The essence of the A.A. program was, and still is, helping the alcoholic who still suffers by carrying to him a message of what God has done, and can do, for him—if he wants that help and diligently seeks God. The lesson is that the first three AAs soon wanted to develop a program for others coming after them. Others who would, like they, be or become Christians, and diligently seek God’s help. To carry a proper message, and effectuate miraculous recoveries like their own, the first AAs developed some very definite practices that were used by the early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship.”
The principles and practices of this early A.A. Christian Fellowship in Akron were surveyed for John D. Rockefeller, Jr. by his agent Frank Amos—who went to Akron in February 1938 to investigate and report on the successes and cures that had been calculated in November 1937 when Bill W. and Dr. Bob “counted the noses” of the recoveries up to that time. And Amos rendered a report now found in the Rockefeller Archives in New York and quoted in part in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. (For more information, please see: Dick B., When Early AAs Were Cured and Why (www.DickB.com/titles.shtml).
The Frank Amos Published Summary of the Early Akron A.A. Program
Following his visit to Akron in February 1938, Frank Amos, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s agent, summarized the original Akron A.A. “Program” in seven points. Here are those points, as quoted in Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers: (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc, 1980), 128-36—especially 131.
- An alcoholic must realize that he is an alcoholic, incurable from a medical viewpoint, and that he must never drink anything with alcohol in it.
- He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.
- Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him.
- He must have devotions every morning—a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding
- He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.
- It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.