Conference Questions 2023 Online Feedback Form

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Use this form to submit your group’s responses directly to the CER Delegates to Conference. If you experience any issues with this form, please send your feedback to the delegates via email at confdel.cer@aamail.org 

Important notes:

  • This feedback form is only intended for English-speaking Groups within the Continental European Region of AA GB. If your group is in the UK, or outside of Europe, then your responses ought to be submitted to your local Region Delegates, usually via your local Intergroup. More details on intergroups and regions in CER and the UK can be found in our Structure Handbook (Folder Handbooks in our AA GB Members Library).
  • Conference 2023 runs from 14th – 16th April 2023. To give the Delegates time to review your answers please submit them before the end of March 2023.
  • All feedback is appreciated – even just one answer to a single question!
  • Consider the contribution to the carrying of the message, financial and practical implications when deliberating each question.

Committee 1

Background

Some members and groups have found the GSB accounts to be unclear with no detailed breakdown compared to the accounts produced by their groups, intergroups, or regions.

As an example, the quarterly accounts sent out to Regional Treasurers appear in a wide variety of formats from one quarter to another. The level of detail in these reports is different to that presented to the Fellowship (e.g. via the final Conference report). This inconsistency makes it difficult for members to see, in a simple format, how money is being spent on an ongoing basis, or to make meaningful comparisons with previous accounting periods. If a standard format were to be used, with detail particularly around areas funded by Tradition 7, it would make it easier for the members of the Fellowship to understand what the figures indicate, thus making the accounts more useful.

This question is not asked out of concern that bad practices are in place, but out of a desire to understand the practices themselves.



Background

• Conference Steering Committee Terms of Reference
• Structure Handbook for AAGB
• AAGB Conference Charter
• 12 Concepts



The prudent reserve has regularly been exceeded for several years now – see annual reports 2018/9/20/21 - with Groups sending surplus pot money to Intergroup, Intergroup to Region, and Region to GSO. These surpluses are opportunities for primary purpose work both locally and nationally, so would the Fellowship discuss and propose guidance on how the money might be spent both locally by Region/Intergroup and nationally by the Board to keep surpluses as low as possible?

It is acknowledged and understood that income streams are difficult to predict but in the past, whenever financial pressure has been foreseen, the members have responded positively to a request for increased donations via the Pot and there is no reason to suggest this would not be repeated, even in the difficult economic climates. Budgets could always be reviewed if needs be.



Committee 2

Background

Currently, there is no guidance in The AA Handbooks of GB concerning the practice of using motivational or praise songs/Hymns at AA meetings, particularly at National Conventions and Special Events, such as AA 75th Anniversary Celebration.

Over the last twenty years or so, the singing of songs has been incorporated into meetings at conventions and special events. Many of these meetings are entitled ‘spiritual meeting’; this is so that it is recognised as specially connected to our spiritual way of life, however, all AA meetings are spiritual in nature.

The AA fellowship is a society based on a spiritual way of life. Many members of the fellowship are not part of a religious faith and some may find singing of this type of song at AA meetings unnecessary and perhaps offensive.

At conventions in America, it is traditional to sing songs before the AA meeting, hence, preserving the meeting for sharing our Experience, Strength and Hope.

References:

• AA preamble: indicates that we are non-denominational.
• Tradition One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA unity.
• Conference 2022, Committee 3, Question 1: re Language or material offensive to minority groups.
• Revised Safeguarding and Personal Conduct Section of The AA Structure Handbook of GB, Chapter ‘The Group, Section 5.2 and the Conclusion by Bill W.



Background

AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain
Conference Charter



References:

• The AA Service Handbook for Great Britain 2019 Chapter 1 (Growing into Service)
• Quote:- “Service is at the centre of every AA Concept and activity.”
• The AA Structure Handbook for Great Britain 2020 Third Legacy of Service by Bill W (1951) Page 11 paragraph 1.
• Quote:- “Carrying the message- is the basic service that the AA Fellowship gives; this is our principal aim and the main reason for our existence.”
• Pass it on (Page 347)
• Preamble and Tradition 3 Quote:- The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking
• Concept IV The Right of Participation

Background / Personal Experience

The AA logo incorporates a triangle within a circle with the words, Unity Service Recovery (Our 3 Legacies).

If we stop / restrict any AA member from carrying out service due to lack of access to modern technology or personal inability to operate the said same technology, are we as an organisation denying a full interaction and inclusion within the AA Fellowship family.

Are we becoming a two-tier service? Shouldn’t our communication system be broader and encompass all forms of communication

The traditional method of passing telephone numbers still works.



