Monday, December 03, 2007

About The Truth about Dr Bob Information Mailer Dec 4 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007
Thank you Dr. Burns. ~ I grow bolder and stronger in my Ministry with recovering homeless addicts at the Salvation Army, though I have my spiritual warfare going on and sometimes must be on guard for veiled or obvious attakcs.

You have been and are an inspiration for me as I believe you have for many others, including knowing more about our dear Dr. Bob!

Keep on spreading the truth! Power to the truth of Early A.A.ers!

Blessings and Prayers!
Peter S. Lopez

Cell Phone: 916/968-1023
Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

Be a Part of Something Great I would like to ask your help in fulfilling a great need and dream concerning Dr. Bob and his "excellent training" in the Bible "as a youngster" in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

· To my correspondents:
Our work on the whole Dr. Bob story is possibly the largest and most important research and writing project undertaken in the last eighteen years. We hope to enlist your support in every way possible. Accordingly, in future days, we will be sending excerpts of our first title, Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Bible as a Youngster. We also include an exhortation for your support, titled, "Be a Part of Something Great."

· Excerpt from Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous Presentation:
"Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!"
Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 181
1. "The Great Awakening"
St. Johnsbury, Vermont, 1875 – 1898

Something big. Something unusual. Something astonishing. In fact, something miraculous happened in the little town of A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob's youth. Some writers place its beginnings at the year 1875, though there important events that preceded it. We have chosen to place its conclusion at the year of Dr. Bob's graduation from St. Johnsbury Academy in 1898. The importance, for our purposes, is not how the happenings are described; nor what people thought about them; nor how these happenings related to other, different, or earlier events. What is important is that there was an inescapable group of conclusions to the effect that St. Johnsbury had experienced some unusual changes. And you will see that they differ from similar happenings, how they were unique in St. Johnsbury, and how they had resulted from multiple prayers, solid believing, and the power of the Creator.

General Descriptions
Various historians and eye-witnesses have described what was called "The Great Awakening" in St. Johnsbury, expressing the events from their own viewpoints and in the following ways:
Rev. John E. Nutting wrote for the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ about the year 1875 and the General Convention of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Vermont:
"Caldedonia Conference: The churches have been visited with one of the most remarkable and thorough religious awakenings known in modern or indeed in any time. Every church has been blest, and all but one or two have shared largely in the refreshing though upon two the dews of heaven have fallen since the first of May.
"St. Johnsbury has been the center of the work, not only for the churches of this Conference but also for much of the northeastern part of the state. . . What shall be done to save souls?
"Meanwhile the same fire burned in the hearts of laymen and Christian women. . ."[1]

The Smith family church, The North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury itself, reported:
"The Great Awakening
"Foremost in time and importance in Mr. Jones' pastorate was the greatest revivial this town every witnessed. It is significant that it began, continued and ended with a consecrated group of laymen that won men and women and young people to Christ with no technique of a professional evangelist, but with the Holy Spirit working through convincing appeals of laymen for all to lead the Christian life."[2]
Town historian Claire Dunne Johnson stated:
"While the north end of Main St. was undergoing all of these residential improvements, there were also some major changes taking place just north of the business district—changes which would forever alter the skyline of St. Johnsbury.
"The year 1875 saw the beginning of the "Great Awakening,"so-called, a tremendous surge of new religious fervor, initiated here by the Y.M.C.A. through great mass meetings at the churches and even at the scale shops. Prayer meetings and hymn-sings were attended by great numbers of people, and various religious groups in town were inspired to build their own churches."[3]
Even The Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Johnsbury commented as to its part:
"The St. Johnsbury Church participated in the 'Great Awakening' of 1875. On March 28 the church was filled, 'deep interest being manifest'."[4]
The Town's Edward T. Fairbanks devoted several pages to describing "The Great Awakening of 1875" (and we will quote his remarks in detail at a later point). Fairbanks remarked:
"In 1875 came the notable wave of religious uplift which none who witnessed it will ever forget."[5]
"The religious life stood out as a manly thing to be manfully followed; the dominant note was not so much the old time solemnity, as the joy of opportunity, the cheer of the good news to every man."[6]
Preparations, Guidance, and Streams of Efforts Preceding the Event

Let's spend a moment talking about revivals, evangelists, awakenings, and conversions. All these phrases had different meanings for different people at different times. Therefore, when some described the St. Johnsbury events of the 1870's, they used words of art which had certainly been used before. And we will devote a moment to the previous usages. But we do so with the caveat that the "Great Awakening" in St. Johnsbury followed no prior theme. In fact it was generated by some general discontent in the community itself. It was primarily a lay effort, though very much related to several Protestant denominational concerns and efforts in St. Johnsbury. And it flourished in a community which—in contrast to a general malaise prior thereto—could boast of strong Christian leaders, a strong Congregational bent, an affinity to the YMCA and its lay and "union" and town-wide approaches, and general changes within the people of the community themselves. This distinguished it from what had been called the solemn, dead, contentious, and unfruitful growth as far as the "state of the church" (particularly that of the Vermont Congregational Churches) was concerned. St. Johnsbury was different. It was dominated by the strong and well-financed leadership of many members of the Fairbanks family. Its leaders, educational facilities, and churches were dedicated Christian agencies. And the North Congregational Church, to which the Smith family belonged, was strong on its own and much interested in helping weaker churches, uniting in salvation efforts and prayers with other churches, and open to receiving help from lay people, the Y.M.C.A. efforts, and later those of the Christian Endeavor Society which was founded in 1881. As is our custom, we will document these latter statements in a moment, with appropriate footnote citations.

