Saturday, August 18, 2012

God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in A.A. Literature Today


The New Dick B. and Ken B. Book

A.A. Literature Frequently Mentioning God, His Son Jesus Christ & the Bible

The Long-Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories


ISBN 978-1-885803-51-1

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Paradise Research Publications, Inc.

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Price: $14.95


A.A. Literature Frequently Mentioning God, His Son Jesus Christ & the Bible: The Long-Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories by Dick B. and Ken B. (2012) brings to light for Christians in and outside of A.A., suffering newcomers, and the alcoholism and addiction recovery community the too-long-overlooked personal stories (testimonies) in A.A. literature that show that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible are frequently mentioned in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. It shows how and when these key stories were removed from editions of the Big Book for decades. This new book shows why many in the recovery community have viewed these recovery victories as non-Conference-approved literature and inevitably characterized these personal stories as not being a genuine part of the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It makes known that A.A. itself—decades later—recently republished these stories, making them now “Conference-approved.” It removes the shackles which have been used to prohibit mention of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in official literature and regular meetings. The book welcomes back to the recovery scene the now-documented and authoritative testimonies of recovered alcoholics as to how—by applying the original Akron A.A. program—they have recovered from their “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” condition of mind and body, and been cured of alcoholism. It enters the entire recovery arena with two other important spiritual tools: (1) A.A.’s Conference-approved Experience, Strength & Hope (2003); and (2) Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition, with a new Introduction by Dick B. (2011).

Gloria Deo

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Faith in A.A.: The Long-Lost Big Book 1st ed. Personal Stories

A.A. General Service Conference-Approved Literature

That Frequently Mentions the Bible and God

(Yep! You Read That Correctly!)

A Four-Part Discussion of the Long-Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories

Part Two

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition

(Dover Publications, Inc., 2011)

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

About the Prior Part One

In Part One, we discussed the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, Experience, Strength and Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2003). It elevated to “Conference-approved” status the many personal stories from the first edition of the Big Book (1939), the second edition (1955), and the third edition (1976) that were not included in the fourth edition (2001).

For example, of the 29 personal stories in the first edition, 22 were not included in the second edition. (The third edition contained the same seven stories from the first edition that were included in the second edition.) Four more of the stories from the first edition were not included in the fourth edition. This left only three of the original 29 stories from the first edition still present in the fourth edition: (1) “Dr. Bob’s Nightmare,” the personal story of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob; (2) “Our Southern Friend,” which was substantially rewritten for the second edition; and (3) “The Fearful One,” which was retitled “The Man Who Mastered Fear” and substantially rewritten for the second edition.

We pointed to the questionable explanations in Experience, Strength and Hope for the omission of so many of the first edition’s personal stories from later editions of Alcoholics Anonymous. For example:

·         “As a collection, . . . they [the personal stories included in the first, second, and/or third editions that were omitted from the fourth edition] greatly enrich our knowledge of ‘what we used to be like’ as a Fellowship.” (p. xi).

·         Many “of the A.A. writers [of the omitted personal stories] got sober . . . in that chaotic period when A.A. was ‘flying blind’ and learning from its many mistakes” (p. xi).

·         The first edition’s personal stories omitted from later editions “. . . take us back to the ‘trial and error’ days, . . .” (p. 2).

·         “The A.A.s we meet here . . . [were] still largely uneducated about their alcoholism.” (p. 2).

·         “Some of the rough edges found in the first edition stories (. . . , for example, references to specific religious beliefs, . . .) would be smoothed out in those chosen for later editions.” (pp. 2-3). [emphasis added in quotes above]

About This Part Two:

How the First Edition and Its Personal Stories, Accompanied by the Dick B. Introduction in the Dover Publications Reprint, Can Really Help Drunks Seek and Be Helped by God

Here in Part Two, we propose that those in 12-Step Fellowships freely use today two major tools:

1.      Experience, Strength & Hope ( Point to, and boldly state, the fact that all of the personal stories included in the first, second, and third editions are now A.A. General Service Conference-approved. And that it is thus entirely appropriate to quote from them as part of carrying the message today to those who still suffer. This can be done by presenting information from and about those stories directly from the new A.A. General Service Conference-approved publication, Experience, Strength and Hope.

