In July of 1950, at the First International Convention in Cleveland, Ohio it was decided to try this General Service Conference idea. There were six basic reasons underlying this proposal by our cofounders. These reasons were:
- Realization that Dr. Bob and Bill ‘could not last forever.’
- The fact that the trustees were generally unknown to the movement.
- Recognition that the trustees would need future guidance from the movement itself.
- Appreciation that AA was ‘growing up’ and was able to assume rightful responsibility for its Headquarters (now the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous) and services.
- The importance of bringing the trustees into closer contact with the movement.
- The need to be as completely prepared as possible to face some potentially grave crisis with action in the best interest of all AA’s…
So in April 1951 the First General Service Conference met, beginning a five-year experimental period to link the AA trustees with the entire Fellowship. Half of the area delegates representing the United States and Canada were seated that year and had wisely deferred making a number of decisions. They provided patterns for conducting future meetings, devising a simple means of selecting Conference committees and in developing Conference Advisory Actions for the information and guidance of the trustees.
In 1952, with full representation, the Conference reviewed and considered a number of policy problems affecting the movement as a whole and initiated a planned program of Conference-approved literature.
The 1953 Conference, emphasizing ‘maturity’ marked a further step toward full participation by the delegates in all matters of general interest. Special provision was made for full consideration of questions, comments and criticism from AA areas. Nearly 40 items were placed on the agenda anonymously, through a convenient question box.