Other Revivals and Awakenings

Prior to 1875, there had been other "Awakenings" and "Revivals." But one needs to step carefully when it comes to labeling or numbering them. There were theological and denominational disagreements, divisions and diverse approaches, and usually more than one "leader" involved. In fact, for the purposes of helping AAs to deal with these terms in seeking healing and cure, it is far better simply to describe what actually happened in St. Johnsbury in 1875, the numbers of people who were converted to Christ there, and the resurgence of interest within the community and the churches in religion, Bible, Christianity, prayer, Sunday school, and conversion. Our stated purpose is to see what Dr. Bob saw, may have seen, and undoubtedly heard described in his St. Johnsbury life—as impacted by his parents, his church and Sunday school and prayer meetings, his Christian Endeavor training, and the requirements as a St. Johnsbury Academy student. Also, to get the real flavor of the St. Johnsbury difference—a community led by devout Christians, changed by a new religious fervor, and observing what the Creator had actually brought to their community as they sought to do His will. Nonetheless, because the St. Johnsbury events beginning in 1875 were frequently described as involving the "Great Awakening," it is appropriate to distinguish that date and that period from a couple of others.

The First Great Awakening (1730's)

One scholar points to what he calls "the First Great Awakening," a "colonial event of (approximately) the 1730's," which "was an intercolonial and trans-creedal occurrence which began to provide people from Massachusetts to South Carolina with some common religious symbols and rhetoric," with "Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. . . [as] the towering names of the era." He then points to preoccupation with colonial wars, the Revolution, nation-building, and a kind of "American Enlightenment" as leading to the demise of the movement.[7]

The Second Great Awakening (1830 to 1840)
The same scholar, along with others, refers to "a Second Great Awakening in the early 1800's," which he claimed was a "two-phased movement" that "quickened the more settled Eastern churches" and "was involved with the winning of the West and the churching of the frontier. Yale president Timothy Dwight was the leader in the former, and Charles Grandison Finney or Peter Cartwright. . . typified the latter."[8] Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter list a number of revival types and rank them. They focus on the "Second Great Awakening, 1830 to 1840," which they dubbed the "General Awakening," spurred, they say by Finney, and followed by what they call "The Laymen's Prayer Revival, 1857-61." This, they say, involved the "Fulton Street Prayer Meeting" which began as a lay prayer meeting in New York City, and soon involved what they called the "Illinois Bank" meeting where Dwight L. Moody (who became a lay evangelist) was elected president of the Illinois Sunday School Association where an unusual group of distinguished laymen adopted their goal to bring Christ to the world.[9]
I believe the latter "Awakening" period has a bearing on St. Johnsbury's experience primarily because it marked a new enthusiasm for lay evangelism, more unity among churches, and a thrust into the community itself—rather than just a focus on this or that church or organization.
The Pre-1875 Church Slump and Conversion Slump
The "Great Awakening" in St. Johnsbury occurred as the result of need, malaise, lack of conversions, weakened churches, lack of growth, and "dumb" self-contentment. The issue here is not what was happening in St. Johnsbury. For St. Johnsbury Congregational churches were generally reported as strong. But neither Vermont Congregationals, nor their pastors, nor their chuches could ignore the annual reports that were coming in. And we have gone to the actual convention minutes for a close look. You can see these reports from 1872 onward by going online.
For our purposes, the Minutes of the Seventy-seventh annual meeting of the General Convention of Vermont held at Brattleboro in 1872 contain some telling and specific examples. These are some of the doleful remarks:
"Sabbath School Report. "It is a question whether the adult conversions, in most of our churches, are equal in number to the removals. If, therefore, we trust to them solely for reinforcements, we leave the church to decline.
"One of the first inquiries suggested by the reports as presented, is, whether the difference between the whole number of scholars and the average attendance is not too great. . . . We must look then for the cause of this small average, in a great measure, outside of the scholars.
"Are the parents sufficiently interested? Do they take sufficient pains to prepare their children for the school, and encourage them to be regular and prompt in their attendance. Do they teach them to feel that on the Sabbath the church is the place for them. . . do they not yield to them too easily, and permit their children to remain at home on almost any excuse, imaginary as well as real? . . . Let parents show their interest in the Sabbath School by their attendance, by their instruction of their children, talking with them about the lessons. . .
"Another reason for the irregularity in the attendance of scholars may be found in the teachers. . . still there are a large n umber who would find an excuse for absence in the absence of the teacher. . . Let parents and teachers be more faithful, and we may be sure scholars will be more regular in their attendance.
"Ought there not be a larger proportion of our congregations in the Sabbath School? If Bible instruction is important, is it not so for all classes?
"It is a matter of surprise that not more teachers' meetings are not held.
"Another question which should receive our attention is, whether the number of conversions reported is as great as we might reasonably expect. . . . We are taught to labor directly for the conversion of souls, with the expectation of success. . . . The great object of the Sabbath School teacher should be to bring his scholars to Christ, and then instruct them, so that they shall become intelligent, efficient Bible Christians.
"STATE OF THE CHURCHES [In the Addison Conference, as an example:] In Addison Conference there has been no revival during the year. . . . The pulpit of the church in Bristol is vacant, and there is no Sabbath School. In Cornwall the state of religion is rather low, as might be expected in connection with an unusual neglect of prayer and conference-meeting. . . . The church in New Haven has no pastor. . . .In Ripton there has been no special interest excepting in one case of hopeful conversion. The Sabbath School is very thinly attended. The church in Salisbury is without a pastor. This Conference reports a net loss for the year of fourteen members. . . . Doubtless the Lord has rewarded us according to our faith, but is not the inquiry pressed upon us, 'Has not our faith been too weak?' Should we not accomplish much greater things if we undertook them, and shall we not in the year to come undertake them?"[10]
Town, church, and Academy records are full of information about the destructive effect of the war between the states and the resultant decline in New England revivals, conversions, and evangelism. Men had been called away to serve their country. The Y.M.C.A. workers were in the field with the troops.[11] They were largely unavailable for their soul-saving work in New England. Furthermore, year after year, in the minutes of the Vermont Congregational Conferences, from 1871 to 1874, there were frequent comments about the darkness, the "low state of religion," "the low state of religious feeling,"and the—lack of interest in conversions, growth, Sunday School attendance, cooperation, and religious fervor [Ken; Please review the Congregational minutes for 1871 to 1874 and give me a summary statement that shows the contrast between the years immediately preceding the Great Awakening of 1875 and that Awakening and provide documentation].
Out of the tragedies, deaths, and moribund enthusiasm accompanying the Civil War came something new, needed, and divinely directed.

