World Service Business Convention Report - 2018
2018 World Service Business Convention Overview
The following report details the 17th Annual FA World Service Business Convention (WSBC), held June 1-3, 2018 in Danvers, MA. Whether you attended the Business Convention or not, all are encouraged to download and read the report in its entirety. Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Conference In Brief:
A total of 577 people attended the conference, including 245 voting members, 311 non- voting members, and 21 guests. Ten countries were represented including Australia, Canada, Israel, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Taiwan, New Zealand, China, and the United States. We also have fellows from Bermuda. Within the US, we are here from the District of Columbia and 29 states including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.
Business sessions included a general overview of FA’s structure, two motions, opening and closing remarks, our treasurer’s report, acknowledgement of and appreciation for our outgoing board members and election of the 2018-2019 World Service Board, highlights from the Maine Chapter, the Western Area Intergroup, the Eastern Area Intergroup and several WSI Committees, a discussion about how literature should be brought to the conference, and FA Sharing Sessions. Other events included the recording of new qualification CDs, WSI committee meetings, entertainment, dance, and celebration.
Please mark your calendars: The next FA World Service Business Convention will be held May 31 – June 2, 2019 in Danvers, MA.
The next FA Fellowship Convention will be held October 12-14, 2018 at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Florida.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to every member of this life-giving organization. Together we ensure that our program will continue to be available for every food addict who desires to stop eating addictively. It’s wonderful to work with all of you. I would also like to express my appreciation for the privilege to serve on the World Service Board for the past eight years: four years as your chair and four years before that as your vice-chair. It has been an amazing growth opportunity for me, and I encourage everyone to continue to do whatever service you are able to.
Thank you so much for the support and service you have given the fellowship this year. Yours in service,
OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE
Practically speaking, the World Service Business Convention fulfills our legal obligation. As an international non-profit organization, we are required, for instance, to meet annually to provide conference members with a financial report and an opportunity to elect board members.
Spiritually speaking, each year’s convention helps us keep FA strong and helps us further our efforts to reach the newcomer. This practice is working. Since our incorporation in 1998, we have grown from less than 100 members then to over 6,000 members now, collectively attending more than 600 meetings worldwide.
It is important to know that structurally, FA is a “bottom- up” service organization. World Service, Inc., or WSI, is here to help reach the newcomer by serving FA as a whole and by supporting intergroups. Intergroups support chapters and meetings, who in turn support the most important entity--the individual FA member. WSI officers, committee chairs, and committee members are not here to exercise power or authority. It is just the opposite. Our role is to humbly serve and support.
FA At A Glance
To be useful to the overall fellowship, WSI needs some amount of formal organization. This includes a board made up of four officers and nine committee chairs. The specific committees are Bylaws, connection, Convention Planning, Literature, Office, PI, Service Group Support, Traditions Review, and 12th Step. Forty subcommittees support these WSI standing committees.
Six additional committees–finance, personnel, design, inquiry response, board motions review, and book–support the board. Each year, if needed, the resolutions committee and the emergency new business committees are available to support the conference with main motions.
OPENING REMARKS: JAMIE M., WSB VICE-CHAIR
Welcome to all of you who have traveled from near and far, to be here this weekend for our FA World Service Business Convention. I have a story I would like to share with you. The other day, while visiting with my Uncle, he reminded me about the time that I came into my parents room as a 4 year old early in the morning, waking them up to tell them that God talked to me! When they asked me what he said, with what I imagined were their best poker faces,
I told them very seriously, “He said to ‘Put the candle on the candle’ “. And that was that. God and I were best friends; we were on a talking basis. He was as real as my parents. He looked just like Dr. Kildare but with black hair and he was very nice, and kind. A real solid guy!
I had a good relationship with this God of mine until the age of 10 or so when I saw a documentary on the horrors of the Holocaust and it was right then and there that I decided God did not exist! My God, the one I believed in and knew so well, the one who talked to me, would never have allowed that to happen so I kicked him out of my life. Now, thinking back, as an adult, I wonder why so many survivors attribute their survival to their faith in God, why didn’t they loose their faith, why did I choose to let go of my belief?
Around the same time that I was reckoning with this loss of faith in my personal God I experienced something that rocked my personal world with an occurrence that seemed to take the feeling of safety out of my life and substitute fear. All of a sudden, all that I could count on as secure was ripped away from me in an incident on the school playground. I had been to a Purim Carnival at our Temple and I was dressed up in costume as Queen Ester.
