Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Bill W. Story: Facts or Films!

Dick B.’s Documented Account of the Story of Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the Influences on Wilson [In reply to a question about Oxford Group influences, if any, on Bill Wilson]

Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights resereved

“Thank you for asking about the possible influence of the Oxford Group on Bill Wilson.

Actually, there were many influences on his A.A. ideas, as there were in the case of Dr. Bob: They definitely include, and I have documented, the following:

1. The Bible.

2. The Christian organizations and people that preceded and influenced AA: a) Evangelists like Dwight Moody and F. B. Meyer; b) Gospel Rescue Missions; c) Lay brethren of Young Men's Christian Association; d) Salvation Army; e) Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor; f) Oxford Group; g)Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.

3. The Christian  upbringing of Wilson in the East Dorset Congregational Church, the Bible studies he did with grandfather Griffith and friend Mark Whalon, the conversion and cure of his grandfather Willie Wilson, the sermons and revivals and conversions and temperance meetings he attended, his 4 years at Burr and Burton Academy where he took a four year Bible study course, went to daily chapel at this Congregationalist school, and was president of and active in the school's Young Men's Christian Association.

5. The advice of his physician Dr. Silkworth on his third visit to Towns Hospital; that he would die or go insane if he didn't stop drinking; and that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure him.

6. The visits from his friend Ebby Thacher, telling him: a) that he (Ebby) had been to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission, been born again, got religion; b) that he (Ebby) had learned several things from the Oxford Group friends (Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, and Cebra Graves) about Christian subjects he had studied as a youngster, and also about the power of prayer, about the Oxford Group[ program, about Dr. Carl Jung's advice to Rowland that he (Rowland) could be helped if he had a "vital religious experience"--a conversion experience;] c) Bill's trip to Calvary Church to hear and check up on Ebby Thacher's testimony; d) Bill's thought that perhaps Calvary Mission could do for him what it had done for Ebby; e) Bill's trip to the altar at Calvary Mission where he made his decision for Jesus Christ, wrote twice "For sure I had been born again," and wrote that he had "found religion." f) Bill's subsequent drinking, deep despair and depression, and thoughts that he should call on the Great Physician for help; g) Bill's last trip to Towns Hospital where he cried out to God for help, had his memorable "indescribably white flash" blazing in his room, sensed the presence of God, exclaimed "So this is the God of the Scriptures," stopped doubting the power of God, and never drank again.

7. Bills subsequent discussion with Dr. Silkworth where Bill was told he had had a "conversion experience." Bill's extensive study that day of the William James book on religious experiences that cured alcoholics, and Bill's conclusion that his experience in the hospital was a valid conversion experience.

8. Bill's adventure on discharge from the hospital out on the streets with a Bible under his arm and telling drunks in hospitals, missions, flea bag hotels, Oxford Group meetings that he had found a cure for alcoholism and that they should give their lives to God (See Big Book, page 191).

9. Bill's utter failure to convert or sober up anyone at all. Not before he met with Dr. Bob in Akron.

10. Bill's visit with Dr. Bob at Henrietta Seiberling's Gate Lodge for six hours where Bill convinced Bob that the idea of service to others was an essential element in the Oxford Group that was part of the mix, and Dr. Bob's assent.

11. The three months that Bill spent with the Smiths at their home in Akron where: a) Anne read them the Bible each day. b) Anne may have shared from the journal she had kept since 1933. c) there were daily prayers and  quiet time. d) there was an agreement that hospitalization was an essential ingredient. e) Attendance at the weekly "clandestine lodge" meeting of the Oxford Group at the T. Henry Williams home. f) Where extensive Oxford Group and Shoemaker literature were available at the meeting for the taking.

12. The success--when there was no Big Book, were no Steps, were no Traditions, were no drunkalogs, and were no meetings like those today--with A.A. Number Three-Bill Dotson. Bill and Bob visited Dotson in the hospital, told him to give his life to God and, when healed, go out and help others. Dotson turned to God for help, was immediately healed, and went out from the hospital a new man--which marked the founding of Akron Group Number One July 4, 1935.

13. Bill and Bob learning in November of 1937 by "counting noses" that forty members had achieved and maintained some sobriety--with an assured 50% success rate; and that God had shown them how the cure could be passed on by working with newcomers, hospitalization, belief in God, acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, old fashioned prayer meetings, Bible study meetings, Quiet Time, reading Christian literature, and helping others without charge.

14. When Akron, by a barely passing vote in Akron, authorized Wilson to write a book, Bill claimed there were six word-of-mouth ideas being used with success. He phrased the six ideas in at least 4 different ways--when it came to God's help. He claimed they were derived from the Oxford Group, but that there was no general agreement, particularly in the mid-west , on what they were. He also said they were applied according to the "whim" of the group involved. But Bill's  "six" word-of-mouth ideas were very different from the 7 point Akron Christian Fellowship program that Frank Amos summarized in his report to the Rockefeller people in 1937. See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.

