Small History: LifeRing Secular Recovery in the Tampa Bay Area
LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR) got its start, in the Tampa
Bay area, in St. Petersburg in 1987. The basis for LSR was, of all
things, a longtime secular AA group. Yes, secular AA. No steps, no
"higher power". These groups do exist, to this day, under names like
"Freethinkers", "Atheists and Agnostics" (named after that chapter
in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous", the famous "Big Book"
of AA), and "Rebellion Dogs", among others. In St. Petersburg, secular
AA was represented by the
The 104 Group was visited in the early part of that year by some
folks who brought news of a fledgling sobriety support organization
in California. This new entity, "Secular Sobriety Groups" (SSG)
was going to have its own meetings and provide support for abstinence
from alcohol and other drugs and do this without any of the trappings
The idea of a new group, separate and completely apart from AA
was intriguing, albeit scary even for secular AA folks, and caused
months of discussion about the possibility of creating a local SSG
meeting. By the end of 1987, the members of the 104 group concluded
that this alternative deserved support and decided that it was time
to associate with other like-minded people in recovery, and so,
started the Friday night SSG group.
The first Florida SSG meeting was held on January
8, 1988. In about 1990, the nascent national SSG organization,
which had become affiliated with the Council for Democratic and
Secular Humanism (CODESH, now simply called CSH), incorporated under
the name Secular Organizations for Sobriety, giving the national
organization and, its local affiliates, the catchy abbreviation
Over the next ten years, the Friday night SOS meeting grew
and changed. The group sponsored the first member-driven, national
conferences for SOS. In the mid 1990s new SOS groups started in
Tampa, and in Pasco and Manatee counties. The Tampa meeting still
continues on Tuesday nights.
By the late 1990s, there was a growing movement in SOS to
develop a democratic, member-controlled, national leadership for
the organization. Committees were formed among the membership to
come up with ideas and proposals that might lead to that goal. The
existing management of SOS, still a subcommittee of CSH, was cool
to these proposals, so the majority of existing SOS groups split
and formed a new organization, LifeRing Secular Recovery "LSR".
The St. Petersburg and Tampa LSR groups became leaders in this
area of change. The Tampa Bay LSR groups hosted the LSR Constitutional
Congress, held at UU in the Pines, in February, 2001. Today, the
Tampa Bay LSR groups are home to about twenty-five regular members.
Our plans for the coming year are to make LSR available to more
folks in our area and start at least one new meeting. Please contact
us for information. We look forward to hearing from you.
The St. Petersburg 104 Group of Alcoholics
Anonymous, was so named after a passage (beginning on page 104)
in the book "AA Comes of Age" (1957). In that book, Bill Wilson
(one of AA's co-founders) states, "...any two or more, gathered
together for the purpose of discussing sobriety may call themselves
an AA group...". Back
The Friday night SSG group was preceded,
in St. Petersburg, by another SSG meeting on Wednesday nights. The
Wednesday meeting lasted for only a year, or so, and disbanded.
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