She was the beautiful queen who played a role in a plot to save her people from an oppressive and evil anti-Semitic ruler. My photo was taken and I was featured on the front page of our local town paper.
I came to school the day after the article and photo was published, so proud and excited and within a couple of minutes I was surrounded by a group of boys, all my friends, who started reaching into their pockets and throwing pennies at me and yelling “ Here Jew, go get the pennies, you Jew!” To say this was shocking and horrifying was an understatement. I had never experienced anti- Semitism, I had never felt picked on or fearful, I always had belonged, it was frightening and I felt shamed. I never shared this with my parents because I sensed that their knowing would only make matters worse, I didn’t process it with anyone, I handled it in the best way that I knew how, which was to internalize it so deeply that it became buried under a thick shell of denial. God was really buried now. He had betrayed me personally.
Time passed, I grew up, got married, had kids and later started to eat addictively to flush my fearful feelings down whenever they cropped up, despite the fact that I wanted nothing more than to be thin and feel good about myself. It wasn’t until I came into FA that I came to believe that
There was a Power greater than myself, that I could acknowledge that there was a very personal God in my life once again. For me, putting down my drugs of flour and sugar was the start of this God consciousness but it didn’t present as a true, tangible presence until I started doing service. I found that I couldn’t find God in the refrigerator, cabinets or bakeries but I did find God through service and I like to think that the seeds of that service were planted and nurtured through my attendance at the very first convention.
The other day during the break at my meeting I found myself outside with two fellows. It was a crisp sunny day, spring was in the air and we were marveling about the weather that we were blessed with. The newest FA member amongst us remarked, “You know there must be a God for here we all are getting the reprieve from the disease that we need and so many people in this world don’t even know FA exists.” He went on to say, “ How did we get to be the lucky ones, how fortunate are we to know about this recovery in FA? “ What a moment to take and recognize how blessed we are to be a part of this incredible program of Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous.
In that moment, like so many others over the past 18 years, I can say, with confidence, that God and I are pals again! I also know now that there never was a time that God wasn’t there for me, God was talking I just wasn’t listening. God was standing by patiently all along.
Now every night before I go to bed I thank God for an abstinent day. He isn’t telling me to “put the candle on the candle” but the still small voice tells me all day long how to make healthy decisions for my body, mind and soul, this voice encourages me to be grateful and to express that gratitude through service.
And now, I feel I need to say thank you God for bringing me to this moment, here, right now, with over 570 food addicts. The majority of us in this room are choosing to put “How It Works” into action by choosing rigorous honesty, we are willing to go to any length, and we let go absolutely by asking God for his protection and care.
All of us are here this weekend collectively working together to get the word out to help a still suffering food addict. We are here to realize the Promises of the Program, to share our freedom and happiness.
We are the very few lucky ones who are here today, to do God’s will, to do service. Thank you.
TREASURER’S REPORT (COLLEEN B., WSB TREASURER)
PRINCIPLES FOR FA FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- Guiding principles for FA finances: to carry the message
- Concept 12: use prudent financial principles & have “sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve”
- Corporate poverty:
- Be self-supporting (Tradition 7)
- Use FA funds wisely (Concept 12)
- Keep focused on our primary purpose (Tradition 6)
- Keep a prudent reserve (Concept 12)
- Pass on extra funds to support more FA work (Tradition 5)
- From “Your 7th Tradition” pamphlet
How WSI Manages its Funds
WSB with WSB Finance Committee
SUMMARY Fiscal Year 2018:
July 2017 – June 2018 (FY2018 actual through April, plus May & June forecasted.) Beginning Balance: $ 325,000 (incl. inventory & temp liabilities)
Donations* Operating Expenses
Projects (Web&Design, PI)
Total Income & Expense
*Individual donations are up! Thank you!
