The Secular Ontario AA Roundup

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And come with a carpool of friends!

By Roger C

The second SOAAR will be held in Hamilton.

SOAAR? What the heck is that?

It stands for Secular Ontario Alcoholics Anonymous Roundup. And it is a biennial gathering where we talk about what works for us and how, listen to a speaker or two, and celebrate past accomplishments and aim for future successes as individuals and members of the recovery community.

SOAAR will take place on September 7, 2019 at the First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn Street South.

And we have super speakers and truly exciting panels!

Joe C, the author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life, will launch the roundup with a bit of the history of secular AA in North America. His own group is celebrating its 10th anniversary very soon! The group was launched on September 24, 2009.

Dr. Vera Tarman will end the roundup. She has been working in the field of addiction medicine since 1994 and has been the medical director of Renascent since 2006. She is the author of Food Junkies and was a also a keynote speaker at the International Conference of Secular AA in Toronto in 2018.

Staying Sober Without God

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Breaking News! The author of Staying Sober Without God: The Practical 12 Steps to Long-Term Recovery from Alcoholism and Addictions will now be attending the Roundup! Jeffrey Munn will be coming up from California to participate and to be on a panel for which he is perfect: The Secular 12 Steps. Jeffrey’s book was published in January of this year and there is a wonderful review of it right here: Staying Sober Without God.

Here is the (updated!) agenda for the roundup:

  1. Speaker: Joe C – Intro to SOAAR and Secular AA [9:30 – 10:00]
  2. Personal Intros – Those present introduce themselves, name their home group and the thing (asset) that helped them most in recovery [10:00 – 10:45]
  3. PANEL: Spirituality in Recovery – Dr Tarman and Dr Sichler 10:45 – 11:30
  4. Break [11:30 – 11:45]
  5. PANEL: Step 4 – Personal Inventories – Jowita B and Thomas B 11:45 – 12:30

LUNCH [12:30 –   1:30]

  1. PANEL: Service in AA – Jim W, Richard B, Anna P, Dale S [1:30 – 2:30]
  2. PANEL: Mindfulness and Meditation – Dr Sichler and Heather C [2:30 – 3:15]
  3. Break [3:15 – 3:30]
  4. PANEL: Secular 12 Steps – Jeffrey Munn and John S [3:30 – 4:15]
  5. AA Groups in Ontario [4:15 – 4:45]
  6. Speaker: Dr Vera Tarman [4:45 – 5:15]
  7. Thank you for attending [5:15 – 5:30]

The theme of this roundup will be “Widening the Gateway”.

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This expression was first used by Bill Wilson on page 167 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. He gives credit to atheists such as Jim Burwell for making AA more inclusive: “this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.

And so at this roundup there will be a focus on how AA can be a place for “anyone, anywhere who reaches out for help”.

I hope to see you on Sept 7! We’ve already got oodles of interesting folks coming: half a dozen or so from the US of A, Cathy – who launched the Beyond Belief meeting in Winnipeg, another half dozen or so from the Wasaga Beach area, folks from Toronto, Kingston, North Bay, Windsor and many other parts of Ontario… Oh, and a few from Hamilton! It’s also important to note that this is an open Roundup, so literally anyone is welcome to attend. Please pass this information along to your family, friends and AA groups. Here’s a PDF you can download: SOAAR 2019.

Come soar with us at SOAAR!

5 Responses

  1. Marty N. says:

    Catherine and I will be attending. We are making plans to stay over two nights in Hamilton or Niagara Falls. Any suggestions for accommodations?

    Marty from Connecticut

    • Roger says:

      Wonderful news, Marty! We have a number of people coming who are staying at the Admiral Inn, which is a 15 minute walk from the First Unitarian Church. Hamilton is also roughly 50 minutes away from Niagara Falls…

      If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me via And, if you wish, please register here: SOAAR.

      I look forward to the two of you soaring with us at SOAAR!

  2. bob k says:

    I will be there.

  3. Pat N. says:

    Have a great Roundup! I’ll be with you in spirit.

  4. CathyM says:

    Looking forward to being there… Unfortunately my BFR (best friend in recovery) & group cofounder, Doreen, cannot attend… although the spirit of “road trip” is alive and well.

    We made it to the secular meeting in Regina earlier in June and love being around similar minded folks.


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