2.      Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition, with a new Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011) []. Use for general reading, authoritative facts, and application of “old-school” A.A. principles today, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition: With a new Introduction by Dick B. This title will help you use more effectively the first edition’s personal stories that were intended to show how and why the original, “old-school” program—summarized in seven points by Frank Amos in DR.BOB and the Good Oldtimers at page 131—had produced the early successes A.A. claimed (i.e., a 75% success rate overall and a 93% success rate documented in Cleveland). To show how and why those successes were attained by relying on God, accepting His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, obeying God’s will, using the Bible and prayer, and helping others. Bearing in mind and taking special note that the personal stories did not and could not mention the Big Book or the Twelve Steps because neither existed prior to the publication of Alcoholics Anonymous in April 1939.

What You Will Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition (Dover)

·         You will see the facts for yourself as to whether the Big Book language has been changed. (For example, check the wording of Step Twelve in the first printing of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.) And you will see that the entire program based on Bill Wilson’s conversion at Calvary Mission and spiritual experience at Towns Hospital was completely altered when the A.A. solution, a “spiritual experience”—see chapter two in the Big Book (“There Is a Solution”)—was replaced with a “spiritual awakening” and “the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.” [See “Appendix II: Spiritual Experience,” pp. 567-68, in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.]

·         You will see from the original, first edition personal stories just how many times Jesus Christ and Christianity were mentioned, how many times the Bible was mentioned, and how very frequently reliance on God (not some nonsense god or illusory higher power) was stressed.

·         You will see from the extensive Introduction by Dick B. the importance of the first edition personal stories; e.g., the precise places where God, Christianity, and the Bible were mentioned; and how these stories fit so neatly with the real Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program that has been the subject of so many Dick B. books and articles. See, for example: The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010.

Part Two: Direct Quotes from Personal Stories

[Using page numbers from Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition (Dover)]

1.      The first story is Dr. Bob’s. And the last page—193—will suffice:

If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. . . . Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!

2.      The Unbeliever,” pp. 194-205:

I asked him desperately what it was. And he said, “God.”

. . . [I]f I will humble myself, if I will give in and bow in submission to that SOMETHING and then try to lead a life as fully in accord with my idea of good as possible, I will be in tune. And later the word good contracted in his mind to God.

God, have mercy on my soul!

3.      The European Drinker,” pp. 206-16:

You can’t win unless you try God’s way.

. . . [H]e made God seem personal to me, explained Him as a being who was interested in me, the alcoholic, and that all I needed to do was to follow His way; that as long as I followed it I would be able to overcome my desire for liquor.

And he further said that God would not accept me as a sincere follower of His Divine Law unless I was ready to be thoroughly honest about it.

That day I gave my will to God and asked to be directed. . . . So I began to pray; to place my problems in God’s hands.

I have proven to myself and to many others who know me that God can keep a man sober if he will let him.

4.      A Feminine Victory,” pp. 217-25:

The ability to accept them as my own has been derived from trying with the un-ending help of God. . . .

He asked me if I believed in God. . . . Well, I did believe in God. . . .

“Our Father which art in Heaven.”

I had been taught to realize there is a God and to “love” him.

“Here it is God, all mixed up. I don’t know how to un-mix it, I’ll leave it to you”

Finally I . . . briefly asked God to show me how to do what He wanted me today.

Well, I got the Bible and “Victorious Living” [Victorious Living is a book read widely by early AAs and written by E. Stanley Jones—whose books Dr. Bob’s wife recommended as “all good.”] and sitting down in full view of the bottle of whiskey, I commenced to read. I also prayed.

            I must keep myself worthy of Divine help.

5.      Our Southern Friend,” pp. 226-41:

Suddenly a thought comes. Can all the worthwhile people I have known be wrong about God?

            “Who are you to say there is no God?” It rings in my head. I can’t get rid of it.

I tumble out of bed onto my knees. I know not what I say. But slowly a great peace comes to me. I feel lifted up. I believe in God. I crawl back into bed and sleep like a child.

Today as I become more harmonized within, I become more in tune with all of God’s wonderful creation. . . . [A]nd a host of other things tell me of the glory of God.

            And with it, direction by the Spirit of God.

And above all else comes a greater thankfulness to, and a greater love for Our Father in heaven.

