Episode 60: Secular Ontario AA Roundup

This week’s podcast features a conversation with Jack V., one of the organizers of the Secular Ontario AA Roundup or SOAAR. The event will take place on September 16, 2017 at the United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T1N1.  

Previous to this podcast, Steven V. wrote an article that was posted at AA Agnostica on May 8, 2017, which we are posting here with permission. 

SOAAR 

By Steve V. 

Secular Ontario Alcoholics Anonymous Roundup (SOAAR) was the “brainchild” of a few AA agnostic members last spring. They sent out a message to the local groups asking if they wanted to submit a bid for the 2018 International Conference of Secular AA (ICSAA) – which was ultimately granted to Toronto – or a one day regional roundup. The response was basically that people wanted to have both! A Bid Committee was formed for ICSAA and at the same time the idea for a one day roundup was worked on too.

That’s how SOAAR came into being.

The SOAAR Committee held its first meeting in Toronto at the beginning of 2017 where most of the committee members were selected for the various positions. Lots of different AA Agnostic/Atheist/Freethinker members helped come up with the event location at the United Steel Workers Hall at 25 Cecil St. in the College/Spadina area close to Kensington Market. Other members contacted and secured a caterer so, in fact, many members (committee and non-committee) have participated in the development of this event thus far.

The Committee came up with a Mission statement that states:

The mission of SOAAR (Secular Ontario Alcoholics Anonymous Roundup) is to bring people together to share and celebrate sobriety with friends, family and other AA members. It’s a casual recovery-based event where we can all gather to share our experience, strength and hope in a fun, friendly and inclusive environment.

The event will take place on Saturday September 16, 2017 from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and will include a variety of speakers, workshops, three meals, and a Talent and Art show. There will be lots of fun and fellowship and it will be a day where all AA members and secular AA members in particular can gather and celebrate sobriety and the diversity of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Registration is currently $35.00 and that covers all three meals and the day’s events. It is helpful to register now as the committee has incurred some expenses such as hefty deposits for both the Hall and caterer so registering now not only saves yourself $10, it also helps the committee. All information and how to register can be viewed at the event website: SOAAR.

Although the program has yet to be finalized, here’s some of the amazing events and activities we have planned for the day. Joe C., a well known agnostic AA member and author will be your Master of Ceremonies for the day. Dave J. and Bill K., two members of Windsor, Ontario AA since the 1970s will be speaking and sharing their experience within AA, and how much it’s changed and how much they have enjoyed seeing the birth of secular AA in Canada.

Kevin H. and Evonne S. will be part of a panel discussing “Many paths to Serenity” and there will be a couple of fascinating workshops, one on How to start an Agnostic AA meeting and the other on Tools of Recovery. We know many AA members who have tried and/or want to know how to start a meeting and get through the hurdles that present themselves so this is a “must see” workshop! Tools of Recovery, especially without a God or Higher Power in one’s sobriety, will be powerful for all we’re sure.

An Art Show/Sale and Talent Show by the many talented members of AA will be something to look forward to and we’re told that a Red Seal Certified Chef is in charge of catering this event so you know that food will be awesome and for $35, how can you possibly go wrong?

Lots of highly acclaimed authors will be in attendance selling their books and literature. Authors like Joe C. (Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life and host of Rebellion Dogs Radio), Roger C. (A History of Agnostics in AA and Do Tell! Stories by Atheists and Agnostics in AA) and Bob K. (Key Players in AA History) just to name a few.

It’s time to soar!

We, the 2017 SOAAR Committee, believe we have come up with a terrific day for all of you to enjoy with your friends and family. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday September 16 in Toronto and we anticipate it will be a tremendous day for all!


We have that flyer so that you can share the information about SOAAR with others, including members of your home group. It’s an event that is not only historic in terms of secular AA in Canada, but also one that is meant to be an inspiration for all who attend.

Just click on the image of the coffee cup to get a PDF of the flyer. Oh, and once again, here is the website for the Secular Ontario AA Roundup, the best place to register to attend: SOAAR.

 

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  1. Jack June 26, 2017 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the help John.

    i had an email from Sonta in NJ. your return email address didn’t work.

    Pls retry at  jack-v@bell.net .

  2. Murray J. June 26, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    When I heard about SOAAR and being relatively new to secular AA I felt compelled to jump in to help. I’m the finance/treasurer guy. I’ve been fortunate to be on a fair number of committees in AA over the years. I’ve not met a finer, more committed and capable group of committee members. It has been a great honour to be a part of SOAAR 2017. Come join us!

  3. Jerry F. June 25, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Congrats on all the effort you are expending to put on this regional secular AA conference. It sounds awesome.

    We in the Phoenix area are preparing for our second biennial secular AA conference in October. Plans are still sketchy but we expect it to be even more successful than the first one.

  4. Joe C. June 25, 2017 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Great work Jack, in representing Toronto AA and as far as John is concerned, it’s amusing now to recall John’s expressed doubt about having a broadcast voice or production skills. It’s hard for some of us to remember a time before AA-Beyond Belief, the podcast.

    I echo Jack’s sentiment that this is a good time to make a weekend of it. The Eaton Centre Marriott is a 15 minute walk from the United  Steel Workers Hall and there is a Super 8 on Spadina, 5 to 10 minutes away. Any travel savvy AA knows their way around Hotel.com type sights. Currently the $US buys $1.30 (approx) Canadian so if you like travel, the current exchange rate subsidizes travel costs once you’re here.

    Toronto is easy to fly into and if you’re a road-warrior, we are a 4 hour drive from Detroit and 90 minutes from Buffalo. You will love driving 100 kilometres an hour and you’ll get accustomed to litres instead of gallons and Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, in no time.

    Enough about Toronto-John and Jack talked about you – yes you – and what it takes to put on a local one day gathering of secular AA or bidding for the International.

    Please don’t make it more complicated than it has to be; remember that the first International gathering for atheists and agnostics in Santa Monica (2104) was spearheaded by three members, and not three members with 30 years each of sobriety. They suffered an unthinkable tragedy as one of the three died while the plans were in mid-stride. I can’t imagine how hard it was for them to carry on. So, there were two committee members and a handful of of ready and able volunteers. It doesn’t take a dozen people and years of AA service experience.

    And if it does, that experience is closer than you think; once you have a project in motion, ask for help and you will find it from other AA meetings and districts near you and even from this extensive online community. If two or three can put on a conference in California, then two or three can put one on in New York City, Chicago, Cincinnati or Denver or anywhere.

    September in Toronto is temperate and lively. I hope to see some of you, here.

  5. life-j June 25, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Good for Y’all!

    Now, we really need to get some regional networking going, so we can have gatherings like this in other parts of the continent, and that won’t happen unless and until the schedulesof meetings include contact info for all the meetings, and/or find other ways to have contact information made available. At present we have no way of contacting other regional meetings and groups other than driving there, which is COMPLETELY CRAZY if we’re really hopeful to grow our movement.

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