, hordes thereafter poured into and out of A.A. A.A.’s corporate structure itself became protective of its copyrights, trademarks, symbols, and “Traditions.” This “protection” has been preserved by an international structure that is not even directly answerable to the garden variety of drunk who attends meetings in jails, hospitals, rehabs, treatment centers, and A.A. meetings. But A.A. is still A.A. no matter how much rigidity human beings try to impose.

The more commentators try to divide A.A. into this or that category, the more they distort the composition of this basically unorganized group of drunks who come into the rooms in unbelievably bad shape and, if they really try, and, if they really seek God’s help, can achieve a victory of sobriety and new life that they never believed possible. The range of dividers ranges from those who say that if you mention the Bible or God, you will get drunk to those who advocate going elsewhere because they can’t find Jesus in A.A. Some say A.A. is religious. Some say it is not religious. Some say it is “spiritual but not religious.” But it’s still A.A., whatever they choose to label it.

No, there are not two A.A.’s. But today there are tens of thousands in A.A. who have differing criticisms, differing viewpoints, even different types of “programs.” But most of us don’t even know about these when we first climb on board. We just welcome the love, friendship, and service that surround us; and we pay very little attention to those who are climbing the ladders of authority, but not really governing anybody.

I suppose you could say that “Give me liberty, or give me death” does not describe A.A. as such. But I also think you can say, “I didn’t want to die; so I’ll give A.A. a try. I did!;

Gloria Deo

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We Strongly Support This Saved Life Bicycle Ministry

The March 2010 Nationwide Homeless Saved Life Benefit Bicycle Ride

We are launching a nationwide homeless benefit ride titled “ Coast 2 Coast: A Mile In Their Shoes” from the Jacksonville Beach Pier, Jacksonville, Florida to the Santa Monica Pier, outside of Los Angeles, California. A journey consisting of approximately 2,800 miles. Did I mention that I am doing this on a bicycle? The purpose of this benefit ride is:
• To raise awareness of the plight of our homeless, addicted, and hopeless brothers and sisters that many in society perceive as invisible and forgotten.
• To promote the documented effectiveness of the Christian Recovery effort to fight addictions, the leading cause of chronic homelessness.
• Remind the Body of Christ to get back to the basics of a gentle, compassionate, and a caring attitude. This is the essence of living a “Saved Life”. Are you living it?
This awareness will be brought to many major cities, villages, and towns by public speaking, press releases, and social media during the course of this trip, beginning on March 20th 2010. We are here to offer light to the lost, encouragement for the weary, and hope for the hurting. We are Saved Life, a registered non-profit organization.
Our mission towards Christian Recovery efforts is very simple: (1) To remind all in the recovery arena of the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have long played in the deliverance and healing of alcoholics, addicts, and those with life-controlling problems. Strong examples can be found in the evangelist-revivals, rescue missions, Salvation Army, YMCA, Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society and many years later in the original Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship. (2) God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible can play the same vital recovery role today among those who need, want, and are willing to receive God’s help. (3) Christian leaders and those in the recovery arena (which includes the homeless, imprisoned, at-risk, veterans, military, hospitalized, in treatment or rehabs, in therapy, and in churches, recovery fellowships, 12 Step fellowships, and Christian recovery groups) need to be trained in their specific circles to learn, listen, publish, disseminate, host, support, and encourage men and women to rise up and move out in love and service just as the early Christians did as reported in the Book of Acts.
The message we present here is that the lost, sick, weary, and burdened, who are all children of God, our fellow brothers and sisters, can stand strong with and in the Power and Love of God as they strive to overcome alcoholism, substance abuse, and other life-controlling problems and self-destructive behaviors. Also, that I (Jason J. Day) have done so!
Please visit our website at or email us at for more information or to invite Jason to speak at your Church, organization, or business. Thank you for your prayers and support. See ya on the road!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Twelve Step History Review

12 Step A.A. History Review
Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Step Sources to Ponder

Research in the last twenty years has made available lots of new information about where each of the Twelve Steps came from, so far as its language and ideas are concerned.
Therefore, if you put these and other thoughts together, you may find why the rapidly disappearing spiritual roots of A.A. are important. The reflections in this article, however, are just designed to remind us all of some principal historical roots of the 12 Steps. And to show how they can help you, as they did me, to see what the Twelve Steps are really about–or at least were, when Bill Wilson first penned them.

Where They Did Not Come From
For sure, the Twelve Steps did not come from Akron or the early A.A. program there as the specifics of the Akron Christian fellowship program were summarized for John D. Rockefeller by Frank Amos in 1938. Amos said there were seven basic points, and they bear no resemblance to the Steps Bill Wilson formulated and published in the Big Book in 1939 (See Dick B., God and Alcoholism and Twelve Steps for You). Nor did the Twelve Steps arise from any earlier steps of any kind at all. How do we know that? We know it because there were no Steps in Akron Number One’s program (See Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous). There were no Steps in the Oxford Group in 1935 (See Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous). Contrary to some statements that have been made, neither the Oxford Group nor the early A.A. program had six steps or any steps at all. And there never have been any steps in the Oxford Group at all, though there are twenty-eight Oxford Group principles that impacted on the Steps as Bill finally wrote them in a brief period of meditation in late 1938 (See Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous).

What the Original Akron Program Consisted Of
Let’s reiterate the Akron picture: Dr. Bob said he didn’t write the Twelve Steps or have anything to do with the writing of them. He said the basic ideas came from the pioneers’ study of the Bible. He specifically pointed to three Bible segments he said old timers considered absolutely essential (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers; and Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book; Why Early A.A. Succeeded: The Good Book in A.A. Yesterday and Today). The three essential Bible segments were Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters Five to Seven), the entire Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. There were many other Akron features that were not included in the Twelve Steps—belief in God, coming to Him through Jesus Christ, elimination of sinful conduct, Bible study, old fashioned prayer meetings, use of the Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, My Utmost for His Highest, and similar daily devotionals, together with suggested religious comradeship and attendance at a religious service each week.

