AA Founders Day in Akron, Ohio, is always an important and popular event among AAs and alcoholics who flock by the thousands to celebrate the founding there in June of 1935 of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Recently, the excitement has been heightened by the restoration of the Gate Lodge on the huge Stan Hywet Estate and Gardens where Akron’s Seiberling family notable Henrietta Buckler Seiberling lived with her three children (deceased Congressman John Seiberling and his sisters Mary and Dorothy). For it was Mrs. Seiberling who received A.A.’s first effective witnessing contact from Bill Wilson. And she then introduced the two cofounders of AA (Bill Wilson from New York and Dr. Robert H. Smith of Akron).
This year there will be a new Founders Day focus in the Akron area. Famed Christian preacher Dr. Norman Vincent Peale had many important contacts with A.A. and its founders. Dr. Peale was a good friend of A.A.co-founder Bill Wilson. He was a good friend and minister to Dr. William D. Silkworth—the “little doctor who loved drunks.” He was a close friend of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.—whose Calvary Church in New York hosted many early A.A. Oxford Group meetings, whose Calvary Mission was where Bill W. and Bill’s “sponsor” Ebby Thacher made their decisions for Christ, and whose numerous books and sermons inculcated sound Christian principles into the Twelve Steps that he and Bill Wilson fashioned together in 1938.
This year, Ron Glosser of Akron (recipient of a prestigious Norman Vincent Peale award) and a major personal factor in the recent restoration of the Seiberling Gate House museum,will be on hand to celebrate the growing number of visits to the Gate Lodge, the Stan Hywet Estate, and the Alcoholics Anonymous historical treasures now open for inspection at the Seiberling Lodge.
In addition, Edward Grinnan (Editor and Vice President of Guideposts Publications) will fly to Akron from New York for the 2012 AA Founders Day. Guideposts magazine was a major Norman Vincent Peale publishing entity. Bill Wilson wrote articles for Guideposts and revealed to Dr. Peale (who later told me personally of the) little-known details of the two “conversion experiences” in the Wilson family—experiences that set the stage for A.A.’s “spiritual experience” solution to the ravages of alcoholism.
Ron Glosser and Edward Grinnan will help kick off A.A. Founders Day for 2012 at the Seiberling Gate Lodge; and on Friday, June 8, they will be interviewed on ChristianRecoveryRadio.com by A.A. Historian Dick B. of Hawaii. The two notables will share on the A.A.—Norman Vincent Peale—Bill Wilson—Dr. Bob Smith—Henrietta Seiberling—and Dr. Bob’s Home as historical treasures in the Akron area. Edward Grinnan is also author of The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved My Life and How They Can Transform Yours (Plus 9 Keys to Powerful Personal Change).
Dr. Peale’s role in A.A. History is enormous. His book The Art of Living was owned, studied, and circulated among Akron AAs by their leader Dr. Bob. See Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library. Rev Peale’s book The Positive Power of Jesus Christ recounted the message that Bill Wilson’s physician Dr. Silkworth told Wilson--that the “Great Physician” Jesus Christ could cure Bill of his alcoholism. And Peale’s famous book The Power of Positive Thinking pulls together the comments of several vital early A.A. influences.
For example, he quotes A.A. “founder” Professor William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” Peale emphasizes some early A.A. principles and practices—the power of prayer, quiet time with “the Lord,” getting “a deep spiritual experience so that you have something to give people that will help them,” Reading and believing “the Bible as it tells about the goodness of God and the immortality of the soul,” and learning “to have a real fellowship with God and with Jesus Christ.”
Discussing the strange and little understood recovery concept of a “higher power,” Dr. Peale wrote what he later said to me personally in the hour I spent with him: As to Alcoholics Anonymous, “One of their basic principles is that before a person can be helped he must recognize that he is an alcoholic and that of himself he can do nothing; that he has no power within himself; that he is defeated. When he accepts this point of view he is in a position to receive help from other alcoholics and from the “Higher Power”—God. And Dr. Peale told me emphatically in our hour together that he had never doubted that A.A. Bill Wilson’s “Higher Power” was God.
These ideas are among the important ones that Peale admirers Ron Glosser and Edward Grinnan will be sharing with celebrating AAs in Akron this June, 2012 celebration of A.A. Histor.
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