Alcoholics Anonymous is not organized in the formal or political sense. There are no governing officers, no rules or regulations, no fees or dues. The need for certain services to alcoholics has, however, been apparent from the beginning of the Fellowship. Inquiries have to be answered. Literature has to be written, printed, and distributed. Requests for help are followed up. We need to cooperate with health workers. We need a central body to provide guidance on the AA Traditions.
To carry out these functions, we have The General Service Office of AA. The General Service Office is responsible to AA groups throughout South Africa. It deals directly with members, AA groups, the public, and similar bodies in other countries. The General Service Office also has the responsibility to provide AA Conference—approved literature, which is imported from the US or printed here in South Africa.
The newsletter AA in SA is prepared by General Service Office staff and distributed to all groups in South Africa, to overseas offices and other interested parties. The General Service Conference meets each year. It consists of delegates from the Area Assemblies, Trustees of the General Service Board, the General Service Office office staff and others who may be invited. The Conference acts as the group conscience of AA members in South Africa. It provides a link between the groups and the trustees who serve as custodians of AA Traditions and interpreters of policies affecting the fellowship as a whole. The Conference appoints the trustees to the General Service Board. The General Service Office is not set up to refer people to particular AA meetings. This role is handled by Area Offices.
At the local group level, formal organisation is kept to a minimum. The group may have a small steering committee and a limited number of rotating officers—”trusted servants” whose responsibilities include arranging meeting programs, providing refreshments, participating in regional AA activities, and maintaining contact with the General Service Office of AA. The principle of consistent rotation of responsibility is followed in virtually all AA service positions. Positions in the local group are usually rotated semiannually or annually. Delegates to the General Service Conference traditionally serve no longer than three years and alcoholic trustees of the General Service Board are limited to a four-year term.
The Conference structure is the framework in which these “general services” are carried out. It is a method by which A.A.’s collective group conscience can speak forcefully and put its desires for services into effect. It is the structure that takes the place of government in A.A., ensuring that the full voice of A.A in South Africa will be heard and guaranteeing that Fellowship-wide services will continue to function under all conditions.
Today, general services include all kinds of activities within the Conference structure, carried on by districts, Area Committees, Delegates, Trustees and the General Service Office. Usually, these services affect A.A. as a whole.
Before Conference, a great deal of work takes place: During Conference, staff attend Conference committee meetings, take minutes and produce committee reports/recommendations for review by the entire Conference prior to voting. After Conference, the staff, in conjunction with the General Service Board assist in implementing Conference Advisory Actions. The final Conference Report is produced at the General Service Office.
While the above is not a complete list of all the functions of your General Service Office it gives a good idea of the work done. One of the main reasons for the existence of GSO, is for the continuation of AA in South Africa; we need to ensure that AA is here for the generations of alcoholics to come. In order to this and to continue doing what we do, we need funds – fact of life! The General Service Office exists at your request, to be of service to you – please support it.
Bank : FIRST NATIONAL BANK
Account Number : 62 747 941 046
Branch : Bracken City Branch
Number : 252242
The General Service Conference begins with the Group conscience. It also leads back to the Group, since the Group has final responsibility not just for initiating, but for implementing the decisions agreed upon by Conference. The General Service Conference is the practical means by which the Group conscience in South Africa can express itself in matters that concern the Fellowship as a whole. The existence of Conference is moreover a guarantee that the Fellowship will be able to function under all conditions; ensuring the continuity of the work within the framework of the Twelve Traditions.
Conference is a service workshop held once a year in May to reflect and learn on how we as a fellowship may be more effective in fulfilling our primary purpose. To fulfil our primary purpose; Delegates, General Service Board (Board), and the General Service Office (GSO) work together in one of five National committees on service projects throughout the year. These National committees are responsible for the implementation of National projects and conference decisions.
The Conference, representing the whole of our fellowship, delegates the necessary authority and responsibility to the Board to manage the affairs of A.A. in South Africa (AASA) during the year. The Board in turn delegates the necessary authority and responsibility to GSO to run the administrative functions of AASA. The three bodies – Delegates, Board, and GSO are accountable to each other at Conference by delivering reports back to Conference, and voting on proposals for the year ahead.
Thus the Delegates body represent the Groups in our fellowship throughout the year. The GSB is the legal representative body of Trustees who guide the fellowship and are custodians of our Traditions. GSO is the body that facilitates action and provides the fellowship with the practical means for the fellowship to carry the message and to support decisions made at Conference.
In conducting the business of AA at Conference we are guided by the conference charter and bylaws which is available in the service manual. In communicating and relating to each other at Conference we are guided by the warranties and concepts for world service. As individuals at conference we are guided firstly by the conscience of the groups and members of our fellowship and finally by our own conscience in deciding what may be the best for our fellowship.