By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
| print this

Index of Chapter 3

3.1 - Home...for just a brief moment 3.6 - On Our Knees
3.2 - The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run 3.7 - At T. Henry and C. Williams' Home
3.3 - Meeting the Doctor 3.8 - The Meeting at T. Henry's
3.4 - Back to Cleveland 3.9 - The Message is Brought to Cleveland
3.5 - In the Hospital 3.10 - Cleveland Begins to Come of Age

Chapter 3.8

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 Press, 1933)

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 public.

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

The meeting 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.)

Paul 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.

In the 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.

Daily Devotional   The Upper Room

THE UPPER 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.

After 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 stuff."

Young feller, it's about time you make your full surrender.

On Monday 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 papers.

Clarence 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."

Clarence 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 pray."

New people 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.

Clarence 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.

According to an early A.A. pamphlet still in print and is used in Cleveland, Ohio, the following is stated regarding the Four Absolutes:

" The 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 Anonymous.)

Clarence 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:

1) Is it true or false?

2) Is it right or wrong?

3) How will it affect the other fellow?

4) Is it ugly or beautiful?

These 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.

It was 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.

Doc told 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.

At Clarence's 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.

These 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.

After 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."

At first, 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.

:: ::