15. Bill soon sat down with Rev. Sam Shoemaker at the book-lined study at Calvary House--with closed doors--and worked out the program of the Big Book, derived largely from Oxford Group ideas (and the Oxford Group itself declared that the principles of the Oxford Group were the principles of the Bible--as Rev. Sherwood Day twice wrote in The Principles of the Oxford Group).

16. When it came time to write Chapter 5 of his new book, Bill asked Sam Shoemaker to write the 12 Steps, but Shoemaker declined saying that they should be written by an alcoholic, namely Bill. Bill then sat down, looked at his alleged "six ideas", and  quickly wrote out Twelve Steps in a book where the word "God" had consistently been used without qualification.

17. Just before the book went to press, four people (Ruth Hock-secretary, Hank Parkhurst--Bill's partner, Bill Wilson--the author, and John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo--who wanted the book to be Christian to the core) changed the language of the steps, deleting God from Step Two, and adding "as we understood Him" to Steps 3 and 11. Bill attributed this change to a "broad highway" to the contributions of the atheists and agnostics.

Most of this material can be found in various of my books listed in

And the material is placed in updated, comprehensive, documented, teachable form in "The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide," 3rd ed., 2010.

Most of the recent, documented research is set forth in my two preceding books "Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous",shtml, and "The Conversion of Bill W."

Can You Mention Jesus in A.A.? See for yourself

Jesus in Early A.A. Literature and Talks
Dick B.
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Probably, a large majority of those in A.A. today, as well as those in the recovery community as leaders and as patients, and even the very small group of Christian critics of Alcoholics Anonymous would answer the following questions incorrectly or simply plead ignorance of the questions and the answers:
“Is Jesus even mentioned in early A.A. literature?”
“Did A.A.’s founders frequently mention Jesus?”
“If so, are there still a number of A.A. General Services Conference-approved books and materials that mention, refer to, or discuss the role of Jesus in recovery from alcoholism?”
Answers: Yes! Yes! And Yes!
In fact, there are so many references, that it will suffice to mention and document a few of them, and then let inquirers search for themselves – just as Dr. Bob used to require questioners in early A.A. to search in the Bible for answers to their questions about the program.
Here is Where You Can Find the Answers
Bill W. and The Great Physician, Jesus Christ: In his own autobiography, Bill Wilson spoke of the “Great Physician”—a metaphor for Jesus Christ. This reference to Jesus Christ as the “Great Physician” was often uttered by Bill Wilson’s doctor, William D. Silkworth, M.D. See Bill W. My First 40 Years: An Autobiography by the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, 139, 145, 147; Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D.. 44, 47, 49, 50, 51, 225; Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A., 43, 50, 52-53, 56, 59, 60, 62-67, 70, 76, 100-02, 115, 126, 133-34, 173, 189, 193.
Bill W. and “The Lord. . . curing me. . .”: Probably the most emphatic testimony as to the role of Jesus Christ in Bill Wilson’s recovery is found on page 191 of the latest (4th, 2001) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. Moreover, Bill’s affirmation of Jesus’s role was echoed on that same page 191 by Bill Dotson, AA Number 3.
Bill W. and his decision for Jesus Christ: Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker and Bill’s wife Lois attested that Bill had made a decision for Jesus Christ – “handed his life over to Christ.” Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 61-62.
Bill W. himself twice confirmed his statement: “For sure I had been born again.” Bill W.: My First 40 Years, 147; Dick B., Turning Point, 94-98, A New Way In, 62; The Conversion of Bill W., 62.
Bill W. told AAs this at his last full-length talk at an A.A. meeting in New York. Bill quoted Dr. Bob’s reminder “that most of us were practicing Christians.”  The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, 30.
Bill W. pointed out to the Lecturers at Yale University that “a great many of us have taken to reading the Bible.” Alcohol, Science and Society: Twenty-nine Lectures with Discussions as given at the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies. “Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Inc., 1945, W.W., Lecture 29, The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous,” 467.
Dr. Bob is frequently quoted in The Co-Founders Pamphlet P-53, speaking about “Jesus Christ,” the “Master,” his “Heavenly Father,” and the “Good Book” as he often called the Bible: The Co-Founders, 11, 13-15, 19, 20. 30. And, on page 34, Bill said of Bob: “So Dr. Bob became the prince of all twelfth-steppers. Perhaps nobody will ever do such a job again.
You can find for yourself many other statements, about which I have written extensively, how early AAs, their “co-founders,” and their predecessors spoke of Jesus Christ. Examples are
 (1) Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Smith mentioned Christ in the journal from which she daily shared with early AAs and their families. (2) Rev. Sam Shoemaker—who was called a cofounder of A.A. by Bill W.—started writing about Jesus Christ in his very first significant book—Realizing Religion, and continued to do so throughout his long career. (3) Shoemaker pointed out that Calvary Mission—where Bill W. made his decision for Christ—was the place where Jesus Christ changes lives. (4) Bill W. marched in a processional from Calvary Church to Madison Square to witness—the group carried the sign, “Jesus Christ changes lives.” (5) Endless Oxford Group writings were read by early AAs and frequently mentioned Jesus Christ. (6) Dr. Bob mentioned many times that early AAs considered that the Bible’s Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were “absolutely essential to the early program;” and, of course, it was Jesus that delivered the sermon (see Matthews 5, 6, 7)."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Facts-History-Origins-Roots of A.A.: A Surprise List Today