2018 Net Income (Income – Expense) $ 24,000
Projected FY2017 Year-End Balance:
$ 347,000 (incl. inventory-2K less proj & temp liabilities)
Remaining funds for next fiscal year: FY2019
BUDGET Fiscal Year 2019:
July 2018 – June 2019
(FY2019 based on moderate estimates)
Projected FY2019 Beginning Balance: $347,000
Donations & Interest
Publications (includes E-Book)
Total Income & Expense
Funds from Project Reserve
Total Net Income (Income – Expense) $ 0
Budgeted FY2019 Year-End Balance: $227,000 (Bottom Line)
***Suggestions, Reminders, & Questions***
- Donate On-line to WSI
- Mailed checks are still acceptable
- Subscribe to connection for yourself
- Donate what you can when you can
- The suggested donation is $2.00 per meeting
- A member can donate $3,000 per fiscal year and one time bequest of $5,000
- Detailed Report Available
- WSC members can request a detailed report of FA financials – contact the Treasurer of WSI at email@example.com
BYLAWS COMMITTEE REPORT (Marti M., Chair)
The Intergroups and Chapter were notified in September 2017 regarding the procedure and time frame for submitting motions for the 2018 World Service Business Convention (WSBC).
Three motions were received from the World Service Board (WSB): Revision of the Twenty Questions, a bylaw change to increase the limit for individual member donations to WSI, and a change in the definition of a food addict in the Meeting Format. These were reviewed and edited by the Bylaws Committee and sent to the Board Motions review Committee (BMRC) for review and suggestions. The Board accepted the revised motions and they were sent to the World Service Conference (WSC). Prior to the convention, the Board withdrew the Twenty Questions motion to allow the fellowship more time to give feedback on the proposed edits.
The Board arranged two conference phone calls in May to review the motions with the WSC voting members for clarification, questions, and discussion on the two forthcoming motions.
The following two motions were presented to the 2018 WSC, voted on, and both were adopted by unanimous vote:
WSB MAIN MOTIONS 2018:
Motion #1 amended the FA WSI bylaws (Article X, Finances, Section 2, Contributions, (a) (1)) to increase the donation limit that an individual member can make to WSI, from the previous limits of $2,000 in one year and $3,000 for a bequest to new limits of $3,000 in one year and $5,000 for a bequest to read:
“(1): An individual member of the fellowship may donate directly to WSI no more than $3,000 in a single calendar year and, in addition, may make a one-time bequest of no more than $5,000 directly to WSI.”
Motion #2 changed the FA Meeting Format language for the definition of a food addict to replace the previous word of “creates” with the wording “sets up” in order to conform to the FA WSI Bylaws Article II Fundamental Principles, Section 3(a) Terminology. The definition of a food addict in the FA Meeting Format now reads:
“Food addicts have an allergy to flour, sugar, and quantities that sets up an uncontrollable craving. The problem can be arrested a day at a time by the action of our weighing and measuring our food and abstaining completely from all flour and sugar.”
Other activities: The ad hoc Bylaws Review committee did a thorough review of the existing WSI Bylaws and recommended changes for consideration by the incoming Bylaws chair. Also, the World Service Board Manual and the WSI Standing Committees Manual were updated and will be posted online.
Retiring Board Members
- Dave I. Chair
- Jamie M. Vice-Chair
- Adrienne P. connection Chair
- Ebony Convention Chair
- Margaret Office Chair
- Marti Bylaws Chair
Board Members Running for 2nd Term
- Patty R. Traditions Chair
Election of New Officers
- Bonnie Chair
- Ann H. Vice-Chair
- Dom connection Chair
- Jan B. Office Chair
- Norma Jean Bylaws Chair
- Vanessa C. Convention Chair
2018-2019 World Service Board
- Chair Bonnie, FL**
- Vice-Chair Ann H., NY**
- Secretary Allison G., CA
- Treasurer Holli H., NC**
(Colleen B., our Treasurer from 2017-2018 has stepped down, and Holli has agreed to step in for the remainder of the term, ending in June 2019)
WSI Committee Chairs
- Bylaws Norma Jean, OH**
- Service Group Support Paul B., MA
- connection Dom, CA**
- Convention Planning Vanessa, CA**
- Literature Jennifer N., MA
- Office Jan B., CA**
- Public Information Annie H., CA
- Traditions Review Patty R., ME
- 12 Step Paula K., NY
** Indicates new board member
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CHAPTERS & INTERGROUPS
EASTERN AREA INTERGROUP (COURTNEY G., CHAIR)
- Further FA program in accordance w/ 12 Steps & 12 Traditions
- Maintain communication center and ensure unity for affiliated meetings, Local Service Groups, and Chapters
- Educate the public about FA
We carry out our purpose in two ways:
- Doing service within our own local region (essentially, acting as a Local Service Group)
- Supporting the full breadth of our large FA-EAI fellowship.