Where, then, did the Twelve Steps really come from?
Bill Wilson said many times in many ways that nobody invented A.A. He often added that everything in the program was borrowed–from medicine, religion, and experience. Many years later, Bill Pittman put his finger on the button when he wrote AA The Way It Began. Pittman concluded (and he was correct) that the Twelve Step program came from Rev. Sam Shoemaker and from the Oxford Group writings. Over the years, Wilson himself began conceding this point little by little, but not detailing it. Remember, however, that there were no Steps in Calvary Church, in the Oxford Group, or in pioneer A.A. But the major Oxford Group life-changing ideas were made known to Rowland Hazard, Ebby Thacher, and Bill Wilson in 1934. If you will read my title Turning Point, you will see that Ebby Thacher (Bill’s sponsor) passed along to Bill in much detail the basic ideas of the Twelve Steps. They came from Ebby’s Oxford Group discussions with Rowland Hazard and F. Shepard Cornell. Most don’t know that, but you can see, in pages 12 to 15 of the Big Book, 4th Edition, that Oxford Group ideas that Bill was pondering with Ebby at Towns Hospital in 1934.

Then there’s the matter of Reverend Sam Shoemaker, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, chief lieutenant of Oxford Group founder Dr. Frank Buchman, and prolific Oxford Group writer. You’ll find Shoemaker ideas and language sprinkled throughout the Big Book and the Steps. You’ll find corresponding words, language, and ideas in Shoemaker’s writings. And you’ll find them in Bill’s acknowledgments in letters and talks about Shoemaker’s importance. In my nineteen years of reading Shoemaker’s books, examining the Stepping Stones archives, seeing Shoemaker’s personal journals and his papers at the Episcopal Church Archives in Texas, I have had the Shoemaker teachings and influence made have made those points quite clear to me. Strikingly also, I learned that Bill had actually asked Shoemaker to write the Twelve Steps, and Shoemaker declined. It’s all in my title, Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., 2d ed.

The Anne Smith Journal Source (1933-1939)
There is one additional, principal source that I have stressed for many years. I do so because no one has been told much about it in A.A. or in Twelve Step groups. Scholars and other historians either ignore it or fail to discuss it. I stress this source because it either covered or actually taught most of A.A.’s Oxford Group, Shoemaker, and Bible ideas in detail in the 1930's, long before the Big Book was published. And I do so because it had a direct daily impact on Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, and the A.A. pioneers. You can see many Shoemaker and Oxford Group ideas in it. You can also see the Bible ideas, Christian literature, and role of Jesus Christ that Dr. Bob stressed.
That source is found in the 64 page journal I was able to obtain from A.A. General Services in New York, with the help of Dr. Bob’s daughter Sue Smith Windows and Bill Wilson’s secretary Nell Wing. It is laid out in some detail in my book, Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939. And if you want to see A.A. history in the making, see it as it was shared with AAs and their families in the earliest days, and see it as a bona fide and detailed discussion of A.A.’s Twelve Step ideas before the Steps were written, you should get a copy of Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939. You sure won’t find it in any A.A. literature, meeting, or conference itself!

Some Helpful Step Root Specifics
Following are some basic ideas that fed directly into the Twelve Steps from their three major sources (Shoemaker, Oxford Group, Anne Smith, Dr. Bob’s wife):
Powerlessness seems to have little to do with our beginnings. It was just an expression that fit in with Wilson’s later talk about lack of power, and the need to find a power (which Wilson declared was God, and which was most assuredly that of the Creator Yahweh).

In the beginning, the First Step idea was just: We admitted we were licked. And that still does it for me. Then the pioneers often said this prayer: O God, manage me because I can’t manage myself. In several forms, this prayer is mentioned or discussed in Anne Smith’s Journal, Shoemaker’s books, and the Oxford Group’s stories about Victor and the “manage me” prayer.

Came to believe was originally phrased: Believe that God can restore you to sanity. That “came to believe God” originated with Shoemaker’s emphasis on John 7:17–If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be or God, or whether I [Jesus] speak of myself. Shoemaker’s thesis: Do God’s will, and then you’ll know what God can do, said he. Good examples can be found in Shoemaker’s Religion That Works and Twice Born Ministers.

The Third Step called for a decision to entrust your life to God’s care. It was primarily based on “Thy will be done” from the Lord ’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10). And you can see these points in the Anne Smith, Shoemaker, and Oxford Group writings. The addition of God “as we understood Him” was compromise language substituted for “God” in the fervent arguments at Works Publishing Company offices. But this “as you understand Him” came from many of Shoemaker’s writings about surrendering as much of yourself as you understand to as much of God as you understand. Good examples can be found in Children of the Second Birth by Shoemaker. They can be found in Bill Wilson’s talks in the Big Book itself.

The Fourth Step originated with on the Oxford Group’s Four Absolutes–honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. Dr. Bob called them the yardsticks. Anne Smith called them the moral standards. Also with Matthew 7:1-5 of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. You wrote the four absolutes down. You also wrote down where your life was astray. And you looked for your part in the wrongdoing. These ideas can clearly be seen in Anne’s, Shoemaker’s, and the Oxford Group’s writings.

Our Fifth Step language can be found in the same three sources. But all state that the basic idea came from James 5:16. The pity is that, by ignoring the Bible, our historians have missed the point that you not only confess your faults one to another, but you call in the elders to pray for the sick person, and the Lord shall raise him up and his sins shall be forgiven (James 5:15). It continues that you will be healed because the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. That’s something Wilson and A.A. Number Three (Bill Dotson) specifically claimed for themselves in the early years before 1939. See Big Book, page 191.

The Sixth and Seventh Step language leaves many bewildered today. The two paragraphs in the Big Book explain very little and omit very much. They mix up various theological ideas, and they weren’t part of Akron thinking except for acceptance Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (something totally removed from today’s A.A.). The best understanding of these two Steps and two paragraphs would probably come to those who learn and apply the 5 C’s that were mentioned by Anne, by Sam, and by the Oxford Group. These two Step ideas really come from the Five C’s. They rest primarily on Conviction (Step 6) and Conversion (Step 7). You can see these explained in detail in the early Oxford Group book Soul Surgery by Walter. But the roots got lost in Bill’s shuffle from the six word-of-mouth steps to the twelve he wrote in late 1938 and were supposed to leave no wiggle room as he and Lois put it. The problem is that they left little understanding either. Many somehow think they lose all faults in those two Steps and then wonder why the remainder are necessary. They leave many puzzled as to how man continues in his wrongdoing and “sin” after they have mouthed the language of the Big Book. My sponsor thought all of his “character defects” were gone when he “took” the Seventh Step. His sponsor explained to me that the step was merely about “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.” Such remarks left me puzzled and challenged to learn more about these two steps.