Plans and Preparations to Call our Creator Off the Bench
Many in A.A. believe that the Creator had a hand in the founding of A.A. Others scoff at the idea, point to the many aberrations in the life of Bill W., claim he was never religious, and ask why he never joined a church in later life. Some say they can't see Christianity in Dr. Bob's life either. But any and all of these commentators would be hard put to deny the need for an organization such as Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935—a time of such seeming hopelessness and medical incurability.[12] They would be hard put to ignore the imperative in A.A.'s basic text that the alcoholic "find God now."[13] They cannot ignore the many times the A.A. Big Book talks about "establishing a relationship with God" as the objective of early members—in fact among most A.A. Big Book students and "Big Book Thumphers" today.[14] Today's A.A. revisionists seem to forget the admonition in A.A.'s basic text by the eminent doctor who said there was no doubt in his mind that the two men before him were 100% hopeless without divine help.[15] And they scarcely seem to mention the fact that all three of the first AAs—Wilson, Smith, and Dotson—said they were cured by the power of God.[16] They also ignore the fact that Dr. Bob admonished atheists, agnostics and skeptics, and declared to them and others who were suffering that "Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!"[17] They also ignore the quote from an important speech in New York, where Bill Wilson concluded with the question: "Who invented A.A."" His answer was: "Almighty God."[18] Such then was the opportunity presented by the Creator to alcoholics who chose to seek, find, and follow. In fact, though most today neither know it nor believe it, they chose the Bible and reliance on the Creator for their basic ideas.
There is an analogy to the St. Johnsbury situation in 1875. A few years earlier, the Vermont Congregational churches had reached a low point. The Y.M.C.A. had put its community "religious work" on hold. Churches were quarreling over doctrine, and many were opposed to revivals. There was yet no Christian Endeavor Society. However, there seemed to be an opportune call for all of these to get back and about their "Father's business."[19] That meant returning to prayer, returning to the Bible, and fishing for men—seeking souls to save! And here also, the hand of the Heavenly Father seemed clear when they began addressing the situation. For the miraculous began to happen. And it involved several different factors—the Young Men's Christian Association, some self-less lay people, the Congregational Churches, some other denominational bodies, evangelists, Gospel meetings, prayer meetings, revivals, and conversions. And it certainly involved the members of North Congregational Church, which was included in the six participating St. Johnsbury churches in all. In addition, invited lay evangelists, and other Vermont people put their shoulders to the wheel.
Detailed references will be provided. But it should be understood that there were different and carefully developed streams of action involved in the plans, preparations, and execution of the new effort to enlist God's help. The object was to do His will. This, to the participants, meant primarily bringing new people to Christ—saving souls—accomplishing conversions. The loose ends did not result from a lack of approaches; they resulted from dramatic changes of course. They also would be tied together by common cause, unity of effort, and persistent prayer. Though inter-laced, the ends have different origins and will be examined separately. The primary, initial moving source of activity is found in the Y.M.C.A.—involving actions by Dwight L. Moody, actions by Y.M.C.A. lay evangelists from Massachusetts, actions by Y.M.C.A. leaders at the state and St. Johnsbury level. This also involved influences by Fairbanks family members, and activities by individuals in the Congregational churches, local St. Johnsbury churches, and the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury.
Lest we become entangled in definitions of conversion, revival, Gospel meetings, union meetings, Congregational polity, Y.M.C.A. principles and practices, and prayer itself, we urge you to realize that our focus in this review is on Dr. Bob. What did Dr. Bob learn from his family? From his pastor? From his Sunday School teachers? From his own church's activities in revivals, Gospel meetings, and evangelists? From Y.M.C.A community-wide, non-denominational emphasis? From teachings, sermons, and lectures at St. Johnsbury Academy?
Remember that Akron A.A. was founded and focused on Bible study; prayer; devotionals; Quiet Time; God's guidance; conversion to Christ; elimination of sin; reliance on the Creator for strength, guidance, and healing; Christian fellowship; and witness. A few of these ideas are related to Bill Wilson's own conversion and beliefs about conversion; they are related to Oxford Group practices; and they are related to procedures at Gospel rescue missions, practices of the Salvation Army, and the views of Dr. William D. Silkworth.
When the St. Johnsbury Awakening occurred beginning in 1875, Christian Endeavor had not yet been founded—its founding occurring in 1881; yet the heart of the simple Akron program more closely resembles the Christian Endeavor of Dr. Bob's youth than it does the other factors. Remember too that the cure of alcoholism was a special concern for Bob and Bill, while it took second place to Vermont's concerns about abstinence, temperance, and testimonials at revivals.
That said, let's look at the preparations that provided the fodder for Dr. Bob's indoctrination.
The stream began with an extended meeting between Henry M. Moore and his friend, the evangelist K.A. Burnell in the summer 1871 near Aurora, Illinois. In prayer, for the extension of Christ's Kingdom, they then conceived a plan for a regular canvass of Gospel meetings in the State of Massachusetts.[20] Henry Moore returned home to Massachusetts and arranged with the Massachusetts Y.M.C.A. state executive committee to commence such a canvass. It was begun in January, 1872, adopting as its motto "Massachusetts for Christ," visiting different churches in the state from which invitations might come for a series of evangelistic meetings.[21]
Nearby New Hampshire Y.M.C.A. had failed, in 1872, to hold their annual state convention. By suggestion of the Massachusetts brethren, in 1873, a meeting was held in Manchester, New Hampshire, conducted similarly to meetings in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts brethren had covenanted with God not to leave New Hampshire without an agreement to wage aggressive warfare against the powers of Satan. A chairman was selected. After the regular service, a few were invited in a corner of the church with the visiting; and the proposal was made that canvass work be begun in New Hampshire. It was agreed to call a state convention in Manchester in May 6th following. Earnest workers from other states were present; funds were raised to carry on the work; a committee of ten was chosen to look over the field and plan for aggressive work—the state was to be taken by storm. Following the regular state convention in Concord, a winter campaign of 100 days had been planned and was reported at that convention.[22]
In company with the Y.M.C.A. activities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Vermont seemed to move forward with canvasses spurred by invited Y.M.C.A. lay people, primarily from Massachusetts. These people were encouraged by the Vermont Y.M.C.A. leaders and church people—in some cases by those wearing both hats. In fact, much of the later outreach through the Y.M.C.A. Gospel meetings into surrounding areas was attributed substantially to the work of St. Johnsbury people. In keeping with Y.M.C.A. practices and procedures, the Vermont work began with a Y.M.C.A. canvass. "Y" people moved into communities on a non-creedal and non-denominational basis. The work was conducted largely by visiting lay people. They held Gospel meetings in various churches, the Fairbanks scales plant, public facilities, and the St. Johnsbury Academy. Their goal—reported as achieved in community after community, particularly in St. Johnsbury—was conversion—winning people to Christ.
The Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, as Observers Described It
Source 1 on the Great Awakening-as Dr. Bob's church described it
The Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont
"The Great Awakening [= a centered subheading in the book cited below]
"Foremost in time and importance in Mr. Jones' pastorate [1875-1885][23] was the greatest revival this town ever witnessed. It is significant that it began, continued and ended with a consecrated group of laymen that won men and women and young people to Christ with no technique of a professional evangelist, but with the Holy Spirit working through convincing appeals of laymen for all to lead the christian [sic] life. Early in 1875 the State Young Men's Christian Association was making a religious canvas of Vermont. On February 6 two of the committee, Messrs. Cook and Davis, came here bringing with them a couple of Massachusetts laymen, H. M. Moore of Somerville and Robert K. Remington of Fall River. They met a group at the Town Hall in the afternoon where plans were outlined for a series of gospel meetings. The following Sunday afternoon another meeting was held in the Town Hall with a meeting in the South church in the evening. When at the latter place 42 persons rose for prayers there was no doubt that the day of Pentecost had fully come. On Monday evening at the North church 57 rose for prayers. Both on Monday and Tuesday meetings for inquirers were held in the North church vestry preceding the mass meeting in the auditorium of the church. A few weeks later two more Massachusetts laymen, E. O. Winslow [= F. O. Winslow (probably a typo)] of Boston and Sidney E. Bridgman of Northhampton, arrived. Twelve hundred people filled the South church on a weekday evening at which 140 rose for prayers. Meetings were held at the Avenue House hall and twice at the Fairbanks scale factory where much interest was manifest. On March 27 Messrs. Moore, Remington and Winslow came back here being joined by Mr. Littlefield. As no church was large enough to hold the throngs that had been coming to these services the climax in attendance and results was reached on March 28 when 1400 people crowded Academy hall and its passage ways, while 300 held an overflow meeting in old Number 10. More than 100 rose for prayers at this meeting. This was the fourth visit in two months that Messrs. Moore and Remington had made here. Noonday prayer meetings were started and sponsored by the Y. M. C. A. that continued for several years. Laymen conducted meetings in two rural schools. All the churches had much larger attendance at the Wednesday evening prayer meetings, the number at the North church rising from an average of 40 to more than 150. As a result of this great awakening 109 joined North church in 1875. At the May communion 54 joined on confession of faith which up to that time was by far the largest to join at one communion service. 'The Lord,' said Mr. Jones in his anniversary sermon, 'richly blessed the assiduous labors of those lay brethren with many conversions and much healthful rooting and growth of christian [sic] character.'[24]
Source 2 on the Great Awakening—as Town historian Edward T. Fairbanks described it:
"In 1875 came the notable wave of religious uplift which none who witnessed it will ever forget.
"The Great Awakening of 1875
"Under auspices of the State Committee of the Y. M. C. A., meetings were held February 6, 1875, at the Town Hall Sunday afternoon, and in the evening at the South Church. H. M. Moore of Boston and R. K. Remington of Fall River, laymen, were principal speakers. It was at once apparent that deep interest was awakened, and this continued so manifestly that three weeks later, these brethren, at our request, returned, accompanied by F. O. Winslow of Boston and S. E. Bridgman of Northhampton. Sunday meetings were held at the Avenue House Hall, and at the South Church, and at the latter place Monday afternoon and evening; a thousand people were in attendance. On Tuesday forenoon the wheels of the scale factory were stopped, men crowded into the machine shop were the voice of prayer and song superseded the hum of machinery. In the evening there were 1200 people at the South Church and 140 rose to say that they had begun the Christian life. The interest continued, union meetings were held thrice a week in different churches, usually conducted by laymen, almost every one present taking some brief part. Half-hour noon meetings were begun, which continued several years. On the 27th of March, Moore, Remington, Winslow and Littlefield came again, on invitation; large assemblies met at the Avenue House Hall, at North and South Churches; also next day at the Universalist Church, which was filled, 'deep interest being manifest. In the evening of Monday, March 28, there were 1400 people crowding the Academy Hall and passage-ways and 300 more in room No. 10; more than 100 rose for prayers. During the next six weeks there was a steady, quiet continuance of the revival spirit, which received a fresh impulse by the return once more, when urgently invited, of the Massachusetts brethren. This was on Sunday, the 8th of May. Neither North nor South Churches could contain the crowds that flocked to the evening meeting, and Academy Hall was again the place of assembly. On Monday, another gospel meeting was held at the Scale factory, and in the evening some 1500 were together again at the Academy, where, as so often before, large numbers gave expression of their interest or their purpose to live a Christian life.
These and similar scenes during the year following will be forever memorable in the history of our town. The whole atmosphere of the place seemed charged with religious feeling; no one questioned the immense reality of spiritual forces that were so distinctly transforming men's lives and lifting the standards of thought and conduct in the community. The religious life stood out as a manly thing to be manfully followed; the dominant note was not so much the old time solemnity, as the joy of opportunity, the cheer of the good news to every man. Everybody was singing the bright "Winnowed Hymns," and repeating cheer-inspiring verses from the Bible. Gospel meetings, so called, with a lay brother in the chair, were a popular attraction; there was no distinction of church or creed; all, as in apostolic times, were 'continuing daily with one accord in fellowship together and in prayers, with gladness and singleness of hear, praising God and having favor with all the people.' Like the friends from Massachusetts who had left their business to bring messages to us, laymen of this town went out in bands of two to five, holding gospel meetings not only in the school districts but in near or distant towns; the influence of the religious uplift here was extended for a hundred miles around, and left its permanent mark on this community."[25]
Of great importance in noting the numbers impacted by these events—1500 people at the peak—the whole population of St. Johnsbury numbered little more that 5,000 in those years.
Source 3 on the Great Awakening-as the Minutes of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Vermont Ministers and Churches described it:
"Some of us come hither to-day with the persuasion that we are living in no ordinary time, that we have but lately heard and seen what neither tongue nor pen can adequately describe, and have tasted of that which is in our souls 'as honey in our mouth for sweeteness.'
