Alcoholics Anonymous & History of AA

 Last updated:
September 06, 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous History
The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference

The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference

September 6-7, 2013
Portland, Maine

[A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob was a member of Christian Endeavor
(Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed.,172), founded here 2/2/1881]

Featuring A.A. Historian Dick B. of Maui, Hawaii,
and Special Guests

Conference Theme:

“The History of Alcoholics Anonymous:
Another View Which Includes Its Christian Beginnings in New England”

Meetings, Roundtables, Speakers, Research, and Workshops in Portland, Maine
[Plus:  (1) Research tour of Dr. Bob’s birthplace, St. Johnsbury, VT, Sept. 8-10;
           (2) Free At Last Group A.A. meeting, Wed., Sept. 11; 5:30 pm potluck dinner;
                7:00-8:30 pm speaker discussion mtg.; guest speakers Dick B. and Ken B.]

Main Conference Location:

The First Baptist Church of Portland, Maine
360 Canco Rd., Portland, ME 04103;

Conference Schedule

(** NOTE: Admission is FREE. Registration is required. **)

Friday, September 6 (** New start time to allow for additional speakers! **)

12:30 to 1:00 pm:        Initial on-site conference registration

1:00 pm:                     Conference begins with prayer by Ken B.

1:05 to 1:10 pm:          Welcome and Introduction by Dick B. and Ken B.

1:10 to 2:00 pm:          Mark Galligan, Ontario, Canada:
                                               The Akronites and Canadian Successes

            2:10 to 3:00 pm:          Gary Agnew, Connecticut:
                                               A.A. History, Veterans, and Correctional Outreach

            3:10 to 4:00 pm:          Jim Haselhuhn, Washington:
                                               Pictures from 2012 research in Vermont, Cleveland, and Akron

            4:10 to 5:00 pm:          Tim Kolstad, Colorado:
                                               Clarence H. Snyder and the Came to Believe Retreats,
                                               The Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community Workbook

5:10 to 6:00 pm:          Father Bill W., Texas
                                               Quiet Time

6:00 to 7:20 pm           Dinner break—on your own

            7:30 to 7:50 pm           Robb Hicks, M.D.:
                                                Relapse Prevention, Medicine, and New Paths

            7:55 to 9:30pm            Roundtable discussions w/presenters and conference participants;
                                               moderated by Dick B. and Ken B.

Saturday, September 7

9:00 to 9:45 am:          Conference registration (cont.), coffee and tea, hospitality

            9:45 to 9:55 am:          Second day of conference begins with prayer and brief overview
                                               by Ken B.       

            9:55 to 10:00 am:        Welcome by Wally C., conference host

10:00 to 10:50 am:      Session One: Russell S., Miami:
                                               The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

11:00 to 11:50 am:      Session Two: Dick B. and Ken B.:
                                               A. A. Origins, History, Founders, and Facts

12:00 to 1:15 pm:       Lunch Break: $5.00 onsite or on your own

            1:15 to 2:05 pm:          Session Three: Dick B.
                                               Sponsorship Today: The Neglected Sponsor

2:15 to 3:05 pm:          Session Four: Dick B. and Ken B.
                                               Orienting, Prepping, and Informing Newcomers

3:15 to 4:15 pm:          Friday’s speakers each summarize their talks in eight (8) minutes

            4:25 to 4:40 pm:          Chris P., Toronto:

4:50 to 5:20 pm:          Session Five: Dick B. and Ken B.:
                                               “Stick with the Winners!—Part One”:

The Vermont story, and Christian training of Bill W. and Dr. Bob; how the first three AAs got sober; the original Akron A.A. Group Number One “Christian fellowship” program

5:30 to 6:20 pm:          Session Six: Dick B. and Ken B.
                                               “Stick with the Winners!—Part Two”:

Personal Stories of A.A.’s Pioneers; Conference-approved literature that supports the pioneers’ message of reliance on God; applying “old-school” A.A. in recovery today

6:20 to 6:30 pm:         Conference ends with prayer by Ken B.

** We encourage conference participants to meet with each other for dinner and otherwise following the close of the conference on Saturday evening. **              

For more information about “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference,” please contact Dick B.’s son Ken by email at:


Conference Mission

The mission of this conference is to present an accurate and comprehensive picture of Alcoholics Anonymous history which includes the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes.

Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses; and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xx]

Records in Cleveland show that 93 percent of those who came to us never had a drink again. [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 261]

Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Dr. Bob in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181]

Bill [W.] looked across at my wife and said to her, “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.” [AA # 3, Bill D., in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191]

When we [Bill W. and Dr. Bob] started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.
            But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. [Dr. Bob in The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (A.A. pamphlet # P-53), 13]

Conference Audience

This conference is for members of 12 Step Fellowships (including old-timers, speakers, sponsors, newcomers, and garden variety drunks and addicts); other International Christian Recovery Coalition “participants”; physicians, clergy, recovery pastors, and other Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena; and professionals working in the fields of intervention, detox, treatment, sober living, counseling, psychology, and psychiatry.

Conference Registration

Admission for “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference” is FREE! Registration is required. For more information about the conference please contact Ken B. by email at or by phone at 1-808-276-4945. To register for the conference, please send to Ken B. by email at (1) your name; (2) your postal mailing address; (3) your email address; and (4) your telephone number. Ken B. will send you by email a confirmation as to the acceptance of your registration.

If you would like to make a donation to help offset the costs involved in putting on this conference, please contact Ken B. by email at or by phone at 1-808-276-4945. Thank you!

Ongoing Conference Developments: Expansion!

Substantial, valuable, expansive changes are here announced as to “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference” in Portland, Maine, and related events over the seven-day period from September 6 through 12, 2013.

We are delighted to see many valued and distinguished registrations for this admission-free conference pouring in. Dick B. and Ken B. will be available to meet with many leaders and speakers before and after the Friday and Saturday conference events.

And a number of Christian leaders and workers in recovery arena from around the world will be giving presentations in which they will tell us about what they are currently doing in the recovery arena; how well the work is going; how others can help; and their vision for the future.

We are looking forward to having speakers and others attendees from throughout the United States and from other countries participate in “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference.” Conference topics will be diverse; e.g., Quiet Time and the Eleventh Step; the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous; Sponsorship; Focus on Newcomers; the real, historical, Christian roots of A.A.; and how “old-school” A.A. ideas can and should be applied in today's recovery fellowships and programs as a powerful opportunity for those who want God's help in overcoming alcoholism and addiction, and who are willing to go to any lengths to get it.

As our list of speakers grows, we hope to include topics such as the Wilson House, Burr and Burton Seminary, the YMCA, Rescue Missions, Evangelists, the Salvation Army, Congregationalists, and Christian Endeavor, and others.

Are you one of those would like to learn more about the following topics:

·      “Old-school” A.A.—particularly as it could be observed in Akron and in Cleveland during A.A.’s earliest days;

·         How much A.A. has changed since Bill W. included what he called “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps’” in the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) published in April 1939 (see Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162); and

·         How “old-school” A.A. principles and practices--which drew on the power and love of “the God of the Scriptures” (as Bill W. called the Creator of the heavens and the earth on page 284 of The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings)—may be applied today. Using A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature, and without “violating the Traditions.” Even in a Fellowship that certainly today includes Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, and those with no belief at all.

There is room in our Society for all when one heeds both the spirit and the letter of key statements in the Big Book, such as the following one about the Twelve Traditions:

. . . [W]e had to evolve principles by which the A.A. groups and A.A. as a whole could survive and function effectively. It was thought that no alcoholic man or woman could be excluded from our Society; that our leaders might serve but never govern; that each group was to be autonomous . . .

            This was the substance of A.A.’s Twelve Traditions, . . . [N]one of these principles had the force of rules or laws. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xix]

There is no room in our Society for those who try to blockade free exercise of rights and privileges by any particular approach so long as that free exercise maintains the primary purpose of carrying the message to alcoholics and addicts who still suffer. There is plenty of room in the Fellowship for the individual who wants to share with the newcomer

. . . in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 29]

And who wants to make known the major role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in early A.A.’s astonishing successes (according to A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature), and can play in recovery today. Room for those who want truth, not opinion. Room for those who help, instead of criticize and hinder. Room for those who want healing, instead of in-and-out bondage, temptation, and relapse. Room for those that recognize that the heart of A.A. was and is “the Solution”:

There is a solution. . . .