The following are articles that have been written by several AA historians that have taken the time to search and research the history and origins of Alcoholics Anonymous. The articles appearing on this site were chosen to show references to the validity of the origins of the original message of Alcoholics Anonymous, not to show our history as a whole. For links to other sites that deal with the history of AA see the favorite links page.
The following articles are from one of AAs leading historians, Dick B. It was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled accross some of his articles a few 24 hrs ago. I have spent many hours reading his articles and books and have learned much about early AA from his research. For more from Dick B. go to his website at

Faith in Christian Recovery- Interviews of Worldwide Christian Recovery Leaders

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Surviving the Christian Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous

I never had the slightest idea when I entered the rooms of A.A. that I would encounter such volumes of hatred. Hatred of Christians. Hatred of the Bible. Hatred of those who are "Evangelicals." Hatred of those who, like the courts, recognize that A.A. is religious - not "spiritual" (whatever the latter means). How can a sick drunk survive that? In fact, how did I--a very sick drunk--survive that?

As a very very sick man of 60 years of age, I came into the rooms and was hugged, given phone numbers, invited to "come with us, go where we go, do what we do, and get what we've got." Later, I was to see that the 10th Step instructions talked about a code of "love and tolerance." Still later, I was to read that Dr. Bob had said that the steps, simmered to their essence, were simply about "love and service." Still later, I learned that though Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob certainly had different views about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible, both had a Christian upbringing. Both had studied the Bible. Both had become or were Christians. Both had turned to Amighty God for deliverance. All called early A.A. a "Christian Fellowship." So did the Rockefeller people who investigated A.A. and concluded: "Why this is First Century Christianity at work."

But as I began traveling around the U.S. speaking, interviewing, and researching, I encountered an entirely different picture. In more than one room, a speaker has been interrupted if he mentioned God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible. In more than one Central Office, a group has been denied a "listing" because some self-appointed governor said, "You can't study the Bible" or "You can't study Emmet Fox," or "You can't talk about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount." And bristling letters fromn a few A.A. cops, on A.A. stationary, began issuing from Central Offices and GSO to the same effect.

Almost always, the nonsense blockades were phrased as if A.A. had a Gestapo and the Traditions were a Mein Kampf dictated by Wilson. Or, despite the fact that there was no "General Service Conference" to approve or disapprove anything until 15 years after A.A.'s founding; and that there never was such a thing as "Conference-Disapproved" literature, these true straw man pillars seemed to form the foundation for intimidation, insult, rudeness, authoritationism, and everything but the freedom of drunks to focus on getting sober and relying on the power of God, as the early AAs did.

How do you survive this today? Well, how did I survive it for 26 continuous years and still wind up liking A.A., speaking at A.A. meetings and conferences, working with newcomers to this day, and devoting 22 plus years to unearthing and reporting the history of Alcoholics Anonmous--warts and all. I believe it is because I hardly expected great courtesy or kindness or love or forgiveness from a band of former drunks, derelicts, foul-mouthed friends, thieves, druggies, and drug dealers--let alone proper speech amidst the foul language and focus on sex at the local level. I didn't expect these things, probably because I had long before seen the dark side in the Army, in the courts, in my college fraternity, and amongst the lawyers with whom I contested. If you want to hear about sex and foul language, just join the Armed Forces. And drink as well.

Yet. What a refreshing thing to enter a fellowship--sicker than a dog. What a refreshing thing to answer to no authority. What a refreshing thing to see the words God, Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights splattered all over the Big Book some 400 times in one form or pronoun or another. What a refreshing thing to find so many caring people who had overcome the humps but still helped others over them. What a refreshing thing not to be judged for my sins past or my sickness present. What a refreshing thing to find how much fun we AAs had at outings in Yosemite Valley, the Russian River, the Redwoods, the amusement parks, the dances, the barbeques, the movies, the comedy shows, the musical events, the conferences, the speakers, and the mirth.