- We serve FA meetings and fellows in US states east of the Mississippi River and in specific non-US countries.
- 340 registered EAI meetings
- Meetings registered in 21 S. states & D.C.
- 2017-18 Committee Activities
- 12th Step
- Organized home meetings; Thankathons for 350 participants; and international
- For first-time Intergroup attendees; enlisted volunteer greeter and led EAI Manage EAI signage.
- Offered Deep Dives on key FA themes and principles (avoiding cross- talk, saying “yes” to service, making international phone calls, )
- Financial Aid & Resources
- Created, with PI committee, new protocols for FA-EAI meetings’ Public Information activities and responding to requests for other kinds of financial support for meetings and regions.
- Continued to oversee all aspects of WSBC Convention financial aid for FA-EAI members serving as Conference
- Managed financial aid process for FA-EAI Service Support Weekend
- Designed and rolled out Beta financial aid protocols for 2018 WSI Fellowship Convention, since that weekend will function as EAI’s Service Support Weekend in 2018.
- Public Information:
- Hosted monthly PI calls specifically for FA-EAI members 2+ hours from
- Arranged for FA-EAI attendance at regional health fairs and other public gatherings appropriate for our program.
- Worked with Financial Aid & Resources committee on new protocols for FA-EAI meetings’ Public Information activities (health fair booth fees, info session costs, placing FA books in libraries, etc.)
- Offered monthly PI Parties after EAI, supporting members’ in listing their meetings at online calendars.
- 12th Step
- Teens & Twenties
- Coordinated local outreaches to schools, colleges, and community centers and supported similar activities in our
- Host long-distance members joining committee meetings by conference
- Service Group Support
- Hosted ~150 FA members from 14 states and Canada at the annual Service Support Weekend on November 4 and 5, 2017
- Save the Date! Service Support Weekend @ Fellowship Convention October 12-14, Tampa, FL
- Office Services & Support
- Oversees website & trifold updates
- Managed all EAI technology needs and tools, including EAI Body Meeting web conferencing and consulting on the Body Meeting Power Point presentation
- Handled all manner of administrative processes
- Embarked on a comprehensive Bylaw review and revision to maintain the strength and integrity of our governing documents and ensure the long-term health of our organization.
- The Maine Chapter and Local Service Groups within the EAI territory carry out robust service, including hosting Fellowship Support Days, Regional FA Info Sessions, health fairs, and much more. We take inspiration, rather than credit, for their efforts. EAI-affiliated Local Service Groups:
- Teens & Twenties
Metro Atlanta, GA
South Coast, MA
Grand Rapids, MI
Metro DC Area
- For long-distance members, (2+ hours away), we offer
- Committee mtg dial-in for Teens & 20s, Office, PI, and Service Group
- Special Public Info calls for out-of-towners prior to the monthly PI
- Online service “kits” for PI, Teens & 20s, and 12th Step
- EAI Quarterly Call with rotating topics of relevance to EAI service – usually based on members’ requests.
- Special Conference Calls around specific topics, as
- Financial aid for Public Information efforts, including bringing out-of-town speakers to smaller regions for FA Info Sessions, as well as literature assistance for brand-new fellowships and frontier areas.
- Web Conferencing into the Body Mtg (look for improvements in FY19!)
- Annual Service Support Weekend in the fall, welcoming 100+ people. This event, formerly known as the Chapter Support Weekend, has a long history at EAI and was a precursor to The Convention
- Conference Membership
- Hosted a series of conference calls bringing together 100+ FA fellows to discuss WSI Conference Membership.
- Sent targeted e-communications encouraging FA-EAI meetings to elect a 2018 Conference Member
- Gathered data via online survey to understand how meetings and members view Conference Membership.
- Meeting Insurance.
- Hosted a series of conference calls exploring liability insurance needs for FA- EA
- Gathered data on meeting needs via online
- Secured meeting liability insurance for 2018, while consulting legal counsel as regards future years.
- New Trusted Servants
- Voted in a new Chair – Christine – and new Vice-Chair – Jen H.