"In taking a survey of the whole state . . . many a spot, for years all too dark, has, during the past few months, been gloriously lightened. So general, especially throughout the eastern part of the state, has been either special religious interest or the hope of it, that the churches in their reports rarely mention anything else; hence it is obvious that this general report must be chiefly devoted to an account of these—in many places—remarkable religious awakenings. Between sixty and seventy churches, or one third of the whole number reporting, send tidings of revival interest, attended with conversions numbering in each church from six or eight to nearly two hundred."
"Caledonia Conference: The churches of Caledonia Conference have been visited with one of the most remarkable and thorough religious awakenings known in modern or indeed any time. Every church has been blest, and all but one or two have shared largely in the refreshing, . . . St. Johnsbury has been the center, and to a great extent the radiating point, of the work, . . . also for much of the north-eastern portion of the state. . . . At the May (1874) meeting of the Caledonia Association . . . the subject of revival effort was proposed and adopted as the topic for the meetings of the autumn. . . . After the plan of the canvass of the Committee of the Young Men's Christian Association and the Vermont churches was matured . . . that God's blessing might accompany the Gospel workers . . . December . . . an interest, slight . . . in connection with the labors of Rev. Mr. Marsh of the Baptist church and of Rev. Mr. DeWitt, an evangelist . . . With the week of prayer the five evangelical churches of the village, viz: North and South Congregational, Baptist, Methodist and Free Baptist, with remarkable concord began to hold union meetings twice weekly . . . a centering of hope in the approaching Gospel meetings . . . Saturday evening, February 6, these meetings began. They were conducted by Messrs. Davis of Burlington, Cook of Ludlow, and Moore and Remington of Massachusetts, assisted by others. During the Sabbath . . . thirty or forty rose for prayers . . . A few of these were students in the Academy, and Monday morning, as members of the school, about two hundred and twenty-five in number, came together for the usual devotions, the chapel was profoundly silent; . . . the day services of Monday were largely devoted to prayer. . . . That evening ninety were present at the inquiry meeting, and fully a hundred, including many business men, requested prayers at the general meeting following. The developments of the next day and evening were hardly less impressive. New converts began to testify . . . At one of these meetings . . . Bill Robinson . . . that night . . . told how the Lord had visited him in his cell . . . The subject of religion was the all-absorbing topic of conversation. Besides the regular Wednesday and Saturday evening prayer meetings there were two union meetings weekly and a young converts meeting in each church on Friday evening. One evening a week was always given to rest. About the middle of February Russell Sturgis Jr., President of the Young Men's Christian Association of Boston, visited St. Johnsbury and conducted meetings for two or three days. He addressed himself chiefly to Christians and incited them . . . A few words from him to the students of the academy were very effective. . . . Twice afterwards, before May 1st, and once since, the 'Massachusetts brethren,' as they were familiarly called, . . . came and held a series of two or three days' meetings. The Lord greatly blessed their labors, especially to business men. . . . The results are probably the conversion of more than five hundred souls at St. Johnsbury Plain and immediate vicinity. Of these fully one hundred and twenty were members of the academy, three fourths of whom had their homes elsewhere. On the first Sabbath of May or earlier, nearly two hundred and fifty persons were received into the five churches which united in the work, about one hundred and forty of them coming to the North and South Congregational churches. Nearly if not quite as many more will be hereafter received to church membership. This work had not long continued at St. Johnsbury before the surrounding towns began to feel its influence . . . Accordingly, in the latter part of February and March Gospel meetings, conducted chiefly by Mr. J. T. Quimby of Thetford, assisted by helpers from St. Johnsbury, were held in East Burke, West Concord, Danville, Lyndon, East St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville, Passumpsic and West Burke. Later, nearly every other town and village in the county has had one or more series of such meetings, conducted generally by brethren from St. Johnsbury. . . . the . . . Gospel meetings . . . The church at St. Johnsbury Center . . is revived and encouraged by interest during the spring. The pastor at St. Johnsbury East writes that probably fifty have recently endulged Christian hope in that parish and many others are interested. The church in Danville reports rather a low state of religious feeling till the Gospel meetings March 1st, . . . June 1st thirty-eight united with the church . . . There have more than one hundred conversions in the town. Barnet reports sixty hopeful conversions . . . The church at McIndoes received fifteen by profession . . . More than usual interest prevailed before the Gospel meetings. These were blest to the conversion of about fifty souls. . . . Just across the Connecticut river from McIndoes is Monroe, N. H.; a Congregational church of sixteen members was organized in August . . . under the care of Rev. J. L. Litch, the acting pastor . . . (This church was received to the Caledonia Conference at the June meeting, . . . Lyndon and Lyndonville have both been revived and the interest continues. . . . Lamoille Conference: . . . Cambridge . . . lay work of helpers from Johnson and St. Johnsbury resulted in some conversions. . . . Johnson was visited by Gospel workers in April, . . . Orange Conference: . . . The church in Newbury has had a refreshing revival, chiefly the result of Gospel meetings. Sixty conversions are reported. The young men of the church are holding meetings in the out-districts. . . . At Strafford, the week of prayer left much tenderness of feeling, and Gospel meetings held later . . . resulted in several conversions. . . . Orleans Conference: . . . The Gospel meetings have been greatly blessed. Barton, Glover and Newport have enjoyed revivals of marked power, resulting in from forty to sixty or more conversions in each place. . . . 'The Gospel meetings began here April 1st and continued four days. . . . Many have been born again, . . . At Greensboro, . . . the state of religion was low . . . but a change has since taken place, mainly through the influence of workers from St. Johnsbury. . . . Windham Conference: . . . the Gospel meetings . . . Windsor Conference: . . . the Gospel meetings were about the middle of March. . . . Hartford reports decided religious interest at the beginning of the year 1875, which was increased by the labors of the Gospel workers the last of January. Thirty to forty indulge hope of the new birth. At West Hartford there evidently was an increase of religious interest among the young people, for several months before the meetings held by the Young Men's Christian Association in January. . . . The Gospel meetings held by the young men called out a very general interest, when more than forty came forward as enquirers. . . . Ludlow has experienced a wide-spread awakening in connection with the Gospel meetings . . . There have been about one hundred professed conversions, . . . The annual convention of the Young Men's Christian Associations and churches in November and the Gospel meetings in the spring generally promoted the interest.' . . . Pomfret reports a successful Gospel meeting, resulting in conversions . . . The church in Royalton . . . The work was greatly accelerated by the Gospel meetings in March. . . . Sharon reports interest, dating from the Gospel meetings, . . . Windsor reports a rising tide in the church. Gospel meetings were quickening to Christians." Pp. __-38.[26]
