The Meeting at T. Henry's
Guests at these House-parties
are treated as guests; they meet on an equal social footing,
whatever may be their social status elsewhere; gloom is conspicuous
by its absence, and there is more laughter at an Oxford Group
House-party than at many ordinary social gatherings.
The Layman With A Notebook,
What Is The Oxford Group (London; Oxford University
Moved by the spirit of anonymity, we try
to give up our natural desires for personal distinction as A.A.
members both among fellow alcoholics and before the general
Twelve Steps And Twelve
Traditions (New York; Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc.) pp.191/192
But why shouldn't we laugh? We had recovered
and have been given the power to help others. Everybody knows
that those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not
laugh much. So let each family play together or separately,
as much as their circumstances warrant. We are sure God wants
us to be happy, joyous, and free.
Alcoholics Anonymous (New
York; Works Publishing Company, 1939) p. 146
was about to begin. Everyone began to take his seat. Clarence
and Dorothy sat next to Lloyd T. and his mother, as was suggested
by Doc. There were about fifty people at the meeting. Alcoholics
from Akron, a few from Cleveland, and the balance "just plain
old sinners who didn't drink," as Clarence put it. The chosen
leader for that night was, as Clarence remembered, Paul S. ("Truth
freed me" 1st Ed.)
opened the meeting with a prayer for all of those in attendance
and for those unfortunates who were still living in sin on the
outside. Paul then read a verse or two out of the King James
Version of the Bible. Clarence remembered that the particular
verses, as well as everything at the meeting, had been "gotten
from Guidance" before the meeting.
Oxford Group, Guidance was by the Holy Spirit and was received
through "two-way" prayer. There was a prayer to God for Guidance
and then listening for leading thoughts from God. The person
who, through "Guidance," was chosen to lead the meeting would
pray for God to "Guide" him or her as to what he should read
or say at the meeting. Then there would be "quiet time" spent
silently listening for, and then, to God's response. The Group
would then read from a Bible devotional - usually THE UPPER
ROOM. This was a publication of the Methodist Church South out
of Nashville, Tennessee.
ROOM was, and is, a daily devotional, published as a quarterly
every three months and in the 1930's, it cost five cents per
issue. For each day of the month, there was an inspirational
Bible quote, then a verse from the Bible to read, then two or
three paragraphs pertaining to this particular Bible verse as
it related to what was then, the modern world. Then there was
a prayer and a thought for the day. THE UPPER ROOM is still
published today, and, except for the price per issue, contains
essentially the same type of material that it contained from
its inception in 1935.
the group at the Williams' home completed its prayer, Bible
reading, quiet time, and reading from the Bible devotional,
the leader would "give witness" (tell about his or her past
life and what God had done for him or her). This witness lasted
about twenty to thirty minutes. Then the leader "giving witness"
would open the floor to those in attendance at the meeting.
Those present would raise their hands; the leader would call
upon them; and, then, they too would "give witness." But for
a shorter period of time as Clarence described it, "They went
on and on with all kinds of things. People jumping up and down
and witnessing and one thing or another. Some of `em would get
pretty emotional and carried away. Crying and all kinds of business
going on." Clarence went on to say, "It sure was a sight to
see, especially for this rummy. After all, just being on the
bum like I was, and a total stranger to all of this mumbo-jumbo
nights there was a preparatory meeting, called for all of those
who were, according to Clarence, considered "most surrendered."
These were people, Clarence said, who had already made their
full surrender according to the tenets of the Oxford Group.
This preparatory meeting involved, among other things, sitting
in T. Henry's living room and praying for "guidance" from God
as to who should be the leader for the regular Wednesday night
meeting. There was a "quiet time" of complete silence. Those
assembled would then write down on a piece of paper, the name
of a person God had revealed to them in answer to their prayers.