I know why I survived. I loved AA and gave it all I had. I loved God and tried to give Him all I had. I loved helping others and never stopped doing that. I loved the idea of cleaning house, the idea of amends, the idea of daily cleanup and daily prayer. And once I learned the history of A.A., I saw that the early AAs all believed in God, accepted Jesus Christ, studied the Bible, prayed together, broke bread together, socialized together, had quiet time together, converted others together, and devoted lots and lots of time to helping others - together. What the bleeding deacons did in the rooms was really none of my business unless I was looking for a scrap or taking them too seriously or forgetting that when they pointed one finger at me, there were three fingers pointing back at them.

That's why I survived.

And when naysayers call someone an "evangelist," or call A.A. "spiritual but not religious," or talk about their "higher power as a doorknob or chair," or denounce someone for mentioning God or Jesus or the Bible, I just look at the history (44 books and 1000 articles later) and - one by one - try to tell others the best of A.A. Because A.A. was best for me 26 years ago. And nothing and nobody can stop me from doing what I've done from the beginning--trusting God, cleaning house, and working with others. One good reason is because that's exactly what Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and A.A. Number Three Bill Dotson did - for the rest of their lives. Not too shabby for a bunch of former drunken sots.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 4 Vital AA Tools for Learning Accurate AA History

This is one of the four important tools for those studying Alcoholics Anonymous History and endeavoring to get a full, accurate, helpful set of history tools.

The first tool is the Holy Bible

The second tool is the Original First Edition of the Big Book with intro by Dick B.
Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original First Edition, with Introduction by Dick B.

The third tool is DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 1980

The fourth tool is "The Cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks" designated Pamphlet P-53 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original First Edition, with Introduction by Dick B.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stick with the Winners Book and 27 Video Classes

Dick B. and Ken B.’s Newest Title:

Stick with the Winners!

How to Conduct

More Effective 12-Step Recovery Meetings

Using Conference-Approved Literature:

A Dick B. Guide

for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena

(Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012)


Introduction: “Old-School” Christian Recovery

Ch. 1:   Resources for “Old-School” 12 Step Recovery Meetings

Ch. 2:   Conference-Approved Literature Foundations

Ch. 3:   The Real Akron A.A. Program

Ch. 4:   16 Key Practices of the Real Akron A.A. Program

Ch. 5:   “Old-School” A.A. and First Century Christianity

Ch. 6:   “Old-School” Elements That Can Be Used Today

Ch. 7:   How to Conduct “Old-School” Recovery Meetings


Available on for only $9.95 NOW!

(Just scroll down the center column of the front page.)


Dick B. and Ken B.’s New 27-Video Class:

Stick with the Winners!

Video                    Title

00                           Introductory Video for the “Stick with the Winners!” Class

01                           Where to Begin with a Newcomer

02                           Show the Newcomer That the Cure of Alcoholism Was Not Something New from A.A.

03                           The Vermont Youth of Dr. Bob and Bill W. Set the Stage for Early A.A.’s Emphasis on

God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, Prayer, Conversion, and Witness

04                           How Bill W. Got Sober by Turning to God

05                           How Dr. Bob Got Sober by Turning to God

06                           How A.A. Number Three, Bill D., Got Sober by Turning to God

07                           A Summary of How the Original “Old-School” A.A. Program Was Developed

08                           Frank Amos’ Seven-Point Summary of the Original Akron A.A. Program

09                           Part One: Practices One through Eight of the 16 Practices of “Old-School” A.A. in Akron

10                           Part Two: Practices Nine through 16 of the 16 Practices of “Old-School” A.A. in Akron

12                           Part One: Groups One through Seven of the Resources about the “Old-School” A.A.

Program Available Today

13                           Part Two: Groups Eight through 14 of the Resources about the “Old-School” A.A.

Program Available Today

14                           The Starting Point: Mastering and Relying on Key Sections of Conference-Approved


15                           Supportive Statements in Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”)

16                           Supportive Statements in The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (# P-53)

17                           Supportive Statements in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers

18                           Organizing and Conducting a “Conference-Approved Literature” Group

19                           Resources for Your Group and Its Meetings

20                           Topics for Your Group and Its Meetings

21                           A Sample Meeting Format

22                           Using the Sample Meeting Format with Other Topics

23                           Putting It All Together: Some Suggested Basic Approaches

24                           The Helpful Personal Stories of Four Early AAs . . .

25                           Conclusion: Here’s What Makes the International Christian Recovery Coalition and

These Suggested Meetings Different

(Available on for only $29.95 NOW!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bill Wilson and A.A.: The rest of the Story

Alcoholics Anonymous History
How Bill Wilson Came Firmly to Believe That Alcoholism Could Be Cured by Conversion to God through Christ

Dick B.
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved.

For many years during his childhood, Bill Wilson repeatedly heard that his paternal grandfather William C. (“Willie”) Wilson had been cured of alcoholism in a conversion experience atop Mt. Aeolus in Bill’s home town village of East Dorset, Vermont.

