Convention Experience by Dave C.

The 57th Ohio State Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous is in Columbus August 2–4, 2013, at the Double Tree by Hilton, Worthington-Columbus. Our convention theme is “Service Where the Miracle Grows!”

My name is Dave C. and I hope you will participate with us in central Ohio in making the first weekend in August an experience that lasts a lifetime. I have lasting memories I can share from my first Ohio State Convention. It’s theme was “You Need Not Stand Alone”. It was the 30th Ohio State Conference that was held August 1-3, 1985, at Bowling Green State University. Jack R. was the chairperson and Area 55, NW Ohio/SE Michigan Delegate.

And the AAs in Area 55 demonstrated Dr. Silkworth’s belief in the AA message having depth and weight. In 1985 NW Ohio’s message of substance and spirit opened my eyes and began to transform my attitude about service. First things first. It was sponsorship that got me there. My sponsor Glenn W. insisted I join him and his wife Mary. He knew my car was not trustworthy enough and he was determined I attend. My attitude was — why was he making so much of such a mundane thing as a convention of alcoholics.

I was really ignorant of what AA service meant. I began that weekend to see so much more to Alcoholics Anonymous and I needed to be carried to it, immersed in it and reliant on fellow AAs the whole weekend for me to get taught a a whole new outlook on service as in “love and service.” I met my dormitory room mates Friday afternoon and walked around Offenhauer Hall feeling something different. There was a special enthusiasm.

My conference agenda was filled with activities events and happenings. There were films about Bill W. and the Traditions. Past Trustee Jack M.from Michigan was speaking and Jack D., Pittsburgh, was set for 8 p.m. that night. I was caught up before I knew it. One event, activity and meeting followed another seemingly non-stop. It was happening Friday when I arrived and continued day and night through Sunday morning’s spiritual meeting lead by Tommy B., Avon Lake. There were marathon meetings, panel presentations, banquets, ice cream, young people, dances, Traditions miracles and marathon meetings starting on Friday, continuing all night, then all-day Saturday. Glenn W. chaired the AA Legacies panel Saturday morning. When one event ended there were AAs gathering for another and another. I felt shoulder to shoulder with A.A.s in a unique way. It seemed all of us identically different AAs were laughing and crying together, at the same time. It was simple and meaningful – one alcoholic sharing experience strength and hope (and joy) with another.

Thanks to Area 55, and the partnership I felt in Offenhauer Hall for getting me off my butt when I needed it. Thanks for showing me the responsibility statement in action. “Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help ..”.

In Bowling Green State University you told me AA is more than a set of 12 steps for personal recovery. You introduced me to the idea that if one person could make a difference at my group. AA servants could also work on committees that reach out in love and service outside of the home group. The panels on GSO world service, Traditions, Sponsorship and Young People showed me how that works. You said let it begin with me and my Home Group.

I honestly was not into that kind of 12 step work in 1985 to be honest. I was almost 5 years sober but I wasn’t sponsoring anyone. I had been a group secretary. I was digging the power and prestige while secretly empty spiritually. I had learned little of the principles in our legacy of Unity. My growth in understanding and effectiveness was invisible. But at BGSU the picture began to get sharper. I began to get an inkling that carrying the message is done by sponsorship and groups, and service committees, DCMs, GSRs and Area Assemblies in central Ohio and throughout the world.

To quote Keary D. from Oregon Area 58, “I came to understand that the alcoholics we are trying to reach aren’t all sitting in the rooms of AA. The still suffering alcoholic is at their doctor’s office so sick that death seems the only solution. They’re lying in a hospital bed detoxing. They may already be incarcerated for an alcohol related crime or consulting with a lawyer on their impending divorce. They sit in the congregation at their place of worship, praying to their Higher Power to end their suffering. They’re meeting with Child Protective Services, hoping to get their children back.”

AAs like me in General Service and Intergroup committees were reaching out with literature and workshops and personal contact with professionals who have daily contact with alcoholics desperately needing help.

I was overlooking opportunities for service right where I lived and in my Area 53. It was then I began to see how little I was settling for in my sobriety. I had to step out of my comfort zone for my own growth. Glenn said I must become a GSR. It was scary but AA and my sponsor warned me “grow or go.”

The 1985 Ohio State Conference in Bowling Green Ohio was the experience that planted the seed for me to grow in ways I had been stunted.

It’s inspiring to me just knowing that all over Ohio, the U.S., Canada and the world that more so than ever before the hand of AA is reaching out. A deeper understanding of AA’s global reach and fellowship of the spirit is a lasting realization of my life today. I felt in Bowling Green and I hope you will feel when you come to Columbus.

I welcome all AAs to “Service – Where the Miracle Grows!” I hope we will meet in Columbus August 2, 3, 4, 2013 at The 57th Ohio State Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the spirit of Love and Service may we continue to grow together for our lives and the lives of those come.

Dave C.
After Work Group
Gahanna Ohio