MEDFORD GROUP HISTORY 1997
Founded in September of 1972, the original Medford group had six members: Warren M., George C., Natalie R., Ollie, Betty W. and “Sir” Robert. They didn’t have either a resentment or a coffee pot — they did, however, have a strong desire to have a meeting closer to home, and a lot of hope that they would be able to get a group going in Medford.
A meeting place was found at the Westminster House on Stokes Road, someone bought a coffee pot, and the Medford Group was launched — holding an open discussion meeting each Friday evening at 8:45 pm.
A year later, Westminster House was sold to the Medford Township Board of Education. The Medford Group moved its base of operations to Hartford Road at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, the very first church in Medford to welcome A.A. this same church has been home to the Medford Group ever since.
Membership in the Medford Group began to take off in the latter part of the 1970’s, and in July of 1979 the group added a Closed Step Meeting on Wednesday evenings. The need for a daytime meeting was fulfilled on Inauguration Day in January of 1981, and continues as a mainstay for those members who have difficulty getting to evening meetings.
The two evening meetings eventually grew so large, it became necessary to divide the meetings to form two Step meetings on Wednesday nights, and a Living Sober meeting for beginners was added on Friday nights. The group also decided to change the Step Meeting format on the last Wednesday of the month to study one of the 12 traditions.
The Medford Group gradually came to participate fully in all aspects of A.A. responsibility: taking and receiving speaking and chairing commitments, volunteering at the South Jersey Intergroup office, lending support to hospital and institutional commitments, and fulfilling financial commitments to St. Peters Church, Intergroup and the General Service Office in New York. The Medford Group also sent very capable representatives to the South Jersey General Service Assembly.
Through the years, membership in the Medford Group grew sevenfold, from the original six to an average of 42 persons per meeting. Of the founders, only two now survive, Natalie R., who still lives in Medford, and Betty W., who moved out of the area.
Warren, George, and “Sir” Robert all died sober, with double-digit sobriety.
As an offshoot of the Medford Group, four other groups were formed. Altogether, there are now 10 meeting per week in the Medford-Medford Lakes area.
The Medford Group has endured through gas crises, energy crises, blizzards, thunderstorms with resultant power failures, major church reconstruction and church bazaars. A.A.’s powerful message has been carried faithfully despite coffee-makers who got drunk, percolators that blew up, and a smoking ban. The group has dealt soberly with a treasurer who embezzled an entire year’s rent to St. Peter’s (all of the money was re-paid), chairpersons who resigned or moved away, missing keys, overflowing toilets, blown fuses and a visit (and arrest) by the Medford Police.
Around the mid 1990’s differences between the younger and older generation caused a split in the group. Many of the older members left the group to form another group. For a while the Medford Group struggled for its survival. Today the group is growing and coming together.
The Closed Step meeting is still being held on Wednesday nights accompanied by a Beginners Free Flow Discussion meeting. On Fridays there is still a Beginners Living Sober meeting and a Big Book study. The Tuesday afternoon meeting is also still being held. A.A.’s powerful message is still being carried faithfully in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church by the Medford Group of Alcoholics Anonymous.