Mid-South’s largest AA gathering to open in Germantown

Published: Oct. 17, 2023 at 10:08 PM CDT
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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (WMC) - A celebration of sobriety moves to Germantown this weekend as people who’ve recovered from alcoholism via the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous unite to welcome newcomers to recovery.

The public is welcome to attend the 49th annual Memphis Bluff City Fellowship AA Convention, but organizers especially hope to reach those suffering from untreated alcoholism. Many individuals currently undergoing treatment at the region’s many alcohol recovery centers attend this annual event and witness former problem drinkers laughing and enjoying life without a beer, wine bottle or hard liquor in sight.

The four-day event runs Thursday, October 19 through Sunday morning, October 22 at the Great Hall and Conference Center at 1900 South Germantown Road. Seven powerhouse speakers will share their recovery stories while volunteers serve refreshments, an ice cream social, give a performance of an all-new original musical by Memphis-based Recovery Repertory Theatre, and present a dance party in a spirit of joy prevailing among those who’ve moved on to life without alcohol.

The four-day event has a one-time entry fee of $30 via www.BluffCityFellowship.com before October 19 or $35 at the door.

Thursday, October 19

Opening ceremonies start Thursday evening, October 19 at 7 o’clock with a banner ceremony that features members representing the dozens of AA groups that call Memphis home parade down the main aisle of the Great Hall.

At 8 o’clock, AA member Jackie H. of Southaven, MS will share her recovery story. AA members uphold the program’s bedrock tradition of anonymity by keeping the focus on principles, not personalities, and giving newcomers a sense of security that their identities will remain confidential as they embark on a design for living alcohol-free.

Friday, October 20

On Friday, October 20, registration opens at 5 o’clock with food served and AA member Marie T. of Fort Myers, Florida, taking the podium with her story at 6:30 followed by recovered alcoholic Victor V. of Springdale, Arkansas, at 8:15 p.m.

An ice cream social follows at 9:45 p.m.

Saturday, October 21

Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning, October 21, for a full day of celebration, speakers, and AA gatherings. It begins with a 10 o’clock workshop entitled, “I’m Sober, No What?” for newcomers and old-timers alike followed by lunch.

At 12:30, Diane A. of Nashville, a member of the Al-Anon Family Groups (AFG), will share her story followed by an original musical comedy by Recovery Repertory Theatre at 2 o’clock. AA member Mike A. of Nashville (Diane’s husband) takes center stage at 3:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 5 o’clock.

A highlight of the Memphis Bluff City Fellowship AA Convention happens Saturday evening as old timers who’ve been sober a half-century or longer stand up during the joyous “Sobriety Countdown.”

The Great Hall will be filled with cheering as recovered people stand up as emcees announce the years or months the individuals have been sober. The greatest celebration centers on those with one day or just a few days in the recovery program. As the crowd chants in unison, “Keep coming back,” the individual with the most sobriety and the person with the least are brought forward and awarded a copy of Alcoholics Anonymous, the textbook the program’s members use and fondly call “the Big Book.”

Once the cheers settle down, AA member Chuck H. of Destin, Florida, will be the keynote speaker at 8 o’clock. A DJ will provide the music for a dance that begins at 10 o’clock.

Sunday, October 22

Then, doors open at 9 o’clock Sunday morning, October 22 with Beth H. of Destin, FL (Chuck’s spouse) sharing her pathway to recovery. At 12:15, elections will be held for the 2024 Host Committee that will present the 50th annual Memphis Bluff City Fellowship at the Great Hall and Conference Center on the third weekend of October 2024.

Parking is free at the 167 spaces immediately in front of the Great Hall with hundreds more nearby within easy walking distance at the Germantown Athletic Club and the Germantown Performing Arts Center, both located at 1801 Exeter Road.

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