Source 4 on the Great Awakening—as described by a participating Unitarian Universalist Church:
"The St. Johnsbury Church participated in the "Great Awakening" of 1875. On March 28 the church was filled, "deep interest being manifest"."[27]
The Relevance of the Great Awakening to Dr. Bob's Training as a Youngster
The St. Johnsbury awakening took place in 1875. But by all accounts, it continued in progress and impact for many years thereafter.
For example, the work of Dwight L. Moody and his partner Ira Sankey in Vermont is briefly described by Sankey himself:
"In 1867, when I was twenty-seven years old, a branch of the Young Men's Chhristian Association was organized in Newcaste, of which I was at that time elected secretary and later president. . . In 1870, with two or three others, I was appointed a delegate to the International Convention of the Association, to be held at Indianapolis that year. For several years I had read in the religious press about Mr. Moody, and I was therefore pleased when I learned that he would be at the convention, being a delegate from the Chicago Association. . . . At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. McMillan said to me: "Let me introduce you to Mr. Moody." . . . [Moody asked me"] to come to Chicago and help me in my work." . . . We thus commenced work together in Chicago in the early part of 1871, singing and praying with the sick, speaking and singing at the daily noon prayer-meetings, and other work, until Mr. Moody's church was destroyed in the Chicago fire. . . . Speaking of the fire to a friend some time later, Mr. Moody remarked: "All I saved was my Bible, my family, and my reputation." In June, 1873, we sailed for England. . .
"After our return to America, the first meeting held was at Northfield [Massachusetts], on the 9th of September, 1875. . . . Our next large meetings were held in Chicago during the fall of 1876, in a large Tabernacle erected for the occasion by John V. Farwell. It was capable of seating more than eight thousand. . . . Then, for sx months we conducted meetings in Boston. On an average, three meetings a day were held, in a large temporary building. . . Here also we had the heart cooperation of many prominent ministers and laymen, among whom Dr. A.J. Gordon, Dr. Joseph Cook, Phillips Brooks, and Henry Moore may be mentioned. . . ."[28]
[On November 3, 1877, The New York Times published this article:
MANCHESTER, N.H., Nov 2—The Moody and Sankey campaign in Vermont closed last night, and was very successful at every point. A Burlington they had large audiences three and four times each day. During the past month the churches have been strengthened and revived, and large numbers from all classes of citizens have been converted. . . . Mr. Merhouse [sic, believed to be "Morehouse"], assisted by Mr. Sankey during the past week, has been at work in St. Johnsbury. They have had large audiences, and the work promises well."[29]
[Another source sheds further light on the Moody work in Vermont:] "The first building erected on the cyclorama site was a large brick structure known as the Moody Sankey Tabernacle, which was dedicated on January 25, 1877, and was capable of seating six thousand people. A season of daily revival meetings began that continued without interruption from the beginning of February to the end of May 1877. The meeting was attended by an overflow crowd, and special sessions had to be held at the Clarendon Street Baptist Church. Dwight L. Moody preached and Ira D. Sankey sang, supported by a vast choir under the direction of Dr. Eben Tourjee. . . . Although the revival meetings were visited by huge numbers, the enterprise did not do well financially. . . . Following their Boston soujourn, Messr. Moody and Sankey transferred their evangelizing activities to Burlington, Vermont, and the vacant Tabernacle was used for a while by the Boston YMCA for Sunday services."[30]
In fact, the continuation of the Great Awakening in St. Johnsbury and other Vermont areas, was not merely confined to revivals led by Moody's people, or by YMCA lay people, but marked a new outreach for conversions and new buildings by the churches. Not necessarily invovling revivals, but rather ministries and concerns of the churches themselves—particularly as manifested in Dr. Bob's North Congregational church. However, many of the so-called announced and pronounced "weaknesses" among the churches, teachers, parents, and attendance records were not only addressed but overcome. The weaknesses were not necessarily in St. Johnsbury where the churches were strong; but the revival not only spurred St. Johnsbury people to unite in prayer, Gospel meetings, and conversions; it produced salutary enthusiasm and changes for the better.
The lessons for how to live a victorious Christian life seemed definitely to have been learned and applied in the Smith family itself—not only by the parents, but also in the very activities that both they are their son Bob became extremely active.
Let's look in detail at the Smith family. Here we were aided by the research and report of the church archivist, Mr. Swartz, who wrote us: North Congregational Church records first listed Walter P. Smith (Dr. Bob's father) and Susan Smith (Dr. Bob's mother) in Year Book 1878. Young Bob was born in 1879. Church records show Robert H Smith (Dr. Bob) born at 20 Summer Street [his birthplace and boyhood home]. Bob is first listed in the Year Book 1880 and also as having attended Sunday School.
The North Congregational church history reported: (1) In February, 1877, the church began to talk about building a new church. A building committee was then appointed with Governor Horace Fairbanks chairman.[31] (1) "There has been an increase the past year—1878—over last year in the attendance at the morning service, Sunday School, the Sunday evening service and the Wednesday evening prayer meetings."[32] (2) "The Christian Endeavor Society which started in 1887 has continued throughout the years as the leading young people's organization."[33] (3) Then, giving 1889 as just one year's of the church's health, it reported that, for a period of eight years, "the pastor and people were 'joyfully happy and nobly useful'.[34] (4) It went on to say that, contributions were high. Attendance was high. (5) There were Y.M.C.A. lecture courses.[35] "The church was well organized from the youngest to the oldest." (6) The Sunday School had a membership of 330 and the average attendance at the week day prayer meeting was 80. "The monthly concerts on a Sunday evening filled the church. Its program was always full of interest to young and old. Recitations by individuals and classes, vocal and instrumental music featured the program which always included a talk by the superintendent."[36] "The monthly Sunday School concerts have been well attended and are increasing in numbers and interest. They now have an average attendance of 290 and the part they are to play by their beautiful and holy sons and lisping hymns of praise, their Scripture recitations and instructive addresses and prayers, can never be duly estimated in time. The library has been entirely remodled."[37]" Through many of the years under Col. Fairbanks' leadership teachers' meetings were held each week after the Wednesday evening prayer meeting."[38]
We will have much more to say about all these items—and particularly about a similar impact through the Smith family's activity at St. Johnsbury Academy during the same bracketed period from 1875 to 1998 when Dr. Bob graduated.
Gloria Deo

