The Primary Purpose Group (Thursday, Fellowship Hall, 7:00pm) has a colorful history. The meeting was started as a Big Book Study around 1986 with 3 to 7 members headed by Minnesota Bill at the old Dirks Field location. Minnesota Bill delighted in sharing about his sponsor, Joe of the Joe and Charley tapes. Bill returned to his home state of Arkansas and the meeting remained small until resentment rocked the foundation of the little group.
The meeting structure was continually disrupted as new people attended and were not interested in book study but turned the meeting to discussion topics, often not related to alcoholism or recovery. The proverbial resentment and a coffee pot was all that was required for the meeting to move to Fellowship Hall. R.A. brought “his” Tuesday night meeting that he was the secretary of to the Thursday meeting and it was off and running with between 50-60 people in the big room at Fellowship as a discussion meeting.
All was not well though. “Ownership” of the meeting – personalities before principles, began to create dissention in the meeting. The secretary/treasurer absconded with the meeting funds and at the insistence of her sponsor made a tearful verbal apology to the group, however, never coughed up the “missing” money. Muscles were flexed and R.A. pulled his crew. Faced with limited attendance, a small group that included Scottish John A., Brian O., and Bill K. moved the meeting to the small room at Fellowship Hall around 1990.
The meeting attendance bounced from 10 to 12 members but what had originally undermined the Primary Purpose meeting turned out to be what created the foundation that exists today. The “call on” topic structure has grown the meeting to consistently 30 to 35 people every Thursday night. There are several reasons that make the meeting perhaps the best meeting in the valley:
- The meeting is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and topics relate to the disease of alcoholism and the recovery from alcoholism.
- There is a 12 month waiting list to chair the meeting. The chairperson selects and introduces a topic.
- Respect. It is rare for a member to speak for more that 3 to 4 minutes which allows more people to share. Talking and texting during the meeting is almost non-existent.
- Most people in the meeting put money in the basket that is passed. Our treasurer distributes 25% to World Services, Central Office, District 2 and Area 69.
- There is a good mix of new and long term sobriety. It is not uncommon to have 200+ years of sobriety. The chairpersons do a good job of balancing discussion between new and old members making it a welcoming environment.
- Most home group members sponsor and are sponsored.
- It is a profanity free meeting – not by group conscious but by example.
- A greeter is usually stationed by the door to welcome old and new members.
- There is a meeting before the meeting at Dee’s restaurant just down the street. Everyone is welcome; people start showing up around 5:30 for coffee, dinner, or just water. It is a safe place to discuss things that might be too sensitive for the big meeting.
The meeting temporarily moved to the big room but people felt uncomfortable speaking from the lectern and the meeting lost the intimacy of the small room. It has since returned to the small room where it will no doubt stay.
An Old sponsor once said, “If your home group isn’t the best meeting in town then you need to get busy.” Stop by and join us Thursday nights at 7:00pm