I came into Program in February 1983. In the intervening years I have been witness to many profound changes. The first of those changes was replacing the Lord’s Prayer with a second Serenity Prayer. This did not happen overnight or without serious, passionate and sometimes rancorous discussion. Next the many opinions surrounding AWOLs arose. When I came into program, my first sponsor took me to a “Step Meeting.” We met every Saturday morning for an hour and a half and people came and people went from week to week like any ordinary meeting. When some put forth the idea of a “closed study of the 12 Steps” many thought it would not be condoned! “How would program as we know it survive.” But it has. We continue to evolve and adapt Program to “carry the message.”
There have been less contentious changes along the way as well. Then no coffee or other beverages allowed at meetings, for example. A meeting I used to attend distributed soda at the “break.” Oh yes, “the break.” Most meetings at one time went for 90 minutes. Naturally, the shortening of meetings to an hour was another issue debated over several months, but not with the level of acrimony of the other changes mentioned here.
Shortly before Covid, telephone meetings entered the world of OA. These meetings had many benefits, including carrying the message to those who may be infirmed or live in remote areas. But they also brought the loss of attendance to in-person meetings. It appears while those issues were being discussed, the pandemic hit. End of discussion! Electronic communication overnight had become the lifeline. Irony of ironies!
So now a new era is upon us, and we are once again called upon to adapt. Will Program be on Zoom forever? Will we ever meet face to face again? I suggest that Program will survive because it and we are flexible. We are guided by a Higher Power, whose name I do not know, but in whom I believe with every fiber of my being. OA will continue one day at a time wherever and whenever two or more of us are gathered with the guidance of that Power.