My son Ken and I were finally able to visit St. Johnsbury recently, after having wanted to do so for a long time, for investigation and research there, beginning at 297 Summer Street where Dr. Bob was born. Our trip led to the idea and conclusion that we needed to secure benefactors to enable us to buy, acquire, and assemble a first-class library of manuscripts, books, records, pictures, and other items that would accurately portray the immense amount of religious training that we could see was made available to Dr. Bob by his parents, his church, his Sunday School, the Christian Endeavor Society, revivals, Gospel meetings, conversions, and YMCA outreach. These, as well as the whole Congregational atmosphere in Vermont; in St. Johnsbury; and, in particular, at the famous St. Johnsbury Academy where Bob's parents were involved and where Dr. Bob received further extensive training through Daily Chapel, required church and Bible study attendance, Congregationalist sermons and talks, and texts.
This plan to put Dr. Bob's youth back in the recovery picture has enormous proportions and immense value to those who really want to know where the early Akron A.A. program came from, how its ideas were shaped by the "Good Book," and what Dr. Bob learned in St. Johnsbury and translated to the Akron pioneer program he and Bill W. founded, and he led.
We have been assembling this history for a decade. And, since our trip to St. Johnsbury, we have worked unceasingly for over a month preparing a core library--a multi-volume set of resource binders with thousands of pages of exhibits, citations, and resources. We have also begun work on a new, companion book about Dr. Bob's youth to accompany the core library.
We request that you (or a group of like-minded people you know) help us fulfill this dream by:
  • Purchasing for $50,000.00 my "core library" of resources on early A.A.—especially including thousands of pages of materials relating to Dr. Bob's youth in St. Johnsbury.
  • Purchasing my remaining inventory of about 20,000 A.A. history books at a minimum average price of $10.00 per book—which is about a 50% discount on the book prices. Benefactors may arrange to have boxes of these historical books sent to Dr. Bob's Home, church, and/or archives in Akron, Ohio; or to the Griffith Library at the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont; or to Stepping Stones; or to GSO; or to the Seiberling Home in Akron, Ohio; or to other mutually-agreed-to places which will help carry the message to those who still suffer. These would be sent as boxes of books, one or more at a time, for $400.00 per box.
In order to encourage participation in this information outreach idea by those of you who have shown a consistent interest in making known the facts concerning the documented, 75%-to-93% success rate of the pioneer AAs among seemingly hopeless, medically-incurable, real alcoholics who thoroughly followed the original path, I have decided to present to you free of charge in serial form (i.e., one by one) the Introduction and chapter highlights of the more than 20 volumes of historical information I have assembled that will form a part of the core library to be donated at no charge to the non-profit facility most willing to steward and promote the history outreach.
Please consider:
  • Donating $50,000.00 (by yourself or with others as a group) to make possible the immediate placement of the entire Dick B. "core library." As an alternative, please also consider donating $5,000.00 (or more in multiples of $5,000.00) to make possible an immediate, partial shipment of one or more of the ten (10) segments of the "core library"; and
  • Donating $400.00 (or more in multiples of $400.00) to make possible the sending of one (or more) box(es) of my history books to the historical spots that AAs and other 12 Step people really cherish, hunger to see, and frequently visit—such as Dr. Bob's Home in Akron, the Seiberling Gate Lodge in Akron; the archives in Akron; St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron; the Griffith Library at, and the Wilson House itself in, East Dorset, Vermont; Stepping Stones; and/or other, mutually-agreed-upon places.
Please enjoy the enclosed or attached Introduction and chapters from the forthcoming companion volume about Dr. Bob as they come to you. Please send your check to: Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837; and, if you wish your contribution to be deductible for tax purposes, make your check payable to: St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron.
For more information, please see: Or email Dick B. at:
** Revised on November 14, 2007 **
Gloria Deo