Committee 3

Background

Language of the Heart pg. 391


“Let’s now examine that vital Tradition Eleven. It deals with our public relations. Here is our greatest channel of communication to the alcoholic who still suffers. Tradition Eleven reads: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” Since this great Tradition describes the most important application of AA’s principle of anonymity, and because it sets the pitch and tone of our entire public relations policy, nothing can be more critically important. If personal ambitions ever invade our public relations we shall be badly crippled, perhaps lost altogether.

The danger, of course, is the possibility that we may one day recklessly abandon the principle of personal anonymity at the top public level. This possibility arises from the fact that many of us AA’s have been, and sometimes still are, possessed by enormous power drives. These are frequently fuelled by an almost irresistible craving for money, approval, and public acclaim. My own past history is outstanding in this respect. I can well understand the constant temptation to turn oneself into a public figure. Therefore I have urged, in season and out, that we AA’s maintain our personal anonymity at the top level, no matter what the personal sacrifices may be.

Our chief hope for the future is that these appalling urges of ours will be held in restraint by self- discipline, by love of AA, and by firm group and public opinion. These powerful constructive forces, all working together, have thus far been enough. We pray that they may always prevail.

Let’s look once more at how immense this temptation really is. A vast communications net now covers the earth, even to its remotest reaches. Granting all its huge public benefits, this limitless world forum is nevertheless a hunting ground for all those who would seek money, acclaim, and power at the expense of society in general. Here the forces of good and evil are locked in struggle. All that is shoddy and destructive contests all that is best.

Therefore nothing can matter more to the future welfare of AA than the manner in which we use this colossus of communication. Used unselfishly and well, the results can surpass our present imagination. Should we handle this great instrument badly, we shall be shattered by the ego demands of our own people—often with the best of intention on their part. Against all this, the sacrificial spirit of AA’s anonymity at the top public level is literally our shield and our buckler. Here again we must be confident that love of AA, and of God, will always carry the day.”

Tradition 11
Tradition 12

See ‘The Language of the Heart’. Page 91-92 for Editorial by Bill W. A.A. Grapevine, October, 1948

“Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never a need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us”

Tradition 11 (long form).



Background

The images are dated for example men with short hair, dressed only in suits and women with longer hair wearing dresses and heels.

One image depicts a meeting in Africa, set in a jungle, with African members barefoot and a Western male explorer in footwear, with no chairs, furniture or buildings. The pamphlet illustrations show no evidence of advanced society in its African image.

The imagery could also be seen as heteronormative.



Committee 4

Background

Safeguarding and Personal Conduct (Document Library) 6.0

Safeguarding is a huge topic and covers all aspects of our disciplines. It is becoming more common to hear safeguarding statements read out at meetings thus demystifying common misconceptions about what safeguarding means. No Service member will have all the answers to safeguarding questions, but by integrating Safeguarding roles into our structure, the Fellowship will be able to draw on its strength of shared experience and with time build up a repository of tools and advice that future members will come to rely upon.



Does attendance at such events undermine or facilitate the unequivocal inclusivity of Tradition Three, either diverting us from or promoting our primary purpose? Is attendance at events such as those described below consistent with our Traditions Six, Ten and Eleven, and the stated aims of PI work?

Background

Our local intergroup PI attended two events with pamphlets, volunteers and funds to pay for a stall at least one of the events. The first event was a stall at local Pride March. The second event hosted by a local organisation which holds an annual festival whose theme this year was “environmental justice”.

The group conscience unanimously supported both events but some members felt this was promoting the fellowship or that attending events, loosely termed as social justice, amounted to AA involving itself in outside issues which could be considered controversial. A hypothetical scenario envisaged why attendance at Pride was considered consistent with our Traditions but attendance at an English Defence League rally would not be? If the nature of the causes to attend is based on personal beliefs does this not undermine AA traditions?

Tradition Three (long form)

“Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.”

Tradition Six (long form, in part):

“While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.”

Tradition Ten (long form)

“No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues—particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.”

Tradition Eleven (long form)

“Our relations with the general public should be characterised by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.”

The aims of fellowship PI work are expressed on the AA Great Britain website as:

“The aim of PI is to improve communications with professionals and the public sector and show how we can cooperate with your organisations in providing a free service to help with the growing problem of alcoholism.”



Background

We already have the following books as audio versions:
• An Inside View of AA for Professionals (DVD)
• Road to Sobriety (DVD)
• Who Me? (DVD)
• Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions Audio (5 CD Set)
• Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions British Sign Language (3 DVD Set)
• Living Sober Audio Edition (4 CD Set)
• Audio 12th Step Starter Pack

Would it be possible to create an audio recording of the Daily Reflections representing a variety of regional accents in AAGB please? I have Dyslexia and audio versions are sooooo much simpler than reading text. Based on what we have so far so there is definitely a gap in our productions.