The Eighth and Ninth Step ideas of restitution have their roots in four segments of the Bible (See Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous; By the Power of God; and The Good Book and The Big Book). This concept of life-change that involves restoring, making restitution, making amends, confessing one’s own part, and taking corrective action can be seen most vividly in the Oxford Group book For Sinners Only by A. J. Russell. Whatever one may think of the Oxford Group, restitution, or the Bible, this aspect of A.A. Step work is well covered by Bill in his Big Book.

The Tenth Step derives from the “Continuance” principle of the Oxford Group’s Five C’s. You continue the surrender, the life change, the self-examination, the confession, the conviction, (but not necessarily the “conversion”)–as well as the restitution–you learned in and undertook in the first nine Steps. To know the roots and the purpose is to understand better why there was a Step Ten. And Shoemaker wrote eloquently about continued surrender as did Anne Smith. Shoemaker said that “sins” had a way of building up and needed continuing efforts at eradicating them.

The Eleventh Step is a big deal. And the best references I can give are to the exhaustive treatment of Quiet Time, Guidance, Bible study, Prayer, Listening, Checking, Journaling, and use of devotionals and other literature that I have covered in my books Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, New Light on Alcoholism; The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous; The Good Book and The Big Book; and By the Power of God. In fact, the richness of the Eleventh Step roots can best be understood by having, as a reference set, my twenty-nine volumes which are sold as a group at a substantial discount. That way, you have the history when you want to study it, when you want to refer to it, and when you want to look at the tremendous amount of bibliography that is available in those books.

Now the Twelfth Step. The language “spiritual awakening” is from the Oxford Group (See Buchman, Remaking the World). And Shoemaker wrote a whole chapter in one of his books, explaining what a spiritual awakening was. He further elaborated at an A.A. Convention when he said it had four elements: (prayer, conversion, fellowship, and witness); but you sure won’t find those Shoemaker expressions in A.A. literature pertaining to Step Twelve. The topic “spiritual experience” is likewise from the Oxford Group. The problem is that neither Professor William James, nor Dr. Carl Jung, nor even Bill Wilson, were originally talking about either a spiritual awakening or a spiritual experience as the Oxford Group defined them. They were talking about religious experiences and conversion. But the distaste for such ideas in the Oxford Group, the Roman Catholic Church, the universalists, the revisionists, and the non-Christians has slowly but surely buried the conversion which was a sine qua non of early A.A. What was the message that 12 Steppers were to carry? You won’t find Bill describing it. But the real message was carried by Ebby to Bill and found its way into the Big Book in terms of “God has done for me what I could not do for myself.” To that was added the Oxford Group/Shoemaker idea of passing it on and giving it away to keep it–both of which derived from Biblical witnessing. And what were the principles 12 Steppers were to practice? That was left un-discussed by Wilson. Once he and his A.A. editors buried the Four Absolutes, they also quickly buried the simplest, earliest, clearest statements of the principles. Those principles–honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love–were the yardsticks, as Dr. Bob called them. They were the standards as many Oxford Group people called them. And, since they were based on the teachings of Jesus, they can also be said to incorporate all the principles of the Ten Commandments, the two Great Commandments of Jesus, other commandments in the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. And you will find that many pieces of literature in early A.A. central offices so stated.
Dick B.’s web site on early A.A. history:

The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook

As more and more meetings, fellowships, groups, and recovery studies grow, so grows the question: And what books do I use as a guide?

Certainly the most popular book we have published is "The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.'s Roots in the Bible."

Since that writing, we have published several excellent guides as to how to study A.A.'s roots in the Bible and utilize those studies in 12 Step Fellowships today. Some of these guides are: (1) The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guidebook, 3rd ed.2010; (2) By the Power of God; (3) Twelve Steps for You. (4) The James Club and The Original A.A. Program's Absolute Essentials.

But, for a book that moves you through recovery with a Big Book and a Bible and relates recovery to the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in early A.A. and can and should play today, a good starting point is Dick B., The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook: How to Include the Creator's Impact on Early A.A. in Recovery Programs Today, 2006, ISBN 188580391-5.

And this table of contents might help you decide to use this guide:
1. History: The Inclusion in Recovery of A.A.'s Biblical Origins and Christian Fellowship.
2. The Healing Evidence at the Time When A.A. Was Born.
3. Alcoholics Anonymous, the Founders, Belief in Almighty God and Divine Healing.
4. The Spiritual Beginnings of A.A.
5. The Real Program of Early A.A.
6. The Materials from the Bible That Dr. Bob Considered Absolutely Essential.
7, The Approach Early Akron AAs Took While They Sought Christian Healing.
8. The Practical Use of This Guide.
9. Selected Bibliography
10. Appenedix One - Catch the Wave.
11. Appendix Two - A.A. History Study Meetings - studying the history, Bible roots, Big Book, and Twelve Steps.

Happy reading! God Bless, Dick B.;

