Friday, 22 July 2016
How to be a GSR
‘It was in this period that I started to turn to service beyond the group level. I had helped in founding the first gay A.A. group in my part of town and was elected general service representative after having served in other group offices. I knew nothing of general service at that time, and I decided to learn what it was all about so I could do a decent job and be able to pass it on to a successor as quickly as possible. After two years I went on to do a number of other service jobs for A.A.’ (Page 367 of the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’)
This AA member needed to ‘learn what it was all about’, and here is my experience of what that means.
To be a GSR is to be the link between your group and AA as a whole.
You should have a thorough knowledge of the AA literature, in particular AA history and the service manuals for your country.
Your job is also to act as custodian of the Traditions and the Concepts within the group and to ensure that the group is run in accordance with the detailed instructions contained in the pamphlet ‘The AA Group’, which involves separate business meetings, separate group conscience meetings, and in particular the link between service and decision-making being maintained. Group members perform service; that is the definition of a group member. Groups should not have dead wood. We are individually self-supporting through own contributions, and we are each responsible for contributing to our own groups by taking up service assignments. That is what promotes unity. There is no unity when there are two classes of member: the people who do the work and the people who propose how the group should function without lifting a finger themselves.
More importantly, however, there is the relationship between the group and AA as a whole.
Firstly, service meetings must be attended. In London Region (North) this means the four to six Intergroup meetings per year plus the three Region meetings to which GSRs are invited. Once a GSR role is taken up, these dates must be entered into the diary, and any other activities in the way must be moved if possible. Once the dates are in the diary, nothing is allowed to ‘bounce’ these dates out of the diary, except for incapacitating illness or exceptional work or personal circumstances.
[NB some countries have districts, areas, and intergroups instead of intergroups and regions; amend your reading of this accordingly, if this is the case for your country.]
Group news and questions are to be reported to Intergroup and Region. Group views on matters presented to groups for deliberation, including the annual questions for conference, are to be conveyed to the Intergroup, the Region, or to the Delegates, including in a written executive summary.
The GSR must report back to the group all proceedings at Intergroup and Region in summary, orally and in a written report.
Additionally, the annual reports of AA as a whole must be read, and key points brought out in a summary to be delivered back to the group orally and in a written report.
The GSR is responsible for ensuring that copies of ‘AA Service News’ are received and promoted to the group for perusal.
The GRS is responsible for ensuring that the General Service Office has correct details of the group for publication in meetings listings and on the website and that the General Service Office has the correct postal address for correspondence and the issue of reports.
Finally, the GSR is responsible for keeping abreast of all service opportunities within AA for group members, including at Intergroup, Region, and nationally, and including both ad hoc posts that are vacant and ongoing opportunities for service (telephone service, the role of home responder, the role of electronic responder, the role of prison sponsor, listing on 12th-stepper lists including specialist lists of young persons, foreign language speakers, and armed services personnel or veterans, the possibility of writing articles for AA publications, such as ‘Share’, ‘Roundabout’, or ‘Grapevine’, the availability of online groups of AA and service therein, and opportunities locally and more widely to speak at treatment centres, hospitals, detoxes, and other facilities). These opportunities should be presented to group members monthly.
A fully functioning network of GSRs is the most important factor in promoting the unity and growth of AA to reach as many still-suffering alcoholics as possible.