Throughout his youth, Bill was exposed to the account of his grandfather’s conversion and cure of alcoholism. And his exposure to the Bible, to Christian religious training, and to spiritual growth was far more substantial than has previously been known.

For example, Bill and his paternal and maternal families attended the East Dorset Congregational Church. There they listened to sermons, and recited the confession and creed. There were tent meetings and revivals, and Bill witnessed conversions to God through Jesus Christ. Moreover, Bill and his maternal grandfather, Fayette Griffith, read the Bible individually and together. Bill also read the Bible with his friend Mark Whalon. Grandfather Fayette enrolled Bill in the East Dorset Congregational Church Sunday school. We are still investigating what transpired of a religious nature, if anything, during Bill’s residence in Rutland, Vermont. However, during his matriculation at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont, Bill regularly attended the daily chapel, and heard Scripture reading. He was required to attend the weekly church service at the Manchester Congregational Church. He took a required, four-year Bible study course at the Academy. And Bill was president of the Academy Young Men’s Christian Associatio, while his girlfriend, Bertha Bamford, was president of the Burr and Burton Young Women’s Christian Assocation. Both both attended chapel together at the Academy, and also “Y” functions.

Some years later, Bill’s psychiatrist, Dr. William D. Silkworth, explained to Bill that Bill could be cured by the “Great Physician,” Jesus Christ. This explanation occurred during Bill’s third hospitalization at Towns Hospital in New York, where Silkworth told Bill that there was a need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ, Silkworth using the term “the Great Physician.” [Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 50].

Then Bill’s old friend, Ebby Thacher, made a visit to Bill. Ebby related to Bill that the celebrated psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung, had made a statement—“the one which saved Rowland Hazard’s life and set Alcoholics Anonymous in motion. . . . ‘Occasionally, Rowland, alcoholics have recovered through spiritual experiences, better known as religious conversions.’” [Bill W.: My First Forty Years (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2000), 125]. Ebby also told Bill that he had been lodged at Calvary Rescue Mission on the East Side in New York. [Bill W., 131]. Ebby was sober. He said to Bill, “I’ve got religion.” [Bill W., 133]. He touched upon the subject of prayer and God. [Bill W., 133-34]. And then, as Bill stated in his own words, “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. Society was about to lock him up. Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), 11].

I found a manuscript at Stepping Stones which, at lines 935-942, told of Bill’s further statement: “Nevertheless here I was sitting opposite a man who talked about a personal God, who told me how he had found him, who described to me how I might do the same thing and who convinced me utterly that something had come into his life which had accomplished a miracle. The man was transformed; there was no denying he had been reborn.” [See Dick B., Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes (San Rafael, CA: Paradise Research Publications, 1997, 99-100.] Bill also pointed to a further statement by Ebby, and said, “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. Society was about to lock him up. . . . That floored me. It began to look as though religious people were right after all.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11].

Bill’s next move was to go to Calvary Rescue Mission. He stated, “Remembering the mission where Ebby stayed, I figured I’d go and see what did they do, anyway down there. I’d find out. . . . There were hymns and prayers. Tex, the leader, exhorted us. Only Jesus could save, he said. . . . Then came the call. Penitents started marching toward the rail. . . . Soon I knelt among the sweating, stinking penitents. Maybe then and there, for the first time, I was penitent too. Something touched me, I guess it was more than that. I was hit.” [Bill W.: My First Forty Years, 136-37].

Several witnesses confirmed what Bill did at the altar: (a) Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., talked with me on the telephone and told me she was present when Bill made his decision for Christ at Calvary Mission. [Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006), 61]. (b) Bill’s wife, Lois Wilson, confirmed Bill’s decision for Christ. Speaking of Bill’s trip to the altar at the Mission, Lois Wilson said: “And he went up, and really, in very great sincerity, did hand over his life to Christ.” [“Lois Remembers: Searcy, Ebby, Bill & Early Days.” Recorded in Dallas, Texas, June 29, 1973, Moore, OK: Sooner Cassette, Side 1]. (c) Rev. Sam Shoemaker’s assistant minister, W. Irving Harris, wrote this: “It was at a meeting at Calvary Mission that Bill himself was moved to declare that he had decided to launch out as a follower of Jesus Christ.” [Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., 2d ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 533-35.]. (d) Bill twice made a further statement of great interest. It is not clear whether Bill was referring to his decision for Christ at the Calvary Mission altar or to his subsequent spiritual experience after calling on the “Great Physician” at Towns Hospital not long thereafter. But Bill Wilson twice wrote, “For sure I’d been born again.” [See Bill W., My First Forty Years, 147; Dick B., Turning Point, 94-98; and Dick B., A New Way In (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006), 61-62)]. (e) At Stepping Stones, I (Dick B.) personally found a letter that Bill had written to his brother-in-law stating that he [like Ebby] had “found religion.” [Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 62]. We now have in our possession a copy of Bill Wilson’s signature on a book he gave to a distinguished Christian religious writer. Bill signed it, “In Christ.”