WESTERN AREA INTERGROUP (HEIDI V., CHAIR)
The purpose of the intergroup is further the FA program in accordance with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of FA
WAI has 248 registered meetings in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Canada. On average WAI meeting attendance is around 200 fellows who participate in and do the work of 4 committees.
12th Step Committee
The 12th Step Committee provides 12th step calls and homebound meetings for FA members unable to attend FA meetings due to illness, injury or physical condition. They also manage the connection committee and educate WAI on various resources from 12 Step Committee.
One neat stat: From 2016-2017 we saw a 52% increase in homebound meetings. And already in 2018 we’ve had 17 meetings! This means the service is being utilized and we are able to reach more still suffering food addicts.
Public Information Committee
The Public Information Committee provides community outreach services 5 geographic areas. In addition, five groups meet at Western Area Intergroup to get the word out through public information: Weblinks, Blog Watch, Media Watch, the WAI Public Information Community Outreach subcommittee, and the WAI Service Group Support Committee.
I wanted to share a couple of highlights:
WAI Community Outreach participated in 24 events sponsored by colleges, employee organizations, medical institutions, and community wellness groups. Event participants have ranged from fewer than one hundred up to fifteen hundred. One of them even included a live-stream of a panel with viewing available on UCSF TV.
After one of these college events we learned that one student was inspired and is currently doing the program!
The Office Committee supports 248 meetings in WAI, manages the 1-800 number, maintains tri-folds, and sells FA literature monthly at Intergroup meeting
Service Group Support
WAI Service Group Support Committee has three local service groups which meet monthly in person and by teleconference. Their activities include placing FA literature in the community, tracking the number of times the FA book has been checked out and returned to the library, posting FA meetings in local online classifieds and free community papers, and tracking the number of times Eventbrite postings have been viewed.
One thing I want to highlight is the interaction between committees. This year, WAI Community Outreach and WAI Service Group Support are working together to share resources with fellows in eastern Australia who have reached out for help to expand their own PI efforts. Support includes email exchanges and conference calls.
FA MAINE CHAPTER OF EAI (SHIRLEY H., CHAIR)
The FA Maine Chapter has four goals:
- To further the FA program in accordance with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of FA,
- To maintain a communications center for FA groups,
- To provide unity, and
- To educate the public about the FA program.
FA members, whose meetings are affiliated with the FA Maine Chapter, work toward these goals at the meeting and chapter level.
At the meeting level, members work to maintain healthy meetings and carry the message of FA recovery in their local community.
At the chapter level, members work to maintain communication among the meetings affiliated with the Chapter, maintain a Maine FA Chapter presence on the FA website and coordinate PI and 12th Step activities on a regional level.
In April of 2018 the chapter will register and staff an FA information booth at the Maine Nurse Practitioner Annual Meeting. This event is an opportunity for over 200 primary care providers to learn about the FA program. The Chapter also helped to register and staff FA information booths at 6 health fairs, planned and coordinated the second annual Chapter FA Awareness Day and coordinated the 11th Annual Maine Meeting Support Day.
These service activities support the recovery of current FA members, support the food addict who still suffers and ensure information about the FA program remains accessible to anyone seeking recovery from the obsession and compulsion of food addiction.
Registered Meetings in Maine:
Number of individual, registered meetings at beginning of fiscal year: 21 Number of individual, registered meetings at end of fiscal year: 22
Vice Chair Report: (MEViceChair@foodaddicts.org)
The Vice Chair facilitates Chapter communication by drafting the FA Maine Chapter Highlights. The Highlights include information about resources, activities and service opportunities available throughout the Chapter. In addition, the Highlights communicate relevant information from WSI and EAI. The Highlights are published monthly and distributed via email to each meeting's Chapter Contact. Chapter Contacts read timely information during meeting announcements and business meetings.
The Vice Chair also served as coordinator for Maine Meeting Support Day (MSD). The theme for 2018 was Sharing Our Recovery. The day includes fellowship, a skit on the joys and fears associated with service, and interactive sharing sessions. Members will also be able to purchase FA Conference approved literature and visit the Chapter Office, PI and 12th Step Committee's information tables.