6.      A Business Man’s Recovery,” pp. 242-51:

The thing that Bill told me was his own story. . . . I had always believed in God even though I was not a devout church goer.

Crazy as the idea seemed when broached to me by these men who had found it worked, God did come right into my work, when permitted, as He had come into the other activities connected with my life.

7.      Traveler, Editor, Scholar,” pp. 254-64. A.A. itself wrote: “Originally published under the title ‘Traveler, Editor, Scholar’ in the first edition. The title was changed to ‘The News Hawk’ and the story was edited for the second edition.” (Experience, Strength and Hope, 268) (emphasis added)]

I found my friend was there for alcoholism and now he was insisting that he had found the only cure. I listened to him, rather tolerantly. I noticed a Bible on his table and it amazed me. I had never known him to be anything but a good healthy pagan with a propensity for getting into liquor jams and scrapes.

I had never, since the believing days of childhood, been able to conceive an authority directly the universe. But I had never been a flippant, wise-cracking sneerer at the few persons I had met who had impressed me as Christian men and women. . . . No conviction was necessary to establish my status as a miserable failure at managing my own life. I began to read the Bible daily . . .

I can remember the urge of the Prodigal Son to return to his Father. . . .

. . . in those days I had no one to whom I might take my troubles. Today I have. Today I have Someone who will always hear me . . .

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Chaplain/Pastor Leonard Grubb Christian Radio Interview

The Dick B. Christian Recovery Radio Show Interview on August 9, 2012, of Christian Recovery Leader Chaplain/Pastor Leonard Grubb of Ohio

Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

You Can Hear the Chaplain Leonard Grubb Interview Right Now!


You may hear Dick B. interview Chaplain/Pastor Leonard Grubb on the August 9, 2012, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:

or here:

Dick B. interviews Christian Recovery leader Leonard Grubb, August 9, 2012

Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:

Synopsis of the Interview

A word or two about Chaplain/Pastor Leonard Grubb. Leonard got sober in December of 1984, and we will tell you that part of his story in the latter part of this synopsis. And, before that, some major and important points he made during today’s interview. Here also are some details about Leonard’s current status.

Leonard is a Chaplain/Pastor in Painesville, Ohio. He is also a businessman entrepreneur. He heads up Christian Community Missions and a Big Book Good Book Discussion Group. He is the Senior Chaplain of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Also, as an ordained minister, he takes a group of 17 volunteers into the county jail each week to tell the inmates about the hope that the Twelve Steps bring and the importance of turning to God for help. He is a participating Christian Recovery Leader in the International Christian Recovery Coalition, a member of its Speakers Bureau, and has established a Christian Recovery Resource Center to serve his community in Ohio. He is thoroughly versed in the history of early Alcoholics Anonymous and in the Christian roots of the fellowship. He is also a bold and effective speaker about God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, and their relevance to recovery from alcoholism and addiction today among those who want God’s help and go to any length to get it.

The following parts of his interview deserve particular attention here.

(1)   In December of 1984, He was despondent and ready to take his own life. He turned on the TV and listened to a man who talked about God and Jesus Christ and asking Jesus Christ to come into his heart. He asked Jesus to reveal himself, and that happened – to the extent that his suicidal proclivities, depression, and concerns over family went away. He firmly believes from that, and other experiences, that God is there for anyone who calls on Him. It was after he had been relieved of the compulsion that his Wife chose to leave him and seek a divorce. So Sobriety was fraught with challenge in that first year!

(2)   In about 2002 He sought and received ordination from Christian Ministries International, and that allowed him entry into the county jail where he and his volunteers share each week with some 35 men or 35 women. He has established a recovery meeting at a mental health facility in Lake Co. Ohio and uses our suggested format, pointing out that A.A. founders used the Bible as the foundation for their recovery program. He is about to start another group – the Twelve Steps of A.A. Big Book and Good Book Discussions – and share the importance of a life based upon the Centrality of  Christ and Dependence upon God..

(3)   One of Leonard’s most persuasive points can be very helpful to Christians and others in A.A. who puzzle over the mention in Steps 3 and 12 of God “as we understood Him”.

