49th General Service Conference 2014 Committee Reports

The Forty-Ninth General Service Conference was held April 11-12, 2014 in York, Great Britain.  Following is a summary of the conference questions and committee reports.


COMMITTEE 1
Share experience and make recommendations on supplying certificates of attendance for professionals attending various AA presentations.

Although the Committee wished to respond positively to any request from professionals for certificates, we felt that this could contravene our Traditions. One Intergroup had direct experience of issuing certificates, with an apparent increase in attendance. Several other Intergroups and Regions had experience with acknowledging attendance by letter or e-mail, also with an apparent increase.

Our recommendation is to supply an unsigned e-mail or letter of acknowledgement of attendance on request, issued by the organising Intergroup or Region.

This recommendation was unanimous.

Can the Fellowship share experience and make recommendations on how we can respond positively to the recovery agenda and external initiatives in the professional community?

In order to respond positively to the recovery agenda and external initiatives, this committee shared experience and recommends that:

  1. In our dealings with the professional community AA maintains its Traditions, integrity and autonomy
  2. We continue to cooperate, but not affiliate, with the professional community, in order to carry our message to the still-suffering alcoholic
  3. The General Service Board (GSB) Health Sub-Committee produces a set of slides for presentations to the professional community
  4. GSB Health Sub-Committee ensures that existing literature and information is available to outside agencies about what AA does and does not do
  5. GSB Health Sub-Committee ensures there is sufficient supporting literature for groups to respond to possible increases in the number of newcomers
  6. At Region and Intergroup level PI, Health, Employment and other liaison officers work together to raise awareness of AA in the professional community
  7. At group level consideration be given to inviting liaison officers to share their experience, strength and hope in relation to the service they do within AA.

The decision was unanimous.

Review revised Chapter Three (Electronic Communications), AA Service Handbook for Great Britain and page 114 (AA (GB) Website), AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain.

Accept both the revised texts with one change to paragraph 3.7 in chapter 3, namely that “program” should be spelled “programme”.

This decision was unanimous.

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Jeroen S of Continental European Region as Chair of Committee No. 1 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Stephen M of London Region South as Secretary of Committee No. 1 for Conference 2015.


COMMITTEE 2 
Does the existing service structure ensure Conference answers are implemented effectively?  Specifically:

  • Are delegates and Regions doing enough to raise awareness in Regions and encourage action at intergroup level?
  • Is GSB implementing the recommendations from Conference
  • Whilst great attention and effort is given in the Conference structure and organization to bring forward questions each year, could equal or greater exertion be made to ensure that the experience of the Fellowship, as expressed in Conference Answers, is communicated to and can be implemented by its members at all levels?  

Whilst plenty is being done by delegates and regions already this Committee suggests that more can always be done to encourage action at Intergroup level.

  1. This Committee recommends the leaflet ‘The Role and Function of Conference’ be distributed with AA Service News.  This Committee finds the inverted triangle of the service structure an ideal tool in explaining the roles of the Groups in the Conference process (page six of the AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain).
  2. General Service Board implements all the recommendations from Conference in a reasonable time frame.  This process is monitored by the Conference Steering Committee.
  3. This Committee accepts that those already dedicated to service make great effort to communicate the experience of the Fellowship as expressed in Conference answers, to members at all levels.
  4. Conference questions and answers are available in AA Service News and on the AA website.

This Committee recommends:-

  1. That Regions and Intergroups have Conference questions and answers as a standard agenda item.
  2. To support Group Service Representative and Region Representatives, Regions and Intergroups may wish to consider workshops with the assistance of Conference Delegates.

Vote:  Unanimous

Would the Fellowship share experience and make recommendations on how to make AA more accessible to parents of small children? Specifically with regard to groups paying for childcare and/or crèche facilities at meetings, conventions and conferences either directly from Tradition 7 funds or otherwise.

Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.

Bearing this in mind no group should take any action that could bring the name of AA into disrepute by failing to observe the laws and regulations regarding childcare.

People who have difficulty in attending meetings may find online meetings enable them to stay in touch with the Fellowship and the programme of recovery.  AA literature is also available from the AA website.

This Committee does not recommend the use of AA funds for the provision of childcare or crèche facilities for meetings, conventions or conferences.

Vote:  17 yes
1 No

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Craig F of London Region South as Chair of Committee No. 2 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Clive K of Eastern Region as Secretary of Committee No. 2 for Conference 2015.


COMMITTEE 3
Would the Fellowship discuss if the needs of agnostic and atheist members are adequately provided for throughout AA’s literature?

This Committee agreed that, yes, the needs of agnostic and atheist members are adequately provided for throughout AA’s literature.

However, the Committee recommends, based on the view from the Fellowship, that relevant existing Conference approved literature be summarised in a pamphlet.

Vote: Passed with majority (14 for, 3 against, 1 abstention)

Minority View Recorded: The first sentence is a sufficient response.

Would Conference consider and suggest how groups may become more involved in the Conference process as an on-going activity, and how delegates may become more involved with groups and Intergroups on a regular basis?

This Committee felt that the structure and process already exist; the key is to instil motivation, enthusiasm and action at all levels of service.

This Committee suggests that AA members familiarise themselves with the AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain, as this covers the roles and responsibilities of the Group, Intergroup, Region and delegate in the Conference process.

Vote: Unanimous.

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Jim G of London Region North as Chair of Committee No. 3 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Amanda S of London Region South as Secretary of Committee No. 3 for Conference 2015.


COMMITTEE 4
Would Conference consider ways in which the Fellowship could reduce costs and waste in mailing publications and information to Regions, Intergroups, Groups and Officers?