After his spiritual experience at the Calvary Rescue Mission altar, Bill wandered drunk for a time and then staggered into Towns Hospital for his last visit there. Bill said, “I remember saying to myself, ‘I’ll do anything, anything at all. If there be a Great Physician, I’ll call on him.’ Then, with neither faith nor hope I cried out, ‘If there be a God, let him show himself.’ The effect was instant, electric. Suddenly my room blazed with an indescribably white light. . . . I became acutely conscious of a presence which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. I lay on the shores of a new world. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘must be the great reality. The God of the preachers.’ . . . I thanked my God who had given me a glimpse of his absolute Self. . . . Save a brief hour of doubt next to come, these feelings and convictions, no matter the vicissitude, have never deserted me since.” [Bill W.: My First Forty Years, 145-46]. As Lois Wilson’s biographer related the situation, Bill said, “I thanked my God, who had given me a glimpse of his absolute Self. . . . It was December 11, 1934. Bill had just turned thirty-nine. He would never again doubt the reality of God.” [William G. Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story: When Love Is Not Enough (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2005), 166].

When Bill consulted Dr. Silkworth after the experience, Dr. Silkworth said to Bill, “You have had some kind of conversion experience.” [Bill W.: My First Forty Years, 148]. And the recent biography of Bill Wilson’s wife, written by William G. Borchert, tells the details of Bill’s immediate, enthusiastic witnessing as follows:

“The doctor [Dr. Silkworth] always allowed Bill to share his God-experience with some patients, hoping somehow it might help. And Bill began learning about the mental and spiritual part of his alcoholic malady from Dr. Shoemaker, who had now befriended the former Wall Street analyst. Dr. Shoemaker encouraged Bill to spread the message of change and spiritual recovery to others like himself.

“Bill took the preacher at his word. With Lois’s full support, he was soon walking through the gutters of the Bowery, into the nut ward at Bellevue Hospital, down the slimy corridors of fleabag hotels, and into the detox unit at Towns with a Bible under his arm. He was promising sobriety to every drunk he could corner if they, like he, would only turn their lives over to God.” [Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 170]

And what was the simple message, as Bill explained it to the wife of A.A. number three and set forth in his “Basic Text” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed.) at page 191: “‘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.’”

Bill’s conviction about his permanent cure was so strong that he arranged a meeting in December 1937 at the boardroom on the 56th floor at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The meeting lasted five hours. Four Rockefeller associates—Albert Scott, Leroy Chipman, W. S. Richardson, and Frank Amos—were present. So, too, were Dr. Silkworth and Bill’s brother-in-law, Dr. Strong. In addition, there was an array of what Frank Amos called “the following ex-alcoholics, William G. Wilson, Henry G. Parkhurst, William J. Ruddell, Ned Pointer and Bill Taylor, all of New York and vicinity; Mr. J. H. F. Mayo of near Baltimore, Maryland; Dr. Robert H. Smith and J. Paul Stanley of Akron, Ohio.” Frank Amos stated that Bill Wilson had briefly told Mr. Richardson, “the story of how, after many vain attempts to discontinue the use of alcohol, he had achieved what he believed was a permanent cure, through what he termed a religious or spiritual process.” Dr. Silkworth stated “without reservation that while he could not tell just what it was that these men had which had effected their ‘cure’ yet he was convinced they were cured and that whatever it was, it had his complete endorsement.” [The foregoing is contained in the “History of the Alcoholic movement up to the formation of The Alcoholic Foundation on Aug. 11, 1938.” I personally obtained, with permission, my copy of this second report by Frank Amos at the Stepping Stones archives in Bedford Hills, New York.]

For further details, please see Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: (

Dick B.
PO Box 837
Kihei, HI 96753-0837

Gloria Deo

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quotable Quotest of A.A.'s Dr. Bob, Founders Day, 2012

by Dick B., Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Despite the plethora of biographies, autobiographies, films, TV presentations, and other literature about A.A. Cofounder Bill Wilson and even his wife Lois Wilson, many an AA, codependent, 12 Step Fellowship member, clergyman, professional therapist, treatment program worker, and Christian leader simply knows virtually nothing about the enormous role and wise sayings of A.A. Cofounder Dr. Robert H. Smith of Akron (usually called "Dr. Bob").

This particular article will help make the 2012 Founders Day in Akron a great deal more understandable, meaningful, and significant. It will quote just a fewof the many remarks made by A.A. Akron leader, Dr. Bob. Made as he guided others to new lives. And these are they:

"Do you believe in God, young fella? Not a god. God" See DR BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 144.

