My name is John and I’m an alcoholic and I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for my sobriety. A few years ago, I stopped believing in God and started thinking about the Twelve Steps and how I would practice them as an atheist. This led me on a search for other alcoholics like me who practiced the program without a belief in a supernatural deity, and it was through that search that I rediscovered A.A.
It was July 20, 2014, when I approached my friend Jim C. with the idea of starting an A.A. group for agnostics and atheists. He thought it was a good idea and agreed to join me in the effort. I consider that day to be the birth of our group. We put our website up that same day and immediately started looking for a place to meet. In no time we found a meeting place and we held our first meeting on August 7, 2014. In the beginning, it was just two of us meeting once a week, and now we number over thirty and we meet three times per week.
I had no idea just how rewarding it would be to help start a new A.A. group. It’s been a joy to watch people find support in our group and to see people who previously gave up on A.A. because of the religious overtones express gratitude for having a group like ours where they can feel comfortable. Though the majority of us are agnostic and atheists, we also have believers who are members of our group and they like it just as much us heathens.
The biggest surprise as we started the group was just how much love and acceptance we received from the A.A. community. Our Central Office is amazing and the work they do to support the groups in the greater Kansas City area is A.A. service work at its best. They have my total respect and gratitude, and I believe that all groups fortunate enough to have a Central Office or Intergroup should do all they can to support it. The Central Office is a critical component of the A.A. infrastructure that makes it possible to help the alcoholic who reaches out for help.
If you’re an alcoholic and you need help or you just need an understanding person to speak with, you can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and someone will answer the phone and talk to you and help you. There’s also an army of A.A. members from thousands of groups all over the country who are willing to help the alcoholic in crisis. If you want help, A.A. wants to help you and this why I support A.A. It is very important to have this network in place to help the alcoholic and nobody does it better than A.A. When you reach out for help, A.A. doesn’t ask anything of you. It’s not necessary to attend our meetings, to pay any money to believe in anything. We only want to help when you ask for help.
In addition to gaining new respect for the Central Office, I have also discovered that I enjoy participating in the A.A. service structure by attending District Meetings and Area Assemblies. It’s fun to meet people from other A.A. groups in the city and state, and to work with them in a common purpose of helping other alcoholics find sobriety. Sure, I’ve had my share of frustrations at the Area Assembly, but I’ve gotten to actually like the people in my district. It was fun working with them a few weeks ago on the Institutions Weekend.
Are there any differences between us and other A.A. groups? Yes, there are some differences and in some cases huge differences in how we experience the program, but that is exactly why we have our own meetings run the way we like to run them and that’s the beauty of A.A., we have that freedom. We don’t have to open and close our meetings with a prayer and we don’t need to read from the Big Book if that’s what we choose. We can even read recovery literature that is more suited for agnostics and atheists, which we do. The traditions of A.A. give us this freedom.
I think our group has a bright future and I believe we will make a lasting contribution to Alcoholics Anonymous and hopefully make a difference for the better in the lives of people in our community. We just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember our primary purpose to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.