On behalf of A.A. as a whole, our General Service Conference has the principle responsibility for the maintenance of our world services, and it traditionally has the final decision respecting large matters of general policy and finance. But the Conference also recognizes that the chief initiative and the active responsibility in most of these matters should be exercised primarily by the Trustee members of the Conference when they act among themselves as the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The 6th Concept says that the General Service Conference has the authority and the responsibility for making decisions regarding matters affecting A.A. as a whole, but that they usually delegate to the General Service Board of Trustees the actual work of carrying out the directives of the Conference and the day to day operation of our world services. In doing this work the Trustees are given a great deal of authority.
Why should our Trustees be given this wide latitude of judgment and action? The answer is that we AA’s are holding them mainly responsible for all our service activities, including operation of the General Service Office, our book and literature publishing operation and the A.A. Grapevine, as well as the responsibility for investing our prudent reserve. In addition, they are responsible to a large extent for A.A.’s world-wide public relations.
While the Trustees always operate under close observation, guidance, and sometimes the direction of the Conference, they are given a very large amount of responsibility. They must, therefore, be granted a large amount of authority and leadership with which to discharge that responsibility.
So, who are these Trustees we have trusted with such authority? They fall into two categories: Seven are Class A Trustees and fourteen are Class B Trustees. To help people who are new to the service structure of AA to understand the two classifications members of the service structure have sometimes referred to the trustees as Class A – Amateurs and Class B – Boozers. In other words Class A Trustees are non-alcoholics who volunteer to serve on our Board and Class B Trustees are recovering Alcoholics.
Class A Trustees, according to the Service Manual, “shall be persons who are not and have not been afflicted by the disease of alcoholism and who express a profound faith in the recovery program upon which the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is founded”. These trustees are generally recommended to the Board as persons who have been friends of A.A. through cooperation with our fellowship. They include members of professions such as medicine, law, clergy, finance, or any other field which may from time to time have occasion to work with alcoholics, and whose personal and/or professional expertise and dedication can be invaluable to our fellowship.
Class B Trustees are sober AA members who have been nominated through our General Service areas and usually are members who have been deeply involved in AA service. At the present time one of our Class B Trustees, Rod B., was nominated by the Utah Area.
All of these nominees, Class A and Class B, must be approved by the General Service Conference, and sign an agreement agreeing to be bound by the bylaws of the General Service Board. All of our trustees serve for a very limited term and are then replaced by new Trustees chosen by the same method. And all Trustees serve as volunteers. None of them is paid for the services they provide. Each serves as a ‘labor of love’ for Alcoholics Anonymous.
To all who serve, or have served, in this capacity we of Alcoholics Anonymous owe a great debt of gratitude.
Mickey H., Past Delegate, Panel 49