WINCHESTER GROUP 1991 - Present
Winchester Group History
The Winchester Group in Memphis, TN, held their first meeting at 8:00 PM on Thursday, November 14, 1991 at the First Christian Church on Winchester Rd. at Clarke. The group conscience decided they would form a strictly AA group that adhered to AA principles and AA traditions. The following are the main tenets of the Winchester Group Conscience that has enabled them to maintain the group's singleness of purpose throughout the years:
- This paragraph will be read at the beginning of each meeting: "It is the Group Conscience of the Winchester Group that it is not in the best interest of the group to identify oneself as anything other than alcoholic or have a desire to stop drinking. We ask that drugs or any other addiction be refrained from in identification or discussion."
- The Chairperson is to have at least 1 year of sobriety and will have everyone introduce themselves as alcoholics only, or have a desire not to drink.
- Any new person will be assigned a temporary sponsor.
- All people will be greeted at the door.
- Silence will be observed at the beginning and end of the Lord's Prayer.
- The Chairperson will be elected on the third Thursday of the month for a three month period. The Chairperson must have at least 1 year of sobriety and the topic must be from the Big Book or the 12 and 12.
- Birthdays will be celebrated on the third Thursday of the month. Birthday people will get the speaker. If they cannot, the Chairperson will get the speaker.
- Non-members will not be allowed to attend Business meetings.
- Louise A. made a motion (which passed) to send flowers to group members in hospitals or to the member's spouse in the event of the death of a member.
- Medallions must be bought from AA.
- Motion carried for non-smoking meetings on 7/15/1993
Ray D., Jerry S. and Manual B. were instrumental in forming the Winchester Group and were the first officers. Ray D. remains a faithful member and still attends meetings at his home group regularly. He learned about AA through the Harbor House. The group originally started with 12 members. Meeting attendance of about 10 to 20 members stayed pretty much constant throughout the next few years. There were times when attendance increased greatly, such as on the night of the group's 10th anniversary when they had over 200 people.
The Winchester Group elected representatives and made contributions to the Memphis Area Intergroup Association, local District, the State, and General Service Office from the beginning. Early members of the Winchester Group and their sobriety dates include:
- Ray D. - 1/12/69
- Jerry S. - 6/5/85
- Manual B. - 2/12/85
- Louise A. - 9/9/62
- Franklin W. - 10/15/56
- Martha P. - 4/15/86
- Pat G. - 7/25/86
- Wayne R. - 1/18/80
- James A. - 3/24/88
- Rose Marie L. - 11/28/91
- Billy D. - 9/24/86
- Danna W. - 12/12/92
- Bob B. - 11/6/91
- Diane R. - 10/15/78
- Joe L. - 1/5/74
- Ted S. - 7/9/88
- Jerry L. - 5/15/83
- Dave P. - 12/1/89
- Frank H. - 3/15/76
- Rosalie H. - 3/15/76
- Joe H. - 12/20/86
One of the prominent early members of the group was Franklin W., who was originally from Memphis, He was sometimes called the "Pope" of AA. He used to make AA tapes and give talks all over the country. Franklin gave a talk at the 47th Founder's Day Celebration in Akron, Ohio in 1982. At the end of the his talk, he said AA was like a football game, with the God of his understanding as the Quarterback, the Center being willingness, and the 2 Guards being patience and tolerance. He also used to say there was tremendous power in love.
Lousie A. was also a prominent early member of the Winchester Group. She sponsored many women and some men. Even when she couldn't leave her apartment at the end of her life, she was always on the phone talking to another alcoholic. She was the only woman in the 70s and 80s who was allowed to speak at the Harbor House. She was a circuit speaker and spoke all over the US. There are many tapes of her talks in any AA speaker library, The following are some of her favorite sayings:
- "Now, you either believe in this program or you don't. And from what I hear about you and know about you, you believe in this program. And if you believe in this program then you believe in the Steps. And if you believe in the Steps, then you believe in Step 2. And if you believe in Step 2, then it's time you acted accordingly!"
- "Eternal vigilance is the price you pay"
- On dishonesty: "It doesn't matter what you say to me. It is what it does to you."
- "You are comparing your insides to their outsides."
- "The search for God begins and ends, when you look for Him and find Him within."
- "In any choice or decision you make in life, good or bad, there are always consequences."
- "If I give my right hand to God and put my left hand on the shoulder of a drunk, I don't have a hand to take a drink with."
- "I can never be truly grateful for what I am, until I look back at what I once was."
In October of 2001, the Church was sold where the Winchester Group originally met. The group was told they could stay, but the new owners had a band, and the group couldn't concentrate, so they moved their meetings to the Colonial Park Methodist Church on the corner of Estate and Park. They also changed the meeting time to Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM but kept their original name.
On March 1st, 2006, the Winchester Group moved its meeting from the Colonial Park Methodist Church to the Woodland Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue, between Estate and White Station. The group still needs on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM, and now has a ground floor meeting room which is accessible to everyone. They participate in many AA events including Founders Day, Area Speaker meetings, BBQ's, Round-Ups, and 12th Step work. Currently, they host the MAIA Speaker meetings once a year, and announce member's birthdays in the Intergroup Newsletter.
The Winchester Groups is unique in that so many of its members have been able to maintain quality long-term sobriety. Most of the members are good friends, and some meet for dinner before the meeting at Patrick's Restaurant on Park and Mendenhall. The group enjoys frequent visits from old-timers like Howard A. and Jack W. who welcome the new downstairs location. The members focus on being real, willing, and staying in the solution, instead of the problem.
The Winchester Group's primary purpose remains to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety through meetings, anonymity, and one-on-one relationships. They distribute the bulk of the donations from the basket to support the various service functions in AA. These service functions include: local District, the State, Memphis Area Intergroup Association, and the General Service Office in New York. Current officers in the group include: Secretary - Carole F., GSO Rep. - Janet C. and Intergroup Rep. - Debra H. The Winchester Group remains respectful and appreciative of the space given by the Woodland Presbyterian Church fro their meetings and hope their use of the space will contribute in a positive way to the Church's mission of service.