Leonard takes issue with those who use the “as we understood Him” language as an open door to all sorts of irrelevant “higher powers.” Instead, he said, his take on the phrase is centered on the word “we.” He points out that the founders of A.A. had spent many many hours studying the Bible, reading Christian literature, and praying together. They had turned to God for help. They were not telling people there was no God. Instead they were taking them upstairs, getting them on their knees, and having them accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

When in 1939, Bill Wilson and the little committee of four (which included Bill), threw in the phrase “as we understood Him,” they were not making up some new deity. They were explaining to newcomers that their God was the God of the Bible they had been studying. That they as a group did have an understanding of God. That God had cured them when they had sought Him. And that the Steps were explaining that they had been healed by taking the very 12 Steps that enabled them to turn their wills and lives over to the care and direction of the very God they understood and who had healed them when sought.

In other words, when the Big Book writers and editors still retained dozens of unqualified references to “God;” a dozen references to the “Creator;” mention many times of the “Heavenly Father” and “Maker,” they were talking of their God as they collectively already understood Him and that others could turn to and seek the same kind of help from the Creator that the founders received.

(4)   Leonard pointed out also that they relied on a Creator who looked out for their welfare and who loved them. He particularly pointed to Bill Wilson’s statement on page 191 of the Big Book Fourth Edition, where Bill stated emphatically that the “Lord” had cured him of his terrible disease. The phrases were showing the suffering alcoholics that they could be new creatures in Christ and turn to the God who showed them their alcoholism, delivered them, and gave them the gift of an ability to control their alcoholism instead of yielding to the temptation of a craving.

(5)   Ten or eleven years ago, Leonard was confronted with surgery where doctors declared that it had shown them he did not have a malignancy. Then he learned that he had blood cancer. With that, he dropped to his knees and asked God for healing and help. Two weeks later, after he had turned down chemo and radiation, a cat scan revealed that he was free.

(6)   Leonard pointed out that he frequently goes to a website that publishes each day one of God’s promises—365 of them in the Bible. And, of course, there are many more. He points out that the Big Book contains twelve promises that show God’s caring. But the, and the others he looks for and remembers, tell him to be bold because the enemy can steal the joy if there is no understanding of the breadth of God’s love.

Leonard produces a YouTube presentation which carries his message; and he also points to two Facebook pages – one of which is and the other is . . He is doing his best to spread his message as widely as possible via new media that recovery is possible through seeking God of the Bible, and Jesus Christ just as the founders did.

Gloria Deo

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Christian Upbringing of A.A.'s Dr. Bob-Vermont Workshop

Press Release: A Portion of the AA History Workshops in East Dorset, Manchester, St. Johnsbury in Our Vermont A.A. Leader Cadre Workshops – September 2 – 9, 2012

                                                                                                            Contact: Richard G. Burns

                                                                                                                           808 874 4876


                                                                                                                           Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

A New Awakening Recovery Path Today in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Preparations for the September 2012 A.A. History Cadre Workshops in Vermont

Suggested Inspirational Walk to Places Where A.A.’s Cofounder Dr. Bob Smith Received What He Called His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6 KJV)

Dick B. and Ken B.

Making available to visitors and those diligently seeking recovery from addictions, substance abuse, and other life-controlling problems the major biblical sources of the original, highly-successful, Christian recovery program founded and developed by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio, on and after June 10, 1935.


Your Walk Around St. Johnsbury

DR. BOB’S BIRTHPLACE AND BOYHOOD HOME; Begin at Dr. Bob’s Birthplace and Boyhood Home at 297 Summer Street.

            Snap a photo of yourself and Dr. Bob’s family home.

            Visit the premises.

            If you like, attend one of the “open” A.A. meetings held there.

NORTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, ST. JOHNSBURY: Walk to the Smith family church at 1325 Main Street--North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury.

            Snap a photo of yourself and the beautiful, towering stone edifice.

            Enter the church and view the ornate sanctuary.

Allow ample time to see, browse, and study the materials in the Dr. Bob Core Library, which has been graciously provided, and is maintained, by the church.