Office Committee: (MEOffice@foodaddicts.org)
- Created a Google Drive Archives resource for Chapter documents dating back to 2002
- Offered sessions on using the FA website at Chapter meetings
- Communicated with WSO to keep the Maine Chapter pages of the FA Website up-to-date
- Produced a monthly Database and Directory Report
- Produced and distributed the monthly Maine Chapter Meeting Directory to Chapter Contacts and other interested persons/organizations
- Distributed Maine Chapter Highlights & and the 12th Step Service List to Chapter Contacts monthly
- Maintained Chapter affiliated meeting registration database
- Maintained Post Office Box in Augusta
- Assisted FA members with navigating the FA website, accessing information and updating their profiles at Maine Meeting Support Day and upon individual request from FA members
PI Committee: (MEPI@foodaddicts.org)
- Registered and staffed FA Information Booths at 6 Health Fairs (Cancer Survivors Day, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seniors Health Awareness Day, Spectrum Generations, University of New England (UNE) Biddeford Campus, UNE Portland Campus,
- Registered and staffed the FA Information Booth at the Maine Nurse Practitioner Annual Meeting.
- Supplied FA Banners, FA tablecloth, FA Meeting Directory trifolds, FA Information Booklets and registration fees to support participation in Health Fairs and Information Sessions
- Coordinated with the 12th Step Committee on the second annual Maine Chapter FA Awareness Day. The Chapter supplies FA Flyers and Meeting Directory Racks for meetings to distribute in their communities
- Upgraded FA the Maine Chapter Phone Information Line and coordinated a group of FA fellows who respond to calls received on the Maine Phone Information line. These FA fellows respond to caller questions and offer to mail FA information packets to individuals
- Added FA Maine Chapter affiliated meetings to Eventbrite online listing
- Updated the Chapter Healthcare Provider Letter. Posted letter on the Maine pages on the FA website
- Updated the Chapter Faith Community Letter. Posted letter on the Maine pages on the FA website
- Created a Guide to Healthcare and Faith Leader Letters. Posted guide on the Maine pages on the FA website
- Reached out to FA Chapter Members, via the Chapter Highlights, to seek volunteers willing to help with PI activities
12th Step Committee: (ME12thstep@foodaddicts.org)
- Hosted a Connection Writing Session in Midcoast Maine
- Coordinated with the PI Committee on the second Maine Chapter FA Awareness Day
- Provided an orientation for newcomers to the Maine Chapter at each Chapter meeting. The orientation is led by experienced volunteers from the Chapter
- Organized the 11th Annual Meeting Support Day
- Offered FA conference approved literature for purchase at Chapter Meetings
- Updated the FA Maine Chapter 12th Step List. Fellows on this list are willing to do FA service. The 12 th Step List is circulated at the Chapter meeting and the updated list is sent to the Office Committee for distribution. Volunteers may also email their names to the 12th Step Chair or sign up at local meetings
- Provided Thank-a-thon information to meetings. Two Gratitude/Thank-a-thon meetings were held on Thanksgiving Day
- Presented a Meeting Health Skit which included an interactive sharing session at the December Chapter Meeting
- Responded to a written inquiry about FA from a person in jail who suffers from food addiction
- Presented a Service Skit at Maine Meeting Support Day
Bylaws Committee: (MEBylaws@foodaddicts.org)
- The new Bylaws Chair focused on increasing knowledge regarding governing documents, EAI Bylaws and the 12 Traditions
- Located and arranged meeting space for the monthly Chapter Meeting and the annual Maine Meeting Support Day. Established dates for Maine Chapter monthly meetings for the 2017-18 year
- Provided feedback to the Chapter after exploring with EAI and the WSI Inquiry Response Committee the pros and cons regarding two questions raised by fellows at Chapter Meetings:
- Is it a break in anonymity at a FA meeting is this statement was read aloud: 'Would all those with six months of continuous abstinence stand if they wish' and if not, why is it not part of the FA Meeting format?”
- How long do meetings need to retain business record? How long do the business records of closed FA meetings need to be retained?”
- Provided information regarding the WSI motions process for members of the FA Maine Chapter
Intergroup Liaison: (MEIGliaison@foodaddicts.org)
- Facilitated collaboration with EAI to carry the message of recovery and support local meetings
- Attended monthly EAI Service Group Support Committee via conference call
- Informed the Chapter regarding EAI resources, current issues and activities
- Participated with fellows from the FA Maine Chapter in the 2017 EAI Service Support Weekend in Dedham MA
HIGHLIGHTS FROM WSI COMMITTEES
OFFICE COMMITTEE (MARGARET H., CHAIR)
Here are highlights of the work done by the WSI Office Committee during the past year. Heartfelt thanks to all of our diligent committee members for the generous offering of time and talents!