Calling recovery leaders and groups to stand up for God

Over the past year and a half, we have conducted conferences, seminars, and individual meetings in the Southern California area, the Northern California area, and the entire Island of Oahu in Hawaii. The purpose was to reach out to a diversity of Christians in the recovery movement; to see if they had experienced intimidation for their expressions and stands for the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in their particular ministries; and to find out if they were hungry for more information about the Christian roots of successful recovery. The upshot was this: There are folks in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Teen Challenge, Celebrate Recovery, Overcomers Outreach, Inc., Alcoholics Victorious, Alcoholics for Christ, Overcomers, and a great many new ministries like Rock Recovery, Came to Believe Retreats, Christian treatment programs, sober living houses, Cornerstone Fellowship, His Place Fellowship, Association of Christian Drug and Alcohol Counselors, CityTeam, Hope Chapels, and hundreds more who face two dilemmas: (1)Can they stand up for God in Twelve Step fellowships, church recovery groups, treatment programs, prisons, homeless shelters, government agencies, non-profit agencies, and recovery efforts. (2)Must they be at odds with one another over doctrinal concerns; criticism by atheists and agnostics and humanists; over whether Jesus is or is not mentioned in their programs and efforts; and emerging criticisms by a limited few Christian commentators who believe someone else's brand of Christianity is cult-like, heretical, or contrary to Scripture. And we believe the answer is Yes to the first point and No to the second. The love and power and forgiveness and healing and guidance that come from God, His Son, and the verses of the Bible are strong enough and important enough to overcome the power of darkness, however it is wielded or lying in wait. Sick folks in recovery need help. Sinners in recovery need help. Christians in recovery need help. So do those who are in prisons, are homeless, are having mental problems, or are simply in despair. Now let's conclude with where the recovery movement has had by far the greatest success: (1) Evangelists who offered salvation and Bible to those who suffered. (2) Rescue missions which also did this. (3)The YMCA in its earlier days of personal work by lay nondeonominational members. (4) The Salvation Army in its earlier days when its folks reached into the slums with Christian love and Bible words. (5) The Young People's Christian Endeavor Society which endeavored to bring young folks back into the church fold with confessions of Christ, conversions, Bible study, Prayer Meetings, Quiet Hour, and love and service.
These were effective in the 1800's. They laid the foundation for the founding of the Original Christian Fellowship known as Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. And the successes of all these movements far exceeded anything that medicine, churches, hospitals, or relief agencies had seen. They stood up for God, for coming to Him through Jesus Christ, and for learning about both either by revelation or by God's revealed Word.
Today, there is a strong need for reporting the facts to a community which stresses nonsense gods, higher powers, pseudo spirituality, and unbelief. Unity of purpose in serving God should not be defeated by the reluctance of the timid, the opinions of naysayers, or the differences in organizational approach. Doctrines will differ until the day Jesus Christ returns for believers. But the love of God is available now, and it should be presented to those in recovery now. And you may wish to help with the effort by looking at the new, rapidly growing International Christian Recovery Fellowship (; and please do not hesitate to contact us for information and the opportunity to love and serve. In His Service, Dick B.;

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Early A.A.'s 14 Successful Practices in Akron

The 14 Practices the Early Akron AAs Used to Achieve Astonishing Successes

Qualifying every newcomer: Must want permanent sobriety; will go to any length to get well.

Hospitalization a must: five-to-seven days; medications; Bible in the room; visits by Dr. Bob and other sober AAs; confirming the patient’s belief in God and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Discharge from the hospital; given a Bible; told to go out and help others/

Housing by old-timers in their homes: Food, shelter, Christian fellowship, teaching, counsel, love, and service.

Anne S.’s morning Quiet Time: Prayer, Bible, discussion, sharing from Anne’s personal journal.

Daily use of Christian devotionals: e.g., The Runner’s Bible, The Upper Room, Victorious Living.

Reading Christian literature circulated by Dr. Bob, Anne, and at meetings: e.g., The Greatest Thing in the World; The Soul’s Sincere Desire; The Christ of the Mount; Love: The Law of Life.

Learning from Anne Smith’s personal journal. (See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939.)

Regular weekly “clandestine” Oxford Group meeting: Prayer, Bible, guidance, discussion,
“real surrenders,” arranging hospital visits, the Lord’s Prayer, and socializing.

Intense study of the Bible, especially the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13, with daily fellowship meetings in the Akron homes.

The required “real surrender” with elders: (1) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; (2) Ask, in Jesus’ name that alcohol be taken out of his life; and (3) Ask for removal of sinful conduct and for guidance in living according to Christian principles.

Visits with newcomers in the hospital by the pioneers, and daily by Dr. Bob.

Regular social and religious comradeship--much like daily Christians’ fellowship in Book of Acts.

Regular visits and phone calls with other believers and families in homes--using address books with street addresses and phone numbers, keeping rosters, sometimes listing drinking duration, relapses

These are covered in more detail in the forthcoming revised edition of the Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

aahistorian |

aahistorian | "Write"

AA, The June 10, 1935 Page, and God's Role

Thanks to our tireless supporter and member of the International Christian Recovery Coalition, attorney Blanton Owens of Georgia just provided the following copy of the "Upper Room" for the day Dr. Bob took his last drink and the alleged founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Daily Devotions for Family
And Individual Use

June 1935


“And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying ….” Matt. 5: 2-12

O DIVINE wonder! To these obscure men and women came the startling words our Lord –
“Ye are the salt of the earth.” “Ye are the light of the world.” Jesus revealed undreamed worth in the common man. He disclosed an unexpected splendor in the clod. One of the immediate results of a surrender to the Master is the ennoblement of life. Made in the image of God, that divine image in man has been marred. Jesus came to restore that image. Through Him, personality is glorified. The poorest life becomes vibrant with new possibilities. The obscurest man or woman is lifted into new and glorious horizons. Humanity becomes invested with new heavenly dignities.

To Thee, O Lord and Master, we would yield our lives. Through the wonders of Thy grace and the miracle of Thy love, make them meet for the Master’s use. In Thy name we make our prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seeking Guidance from God in Today's A.A.?

Seeking Guidance from God in Today's A.A.?
“Go with the Winners”
and Follow the Original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” Program

Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved

The following verses from the Book of James show specifically why and how to seek the wisdom of God. As A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob stated, early members started their days be reading from the Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7):

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous begin the day with a prayer for strength and a short period of Bible reading. They find the basic messages they need in the Sermon on the Mount, in Corinthians and the Book of James. [See Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History, 18.]

And verses from these Bible segments were common fare in the original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” program A.A. Cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob began developing over the summer of 1935—the “old school” A.A. way.

From the Book of James, King James Version of the Bible

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17)

Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20)

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself, ye do well (James 2:8)

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against
the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:14-16)

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts
(James 4:3)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-8, 10)

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. . . . For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil (James 4:13-16)

From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Compare the following language from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Both Bill W. and Dr. Bob said that it contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A. [See Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed., 9] And Dr. Bob pointedly made clear the real source of the verses from Jesus’ Sermon that underlay the well-known A.A. slogan, “First Things First.” [See Dick B., The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook, 92.] For Jesus taught:

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought [be not anxious] for your life what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)

Wherefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:31-33)

It is about asking God’s guidance, and then obeying His will

Sound familiar to those of you who study the Big Book? If you do, you will find the Big Book full of prayers involving asking for the guidance of God. You’ll find requests that God’s will be done; that God save you from being angry; and the command that you love your neighbor as yourself. You’ll find that prayer for selfish ends is eschewed. You will find prayers humbly addressed to the Creator and involving submitting yourself to His will. And you’ll find talk of “Trust God, Clean House. Work with Others.”