[1] John E. Nutting. Becoming The United Church of Christ 1795 – 1995 (Burlington, VT: The Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ, 1995), 206.
[2] North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, Vermont 1826-1942, 30.

[3] Claire Dunne Johnson. "I See By The Paper. . ." An Informal History of St. Johnsbury (St. Johnsbury, VT: The Cowles Press, 1987), 84.

[4] "History of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Saint Johnsbury"
[5] Edward T. Fairbanks. The Town of St. Johnsbury VT: A Review of One Hundred Twenty-five Years to the Anniversary Pageant 1912 (St. Johnsbury, VT: The Cowles Press, 1914), 316.
[6] Fairbanks, The Town of St. Johnsbury, 316 or 317.
[7] The remarks are those of Martin E. Marty. The title is by James F. Findlay, Jr. Dwight L. Moody American Evangelist 1837-1899 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 2-3.
[8] Dwight L. Moody American Evangelist, 3.
[9] Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter. From Pentecost To The Present: The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 2000), 10, 17. 19, 97-136.
[10] The foregoing remarks and more from the General Convention of Vermont for 1872 were published in Montpeliar: J. & J.M. Poland's Steam Printing Establishment, 1872.
[11] Clarence Prouty Shedd et. al. History of the World's Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations (London: S P C K, 1955), 164-65; Sherwood Eddy. A Century With Youth: A History of the Y.M.C.A. from 1844 to 1944 (NY: Association Press, 1944), 24-25; James L. Ellenwood. One Hundred Years And Here We Are (NY: Association Press, 1944), Laurence L. Doggett. History of the Young Men's Christian Association (NY: Association Press, 1922), 204-14, 304-17; James F. Findlay, Jr. Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist 1837-1899 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 100-13.
[12] See Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.," 30; "Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men," 30-31; "informed that it would all end with heart failure during delirium tremens, or I would develop a wet brain," 7; "once just as hopeless as Bill," 17; "has probably placed himself beyond human ad, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane," 24; "The doctor said: 'You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you," 27; "One . . . staff member of a world-renowned hospital, recently made this statement to some of us: 'What you say about the general hopelessness of the average alcoholic's plight, is in my opinion, correct.As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help," 43.
[13] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed, 59.
[14] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 13, 29, 72, 100, 58, 68, 98.
[15] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 43.
[16] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191, 180.
[17] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181.
[18] Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., attended the New York dinner, took notes, and reported most of the talk. On the "invention" remark, Shoemaker wrote this: "Who invented A.A.?" says Bill. "It was God Almighty that invented A.A. This is the story of how we learned to be free. God grant that AA and the program of recovery and unity and service be the story that continues into the future as long as God needs it." Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., The Pittsburgh Edition (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 395.
[19] When chided by his mother for going to the temple and listening to, and asking questions of the doctors, Jesus replied to his parents: "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not [Don't you know] that I must be about my Father's business?" Luke 2:49. Dr. Bob Smith apparently called up this expression when describing his morning devotion. It consisted of a short prayer, A 20-minute study of a familiar verse from the Bible, and a quiet period of waiting for directions as to where he, that day, should find use for his talent. Pioneer Paul S.—who related the facts—said, "Having heard, he [Dr. Bob] would religiously go about his Father's business, as he put it." DR. BOB, 314.
[20] Allen Folger, Twenty-five Years as an Evangelist (Boston: James H. Earle & Company, 1905), 35.
[21] Folger, Twenty-five Years, 35.
[22] Folger, Twenty-five Years, 35-37.
[23] Rev. Henry W. Jones had begun preaching in the pulpit of North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, at the beginning of 1875. He was installed as the new pastor on November 18, 1875. North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, Vermont: 1825-1942, pp. 26, 27.
[24] North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, Vermont: 1825-1942, pp. 30, 31.
[25] [Source for preceding quote: Edward T. Fairbanks, The Town of St. Johnsbury VT.: A Review of One Hundred Twenty-five Years to the Anniversary Pageant 1912 (St. Johnsbury, Vermont: The Cowles Press, 1914), 316-17]
[26] (Source for above: Minutes of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the General Convention of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Vermont, Held at Bennington, June, 1875. Fifty-Seventh Annual Report of the Vermont Domestic Missionary Society, and Fifty-Fifth Annual Report of the Vermont Education Society (Montpelier: J. & J. M. Poland, Steam Printers, 1875).,M1
"Report on the State of the Churches" [pp. 27-38],M1 [= p. 27; accessed 11/19/07])
[27] "History of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Saint Johnsbury"
[28] This material has been quoted from Sankey's Story of His Own Life. Christian Biography Resources. Wholesome Words.
[29] The New York Times. Published: November 3, 1877.
[30] [Source: "Adventures in Cybersound: The Boston Cyclorama:: ; accessed 11/22/07].
[31] The North Congregational Church, 31.
[32] The North Congregational Church, 27.
[33] The North Congregational Church, 69-70.
[34] The North Congregational Church, 39.
[35] The North Congregational Church, 38.
[36] The North Congregational Church, 62.
[37] The North Congregational Church, 60.
[38] The North Congregational Church, 63.

The above was sent as an Attachment by Brother Dick Burn and I take the liberty of passing it forward, plus, it will go into the CASA Blog .
Blessings and Prayers!
~Brother Peter S. Lopez, CASA FIeld Coordinator~

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please give feedback with respect!