The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 25]

Sound familiar? Of course! That was the message Bill W. said his friend Ebby T. had carried to him:

But my friend sat before me, and he made the point-blank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed. Doctors had pronounced him incurable. . . . Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, . . .
            Had the power originated in him? Obviously it had not.
            . . . It began to look as though religious people were right after all. . . . My ideas about miracles were drastically revised right then. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11]

The “solution” set forth in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is grounded on the Creator’s entering into the hearts and lives of those who have come to believe that Divine Aid is the solution for their alcoholism; and those who have recognized that they can't help themselves, that probably no human power can, that God can and will, and that they can choose to exit from the "medically incurable" category and enter into the “recovered” category.

Tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands--of Christians and potential Christians are currently involved in, or will soon be entering the rooms of, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step Fellowships. They are puzzled by talk of nonsense gods, higher powers, spirituality, and atheism. They are often intimidated by remarks in meetings to the effect that talk of Jesus and the Bible (and sometimes even talk of God) is against “the Traditions,” and/or that the Bible is “not Conference-approved.”

They need not be puzzled or intimidated! A major purpose of “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference” is to educate those who want to know about the facts of A.A.’s history and A.A.’s Christian predecessors who were successful in healing alcoholics and addicts. You will meet Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena who work with garden-variety alcoholics and addicts; as well as those who are knowledgeable of various disciplines and areas of study, including religion, medicine, psychiatry, “old-school” A.A., the origins of A.A., the founding of A.A., and the original “Christian fellowship” of A.A.

Many of the conference speakers have had the opportunity to observe what both Bill W. and Dr. Bob stressed: (1) Love and tolerance as our code. (2) Love and service as the essence of the program--old and new--and the form it took in A.A.’s early days and is taking today.

A Further Conference Update

The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference will be held in Portland, Maine, on September 6-7, 2013. The conference itself will run from 1:00 pm to 9:30 p.m. on Friday evening, September 6; and it will continue from 9:45 a.m. until about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, at the following location:

The First Baptist Church of Portland, Maine
360 Canco Rd., Portland, ME 04103

Dick B. and Ken B. will be staying at the following hotel from September 5-12:

Hilton Garden Inn Portland Airport
145 Jetport Blvd.,
Portland, ME, 04102

Dick B. and Ken B. check in Thursday, September 5, and check out on Sunday, September 8. Dick and Ken will be available for pre- and post-conference personal, small-group, and workshop meetings with Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena. These meetings will cover Dr. Bob’s wife, Anne Smith, and Quiet Time-Eleventh Step practices and resources; and other subjects being formulated as speakers emerge. The meetings are broadening in number and topic as Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena are registering right now.

We are also offering a research tour of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (about three hours away), September 8-10. (St. Johnsbury is the birthplace and boyhood home of A.A. cofounder Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith.) We will depart from Portland, Maine, by automobile on Sunday afternoon, September 8, about 1:00 p.m. We will depart from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, about 4:30 pm on Tuesday evening, September 10. This will allow for two full days of research and touring with Dick B. and Ken B. in St. Johnsbury. Dick B. will staying at the following hotel in St. Johnsbury—checking in on Sunday, September 8, and checking out on Tuesday, September 10:

Comfort Inn & Suites
703 US Route 5 South
Saint Johnsbury, VT 05819
Phone: (802) 748-1500

If you would like to participate in this optional research trip to St. Johnsbury—which will involve securing a hotel in St. Johnsbury on Sunday, Sept. 8, and Monday, Sept. 9--please contact Dick B.’s son Ken ASAP by email at or by phone at 1-808-276-4945. [Please remember Dick B. and Ken B. live in Hawaii. 3:00 pm in New York (EDT) = 12 noon in California (PDT) = 9:00 am in Maui, Hawaii (HST)]

Other Meetings and Events with Dick B. and Ken B., September 6-11, 2013:

Sun., Sept. 8, to Tues., Sept. 10:         Research trip to Dr. Bob’s birthplace, St. Johnsbury, VT

Wednesday, Sept. 11:                         Portland: Morn./afternoon: pers. mtgs. w/Dick & Ken B.;

Evening: Free At Last Group A.A. meeting, Wed., Sept. 11; 5:30 pm potluck dinner; 7:00-8:30 pm speaker discussion mtg.

To register for “The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference” (Admission is FREE!), or for more information about the conference, please contact Dick B.’s son, Ken, via email at or on his cell phone at 1-808-276-4945.

Please join us in Portland September 6-7, 2013!


Dick B.'s son Ken
P.O. Box 837
Kihei, Hawaii
Tel.: (808) 276-4945
Fax: (808) 874-4876

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