When reliance on God is abandoned, the road is wide open to fear, anger, efforts to control, rationalization, and man-made errors. This was not the pioneer A.A. way of “the prince of all twelfth-steppers,” Dr. Bob. Nor is it what AAs learn when they study their basic text and take their Twelve Steps of recovery. And it is not what those is today's A.A. learn when they study the basic ideas early AAs in Akron borrowed from their study the Bible.

There’s a reason for asking God for the answers. He knows your needs. He hears your prayers. And, if you are obedient to His will, He supplies what is needed, rather than just what is wanted.

Gloria Deo

Christian A.A. Days and the Unchanging God

Christian A.A. Days and the Unchanging God

Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved.

A.A. Founders’ Descriptions of God Before the 1939 Compromise

As Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson described it, a battle took place over the wording of Bill’s proposed Twelve Steps. It occurred as the Big Book manuscript was being readied for the printer. Four people were present: Bill Wilson, Bill’s partner Henry Parkhurst, John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo, and the secretary Ruth Hock.

Cofounder Bill and the other Cofounder Dr. Bob Smith had consistently and many many times described Almighty God in terms that plainly came from the Bible, the Bible that both men had studied as youngsters in Vermont, and the Bible that was taught to them in their Sunday schools, daily chapel, and the Vermont Congregational Churches of their youth.

Dr. Bob quite simply had referred to God as God, Creator, and Heavenly Father.

Bill had frequently referred to God as Almighty God, Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Father of lights, as well as the “God of the Scriptures” and the “God of the preachers.”

In fact, before the battle in the office and the adoption of compromise language, Bill said he had consistently used the word “God” without qualification in all of the manuscripts. But Bill’s partner argued, pleaded, even urged that Bill must take out the word “God.” Even then, Bill retained the unqualified Scriptural references to “God” over 200 times.

The Manuscript Compromise that Purported to “Change” the “god” of the Twelve Steps

However, Bill then deleted the word “God” from the Second Step language and replaced the word with the phrase “Power greater than ourselves”—language frequently used by Oxford Group writers and leaders like Rev. Sam Shoemaker. In Steps Three and Eleven, Bill changed the word “God” to “God as we understood Him.” And that ended the battle.

Later, Bill explained in some detail that there had been a “compromise.” He claimed that “God” was still there, but in terms that anyone could understand. He said the language was substituted to accommodate the atheists and agnostics in A.A. Lois Wilson said the change was agreed to because “not all drunks were Christians.”

The Inept Attempt to Attract Atheists and Agnostics

So. What did this newly coined phrase “God as we understood Him” really refer to? The fact is that Bill had used the phrase in his own surrender story in the Big Book. He also said that Ebby had suggested he do so. The phrase was to the effect that Bill humbly surrendered to his Maker as Bill then understood Him. And this was language that Bill’s mentor Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Jr., had suggested in many writings. Shoemaker contended that one could begin his quest to find and establish a relationship with God by surrendering as much of himself as he understood to as much of God as he understood. You can find the statements in Shoemaker’s book Children of the Second Birth. That idea wasn’t from the Bible. It was from Sam Shoemaker.

In all the earlier descriptions, the Cofounders, and their mentor Sam Shoemaker, were referring to “the God of the Scriptures” as they spoke of God, Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, and God of our fathers.

The New Names Confused, But Did Not Enlighten

Was Bill therefore introducing some new kind of “god” into his program and manuscript as he substituted the Oxford Group phrases after the compromise battle of 1939? There is no definitive answer; but we do know that it was not until Dr. Bob was long dead that Bill surprisingly added in his Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions that a person could, if he chose, make an A.A. group his “higher power.” Some may do that today, but they certainly don’t pray to the A.A. group. In fact, the Traditions that Bill wrote suggested that their ultimate authority was a loving God as He might express Himself to a group conscience.

The Creator Did Not Change, But the Language Did

The Creator, Almighty God, did not change between 1939 and the 1950’s. The two Cofounders had often described Him as He is described in the Bible both had studied and which was stressed as reading matter in the early program.

In fact, Bill said that the Book of James was a favorite; and you can find the “God of the Scriptures” described there as “God” (James 1:1, 1:5, 1:13, 1:27, 2:5, 2:19, 2:23, 3:9, 4:4, 4:7, and 4:8). The “God of the Scriptures” was also there described as “God and the Father” (James 1:27); “God, even the Father” (James3:9); and “the Father of lights” (James 1:17). The same Book of James describes the Son of God as “the Lord Jesus Christ” and “our Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1, 2:1). Nowhere does the Bible leave the reader in doubt or lack of understanding as to who God, the Father, was and is, or who His Son Jesus Christ was and is.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which the Cofounders considered absolutely essential to their program and said that it contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A., there are the same consistent and frequent references to “God,” “Father,” “heavenly Father,” and “Father which is in heaven.”

A.A.’s Bible Roots Never Condoned an Idolatrous Deity

There is nothing in these Scriptures to suggest that “God” was or is a “Power greater than ourselves”—a substitute “god” that would satisfy atheists and agnostics. The Bible is clear that there is only one God—the Creator of the heavens and the earth. There is nothing in these Scriptures to suggest that “God”—the Creator of the heavens and the earth-- is merely “a” god, or some newly conceived deity. Nor that God—the Creator of the heavens and the earth-- was understood to be an A.A. group.

God did not change in 1939, or ever. See Malachi 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I change not.” Also, Psalm 102:24-27: “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.”