The Dr. Bob Core Library volumes will tell you, as to the church, where the family of Judge Walter P. Smith--Bob’s father--worshipped on Sunday morning, attended Sunday school that afternoon, and that evening heard preaching and united in prayers (and also attended such YMCA events, lectures, and concerts as were provided there). You will see where the church’s Christian Endeavor Society for young people held its meetings. You can read volumes of material on Christian Endeavor and on the history of Christian Endeavor in Caledonia County. You may learn the subject of the sermons, the Sunday school lessons, the Sunday prayer meetings, and the Wednesday evening prayer and Christian Endeavor meetings. You will see the extensive, varied, and reported details of the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, which transformed the town, the church, and the people of St. Johnsbury; converted hundreds to Christ and impacted on community life for decades thereafter. There is much on the history of the North Church; the role of Fairbanks family members as donors, builders, office holders, and             Sunday school and mission work participants. Governor Erastus Fairbanks was a lifetime Deacon to the church. There are many records of the extensive church participation by the Smith family members (including Judge Walter P. Smith, Mrs. Susan H. Smith, Mrs. Smith’s mother, Dr. Bob, and Dr. Bob’s foster sister Amanda Northrup). There is much material to assist visitors in understanding the relevance of the church and its training to the subsequent history and program of Alcoholics Anonymous, its founders, principles, and practices. You will have an opportunity to get a greater perception of the Bible roots of the Akron Christian A.A. Fellowship. And how these Vermont roots figured largely in A.A. beginnings--with its required conversions; required reliance on God; required five elements of recovery; weekly and almost daily “old fashioned prayer meetings;” stress on reading of the Bible privately and at meetings; stress on cultivation of the habit of prayer; regular seeking of God’s guidance; Quiet Time, the use of devotionals, and frequent reading of Christian literature; and persistent and continuing personal work in love and service to provide free help to new alcoholics so that they could get straightened out and live successful spiritual lives. In the language of A.A.’s own Big Book text, the recovered pioneers were said to have become happy, joyous, and free. They had conceded to their innermost selves that they were alcoholic and could not manage their own lives; that probably no human power could relieve them, and that--when God had been sought and they had established a relationship with Him--God could and would do, and had done, for them what they could not do for themselves. They vociferously declared that they had been cured by the power of God; that the Creator had healed them of their terrible malady; and that they had unselfishly been moved to witness to others precisely how this miracle of recovery had been accomplished.

            Consider dropping a donation in the box.

FAIRBANKS MUSEUM AND PLANETARIUM: Cross Main Street to the impressive Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, donated to the Town of St. Johnsbury by Colonel Franklin Fairbanks, and containing substantial historical archives, diaries, and records.

            Snap a photo.

            Visit the museum.

            Make an appointment, if desired, to view the historical records in their   archives.

THE ST. JOHNSBURY ATHENAEUM: Walk south to 1171 Main Street to the magnificent St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, a library for the town and for St. Johnsbury Academy “scholars” (i.e., students). Built in the Second Empire style, the Athenaeum was a gift to the town from Governor Horace Fairbanks in 1871. It contains a treasure trove of books, manuscripts, photos, papers, and other historical materials. Researchers and historians, as well those in recovery, can--as we did--spend hours and hours in the comfortable library amidst its well-stocked shelves and stacks.

Snap a photo of yourself and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

Be sure to visit the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. Utilize the available help from the library staff, indexes, computers, and copy facilities. There are comfortable chairs,    adequate rest rooms, water fountains, and newspapers.

Consider dropping a donation in the box.

Spend substantial time reviewing the history of the Green Mountain state and the sons and daughters of Vermont. Examine the history of St. Johnsbury, the extensive role of the Fairbanks family in community affairs, the immense economic blessings emanating from the invention of the platform scale by Thaddeus Fairbanks and the long-lasting success of the Fairbanks Scales business. Look through the town directories which tell the story, year by year, of the Smith family’s great involvement in the affairs of the community. Search the Smith family genealogy; the activities of North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, and the town’s other churches; Congregationalism in Vermont; the YMCA in Vermont; the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury; the Christian Endeavor Society in St. Johnsbury and in Vermont; Temperance activities; and the role of women (including Mrs. Walter P. Smith) in domestic missionary work, women’s clubs, local and traveling libraries, Temperance, and the St. Johnsbury Academy.

View on the microfilm reader the complete newspaper accounts of Dr. Bob’s boyhood days in St. Johnsbury in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian (town newspaper), which is today known as the Caledonian-Record.

 See the genealogies, biographies, and historical activities of the important sons of Vermont.        

THE FORMER SITE OF THE ST. JOHNSBURY YMCA BUILDING (destroyed by fire in 1984 and then demolished), Eastern Avenue.

