World Service Business Convention Highlights - 2008
Dear Members of FA:
As a board, we want to do all in our power to share the experience of the 2008 World Service Business Convention with you. By all accounts, it was an extraordinary experience for those who were privileged to participate. This year’s agenda attracted widespread attention. Business sessions were marked by the honest airing of differing opinions, most of them intensely felt. Each motion that passed, however, passed by a wide majority. In some cases, there was almost unanimity. We left with the feeling that we had all been guided by a Higher Power. We also emerged with a new and clearer view of our organization and of service. We affirmed again the critical importance of direct work with newcomers through sponsorship and through our meetings.
The weekend started with the Chapter and Intergroup Forum. Planning for the forum began last year, and ultimately more than eighty people were involved in preparing and leading twelve sessions. Nearly 300 people attended, filling every chair available at the opening session. Session topics ranged from those helpful to each of us in our own recovery and service (“The FA Solution: Why We Do What We Do” and “Maintaining Meeting Health”) to those focused on organizational skills and needs (“PI Committees – Carrying the Message through the Chapters and Intergroups”). The feedback from participants was universally positive, and we are looking at possibilities for further expanding the forum next year.
Sponsorship: Business sessions began with two motions. Six groups in California moved that the Conference add language related to medications to the sponsorship tool in the meeting format (a motion added to the agenda by vote of FA meetings). The board moved that the Literature Committee re-write “Living Abstinently: A Guide to Sponsors” as a tools pamphlet and that it create a sponsorship pamphlet focused on the fundamental principles that guide our sponsoring. After thorough debate, the Conference voted down the motion to add language to the sponsorship tool. It passed the motion to: (1) rewrite the current guide to sponsors as a tools pamphlet and (2) create a sponsorship pamphlet, stipulating by amendment that the sponsorship pamphlet include language from the board’s September 2007 statement on medications and sponsorship.
Bylaws: Discussions of the draft of the bylaws began before the opening of the convention. The board scheduled three call-in times and an open, person-to-person conversation on Friday afternoon. Concern focused primarily on the proposed institution of a five-year abstinence requirement for World Service delegates. Those opposed expressed their belief that this would limit the number of meetings able to send “delegates” to represent them; that this would particularly affect newer meetings, which tend to be in “outlying areas” on “the FA frontier;” and that it would deprive the World Service Conference of a good understanding of the needs of newer, more isolated meetings. The debate regarding the proposed five-year requirement was lengthy and searching. In the end, the Conference voted by large majority for a five-year abstinence requirement. The bylaws as passed now define “the voting members of the Conference” as members of Intergroup, Chapter, and World Service Boards and those selected by meetings. The role of each member of the Conference has been made explicit: “to represent the fellowship as a whole.” By large majority, the Conference shifted from a view of representational governance (each delegate representing the view of a meeting) to a view of service to the whole (each delegate responsible for thinking of the needs of newcomers and the strength of the FA fellowship world-wide). It affirmed its belief in the power and importance of continuous abstinence, which brings to each of us increasing clarity of thought over time. The Conference also voted by large majority to adjust the means by which we establish the Business Convention’s agenda. Motions will now be submitted through the boards or committees of Chapters and Intergroups, WSI committees, and the World Service Board, rather than by individual meetings.
The FA Book: In response to the request that we express our gratitude to those who have drafted the book, the Conference rose and offered a standing ovation. The draft of the book was accepted and the Literature Committee was empowered to finalize it. By virtue of this action, the finished product will have Conference approval.
Conference Approved Policies and Procedures: The Conference voted to establish through its actions those policies and procedures that affect the fellowship as a whole (e.g. a policy and procedure for generating and approving FA literature).
The 2008 Business Convention sessions affirmed and helped us understand more clearly that World Service, Chapters, and Intergroups exist solely to support service work at the individual and local level (newcomer to FA member, sponsor to sponsee, meetings to newcomers). We saw that we had reached a milestone. The outlines of our organizational structure and the guidelines by which we function are now clear. We encouraged ourselves to continue to reach out to newcomers, sharing a strong program of FA recovery – and to support this work through our participation in WSI, Chapters, and Intergroups. We are ready for the next phase of our work together!
If you attended the convention, we hope you will share any relevant written materials you received there. We believe you and your meeting will find sections of the Forum packet particularly helpful. Please note that revised and much clearer “Meeting Guidelines” were included in each registrant’s packet and that document has now been posted on the web in the “For Members” section of www.foodaddicts.org and in the WSI section of www.fadocs.org. Work has begun on moving “fadocs” to the home page (www.foodaddicts.org), so you will soon find it there.
Grateful for your service,
Kesaya N. for the World Service Board