As another calendar year begins, I am reminded of two beginnings. The first of these took place in 1934. An alcoholic by the name of Bill Wilson was invited by his friend, Ebby Thatcher, to attend an Oxford Group meeting. The meeting was held at the Calvary Episcopal Church located in Manhattan, New York City. At the time Bill and his wife, Lois lived in Brooklyn Heights just 4 miles from the meeting location. Through the spiritual 6 steps of the Oxford Group and “carrying the message” to other alcoholics, Bill was able to find and maintain his sobriety.
It was while on a business trip to Akron, Ohio in 1935 that Wilson met another alcoholic, Dr. Robert Smith. As the message of recovery was shared with Dr. Bob, he too found sobriety. In turn they brought words of encouragement and the Oxford Group’s 6 steps to other alcoholics in Akron. Together they co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous and expanded the 6 steps of the Oxford Group to the 12 steps of AA which are still used by hundreds of 12 Step organizations (such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Workaholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, and The Journey to Wholeness). Today there are millions of people throughout the world who are finding freedom from obsessive thinking and compulsive harmful substances and behaviors as a result of this beginning.
The second beginning I just became aware of a few weeks ago. A pastor friend of mine, Tony Romero, currently serves as pastor of the Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located just a mile and a half away from where Bill W. discovered the spiritual program of the Oxford Group that led to his finding freedom from his alcoholism. I hope you’ll read Pastor Tony’s article/report of what today is happening in this historic church and of the fifteen 12 Step groups that are now meeting there.
Each day can be a new beginning with Jesus Christ. I hope you will consider and help provide for 12 Step meetings – including The Journey to Wholeness – to meet in your church and community. To learn more, visit our website and attend a training: www.adventistrecovery.org
Ray Nelson, MDiv, MSPH