"Your Heavenly Father will never let your down!" Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 2001, p. 181.

". . . we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5, 6, and 7], the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James," The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, p. 13 [From Dr. Bob's last major address to AAs in 1948].

"I have found that no one can be permanently happly unless he lives in harmony with the rules set down in the Good Book. Try it some time. You don't need to wait till you're down and out before you ask for help. There's help waiting for you right now, if you just ask God to help you," "I Saw Religion Remake A Drunkard," September 1939, Your Faith Magazine, p. 84.

"Dr. Bob was always positive about his faith, Clarence [Clarence H. Snyder] said. If someone asked him a question about the program, his usual response was, 'What does it say in the Good Book?' Suppose he was asked, 'What's all this First Things First?' Dr. Bob would be ready with the appropriate quotation: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousners, and all these things shall be added unto.'" DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 144. [Matthew 6:33]

"Dr. Bob, another founder of A.A., also addressed the Shrine assembly. As he was introduced, the audience rose to its feet in tribute. The fame of Dr. Bob is great in A.A. In soft, confident and unhurried words he too reiterated the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous: 'Read religious literature. Resume church attendance, cultivate the habit of prayer, and transmit the desires and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to others.' He particularly recommended reading the Bible,
Tidings, Friday, March 26, 1948, p. 17.

Gloria Deo

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Facts about the Church Life of A.A.'s Dr. Bob

A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob and the Records of His Church Affiliations

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved


This piece on Dr. Bob will consist primarily of the record of a meeting on Maui with a great Christian lady from Akron, and the correspondence which she graciously undertook to flesh out the details of Dr. Bob’s church life during the period the Smiths resided in Akron, Ohio.

Religious Data We Had Previously Researched and Recorded

Some of the initial details we had before this new investigation came from my research in Akron. There I interviewed Dr. Bob’ daughter, Sue Smith Windows, as to churches her father and mother attended in Akron, and the Sunday Schools she and her brother attended. I interviewed Dr. Bob’s son, Smitty, and his wife, Betty, to the same end. I also interviewed Congressman John F. Seiberling and his two sisters to learn the churches Henrietta and her children were affiliated with. And, by work with the daughter of T. Henry Williams, I learned the Baptist and Methodist affiliations that T. Henry Williams and his wife Clarace had in the pertinent years. Much of our later findings about Dr. Bob’s early church years were obtained during a total of three weeks that my son Ken and I spent in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, during 2007 and 2008 researching the Smith family’s membership, leadership, and attendance at North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury and its Sunday school and Christian Endeavor society. We also learned of the extensive Christian and Bible study exposure that Dr. Bob had with daily chapel, weekly Congregational church attendance, and Bible study while he attended St. Johnsbury Academy.

We had previously published the information about Dr. Bob’s membership (and that of his wife Anne) in the Westside Presbyterian Church in Akron; the attendance of the Smith children at several Akron Sunday Schools; and Dr. Bob’s joining of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron a year or so prior to his death.

Those earlier details are embodied primarily in the titles Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library; Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939; Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; and Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont. All can be found through Amazon or the titles pages on my main Web site.

The New Findings about the Smith Family’s Presbyterian Affiliations

The following are excerpts (with email addresses removed) concerning the recent investigation:

·         Aloha, Sally!

Thank you.

Dick B.'s son, Ken

·         On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 4:34 PM, Sally Phillips wrote:


I hope this info helps.

Sally Phillips

  • First Presbyterian Church, pastor Mark Ruppert
  • Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.
  • Our email address is
  • Our fax number is 330-434-5190.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Thu, May 10, 2012 at 5:49 PM
Subject: Fwd: (no subject)
To: sgp

From: marge.beatty
To: Margo
Sent: 5/10/2012 11:24:46 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: RE: (no subject)

Hi Margo,

The information you have about Dr. Bob and his wife Anne joining Westminster on June 3, 1936, as charter members, by Letter of Transfer is correct.  They were suspended from the rolls on April 3, 1942 because of no attendance or participation.  We do not keep the Letters of Transfer and our records do not show where they transferred from.  However, on a hunch, I called First Presbyterian Church on E. Market Street in Akron, Ohio to see if they could have transferred from there. Westminster was a mission church of First Presbyterian in the rapidly growing west Akron area before Westminster formed in 1936 under its own charter.  Their records show that Dr. Bob and his wife Anne joined First Presbyterian on December 17, 1933, and then were transferred in May of 1936.  Their records do not show any information other than when they joined and when they were transferred.


From: Margo Dolph
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 4:14 PM
Marge Beatty
Subject: Fwd: (no subject)

Hi, Marge!

   Congrats on your upcoming retirement.

     I'd bet you remember Sally Phillips, a former member of Westminster, who sent me the following e-mail.  She met Dick B. in Hawaii who is doing a book on AA's roots in Akron. If you are able to answer any of the questions in the latter part of Sally's e-mail below that would be great. I can forward them to her or you can use her address you see below.



