Dear Paula: Thank you for writing, and I enjoyed your points and your plans.
Our latest two books – “Stick with the Winners!” and “Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous” lay the foundation for studies and learning that begins with A.A. Conference-approved literature, focuses on the role of God and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible, and accurately familiarizes with these elements those who want the real history instead of self-made religion, nonsense gods, and pseudo-spirituality. I would hope you will obtain a copy of each of these books as a general guide.
We strongly encourage and help others organize study groups; and many of my books propose the subjects, the formats, and the resources.
And now to Anne Ripley Smith and Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939. I learned about Anne’s journal from lengthy conferences with Dr. Bob’s daughter Sue Windows and his son Robert R. Smith. I think the importance of Anne and her work involves all the following ingredients: (1) Anne was the one who had a Quiet Time and read the Bible to Bill and Bob each day in the beginning. Like those two, she stressed the importance of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. (2) Soon she was gathering at the Smith home each morning a large number of alkies, their families, and their friends and covering the contents of the Bible, her journal, some devotionals, group prayer, topical discussion, and love. (3) She began keeping her journal in 1933 and continued until 1939. (4) In a very real sense, she was and was called the “Mother of A.A.” and a founder of Akron Number One. (5) In 1936, she launched a women’s group in Akron. (6) For several years she counseled Lois Wilson and some of her “kitchen group” in New York as they struggled with their alkies and family problems. (7) Those who are knowledgeable regard her as one of the founding people in Al-Anon because so many of her ideas were transmitted and utilized by Lois and her consorts. (8) In the Smith Home, she acted as cook, counselor, nurse, evangelist, Bible reader, prayer leader, literature enthusiast, and a regular outreacher to newcomers—men and women. (9) It is quite clear from her journal that she became thoroughly conversant with the 28 Oxford Group principles I discuss at length in The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.dickb.com/Oxford.shtml. (10) In fact, drawing on the Oxford Group ideas that Wilson later incorporated in his “new version” of the program—the Big Book and 12 Steps—she covered in a very practical way each of the major ideas such as Quiet Time, Prayer, Bible study, Jesus Christ, the Four Absolutes, the 5 C’s, literature of life-changing and love, and many practical suggestions for dealing with drunks and comporting one’s life according to the teachings of Jesus. (11) Anne was a regular attender at the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship meetings and was legendary for her work with women and newcomers. (12) Her life-long fidelity to and forgiveness of Dr. Bob, as well as her untrammeled support for his work with drunks, make her a major factor in the success of early A.A.—albeit humble, unassuming, and reliant on the Creator for love, guidance, healing, and help in her work with others. (13) One of Anne’s important statements in the journal is: “Of course, the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. Not a day should pass without reading it.” And she practiced this herself-fervently.
I think you could do no better for your study group than to start off Anne Smith’s Journal. I will have Ken contact you regarding resource costs; and I believe he can propose an economical solution that will enable you to have a book for every one of your members.
Your plans are welcome, and I urge you to keep in touch with us if we can be of help in your continued love and service. Thank you again for writing.