Groups may and do change; higher powers change and are given some new name like radiator or the Big Dipper with more and more frequency today. The named higher powers (light bulbs, door knobs, rocks , chairs, and radiators) change. But Yahweh, the Creator does not change—and certainly did not change between 1939 and the date Dr. Bob died. No! Until Bill substituted his compromise “god” in 1939, the Creator did not change then or thereafter. God was and is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Gloria Deo

Preview of Rev. Sam Shoemaker's AA Cofounder Role

It is a pleasure to invite you all to read the attached talk just given by Dr. Karen A. Plavan at Sam Shoemaker's second and last major church. We owe such a debt to Karen that I can't cover it all in this message. However, here are some points: (1) Karen holds a Ph.D. degree and is a professor of counselling and chemical dependency at University of Pennsylvania. (2) She is an adjunct professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. (3) She is co-chair of the Board of Oasis Center in Pittsburgh. (4) She arranged three different talks by me in Pittsburgh and also was one of the speakers at our Second Nationwide A.A. History Conference in Delaware. (5) Karen was instrumental in my publication of the second edition of the Shoemaker book--New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.; and she joined the daughter of Sam Shoemaker and the widow of Shoemaker's assistant minister in writing a Foreword to the book. (6) On more than one occasion, Karen arranged for me to speak to her students and others in Pittsburgh. (7) She serves as one of our leadership advisors on the new and fast-growing International Christian Recovery Coalition ( (8) And it was she who arranged with Dr. Lewis, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh to establish and house the Shoemaker Room there--to which benefactors enabled me to donate and place there a large collection of Rev. Sam Shoemaker's books, articles, sermons, correspondence, and other historical data. Aloha and love to my good friend Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D.
Dick B.

Sunday, January 31, 2010
Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D.
Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Good Morning. Every morning Sam took time for quiet prayer and meditation. In the gospel, Jesus went to a deserted place to pray. Sam too knew the importance of taking Quiet Time for himself -- time for prayer – talking to God and for meditation – time to listen to God.

I am grateful to The Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis and The Rev. Walter Szymanski for inviting me to speak. It is an honor to be here today to celebrate with you this first feast day proclaiming the 12th Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, the Rev. Samuel Moor Shoemaker a “Holy Man.”

What does it mean to be called a Holy Man or a Saint? St. Paul declared that anyone in Christ is a saint. We are all called to be saints. Saints are living people among us; sometimes we may not notice them. Some of us may have some preconceived notions about who is a saint. You may believe that you have to be perfect to be a saint. If this were true, we would have no saints.

A Sunday school teacher asked her students the question, “Who is a saint?” One student looked up at the beautiful stained glass windows and said, “A saint is someone who lets God’s light shine through them.” And this was eminently true of Sam -- the Light shined through Sam to help thousands, millions of people around the world to find God. Sam was a Life Changer.

Bardwell Smith said: “Sam was deeply in touch with the living God and because of this, hundreds of lives came alive to the same experience … such is part of what constitutes the vocation of sainthood.”

Norman Vincent Peale said: “I have known many men in the ministry who have been quite outstanding in their effectiveness. … But no one excelled Sam Shoemaker in sheer spiritual depth and persuasive power.”

Who is Sam Shoemaker? If he were alive today, he would most likely ask you to tell him your story. He then would be very interested in knowing if you had turned your will and your life over to God. If you hadn’t, he would say “First things First,” and would ask you to get on your knees and do so.

During the coffee this morning, Charles Jarrett recounted a personal story of how Sam Shoemaker helped him to get in touch with the Power of God. As you could see, Sam was a Life Changer.

Who was Sam Shoemaker? Sam Shoemaker conceived of his role in the church as three fold – as a pastor, priest and preacher. Newsweek named him one of the ten best preachers in America in 1955. He was also a counselor, coach, mentor, evangelist, a radio and TV host. But, most importantly, Sam was a “Life Changer.”

Sam was born on December 27, 1893. He had a sister who was 8 years older, yet he felt like an only child. He spent his summers at his family home, Burnside, 10 miles north of Baltimore. Sam loved nature and found God in the woods at Burnside. According to his mother, he was a witty, spontaneous joy to be around.

He attended St. Georges School in Newport, RI and graduated from Princeton University where he made a decision to enter the ministry as his life vocation. Sam studied for ministry at General Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1922.

After college, Sam visited China on a “Princeton in Peking” project. It was there in January 1918, that Sam met The Rev. Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman, a Lutheran minister, Penn State Chaplain, and YMCA secretary.

In 1921, Buchman started a movement called: “A First Century Christian Fellowship,” later to be called the “Oxford Group,” a Christian movement that attracted thousands of people in the US and Europe during the 20s and 30s.

Frank Buchman said the only sane people in an insane world are those controlled by God or those that surrendered their self will for God’s will. In 1938, the Oxford Group changed its name to Moral Rearmament and is still alive in their mountain home in Caux, Switzerland.

Sam felt that this meeting (with Buchman) was the greatest turning point in his life. It was here that he was first introduced to the Four Absolutes – honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, the essence of the Sermon on the Mount. These were to be the yardsticks or targets by which he would measure his life.

Sam liked to keep it simple. Immediately, he began applying these principles to himself. He surrendered his life to God’s will. He said, “God if you want me to stay in China, I will.” (Deep down, he did not want to stay in China.) Sam was honest with himself and with Buchman. He also wrote a letter of amends to his father asking for his forgiveness.

The result was that Sam felt a life change in himself. He felt forgiven and free. And here was the real beginning of his life ministry – a Life Changer. He then wanted to pass on to others what he had received.

In Sam’s first book published in 1923 “Realizing Religion” he describes the discontentment, unhappiness, disconnectedness often felt by men and called it “a spiritual malady” which results when people are estranged from God. Sam said: “We were meant to be God’s companions.” He said that sin or character defects separate us from the love of God and that honesty is the first step in knowing God.

Sam began to travel with Frank throughout the US and abroad and it was on a trip with Frank in Egypt in 1924 that Sam received a call to Calvary Church in New York City. He began his ministry in 1925 and ministered there for 26 years. Not wasting any time, he opened the Calvary Rescue Mission a year later. It was here that Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began his spiritual journey.

AA was formed nine years later in 1935. AA is a fellowship of men and women who have a common desire to stop drinking. It was founded by two alcoholics Bill Wilson, a stock broker from New York and Bob Smith, a Doctor from Akron, Ohio. At the Calvary Rescue Mission, Bill Wilson, an atheist was born again in 1926. He visited the church even though he did not attend regularly.

Recalling Sam, Bill said: “I remember that first day I caught sight of him. It was a Sunday service at his church. I was still rather gun shy and diffident about churches. I can still see him standing there before the lectern. His utter honesty, his tremendous forthrightness struck me deep. I shall never forget it.”

