Report from the 63rd General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous
Theme: “The General Service Conference takes its Inventory – Our Solution in Action”
Dave C., Delegate Area 53, Central & SE Ohio
It was a honor to serve the groups of Central and SE Ohio as your delegate and participate in A.A.s General Service Conference in New York April 21-27, 2013.
This yearly Conference is where 133 A.A trusted servants decide what actions need to be taken on proposals that come from U.S. and Canada A.A. groups for the good of A.A.as a whole.
If you attended the Area 53 Mini-Conference at Deer Creek in March you discussed and voted on a number of the proposals heard in New York. Area 53 was one of 93 areas that sent a delegate to the Conference to speak for A.A. as a whole.
There were 28 specific Conference advisory actions approved with substantial unanimity (at least 2/3) in New York. A list of them are included on the Area 53 website (www.area53aa.org)
Please read them and send any questions you might have to delegate @ area53aa.org. And, if your group wants to hear a full conference report please contact me at the delegate’s e-mail.
Conference advisory actions are specific directions to a group of trusted servants and service workers whose service job is to act for A.A. as a whole. I’m referring to the headquarters’ staff, the General Service Board (GSB) of Trustees and the corporate boards of directors for A.A. World Services, Inc. and A.A. Grapevine, Inc.
To find information on activities of a Conference read Chapter Seven page S55 in the A.A. Service Manual. Voting members of the Conference include, Ninety-three delegates elected by the service areas of the U.S. and Canada. Delegates always make up more than two-thirds of the voting members. General Service Board of Trustees and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (A.A.W.S.) and Grapevine directors, total 25. And the General Service Office staff, general manager and Grapevine office staff and the Grapevine executive editor total 15. This year the number of eligible voters was only 131 due to two illness-related absences.
Activities during Conference week included meetings, service presentations, business and finance reports, A.A. lead meetings, formal dinners; trips to the General Service Office, delegate dinners and ice cream gatherings and lots of discussions one-on-one and in informal groups at lunches and dinners throughout the week.
The first three days Conference committee’s meet to study the proposals coming from the fellowship. Then, on Tuesday afternoon each conference committee agrees on a set of recommendations to be presented to the full Conference.
On Wednesday afternoon the Committee reports are presented and the full Conference gets to debate and propose its own ideas for the good of A.A. as a whole. This went on from 8 a.m. until as late a 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Then by late Friday afternoon the final floor actions were presented and the Conference ‘group conscience’ discussions concluded.
Please read the documents on the Area 53 website (see below). They include the List of 28 Advisory Actions, the additional considerations, and the votes that were held at Area 53’s Mini-Conference and more.
The highlight of the week for me was when Bill F., Marietta, Ohio, past Area 53 delegate, was chosen the East Central Regional Trustee. He is the first Ohio representative to sit on the General Service Board in more than 40 years.
The most vigorous Conference discussions centered around four topics:
- The Archives committee action on the 75th Anniversary commemorative printing of a replica of the original Big Book. It passed and will be published in April 2014.
- The Literature committee action on the pamphlet on Spirituality which was sent back to the Trustees committee for a reworking.
- The Trustee committee decision on the GSB plan to restructure the A.A.W.S and A.A. Grapevine corporate boards. The committee made no recommendation. This meant the committee did not let the plan get to the Conference floor for debate. A floor action to debate the proposal failed to get enough votes.
- A motion to publish a French and Spanish version of the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Big Book was debated and did not pass.
The Conference approved digital sales of A.A.W.S. literature by third-party vendors like Amazon. This type of sales is already being done for A.A. Grapevine literature.
I would like to share some thoughts about major questions that keep ringing in my mind and pertain to issues concerned with the health of A.A. as a whole.
At the Conference there were reports that A.A. membership growth is flat and our average age is getting older. There seems to be fewer and fewer young people who are included in our surveys. What does this say about how we carry the message? There is much concern expressed about money and self-support. Some view it as more of a 5th Tradition, primary purpose issue rather than a dollar problem. Could it be more of one or the other? Service costs are rising and long-term revenues are of concern.
There is, looking to the future, the issue of print sales and the evaporation of the print media business. How much is this affecting the financial outlook of La Vina and A.A. Grapevine. There are additional finance burdens with respect to New York State pension statutes that require additional dollar investments from A.A.W.S reserve fund for GSO staff pensions. This will cost at least $1M in financial and operating expenses yearly for several years to come. This will likely deplete our reserve fund from its current 11 month operating expenses prudent reserve. It means literature prices might be on the rise. It was agreed that a special audit is needed to assess the long-term financial outlook for A.A.W.S. obligations.
Might it also be time for the A.A. groups to take an accurate self survey, an audit of sorts, on how to better meet our obligation to the still suffering alcoholic?
What can I do to better serve the fellowship of A.A and reach out to the newcomer? Your suggestions are welcome.
Please contact Dave C at delegate @ area53aa.org to schedule a report to your group or just to ask for explanations of Conference actions.