Clarence said he had been absolutely amazed to see that, on
most of these occasions, a majority of these people, and, sometimes
all of them, ended up with the same name on their respective
said that when a new person was invited to the regular Wednesday
meeting, he or she, one at a time, was taken aside, and had
the tenets of the Oxford Group explained to him or her. A major
Oxford Group practice involved "Guidance," and, as stated, "Guidance"
at meetings took place during mandatory "quiet time."
told how when Doc explained to him about Guidance that, "The
good Lord gave me two ears and one mouth. That should give me
an indication that I should listen twice as much as I should
were told they had to read the Bible - The KING JAMES VERSION
of the Bible. They were instructed to do this on a daily basis.
Clarence said that newcomers were also told to read THE UPPER
ROOM daily and to read the SERMON ON THE MOUNT by Emmet Fox.
said the new people were then instructed on the Four Standards.
These were Biblical principles the Oxford Group people had taken
from the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Bible. These
"Four Standards" were also called the "Four Absolutes" - Absolute
Honesty, Unselfishness, Love and Purity.
to an early A.A. pamphlet still in print and is used in Cleveland,
Ohio, the following is stated regarding the Four Absolutes:
Twelve Steps represent our philosophy. The Absolutes represent
our objectives in self-help, and the means to attain them. HONESTY,
being the ceaseless search for truth, is our most difficult
and yet most challenging objective. It is a long road for anyone,
but a longer road for us to find the truth. PURITY is
easy to determine. We know what is right and wrong. Our problem
here is the unrelenting desire to do that which is right. UNSELFISHNESS
is the stream in which our sober life must flow, the boulevard
down which we march triumphantly by the grace of God, ever alert
against being side tracked into a dark obscure alley along the
way. Our unselfishness must penetrate our whole life, not just
as our deeds for others, for the greatest gift we bestow on
others is the example of our own life as a whole. LOVE is
the medium, the blood of the good life, which circulates and
keeps alive its worth and beauty. It is not only our circulatory
system within ourselves, but it is our medium of communication
to others." ( This pamphlet, The Four Absolutes, may
be ordered from the Cleveland Central Committee of Alcoholics
said the early Oxford Group people were told to live by these
Absolutes to the best of their ability. They were told to judge
their actions and thoughts by first asking themselves four questions:
Is it true or false?
Is it right or wrong?
How will it affect the other fellow?
Is it ugly or beautiful?
questions can also be found in the pamphlet, The Four
Absolutes. The early meetings ended with "fellowship
time," a period of time which was set aside for socializing,
exchanging telephone numbers, speaking with newcomers, and making
plans. These plans were for social events, in which all participated,
in the regular meeting for the next week.
the custom for the older Oxford Group people to participate
in the "surrender" of the newer members. When Clarence had attended
weekly meetings for a couple of months, he was taken upstairs
to make his surrender.
him, "Young feller, it's about time you make your full surrender."
Clarence was still unsure what this meant, but he knew that
Doc never steered him wrong and that he had to listen to Doc
in order to continue in his new life. A life now free from alcohol
and the resulting misery that had always accompanied his drinking.
surrender, T. Henry, Doc, and a couple of the other Oxford Group
members went into T. Henry's bedroom. They all, including Clarence,
who by now was used to this kneeling, got down on their knees
in an attitude of prayer. They all placed their hands on Clarence,
and then proceeded to pray.
people introduced Clarence to Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
They explained to Clarence that this was First Century Christianity.
Then they prayed for a healing and removal of Clarence's sins,
especially his alcoholism. When he arose, said Clarence, he
once again felt like a new man.
Clarence's first Oxford Group meeting, upon leaving the hospital,
Doc told Clarence to go back to Cleveland and "fix rummies"
as an avocation for the rest of his life. Doc also told Clarence
to make amends to all those he had harmed. Doc told him the
most important things in life were to, "Trust God, clean house
and help others."
Clarence didn't have much luck attracting anybody to this new
"cure." However, he himself stayed sober. He continued to attend
the weekly meetings at T. Henry's in Akron. Soon after his later
full surrender, Clarence had his first "baby." He now really
had a message to carry.