Sam took a liking to Bill and asked him to help other alcoholics. Bill Wilson took on the challenge. A year later, Bill joined Sam in a processional from Calvary Episcopal Church, NY to Madison Square.
Sam led the group in full vestment as people witnessed as to what God had done for them. A reporter for the New York Herald quoted Sam: “We fix flats, or rather Christ fixes them. If any of you are flat tires running on your own rims, come with us and Christ, and let us help you pray.”

Sam married Helen Smith, the daughter of the late Hon. H. Alexander Smith, US Senator from NJ in 1930 and they had two children. It was during this time, the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, that Sam became very active in the Oxford Group, and Calvary House served as a US headquarters for the Group. He even took a sabbatical in 1932 to travel for the Oxford Group

Sam had a genuine appreciation for those who struck out against the establishment. He also had a deep sensitivity to the unrest within the church and in the world. It was difficult for Sam to call the church to task for failing to be the “Body of Christ.”

Sam believed that creative social change came primarily from changing individuals -- the same work done in the Oxford Group. And Sam considered this personal work with individuals to be the most important work in his entire ministry. He was a Life Changer!

He believed that every parish should build small groups for deepening the spiritual life of the individual, and at Calvary Church in NY, he had a meeting for alcoholics on Tuesdays and an Oxford Group meeting on Thursdays. Both groups used the same principles: The four moral absolutes – honesty, purity, unselfishness and love combined with the 5 C’s – Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance, were the foundation of both groups.

Sam referred to working these 5 C’s or steps as “Soul Surgery.” He said it all starts by making a decision to turn one’s life over to God. This decision can be found in the 3rd step of AA today.

The first step – Confidence -- was all about having faith and confidence that others would keep your confidence and had confidence in you. This is the cornerstone or the spiritual foundation of AA today. It is called anonymity.

The second step -- Confession called for absolute honesty and was translated into Steps 4 & 5 of AA.

The third step – Conviction called for a conscious realization of the seriousness of our sins or defects of character. Sam would often say: “Is there any apology that you won’t make? Make it now!” This step is now Steps 6 & 7 of AA.

The fourth step – Conversion is Choice to use free will to surrender one’s will over to God’s will, the 3rd step of AA.

Lastly, the fifth step – Continuance -- which required one to help the next person change their life. The idea of continuing to carry the message and this word is found in the 10th, 11th and 12th steps of AA. One continues to take personal inventory, Continues to watch for resentments, Continues to improve one’s conscious contact with God, Continues to carry the message to help others, Continues to do this for a lifetime, and Continues to grow in God’s Grace.

So at Calvary Church in New York, both the alcoholic group and Oxford Group used the same principles -- the four moral absolutes and the 5 C’s -- which influenced the writing of the 12 steps of AA. Sam said this basic approach was fundamental to anyone with problems. And he added with humorous insight, “for everyone has a problem, is a problem or lives with a problem.”

Billy Graham called Sam Shoemaker “a giant among men.” He said: “I doubt that any man in our generation has made a greater impact for God on the Christian world, than did Samuel Shoemaker…”
And nowhere did he make this impact greater than his influence on the writings of the 12 steps of AA.

Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson are the two best known founders of AA. Bill asked Sam to write the 12 steps, Sam declined. Sam told Bill that the steps should be written by a alcoholic and that Bill was the one to do it. Bill closeted himself in the book-lined study at Calvary House with Sam, and the two men hammered out the basic ideas for the Big Book of AA. In addition, Bill submitted his Big Book manuscript to Sam in advance of its publication in 1939. Humbly Sam would deny any involvement at all in AA and would not take any credit for the creation of AA. However, we now know better.

Bill Wilson wrote of Sam Shoemaker: “Every river has a wellspring at its source. AA is like that too. In the beginning, there was a spring which poured out of a clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker… He began to teach us the principles and attitudes that afterwards came to full flower in A.A.’s 12 Steps for Recovery. The streams of understanding and love that were gathered together by God in 1935 to create AA will always be the source of our infinite wonder, inspiration and gratitude. Some may say, but Sam is not a stream, he is just a great man! But we of AA know better. We know he is both.”

“He channelled to the few of us who then saw and heard him, the message, the understanding, the loving concern, and therefore the Grace that enabled our small band and all the countless thousands who followed afterward to walk in the Consciousness of God – to live and to love again, as never before.”

“Sam passed on to us the spiritual keys by which so many of us have since been liberated.”

In AA, only members of AA speak at conventions. However, Sam was invited to speak at two conventions. The first was in St. Louis in 1955. Here Bill Wilson wrote the following: “The important thing is this: the early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in the US, and from nowhere else.”

“AA owes a debt of timeless gratitude for all that God sent us through Sam and his friends in the days of AA’s infancy.”

At the 1960 AA convention in Long Beach, CA Bill said of Sam: “The 12 Steps of AA simply represented an attempt to state in more detail, breadth, and depth, what we had been taught – primarily by you.
Without this, there could have been nothing – nothing at all… Though I wish the co-founder tag had never been hitched to any of us, I have no hesitancy in adding your name to the list.” “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that I founded AA. If it wasn’t for Sam Shoemaker, AA would never have been born.

One day the 12 steps of Recovery as they are used to help transform the lives of people with all types of addictions may be viewed as the largest spiritual movement of our lifetime. And that, perhaps, is Sam Shoemaker’s greatest legacy – as the spiritual director or co-founder of this spiritual movement that has changed millions of lives. Sam was a Life Changer indeed.

Sam was called to Pittsburgh in 1952 and was known for his ministries here at Calvary Episcopal Church. One of his ministries was to young married couples in the church. Sam could talk them into doing practically anything. Sam would say “get changed, get together and get going!”

Sam was also known to take people to the top of Mt. Washington to pray over the City of Pittsburgh, a tradition still today. Sam prayed that “one day Pittsburgh would be as famous for God as it was for steel.”

Sam Shoemaker was the “Pittsburgh Man of the Year” in 1956. He had a radio show on KDKA Radio from 1952-1961, and an Episcopal Hour called: “The Art of Living.” He started the Pittsburgh Experiment where he challenged people to experiment in faith and to pray with a prayer partner for 30 days and to witness the results. Upon his retirement in 1962, he said that the growth of this ministry was the high point of the year.

After Sam left Pittsburgh, he continued his writings and broadcast ministries. He was influential in bringing together national leaders to share their experiences, which resulted in the President’s Prayer breakfast in Washington, DC and other prayer breakfasts around the country.