Rev. Henry Fairbanks donated the YMCA building which was constructed in 1885 and located just off Main Street at 113 Eastern Avenue (until it was destroyed by fire in 1984). Prior to the erection of the building, the state Executive Committee of the Vermont YMCA had conducted Gospel “canvasses” in St. Johnsbury (and throughout Vermont for several years beginning in 1875) and--through the work of lay evangelists--catalyzed the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury itself through “Gospel Meetings” which built on the prayers for revival and “union meetings” of the local churches of several denominations in St. Johnsbury. Even the Fairbanks Scales plant was opened at noon time for prayer meetings. Hundreds were converted to Christ during this revival work. At least one report made at the national YMCA Convention in Richmond, Virginia, in 1875, placed the number of decisions for Christ at 1,500--almost one-third of the town population. And YMCA people continued the evangelical work for some time after 1875.

Dr. Bob’s father, Judge Walter P. Smith, was president of the St. Johnsbury YMCA from 1895 until at least 1897. Dr. Bob attended St. Johnsbury Academy from 1894 until he graduated in 1898. The Academy on Main Street was easy walking distance from the YMCA building on Eastern Avenue. The YMCA and the Academy’s students interacted closely, even to the point that the YMCA was putting ¼-½ page ads in the student publication while Dr. Bob was in school there. Fairbanks family members were leaders in its evangelical work, beginning no later than the annual State of Vermont YMCA Convention held in Norwich in November of 1874.

The YMCA provided Bible classes, Bible studies, Bible conversation classes, and meetings for young men. It conducted lectures, concerts, and other events in the churches and at St. Johnsbury Academy. It provided gym facilities for young men; and it worked in close cooperation with St. Johnsbury Academy, running regular advertisements in the student newspaper.

THE COURT HOUSE, Main Street, and Judge Walter P. Smith (Bob’s father)

Just across the street from the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is the court house where Dr. Bob’s father, Walter Perrin Smith, served many successive elected terms as Probate Judge handling the settling of estates and probate of wills. The Judge is also frequently listed and recorded among the community lawyers. He served as a town agent and village auditor; superintendent of schools; State’s attorney; and representative for St. Johnsbury in the Vermont Legislature. At the North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, he was a Sunday school teacher for many years, a Sunday school superintendent, and a Deacon. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he taught in schools and served as Principal of Hardwick Academy. He served St. Johnsbury Academy as one of its examiners. The Judge was long involved in the local banking system as an investor, director, trustee, and officer in three of the town’s banks--Merchants National, Passumpsic Savings, and First National. He became President of Carrick Brothers Granite Company. He was a widely sought-after speaker at political events, a Republican, and a well-known Congregationalist.

ST. JOHNSBURY ACADEMY, 1000 Main Street (Mrs. Walter Smith and Bob himself)

Dominating the south end of Main Street is the campus of St. Johnsbury Academy, which was founded by the three Fairbanks brothers--Thaddeus, Erastus, and Joseph P. The details of this unusual facility can best be learned by making an appointment in advance to visit with the Academy archivist, Joanne Bertrand, who works at the Grace Orcutt Library on campus.

Snap several photos of yourself, of the Academy buildings, and of South Church next door where daily chapel was often held.

Located in the archives are many of the founding papers requiring religious training and Bible study. Academy governing papers required that trustees be members of a Congregational Church, that “scholars” (= students) attend Daily Chapel where there were Scripture readings, sermons, exhortations, prayers, and singing. All scholars were duty-bound to attend a church service and a Bible study once each week.

Important archival and library papers include school catalogs showing the textbooks, curricula, trustees, Principal, staff, teachers, and scholars in attendance. There are histories of the Academy (at least one of which was partially prepared by Mrs. Walter P. Smith), attendance cards for Bob and, earlier, his mother; photographs of Dr. Bob and of his graduating class; Dr. Bob’s commencement program which names him as Orator; accounts of Bob’s activities as Manager and member of the Glee Club; Dr. Bob’s participation  in debates, a fraternity, and class offices; class notes about Dr. Bob; and many copies of the student newspaper (both at the Academy and at the Athenaeum). Papers also show Bob’s mother as an Academy student, then an Academy teacher, then an active member of the Alumni Executive Committee, presenter of a large portion of the school’s history at major celebrations, and author of two chapters of a book on the history of the Academy.