Committee 5

Background

The Background for this question is: 53rd General Service Conference 2018 Final Report, Committee 2, Question 1:

“Further research on the subject is needed. Groups are encouraged to share their experience via the service structure. If this method of collection becomes more widespread, the Fellowship may need to consider potential changes to existing AA literature.”

Tradition 4 “Each Group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other Groups or AA as a whole”.

This question recognizes that this was touched upon in the answer to Conference 2021, Committee 6, Question 3, but a more focused discussion is appropriate.



Background

Whilst it is recognised that each Intergroup and Region are autonomous, concerns have been raised by members wishing to take up service roles regarding the time it can take for them to be voted into the role and begin to carry out service.
It is recognised that a member may put themselves forward for a role, be elected and then never attend again and so a degree of commitment should be demonstrated.

However, it is also the case that where an Intergroup/Region require a member to attend three meetings before being elected then this can mean that this can disillusion service being actioned, potentially disillusioning the prospective servant.



Background

Our Intergroup is eager to ensure that all members are able to get involved in service, regardless of their location or personal circumstances, and the matter of holding ‘hybrid’ meetings has been discussed. The geography of our area is such that many people have to travel significant distances to attend in-person meetings. In addition, those with young children, transport problems or health issues can find it difficult to attend. However, discussion on the matter has highlighted a number of difficulties, and shown that a hybrid Intergroup is a very different undertaking to a hybrid AA Meeting. For example, how would the meeting be chaired, to ensure that everyone attending could participate equally, and what technology would be required to hold the meeting.



Committee 6

Background

Minority Opinion (Concept V)

In the pamphlet Twelve Concepts for Service in Great Britain Illustrated, the section on Concept V opens with the words, “Newcomers to AA’s General Service Conference are often surprised at the pains taken by the Chair of Conference to make sure the minority has a second opportunity to present its views. Even after extensive debate on an issue, followed by a vote in which a substantial unanimity is reached, those opposed are polled individually to see if they wish to speak further to their minority view”

From the questioners’ experience and anecdotally from others, this approach, and particularly the procedure described in the second sentence isn’t always followed.

The pamphlet goes on to say, “This is AA’s Right of Appeal in action and Bill said the same principle should apply to meetings of our groups, intergroups, regions and boards. On an issue of grave importance, the minority has the actual duty of presenting its views.”

Grievances (Concept V)

From the same pamphlet, “The Right of Appeal also permits any person in the service structure, whether paid or volunteer, to petition for redress of a personal grievance. He or she can complain directly to the General Service Board, without prejudice or fear of reprisal.” Substantial Unanimity (Warranty Four)

“That all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity”

While this principle may be observed at the annual meeting of Conference, it can be used, as Bill says, in the Introduction to the Twelve Concepts, “.... [it] can of course be used to good effect throughout our entire structure”.



Background

A number of groups celebrating sobriety birthdays by the presentation of a medallion to a member who is celebrating a Sobriety anniversary.

These medallions are sourced through a non-AA supplier (hopefully funded from a separate pot).

Given the merchandise that has been made available for the 75th this year, is it not a plausible idea?

If there were a positive decision on this matter then it would follow that all funds raised through the sale and availability of said medallions would remain in AA.



Background

In times past a group treasurer might commonly bank cash using a paying in book and write cheques to intergroup and for rent, literature, gratitude week, and perhaps the tea and biscuits. The bank account would usually have the group’s name on it. When the treasurer rotated out, the outgoing and incoming treasurers might commonly go along to the bank to formally hand over the new signatory information for the cheque book. It was all fairly straightforward.

Things seemed to have changed though.

Over the last few years, some groups trying to make alterations, change signatories, or set up new community accounts for new groups, have run into myriad problems.

For example, the banks have been (perhaps understandably) unwilling to open community accounts unless a named person already has a personal account with them, compromising both anonymity and ease of service rotation.

A member’s proof of ID has also proved to be much more intrusive in such situations.

Various recent legal changes have not helped the situation. From money laundering and GDPR issues to corporate bureaucracy and remote working staff, it has become increasingly difficult to navigate the banking system in a way that is conducive to the status of AA groups and members’ anonymity. It has become a less attractive proposition for a prospective treasurer rotating in. Another problem for the Fellowship is that groups are reluctant to stick to the usual period of rotation and most treasurers stay in post for much longer, making the transition harder for groups when, eventually, they do leave.

Although the points made above refer to groups, similar problems confront intergroups and regions.

Tradition Seven
Tradition Twelve





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