Sam said: “My job is to reach as many people as I can for Christ before I die, and that will be my testimony. I haven’t the time or strength to try to explain to the people in the structure what I am doing. I am too busy engaged in doing it.”

Two months before Sam died, he wrote: “I have by no means, done what I should have done with all that I have been given… It’s been a great run…I’am thankful for it and for all the people who helped to make it so.”

Often people ask me why I work with individuals and families with addictions. I do this for two reasons. First God called me to do this work. Secondly, in today’s reading from Isaiah, it says: “your children have fainted, and lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net.” This is true today; young people are on every street corner in the net of addictions, trying to get out. Every year an average of 250 young people die from addictions in Allegheny County.

Like Sam and along with two other Episcopal clergy here in Pittsburgh -- The Rev. Walter Szymanski and The Rev. Dr. Jay Geisler, we are all called to work in this ministry at the Oasis Recovery Center. We stand at the door to help people find recovery. Standing by the door is where Sam Shoemaker felt most comfortable – helping people find God and to change their lives. Sam was a Life Changer.

His wife Helen said: “He knew if he stood by the door and remained willing to reach out to men and women involved in even the most sordid of sins – inevitably he would be given supernatural grace and power with which to help them.” We too will be given God’s Grace if we stand by the door. God calls all of us to be saints in spite of our brokenness. God calls all of us to let our light shine. What door has God called you to stand by and to let your light shine through?

I think it is appropriate to end the sermon by reading a poem that Sam wrote entitled, “I Stand by the Door.” I asked Dr. David Bandler, like Sam a Princeton University alumnus, and a Board Member of The Oasis Recovery Center, to read “I Stand by the Door.”

B., Dick. New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and AA. Hawaii: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., Pittsburgh ed, 1999.

Shoemaker, Helen Smith. I Stand by the Door. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

Shoemaker, Sam. Realizing Religion. New York: Association Press, 1923.

Shoemaker, Sam. Confident Faith. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1932.

The Power of God in Earliest A.A.

The Power of God in Earliest A.A.

How the First Three A.A. Members Got Sober and Were Cured

A.A. Number One (Bill W.)

Learned as a child that his paternal grandfather, William C. (“Willie”) Wilson, was cured of alcoholism by a conversion in Vermont.

Received a Christian upbringing and training in the Congregational Churches at East Dorset, Vermont, and at Manchester, Vermont. Studied the Bible and took a four-year Bible course at Burr and Burton Academy where he attended daily chapel and weekly church services and became YMCA president.

Years later was told on his third visit to Towns Hospital by his psychiatrist, Dr. William D. Silkworth, that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, could cure him of his alcoholism.

Was visited by his friend Ebby Thacher, who told Bill that he (Ebby) had “got religion”, had gone to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission, and had made a decision for Christ.

Was told by Ebby that God had done for him what he could not do for himself.

Concluded that Ebby had been healed and reborn at Calvary Rescue Mission.

Visited Calvary Church, heard Ebby give testimony, decided that he needed the help Ebby had received, and that maybe Calvary Rescue Mission could help him also.

Went to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission and made his own decision for Jesus Christ.

Wrote that he had been born again and had found religion.

Concluded that, in his dire straits, he then and there needed the help of the Great Physician
that Dr. Silkworth had recommended to Bill for help.

Proceeded (despairing, depressed, and drunk) to Towns Hospital for the fourth and last time.

Concluded he would call on the Great Physician; cried out to God for help; and had his
famous “white light” experience in which he sensed the presence of “the God of the Scriptures.”

Consulted with Dr. Silkworth; read the book, The Varieties of Religious Experiences, by
William James; and believed he had had a valid religious experience and had been cured.

Never again doubted the existence of God. Never drank again. And said the Lord had cured him of his terrible disease.

A.A. Number Two (Dr. Bob)

Received a Congregational Christian upbringing by his family, his church, his Sunday school, the Christian Endeavor Society, and the St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

After many intervening years of uncontrollable drinking, finally conceded at a meeting of a Christian group at the home of T. Henry Williams in Akron that he had a drinking problem and wanted to quit.

Knelt with group members at the home of T. Henry Williams and prayed for his deliverance.

Continued to drink but was miraculously put in touch with Bill W. in May of 1935.

Was persuaded by Bill’s story that the Lord had cured Bill, and that helping other alcoholics was a resource he (Dr. Bob) had never seized upon to maintain sobriety.

Had one last binge and decided to quit for good in June of 1935.

Concluded and announced that he and Bill W. had found a cure for alcoholism, and then sought, with Bill W., to help other alcoholics get sober by the same spiritual means.

Never drank again, and later wrote: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”

The founding of A.A. in June 1935 was, by common agreement, fixed as being when Dr.
Bob had his last drink on what may have been June 10, 1935—both of the founders then
having attained what was proven to be permanent sobriety.

A.A. Number Three (Bill D. of Akron)

In 1935, was already a Christian, a deacon of his church, and a Sunday school teacher.

Had nonetheless been hospitalized many times as a “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” drunk.

Was in Akron City Hospital when Dr. Bob phoned the hospital, said he and Bill W. had found a cure for alcoholism, needed to work with another drunk, and arranged to tell Bill D. their stories.

Was told by Dr. Bob and Bill W. that he could turn to God for healing and should then help others.

Did turn to God for help when Bob and Bill had left, found release, and was cured

Confirmed his cure by endorsing Bill W.’s statement that Bill W. (and he) had been cured by the Lord, and declaring that Bill W.’s statement (found in the current edition of the Big Book on page 191) was the “golden text of A.A.” for him and for others.

Became the third AA and caused Bill W. to declare that the first A.A. Group was founded the day Bill D. left the hospital a free man, never to drink again—July 4, 1935.


Each of the first three AAs believed in God. Each was or had become a Christian at the time the decision was made to stay sober permanently. Each turned to God, was cured, never drank again, and immediately began helping others.

A.A. was founded and the first group was founded at a time when there were no Twelve Steps. There were no Twelve Traditions. There was no basic text or Big Book. There were no drunkalogs. And there were no meetings as we know them today. The men had and studied the Bible, and the sought God’s help and received it. That was the power of God in earliest A.A.;

Gloria Deo