From: sgp
To: Margo
Sent: 5/8/2012 10:41:59 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Re: (no subject)

Hi Margo,

Here's the info that "Dick B",….  would like to have.  His card reads writer, historian, and retired attorney. I am willing to contact her if you run out of time. I will handle questions 3 and 4. My mom is doing better. Thanks for asking.

Any help you can give would be great!



PS- I could meet with Marge on Friday, May 25 in the morning or run over at lunch (time somewhat flexible)

Background on A.A.’s Dr. Bob by Ken B. 

Robert Holbrook Smith (A.A.’s “Dr. Bob”) was born on August 8, 1879, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The church he was raised in was North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury. He graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy (the equivalent of high school) in the summer of 1898. He began his first year at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the fall of 1898 and graduated with the class of 1902.

He made a statement on page 172 in his personal story in Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) that is of considerable interest to us:

From childhood through high school I was more or less forced to go to church, Sunday School, and evening service, Monday night Christian Endeavor and sometimes to Wednesday evening prayer meeting. This had the effect of making me resolve that when I was free from parental domination, I would never again darken the doors of a church. This resolution I kept steadfastly for the next forty years, except when circumstances made it seem unwise to absent myself.

He was free from “parental domination” by no later than the fall of 1898 when he left for college at Dartmouth. That would make 40 years 1938. But his statement was “forward looking”; i.e., he said “when I was free from parental domination.” So the 40 years started sometime before he left for college in the fall of 1898.

We know that Dr. Bob and his wife Anne were charter member of the Westminster United Presbyterian Church in Akron, Ohio; and they joined the church on June 3, 1936. We also know that they came to the Westminster church by “letter of transfer.”

Question 1: What church did they transfer from?

Question 2: Can you get a photocopy of that “letter of transfer” and mail it to us? Or, can you (or the church) scan the “letter of transfer” and send it to us as an attached file by email to:

Question 3: If you able to get the facts as to the church from which they transferred to Westminster, what details can you find about when they first attended and/or joined the earlier church?

Question 4: As to the earlier church, can you get a photocopy or scan of any written evidence of their attendance/membership at that church?

Question 5: If you cannot get written evidence as to the earlier church, could you please get the name, date, time, church position, telephone number, email address, etc., of the person/people providing you with the information so that we actually give a source that other people can check?

Thank you for any help you can give.

Dick B.’s son, Ken

On Sun, May 6, 2012 at 7:32 PM, <Margo > wrote:

Hi, Sally!

   Hope you've had a good week! Sure is flying!!

   I wanted to check w/ you to make sure I was "barkin up the right tree" on what you wanted me to check on at Westminster. Marge Beatty is FINALLY retiring June 1 so I thought I'd better call this week w/your question. Wasn't it---when/how long was Dr. Bob a member there? and anything else I can find out.

   Have a good week Ben will be home either really late Tues. after he graduates or he'll wait and drive all day Wed..

   Hope things are going a bit better w/your mom.  


Synopsis of Dr. Bob’s Church Life as of Investigation in 2012 by Dick B.

·         Dr. Bob, his parents Judge Walter and Susan Smith, his grandmother, and his foster sister

all were frequent attenders and much involved in North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury up to the date of Dr. Bob’s departure for Dartmouth in the fall of 1898.

·         Dr. Bob was active, as were his parents, in the church’s Young People’s Society of

Christian Endeavor.

·         During his attendance up to graduation at St. Johnsbury Academy (1894-1898), Dr. Bob regularly attended daily chapel, regularly attended required Congregational church services each week, and regularly attended Bible study each week.

·         Dr. Bob had said he had joined a church at the suggestion of the Oxford Group people with whom he and Anne met beginning in 1933. But we had learned only that he and Anne had joined and become charter members of Rev. Wright’s Presbyterian church in 1936.

·         Now we have confirmed what Dr. Bob said about the earlier period. Dr. Bob and Anne joined the First Presbyterian Church on E. Market Street in Akron on December 17, 1933, and were members there until “by letter of transfer” they became charter members of Rev. Wright’s Presbyterian Church in May of 1936. They remained affiliated with that church until April of 1942—long after A.A. was founded and after the Smiths had left their Oxford Group affiliations and connections with T. Henry Williams behind them.

·         I know from my examination of church records with the Rector Dr. Richard McCandless that Dr. Bob had become a communicant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron not long before his death. And the Eulogy at his death was conducted by Rev. Dr. Walter Tunks of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

·         I have also heard it said that Anne Smith joined the St. Paul’s Church; but that information did not come from its rector Dr. McCandless, nor from the church records I did examine. That question therefore remains unresolved until and unless a further search of church records as to Anne makes the facts clear.