Salt Lake Chair’s Report – Wendy W – April 2015

Greetings, Salt Lake Central Office! Spring comes again, and life quickens. The good thing about controversy is what it does to attendance at the business meeting. We were over 50 in March compared to 30 in February. The bad thing about controversy is that people get frightened, and frightened people do dangerous things. I’ll begin by addressing the motion to change the Annual Board Meeting to a Monthly Board Meeting. The Monthly Board meeting was disbanded largely because of lack of interest. There was no reason to be at the meeting, no business was performed, and no power was delegated. The CO Meeting agenda is largely the same format each month, the only difference is the old business that gets carried over, and any new business that comes up. That new business is added as it is received. The Chair has the duty of assembling the agenda, an entire meeting is not needed to set an agenda, nor does it require a committee. The Board meeting is seen by many as a burden to attend, especially when there is no reason to attend it. The Board members are available to any one of the members served, at any time. The right to call a special meeting is available to a majority of the CO Committee. I was elected to serve this community in accordance with our Bylaws, which are built around our 36 principles, the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions and the 12 Concepts. I try to keep them front of mind as I go about my duties. In regard to the issue of selling coins at the Central Office, I’ve been called rigid and too much in the letter of the law rather than the spirit. I am proud to be rigid when it comes to the Traditions, proud that our Bylaws are built on them. I am an alcoholic, I suffer from a disease of the body, mind and spirit that can only be kept in check by a spiritual experience. I cannot afford to deter from the Steps and Traditions, which lead to that spiritual experience. I can’t choose which ones I want to observe, I can’t say which ones are trivial or unimportant. I won’t risk my life by consciously ignoring any part of the program, Steps or Traditions. When I drank, I would rationalize and say that one little drink won’t hurt. I will not rationalize or sidestep the 6th Tradition and think it’s ok to sell coins at the Central Office. We have another tradition about autonomy, each group has the right to be wrong. No one can dictate to a group what they can do with their money, format or membership. SLCO is not just a group, but representative of all the groups it serves. We are the face of AA to the public here in Salt Lake City. What we do affects AA as a whole. The Grapevine article that was brought to our last meeting was most revealing about the conclusion that the Conference came to about selling coins in 1993. As an outside issue, they have no opinion about coins, and it’s not appropriate for AA to engage in producing or selling them. As the smaller, local version of GSO, our practices should be in line with GSO. After all, we are the Conference. We spend money to pay for rent which allows us to have a space for our services. We pay for the upkeep of the building and for supplies to keep our office running. In order to function, we have to be habitable and hospitable. We make Twelfth Step work possible, a service proposition pure and simple. When we start selling anybody else’s anything, we cross a line, we endorse and affiliate with an outside enterprise. It doesn’t matter what it is, coins, self-help books, incense, jewelry or t-shirts. I pose the question again, are the coins from an outside enterprise? It’s a yes or no question, with one answer. Are you willing to risk your sobriety over a coin? Let’s trudge this road of happy destiny, it’s already laid out for us, don’t wander off in the weeds.

In loving service, Wendy W

1 comment on “Salt Lake Chair’s Report – Wendy W – April 2015”

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Our Greatest Danger: Rigidity

    Bob P. (1917-2008) was General Manager of the General Service Office from 1974 to 1984, and then served as Senior Advisor to the G.S.O. from 1985 until his retirement. His story is in the Big Book as “AA Taught Him to Handle Sobriety,” 3rd edit. (1976) pp. 554-561, 4th edit. (2001) pp. 553-559.

    During the 1986 General Service Conference, Bob gave a powerful and inspiring closing talk to the conference at the closing brunch on Saturday morning, April 26. It was an especially significant occasion, because he knew that he was going to retire early the next year, and that this would be his last General Service Conference. The following excerpts are taken from that farewell speech, as published in the Conference’s final report: The Thirty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous 1986 (Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, April 20-26, 1986), Final Report.

    In his farewell speech to the 1986 General Service Conference, Bob P. gave this warning to future generations of A.A. members:

    “If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity — the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for G.S.O. to ‘enforce’ our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., ‘banning books’; laying more and more rules on groups and members.”

    The spirit of real old time AA is being destroyed as more and more people are beginning to ignore one of Bill Wilson’s favorite sayings: “Every group has the right to be wrong.”

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