….from the CER Chair (September 2013)

My name is Jeroen and I am an alcoholic.  My home group is the Amsterdam Sunrise Serenity Group in The Netherlands.  I am 11 years sober, and have been the Chair of CER (Continental European Region) since December 2012.  I feel honoured to contribute to this first ArenA edition after quite a hiatus.

I have always been fascinated with the organization and functioning of AA.  Over the years, my curiosity has led me to interesting experiences.  One recent experience was the Regional Chair Meeting at the beginning of July 2013.

As you may know, English speaking groups in Continental Europe are often associated with the Great Britain Service Structure, which has its GSO (General Service Office) in York, Great Britain.  Groups are usually associated through Intergroups.  Intergroups (and some isolated groups that don’t belong to an Intergroup) are frequently associated with CER.  The Great Britain Service Structure is made up of CER together with the other 15 Regions in Great Britain.

Every year at GSO, meetings are organized for certain regional functions, such as Treasurers, TLOs (Telephone Liaison Officers), RECLOs (Regional Electronic Communication Liaison Officers) and chairs.  I attended the Regional Chair Meeting on July 6 and 7.  Out of the 16 Regions, 14 were represented.  We met on Friday from 17:00 to 19:30 and on Saturday from 9:00 to 12:30.  We basically had a two-day long sharing session.  The New York Service Manual describes a sharing session as: “.. meeting in which everyone is invited to contribute ideas and comments on A.A. matters, and during which no actions are taken.”  There was an agenda with various questions and, at each question, we went around the table for discussion.

Prior to the meeting, I had submitted a couple of questions related to improving effectiveness and unity.  To my surprise, I received consistent answers from the others Chairs:

  • Have an annual group inventory
  • Have annual ratification of officers
  • Have Regional forums.

Several Regions start the group inventory process with reviewing the aims of their Region, and at least two Regions developed their own list of aims.  Additionally, some Regions specifically invite Intergroup members to participate in the inventory process.  However, what surprised me most is that these suggestions are actually all included in our own Welcome to CER Guideline, but haven’t been used for quite a while.

Currently, I am in the process of planning the group inventory and ratification process for the CER meeting in September 2013 in Berlin.  As I was Secretary at the Regional Chair Meeting, I made sure that I got the e-mail addresses of all other Region Chairs so I can get all the help that I may need.  I’ll let you know how it went!

Jeroen S.

Editor’s note: this article has been published in accordance with our ArenA Editorial Policy.