Robert Holbrook Smith (A.A.’s Dr. Bob)--who was born August 8, 1879, in the family home at 20 Summer Street in St. Johnsbury--is listed as a member and Sunday school scholar at North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury. He himself wrote that he was active in the Christian Endeavor Society of North Congregational Church. He wrote, and records confirm, that he and his family regularly attended Sunday morning service, Sunday school, and Sunday evening service, as well as the Christian Endeavor meeting. Frequently, Bob attended the church prayer meeting on Wednesday and regularly attended Christian Endeavor meetings on Wednesday. He attended the local Summer Street School and was later a scholar at St. Johnsbury Academy from 1894 to 1898 (at which time he graduated). He attended and graduated from Dartmouth. And he received medical training at the University of Michigan and at Rush. He later received specialist training as a proctologist and practiced medicine in Akron, Ohio. Plagued with alcoholism since college days, he prayed for recovery with a small group of Christians at the home of inventor T. Henry Williams in Akron. Shortly after he thus sought God’s help, he attained sobriety. The date was June 10, 1935, regarded as the founding day of A.A. by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson of New York. From that date on, Dr. Bob personally helped over 5,000 drunks to recover, without charge to the drunk. This selfless service led A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson to dub Dr. Bob the “Prince of all Twelfth Steppers.” Dr. Bob had met Anne Robinson Ripley (his wife-to-be) at a St. Johnsbury Academy dance. He later married her at her home in Illinois and settled in the family home at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron where A.A. is said to have been founded. Anne Smith died first; Dr. Bob died shortly thereafter; and the two are buried in Akron. Both Dr. Bob and his wife were deeply committed to serving the Creator; were devout Christians; and were strong believers in Bible study, prayer, and seeking God’s guidance. Both widely read, recommended, and distributed Christian literature to early A.A. pioneers. And Dr. Bob assured newcomers to A.A. that--if they went to any lengths to establish their relationship with God, accept Christ, follow his teachings, abstain from drinking and temptation, diligently seek God’s help, and witness in love and service to newcomers in recovery: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181).

The “excellent training” Dr. Bob had received in the “Good Book” as a youngster in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, provided the foundation for the “absolutely essential” Bible-basics of the early A.A. program. A.A. claimed for that original program a 75% success rate. And Dr. Bob’s sponsee, Clarence Snyder, followed up with a documented, 93% success rate in Cleveland among “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “real” alcoholics who went to any lengths to be cured. He declared that A.A.’s basic ideas came from the Bible study done by the A.A. pioneers--particularly in the Book of James, in the Sermon on the Mount, and in 1 Corinthians 13.

Dr. Bob’s mother, Mrs. Walter P. Smith (Susan Holbrook Smith--born Susan Amanda Holbrook), can--in the alumni, faculty, and other library records of St. Johnsbury Academy, in St. Johnsbury Athenaeum records, in women’s affairs records, in St. Johnsbury Caledonian newspaper articles, and in missionary records--be seen as very much involved in: (1)  church service, (2) Sunday school service, (3) the Vermont Domestic Missionary Society, (4) libraries, (5) education, (6) Temperance activities, and (7) music. She was also involved in St. Johnsbury community affairs through other teaching and other religious activities, and through other Academy-related activities. Susan attended St. Johnsbury Academy and graduated from it in 1874. She then taught at St. Johnsbury Academy from 1874 to 1876. She and Judge Smith were married shortly thereafter after. Based on our intensive research over the past eight months, it seems very likely that both of Dr. Bob’s parents were impacted by the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury. Both were listed in North Congregational Church records in beginning in 1878 and became members in 1882. In the church, Mrs. Smith served as Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent, Intermediate Department superintendent, president of the Women’s Club, editor of its cook book volume, member of the Vermont Domestic Missionary Society, and participant in the church quartet. She is listed as a participant in the Women‘s Christian Temperance Union. Through her activity with the International Women’s Clubs and the St. Johnsbury Women’s Club, she was singled out as the well-known and tireless worker for the free state library facilities in rural communities. She became a member of the State Library Commission. 

