CER Secretary: The Second Time Round

In September of 2008, I attended my first CER meeting at the urging of the then CER Treasurer, Greg H. At that time, the procedure for nomination to service positions was for each person in the room to answer two questions: “Are you qualified?” and “Are you willing?” As we went around the room, lots of people said “yes” to the first and “no” to the second. When it came my turn, something prompted me to say “yes” twice. No one else did. That’s how I became secretary the first time.

Dan F, who had been secretary before me, offered his support and shipped me a box full of ring binders and records that almost scared me. I dealt with the incipient fear by ignoring the contents of these boxes. Slowly, by trial and error, I learned to do the best job that I could do. I came to understand that my role was to record the proceedings as succinctly as possible, to facilitate communication and work with the chair, vice-chair and treasurer to see that the necessary information was on hand and to give what, at that time, was a fractious assembly of trusted servants, the chance to arrive at an informed group conscience.

The job was an enormous challenge. I found myself thinking that, like so much in recovery, if I’d known what I was letting myself in for, I wouldn’t have found the courage even to start. The mailing list at that time was well over three hundred. Every day I found myself fielding five, ten, even fifteen messages, many of which seemed trivial and more than few inflammatory. The digest of decisions was spotty, inconsistent and disorderly. As the world slipped into recession, intergroups became critical of our practice of bringing quarterly meetings to such far-flung cities Rome, Madrid, Milan, Stockholm. As one GSR put it, “We don’t see the value of CER swanning around Europe.“ 7th tradition funds shrank to a trickle. CERES* had its genesis then amid storms of resistance.

In 2011, I completed my 3 year term and withdrew, exhausted and bruised from regional service, until late last year . . .

I was elected to serve as GSR for my home group, Serenity Seekers in Stuttgart, when our chair, Julian S, moved to London.  This brought me back to the CER orbit. Along with Sabine S, of Heidelberg, I attended the quarterly meeting in Budapest where I encountered a new, a reborn service fellowship. Not only were the meetings well organized and productive, but the whole tenor of service had changed from a struggle of personalities to an lively and respectful manifestation of the traditions.

When Matt S. stepped in to take over the RECLO position and the secretary chair needed filling, I found myself willing to put up my hand for the job. Once again, I was the only nominee.

CER’s intervening secretaries and steering committees have brought about many changes. The mailing list has been pared down. The secretary’s responsibilities are fewer and more clearly defined. The file structure of our records has been put in order. The steering committee, which during my first stint was accused of „backroom governing,“ has been accepted in the spirit of the traditions. The focus has shifted from “Who’s Right” to “What’s Right”.

The role of secretary, however, is fundementally the same: to facilitate communication by distributing information. I read and route the mail, support the chair in organizing the agenda and call up the required information (on the spot!) during assemblies. Nothing very exciting. 😉

I have come to see that the secretary’s role is fundementally the same as everyone else’s: to manifest the traditions, to keep (relatively) cool and focused, to make sure that service to the fellowship is attractive to both newcomers and old-timers, and last but not least, to integrate service into my personal recovery.

It’s good to be back. Thank you for having me.

Stephen T.
Secretary, CER