- Negotiated a contract with a new company to handle printing of our literature and shipping of our online literature orders and connection magazine print subscriptions
- Continued with search-engine-optimization effort to help people find our website
- Updated our “search” feature to allow for searching within pdf’s as well as web pages
- Handled the online registration process for the June 2018 business convention, including a new option to order an extra box lunch (for members traveling long distances to take along for their dinner)
- Assisted EAI with its online registration for the November 2017 service group weekend
- Offered online application forms for WSB elections for the second year in a row
- Added to the FAQ sections of our website
- Office Manager recorded FA financial transactions in QuickBooks, paid bills, and deposited funds; office committee volunteers reconciled bank statements with QuickBooks accounting
- Handled daily phone calls, email inquiries, and literature orders
- Processed work orders for mass emails and for additions/changes to the website
- Removed duplicate accounts and inactive accounts from our database
- Implemented “forced formatting” of telephone numbers for consistency, in FA accounts and in our database
- Updated the German-language pages of our website
PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE (ANNIE H., CHAIR)
- The Healthcare Subcommittee created a WSB-approved slide show for FA members speaking to groups of healthcare providers. The slide show can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Healthcare Subcommittee updated the WSB-approved Healthcare Brochure to incorporate the most recent survey data and feedback from medical professionals and members of the FA fellowship. This will soon be available for purchase on the FA website.
PI Website and Digital Outreach Subcommittee:
This committee has helped to increase FA’s online presence:
- Due to the efforts of the Weblinks committee’s Adwords campaign, new users to FA’s website have increased 76% over last year.
- The Adwords campaign continues to increase FA’s accessibility in multiple languages including Mandarin and Hebrew.
- The recent creation of the Calendar Announcement Database is successfully supporting FA members in posting their meeting dates, times and locations to free online event sites such as Eventbrite. This spreadsheet includes over 1000 free sites worldwide for members to post their FA meetings online.
- Over the last year, the College Outreach Subcommittee has reached out to over 5,000 college counselors and health service professionals offering on-campus information sessions, literature, health fair participation and the FA weblink. A weblink on a college site (.edu site) gives us a higher ranking in Google searches worldwide.
- Blogwatch continues its outreach to blogs, online articles and social media sites, reaching an additional segment of the online community and guiding more new visitors to our FA website.
- Mediawatch sent out over 400 letters to journalists and professionals who are writing about topics related to food addiction to increase public understanding and awareness of FA.
- This year, FA was featured in 22 news stories, many of which are posted on the “In the News” section of the FA website.
PI Tools Subcommittee:
- PI Tools Subcommittee posted a new template on the FA website for FA members to use in requesting that religious leaders include an FA announcement in their bulletins and newsletters.
- The PI Tools Subcommittee supported FA members to do PI outreach by personally responding to their questions and guiding them to online PI resources.
- This committee continues their long-term project to simplify the role of the PI Representative and update the PI Kit.
12TH STEP COMMITTEE (PAULA K., CHAIR)
1. Definition of “Frontier”
The Frontier Subcommittee updated the definition of the FA frontier to include those in tiny fellowships. The new definition is “FA members far away from an established fellowship.” The broader definition gives more frontier members access to frontier resources.
2. We also wrote a Mission Statement:
The Frontier Subcommittee's mission is:
- To make it clear for every frontier member, regardless of circumstances, how recovery from the disease of food addiction is possible.
- To highlight the resources available to recovering frontier members, for building a local fellowship, and for getting involved in service.
- To raise awareness amongst the fellowship as a whole, of the wide variety of challenges facing frontier members.
3. Here's some of what we've been doing towards our mission:
- Welcoming Frontier Members: When you come to an FA meeting, you're greeted by a newcomer greeter, given a newcomer packet and get to hear stories of recovery. To try and duplicate this experience, we're creating a Newcomer Greeter Phone List for frontier members and a Digital Newcomer Packet, which includes a free MP3 of an FA speaker.
- Frontier Resource Calls
- We changed the title “Frontier Support Calls” to “Frontier Resource ”
- We increased the number of calls, and expanded them to accommodate all time zones. So, if you're in China, Croatia, New Zealand, South Africa or North America, there's a resource call for you!