-----------------------------------------------------Gloria Deo------------------------------------------------

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Vermont Sept Workshops: Research and Support for AA Co-founders Christian Upbringing

Your Worthwhile Support of

the A.A. History Workshops This September in Vermont

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Ken and I will be in Vermont during early September this year: (1) to dedicate formally the “Dr. Bob Core Library” at North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury; (2) to present workshops in St. Johnsbury and Manchester about the Christian upbringings and biblical training of Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Vermont; and (3) to do additional research on the Christian upbringings of A.A.’s Vermont-born cofounders. [We may even go down to Northfield, Massachusetts, to spend some time at the birthplace and home (in his later years) of Dwight L. Moody, who (along with Ira Sankey and Henry Moorhouse) directly impacted on Vermont’s Christian revival during the 1870’s.] The trip will enable you to join us in workshops, hear the real history of the Christian upbringing of Alcoholics Anonymous’ cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob, and pass along a history that most AAs and recovery workers just don’t know. And whether you can join us for some or all of our Vermont adventure—and we hope you can!—your support in helping to offset the $6,000.00 or so in expenses involved in this trip will be much appreciated.


            Sept. 3 – 6: St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Comfort Inn Suites

            Sept. 6 – 8: Manchester (and East Dorset), Vermont, Avalanche Motel


            St. Johnsbury: A thorough history of Dr. Bob’s Christian upbringing and biblical training

Manchester: The many threads of Christian people and places that make up the Christian upbringing of Bill W.—Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher and Burr and Burton Seminary with its daily chapel, four-year Bible study, morning prayers, and regular church attendance; Ebby’s boarding there with the Congregational pastor Rev. Perkins; the summering there of Ebby’s Oxford Group mentor Shep Cornell; the proximity and interrelationship of his other mentors—Rowland Hazard and Cebra Graves; the friendship of Lois Wilson’s family and the Thacher family; the transition to chapel, Bible study, and church services at the military academy Bill and Ebby attended together in Northfield, Vermont (Norwich University); and the family of Bill’s love Bertha Bamford;


East Dorset and nearby Emerald Lake where Bill was so much involved with Lois, Ebby, Mark Whalon, and the East Dorset Congregational Church’s creed, confession, sermons, services, Sunday school, tent meetings, revival and conversion meetings, and Temperance meetings. Also Bill’s Bible studies with his maternal grandfather Fayette Griffith and with his friend Mark Whalon. And the unusual story of Bill’s paternal grandfather Willie Wilson’s conversion experience and cure of alcoholism at the top of nearby Mount Aeolus.

We will give a broad picture of the Christian upbringing and biblical training of Bill W. and Dr. Bob:

            After years of research, travel, interviews, visits to libraries and archives, and

collection of documents, we can now provide a very detailed picture for those willing to learn about Vermont, its leaders, organizations, churches, and people who impacted A.A. founders:

Christian ministers, leaders, and members of the Smith and Wilson families in Vermont; Vermont Congregational church contributions; Bible studies; conversions; prayer meetings, Young Men’s Christian Association influences; United Society of Christian Endeavor influences (on Dr. Bob); and the daily chapel, sermons, church attendance, and prayers at every turn—St. Johnsbury, East Dorset, possibly Rutland, Manchester, and Norwich University at Northfield; and the specific Christian suggestions given to Ebby Thacher by the three Oxford Group men (Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, and Cebra Graves) that were then passed on to Bill W.

The “Dr. Bob Core Library” in St. Johnsbury which we will formally dedicate in September, and the library at The Griffith House in East Dorset (which was built specifically to house many of the historical materials Dick B. accumulated over the years), already have thousands of these materials; and our new findings on this trip will be added as well.

If you are a Christian leader or worker in the recovery arena, or are otherwise a fan of A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement, please consider joining us for one or more days during our adventure in learning more about the two Green Mountain boys of Vermont who cofounded A.A.

Whether or not you can join us this time, please consider supporting our work by making a donation to help offset the expenses involved in this trip. If you would like to make a donation, please make your check or money order payable to “Dick B.” and mail it to: Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837. Or please contact me at (808) 874-4876 if you would like to make a donation by credit card or debit card.

If you would like to have your donation be tax deductible, please give me a call at (808) 874-4876 for details on how to do that.

God Bless,

Dick B.

August 2, 2012

Gloria Deo