The A.A. Beginners Meeting is an online meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. The meeting uses Skype online conference technology – voice only, no video cameras.
When: Sundays, 7 pm (USA East Coast Time)
For information on how to attend the Beginners Meeting using Skype send an email to:
Please send your email at least an hour before the meeting starts. Make sure you have Skype operating on your device before the meeting starts.
The meeting is for one hour from 7 pm (eastern standard time) to 8 pm. The virtual skype meeting room will be opened about 10 minutes before the meeting starts for a "meeting before the meeting". You are welcome to enter the room before the meeting starts and chat. The skype virtual room is kept open for a while after the meeting ends for a "meeting after the meeting". If you have other commitments at the hour, feel free to exit the room at the end of the hour. You are welcome to attend the "meeting after the meeting" for informal discussion.
This is a special composition group. There are a lot of special composition groups within the A.A. Organization. For example, there are women’s groups, men’s groups, young people’s groups, retired people’s groups, doctor’s groups, GLBT groups, deaf and hard of hearing groups, doctor's groups, lawyer's groups and others. Each type of special composition group addresses the needs of a specific demographic, over and above the common problem of drinking. This is a special composition group intended to serve atheists and agnostics.
If you are not an atheist or an agnostic, you are welcome to attend the meeting. However, keep in mind this meeting is designed to serve atheists and agnostics. Most atheists and agnostics hear a lot about “God as we understand Him” in traditional meetings. And in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” there is also a lot written about the “Spirit of the Universe”, who some people call God. This meeting is intended to be a safe place to talk about disbelief and to be free to express disbelief without being censured.
In addition, this Beginners Meeting is a “secular” meeting. We define “secular” simply as being "without God". This means the meeting environment is intended to exclude activities that many people think of as God related religious activities. Therefore, we stay away from beginning the meeting with a ritual “spiritual” reading about "God". And we don’t begin or end the meeting with a group prayer. Except when reading from the Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, this meeting has:
NO PRAYERS – NO RITUALS – NO DOGMA – NO SERMONS
However, we will be reading the instructions and directions in the book, and in doing so, it is not possible to avoid reading about praying and about the concept of “God as we understand Him” presented in the book. These readings from the book would often be considered “religious” by many people. We hope that this meeting will be helpful to serve atheists and agnostics who are starting to attend A.A. Meetings in their local community and will encounter these readings from the book.
This meeting is not restricted to those who have problems with alcohol. Anyone who has an addiction may attend. No one has to declare what qualifies or brings them to the Beginners Meeting, such as drug addiction, alcohol addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, etc. In your local community, this type of meeting is sometimes referred to as an “open” meeting. In contrast to an “open” meeting, a “closed” meeting is for alcoholics only. You do not have to declare that you are an “alcoholic” in this meeting.
These Skype meetings are a series of six one-hour sessions to study the 12 Step method, as it is written in A.A.’s book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, which is nicknamed the “Big Book” by A.A. Members.
The six sessions are:
1st week - Powerlessness / Step One
2nd week - Spirituality / Steps Two and Three.
3rd week - Inventory / Steps Four and Five
4th week – Change / Steps 6 and 7
5th week - Restitution / Steps 8 and 9.
6th week - Maintenance / Steps 10, 11, and 12.
If you missed any session, you can attend at a later date, since these six sessions will be repeated.
These are “walk-in” meetings. You do not have to sign-up ahead of time to attend. You can "walk-in" and attend just one of the meetings, a few of the meetings or all six of the meetings.
Each of the six sessions is organized so that during the first part of the hour we examine what the Book says about the 12 Step methodology. After looking at what the book says, in the second part of the meeting there will be an open discussion and sharing about it.
The book “Alcoholic Anonymous” was authored by the first members of A.A. It was published in 1939 and is still the “basic text” of A.A. In the book, there are instructions and directions for taking all of A.A.’s 12 Steps.
The book is organized so that it begins with an opinion authored by a non-alcoholic doctor, and this opinion is unsurprising called “The Doctor’s Opinion”. This preface is followed by the chapters which have the instructions for step one. These three chapters are called “Bill’s Story” “There is a Solution” and “More About Alcoholism”. Next, the instructions for step two are in the chapter called “We Agnostics”. After that, the instructions for step three and four are in the chapter called “How It Works” and the instructions for steps five through eleven are in the chapter called “Into Action”. Finally, the instructions for step twelve are in the seventh chapter called “Working With Others”.
During this meeting, we will also be reading from the final chapter of the first 164 pages, which is called “A Vision for You”. We will not be reading from the chapters “To Wives” “The Family Afterward” or “To Employers” or any of the 388 pages of stories in the back of the book.
Atheists and agnostics who attend A.A. Meetings may wonder how they are going to work though A.A.’s 12 Step program, since it advocates belief in and dependence upon a Higher Power, referred to as "God as we understand Him" in the book.
Our meeting may help newcomers to understand why belief in and dependence upon "God as we understand Him" is so important to many A.A. Members and Sponsors. By studying and discussing what the book says, newcomers may feel better equipped to attend A.A. meetings in their local community, even without believing in a God or sacrificing their intellect.
In your local community, you may find the Back-To-Basics Beginners Meetings. Our Skype meeting is loosely modeled on the Back-To-Basics meetings, which are intended to replicate the meetings that were offered to Beginners in the 1940’s. The Back-to-Basics meetings are focused on reading from the book and having beginners take A.A.’s 12 Steps, as written in the book, during the meetings.
We do not expect anyone attending these skype meetings to TAKE the Steps during the meeting. In fact, for some people, it might be impossible to TAKE A.A.’s 12 Steps, as written in the book. In this meeting, our intent is to simply DESCRIBE what the book says about the Steps and then DISCUSS what the book says. There’s a difference between DESCRIBING and DISCUSSING the Steps versus actually TAKING the Steps.
It’s up to each individual how they view the book and the evidence presented by the authors of the book. In the modern world, there has now been a lot of scientific research and evidence about alcoholism, and it doesn’t always agree with what’s in the book. Therefore, some people might not believe everything that is written in the book. But what beginners will often encounter in A.A. Meetings is a focus on reading from the book.
The reason there is so much focus on reading from the Book during some meetings is explained in this quote from a website called “Simply AA”
Quote--“[….] We believe that long-term sobriety can be found and maintained in part through continual and in-depth study of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our founders paved a road for us through clear-cut directions as to how they had recovered from alcoholism. [….] In fact, it is suggested that you pay no attention to anything which might not be reconciled with what is in the Big Book.”—End Quote
Unfortunately, these types of A.A. Meetings actually discourage thinking about new ideas that are not written about in the book.
A lot of A.A. Members and Sponsors will advise Beginners to read the book. However, it’s up to you whether you read the book or follow the instructions in the book.
And keep in mind that criticism of the book may offend or upset some people. Hence, during A.A. Meetings a lot of people don’t challenge what the book actually says. In contrast, this is a safe place to challenge what the book says, and to be skeptical of and doubt what’s written in the book. We don’t ask anyone to check their brain at the door. It is up to each individual to use their own critical thinking and look at the evidence provided by the authors in evaluating what the book actually says.
This meeting uses Skype technology. Skype provides FREE voice conferencing. In order to attend the Beginners Meeting, you'll need to get access to Skype. For information about Skype and getting access to Skype:
Note: In the tradition of A.A., this meeting is independent and autonomous. The A.A. Beginners Meeting has not been endorsed or authorized by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (New York) or the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York) or the A.A. Trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc. (New York).US. At all. Not one bit.