Monday, July 2, 2012

Old School A.A. Meetings in Canada: Mark Galligan Interview

Mark Galligan Explains How the Christian Recovery Meeting in His Home Applies “Old-School” A.A. Principles in 12-Step Recovery Today

Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All Rights reserved

Synopsis of Dick B.’s Radio Interview of Mark Galligan Today

Over and over each week, my son Ken and I receive emails and phone calls from AAs, NAs, Christian recovery leaders, 12 Step Fellowships, and others in the recovery arena asking virtually the same question and phrased as follows:

I never heard in A.A. or learned anything about how the early A.A. program conducted its successful meetings, and talked freely about God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible. I never heard that A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature supports incorporating early A.A.’s principles and practices as an option available in today’s meetings. I get rebuked in meetings if I mention Jesus Christ or the Bible in A.A. meetings. But our group is hungry for more information about “old-school” A.A., and about how to establish and conduct meetings today that will study, discuss, and apply “old-school” A.A. principles and practices now. Where do we start?

In our frequent “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” radio show interviews, we are hearing from leaders all over the world who are telling us how hungry their friends and acquaintances are for information, how much they want to start a study group, and how sorely they need information and guidance as to how to go about it.

Mark’s second interview today lays out clearly some very significant facts about how his Canadian meetings are doing it with great success today in house meetings with up to 20 men—half considered “newcomers” (those who have six months or less of sobriety) and half considered “old-timers” (those who have, on average, 10 years or more of sobriety). And our listeners can learn a lot from Mark’s talk. They can also get in touch with him as a “Christian Recovery Resource Center or Person” associated with the International Christian Recovery Coalition and as a member of the Coalition’s Speakers Bureau Here are some salient points from my interview of Mark Galligan today.

The Meeting Focus:

Like those in early A.A. in Akron, the meetings are held in the home. They are directed at initiating newcomers. The aim is to teach the place that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible had in early A.A.  A number of the members use King James Version of the Bible—the “Good Book” early AAs used. Others use the NIV for its updated language. Mark believes there is no conflict in this usage.

The Tools They Use:

1.      The entire text of the original “Serenity Prayer.” (Many involved in recovery have never heard the full, “long form” version of this prayer.)

2.      Key A.A. General Service Conference-approved books; e.g.:

a.       DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers;

b.      Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age;

c.       As Bill Sees It;

d.      The Language of the Heart;

e.       ‘Pass It On.’

3.      The Little Big Book Dictionary (a dictionary and concordance).

4.      The Anonymous Press Study Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd ed.--each second

Page is blank and enables notes to be made.

5.      The A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks—stressing Dr. Bob’s last major address where he points out that the old-timers believed that the solution to their problems was in the Good Book (their affectionate name for the Bible), and emphasized as “absolutely essential” Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James.

6.      Dick B.’s The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible

The Conduct of the Meetings:

Members must commit to attending each week. They must do the work. And they must be prepared for the subject matter to be discussed.

Each meeting starts with prayer. Then the text. And then a review of what was learned the previous week.

For the first three months, each newcomer must write down—three pages a day—the “first 164 pages of the Big Book”; including the Preamble, the Forewords, and the Doctor’s Opinion. They are told that, if they complete that assignment, at the end of 90 days they will have completed the 12 Steps. Their attention is called to the mention of God 326 times, and to the descriptions of Him as Creator and Maker.

The Problems in Today’s Meetings:

Mark points to the fact that, in many 12-Step recovery meetings today, one hears little about the Twelve Steps. The meetings can be characterized as “group therapy.” Mention of the words God and Jesus Christ are blocked out. A large percentage of the meeting attendees are not interested in hearing about them. And there is a new brand of talk about I, I, Me, Me.

The Growing  Hunger for Truth:

Mark’s group has taken the group to a deeper layer of appreciating what early AAs actually did in their original Akron “Christian fellowship” meetings. He finds newcomers hungry for the Word of God.

The Importance of Quiet Time:

Consistent with what we are finding all over the world, there is a great interest in the restoration of Quiet Time. Mark finds there is very little talk about prayer and meditation or about Quiet Time in most meetings. It’s missing. This despite the fact that A.A.’s own literature points out that meetings were not considered important in early A.A., but that Quiet Time was a must.

We called attention to some strong movements in that direction. For example, Rock Recovery Ministry of the Rock Church in San Diego is now featuring a new book by The Upper Room, titled Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions 2013. For some time, members in the recovery program have sent text messages to each other based on what they have learned about the topic for the day found in The Upper Room. Also, in Texas, Father Bill W., an Episcopal priest who formerly headed Austin Recovery, is now Chair of Episcopal Diocese of Texas Recovery Committee. This committee is making a significant effort in Houston and Austin to plan an effective program of that nature. We also called attention on the program to our popular title, Dick B., Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A., 2d ed. (, which reports the historical roots of the Quiet Time practice, and the specifics as to how it was done. E.g., the Quiet Time meeting involved an opening prayer, Bible reading, group prayer, seeking God’s guidance, discussion and/or sharing by Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Smith from her personal journal [see Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939 (], and use of The Upper Room and other devotionals such as The Runner’s Bible, and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

Conclusion: Mark summed up by repeating the foregoing items, stressing that there was no room for laziness in today’s recovery work. There are plenty of resources available now for satisfy the growing hunger. He again mentioned the important tools being used in the home meetings in Ontario.

You Can Hear the Mark Galligan July 2 Interview Right Now

You may listen to the second part of Dick B.'s interview with “Akronite” and Christian Recovery leader Mark Galligan on the July 2, 2012, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with DickB" show here:

or here:

Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with DickB" show are archived at:

Dick B.’s email:                                                            

Dick B.’s main Web site:                                              

“Christian Recovery Radio with DickB” show archive:

Gloria Deo

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