The Committee feels that all possible measures are being taken to keep costs to a minimum.

In order to avoid wastage and ensure that mail reaches Regions, Intergroups, Groups and Officers, the Fellowship is encouraged to use the Group Registration/Amendment Form (pink form) so that their details are updated with the General Service Office as changes occur.

The Committee recognises the ever-growing trend towards the use of electronic communications, but feels that at present this does not meet all our needs.

Voting: Unanimous

Would the Fellowship discuss, share experience and make recommendations on the best way to carry the message to the homeless (rough sleeper) alcoholic?

The Committee shared experience of the work that is currently being done throughout the Fellowship with regards to the homeless/rough sleeper alcoholic.

In support of our primary purpose, the Committee feels that the Fellowship would benefit from cultivating and strengthening links with professional and voluntary organisations that are in direct contact with homeless/rough sleeper alcoholics.

Voting: Unanimous

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Terry A of London Region South as Chair of Committee No. 4 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Ross N of Scotia Region as Secretary of Committee No. 4 for Conference 2015.


COMMITTEE 5
Would Conference share experience and consider the importance of employment liaison work in Alcoholics Anonymous, and whether a new approach is required?

Having shared experience and agreed on the importance of ongoing service work in Employment Liaison, Committee 5 considers that there is already a new approach in place following the convening of the first ever General Service Board Employment Sub-Committee in September 2013. The Primary functions and Terms of Reference for the Sub-Committee were published in AA Service News, Winter 2013 edition (p 17).http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/Members/Document-Library#

We agreed that Employment Liaison service depends on active participation of the Fellowship at Group, Intergroup and Region.

Vote: Unanimous

Would the Fellowship discuss, share experience and make recommendations on how we attract new members to “Alcoholics Anonymous” with regard to Tradition 11,  since a lack of promotion might suggest that we prefer the alternative title of “Alcoholics Invisible”?

This question was rejected by the Committee on the following grounds:

  • The Question was not significantly different from Q1, answered by Committee 1 at Conference 2012.
  • The Question was ambiguous and the background information did not provide clarification.
  • This Question contains an opinion that appeared demeaning to the currentservice that is being carried out throughout the Fellowship.

This Committee is grateful to the Fellowship for the feedback received.

Vote:  15 For
3 Against
1 Abstention

Minority View Recorded: This Committee was remiss in the process it adopted to the question.

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Jim F of Scotia Region as Chair of Committee No. 5 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Jenny D of Wales & Borders Region as Secretary of Committee No. 5 for Conference 2015.


COMMITTEE 6
Share experience and make recommendations on how AA’s message can be carried effectively to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community.  Could more be done to attract LGBTQ members?

Although not part of the response to the original question we understand that the word “Queer” has caused controversy and offence within our Fellowship; however the term was in the original question. To avoid further controversy and offence we will not be using it in our submission, from here on referring only to LGBT.

Having shared experience on how we attract members, we are mindful of our Traditions especially:

  • Tradition 1 – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity
  • Tradition 3 – The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking
  • Tradition 5 – Each group has but one Primary Purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers

We need to continue to be fully inclusive of all Special Interest Groups.

In particular when carrying the message to the LGBT community the feedback from the Fellowship suggested and this Committee recommends the following:

  1. Encourage more members from the LGBT community into service
  2. Ask the Literature Sub Committee to review the leaflet “A.A. and the Gay/ Lesbian Alcoholic” seeking advice from LGBT members within the Fellowship
  3. Public Information initiatives to continue to build links and to expand our co-operation with relevant bodies such as, but not limited to, Pride, Terrence Higgins Trust, Stonewall and 12th Step Facilitation organisations

Unanimous

Would the Fellowship discuss, share experience and make recommendations on the question of how AA can best carry the message to alcoholics with psychological disorders both inside and outside of the Fellowship?

Having shared experience on how we best carry the message to alcoholics with psychological disorders both inside and outside the Fellowship, members fed back the following to emphasise our singleness of purpose:

  • Tradition 1 – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity
  • Tradition 3 – The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking
  • Tradition 5 – Each group has but one Primary Purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers

It was further acknowledged that our literature already addresses these issues e.g.

The Big Book “Alcoholics Anonymous” (Fourth Edition) states:

  1. Page 58 “There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
  2. Page 133 “God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons.”

The Committee recommends the following when carrying the message inside the Fellowship:

  1. We should bear in mind that alcoholics may suffer from more than one illness
  2. We are not doctors; we neither endorse nor oppose any course of treatment for those with psychological disorders, nor should we offer medical advice
  3. In order to protect the vulnerable, refer to The AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain 2013 –The Group, Chapter 5 – Violence and Personal Conduct
  4. The General Service Board to increase awareness of the important work that the Non Alcoholic Trustees carry out in this field.

Recognising that there is a need for the message to be carried to a broad cross section of society, the Committee recommends the following when doing so outside the Fellowship:

  1. There is a range of support agencies which provides help for people with psychological disorders
  2. Health Liaison work to be extended and expanded to the healthcare professionals dealing with patients with psychological disorders
  3. Reference should be made to Chapter 6 AA Service Handbook 2013 “AA and Healthcare in the Community.” This principle can be used for other disciplines throughout the service structure
  4. The  Role of the Non Alcoholic Trustees specialising in this field to be encouraged in carrying the message to all professionals

Unanimous

Elect Committee Chair for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Andrew H of North East Region as Chair of Committee No. 6 for Conference 2015.

Elect Committee Secretary for Conference 2015.

The Committee elected Rob D of South West Region as Secretary of Committee No. 6 for Conference 2015.