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For An AA Meeting
may be some features of Chicago AA meetings that would benefit
your own group.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., July 1961
meetings in Chicago are the open and closed type. In addition,
there are ten Sunday-morning breakfasts which offer questions
and answers as well as bacon and eggs and so are, in fact,
AA gatherings. A bit of history will explain the Chicago
persons, who had gone originally to Akron to get AA, attended
the first Chicago meeting held on a Tuesday night in September,
1939. Since then, there has been a group meeting every Tuesday
night open to husbands and wives of members but not to the
meetings were more of a huddle for mutual encouragement
than programmed affairs. A leader, chosen a week in advance,
was free to conduct the meeting as he wished. Usually, he
read a passage of scripture and told his own story. Meetings
were opened with a brief "quiet time" (it may
be that this practice originated in Chicago) and were closed
with the Lords Prayer.
first departure was the formation of a "setup"
committee to convene before the main meeting and discuss
such matters as a place to meet next week, how to get a
radio program going, hospital arrangements for newcomers
and even, on one occasion, how much whiskey to allow a man
with the shakes. Handling secular affairs in a separate
session left the main meeting free to discuss pure AA.
a month of the first Chicago meeting, AA had its first nation-wide
publicity, in the old Liberty Magazine, and, as a result,
the pioneers soon were outnumbered by new people loaded
with problems. Tuesday meeting attendance increased, which,
while gratifying, made it difficult to give attention to
individuals. At this point, two older members had an idea.
They arranged an informal session with a number of new members.
It was held on a Thursday night and worked out so well as
a way of dealing directly with newcomers that the idea was
adopted community-wide on an organized basis.
Chicago AA territory, including the city and suburbs, was
divided into ten areas, each with its own Thursday group.
Since then, through growth in membership and subdivision
of the original ten districts, the number of neighborhood
groups has increased to about 280.
groups (some meet Friday nights) have become the basic unit
of membership, although all of them contribute to support
of the Chicago Central AA office and all are serviced by
that agency. Thursday meetings are still primarily to assist
new people. Discussions are informal. The topic may be one
of the Twelve Steps or any pertinent subject selected by
the meeting leader.
the meantime, while the Thursday groups were expanding,
the Tuesday-night meetings also grew. For several years
there was only one central meeting, attended by all members
within fifty or so miles of Chicago. As a matter of convenience
to the long-distance members, outlying meetings were set
up and there are now six of these. Each is supported and
attended by some forty nearby neighborhood groups.
meeting programs have become pretty well standardized. Speakers,
usually three and a master of ceremonies are provided by
member groups in turn. The program committee chairman opens
the meeting by reading the widely used statement on the
AA Fellowship, makes whatever announcements there may be,
welcomes newcomers and out-of-town visitors and then turns
the microphone over to the M.C.
the speakers represent three AA ages a new man with
six months to a year on the program and still radiant from
his landing in AA; one who has been in several years; and
the group member with the longest whiskers. Women appear
as speakers in about the same ratio of women membership
in the group. At times there have been all-woman programs.
Members of the inter-racial groups also speak frequently
at Tuesday meetings.
meetings, like those in the beginning, are opened with a
quiet time and are closed with the Lords Prayer. After
the Tuesday-night talks, and also after the Thursday-night
discussions, it has become customary for all to stay around
for conversation and coffee.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., July 1961
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