- Through the resource calls, we offered help to frontier members learning how to connect with the wider fellowship and stay connected through service. For frontier members the saying "you can't keep it unless you give it away" is
- Topics have included attending AA meetings, making phone calls on the frontier, and being of service in your first 6 months and
- Frontier Phone List. We're updating and expanding the frontier list to accommodate new members since the updated definition
- Reaching out to Intergroups. We've made presentations to Eastern and Western Area Intergroups to raise awareness of life on the FA frontier
- Frontier Newsletter. We've broadened the frontier newsletter with a note from the chair of the frontier subcommittee, and frontier stories. And we plan to make it visually more appealing.
- New Initiatives. We have more resources to work on. The most significant is a web page for frontier members that is more welcoming and user friendly, similar to the connection magazine's web page. It could include a blog for frontier members to highlight resources and anything happening in the wider fellowship.
GRATITUDE IN ACTION (GIA) SUBCOMMITTEE
The Gratitude in Action (GIA) subcommittee of the WSI 12th Step Committee built on the successful reorganization of the GIA team in 2017 and accomplished the following during the reporting period:
- Produced three newsletters that profiled FA service positions, shared FA members’ experiences with service, and highlighted key resources to assist FA members in their service. Service positions profiled included the Sponsor-a-Rack person (Fall 2017), Speaker Seeker (Winter 2018), and connection Representative (Spring 2018).
- Solicited submissions for inclusion in GIA from FA members, whose experience with specific FA service positions has been presented to help inspire others to consider these positions and try new approaches that may be more effective.
- Provided WSI contacts with guidance on how to use GIA in FA business meetings, in order to focus discussion on ways to strengthen FA service.
MEETING EFFECTIVENESS, SAFETY, & ACCESSIBILITY (MESA) SUBCOMMITTEE
1. Meeting Health Representative Inventory
The MESA sub-committee is nearing completion of clarifying the role of the Meeting Health Representative and providing some guidelines and best practices around both the service position and how to conduct a Meeting Health Inventory. We are also in the process of updating the Meeting Health Questions that may be read at your meetings.
2. Dealing with Disruptive Behavior at Meetings
We have been getting a number of inquiries from meetings concerned about individual members whose sharing or behaviors are disrupting or disturbing meetings. The meetings want to maintain the Traditions, while safeguarding the integrity and safety of individual members. The MESA committee is nearing completion of a document that will be posted on the FA website. This document will outline some scenarios and will suggest ways that meetings may handle these situations, keeping Higher Power and Serenity at the center and attempting to maintain everyone’s safety.
3. Home-Bound Meeting Safety
As our fellowship has expanded, so have our opportunities to provide homebound meetings for members who are unable to leave their homes. In light of this development, we have been receiving inquiries about how to maintain personal safety when participating in this type of service. The MESA committee is working with the WAI 12th Step Committee, which has been extremely active in providing Homebound Meetings, to develop some best practices for maintaining personal safety when attending a Homebound Meeting.
LITERATURE COMMITTEE (JENNIFER N., CHAIR)
Writing and Editing Subcommittee:
- Presented the first draft of Twenty Questions to the Fellowship for feedback
- Updated Some Thoughts on Sponsorship to match our new tools
- Changing our existing literature to remove gender binary language
- Writing a pamphlet for a general audience who wants to learn about food addiction and how FA offers a solution- Food Addiction and the FA Solution
- Shared Food Addiction and the FA Solution with Board members and individuals who attended the Literature Committee. Will post on the FA Website for feedback in September.
- German group: Finalizing the translation of all meeting support
documents. Relevant newcomer pamphlets are also being translated into German by a professional translator
- French group: Completed the translation of the meeting trifold - including the
Twenty Questions and working on the FA format and newcomer packets
- Hebrew group: Newcomer documents are being translated into Hebrew by a professional translator including updating the format
- Spanish group: Working on translating remaining newcomer literature
- Chinese Speaking Fellowship: Identified a professional translator and beginning work on newcomer packets for traditional and simplified Chinese
- 24,982 regular print books have been sold since we first published
- This year we have sold 2,936
- We have also sold 479 large print books and 114 e-books this year
- 13,097 Living Abstinently pamphlets have been sold since we first published
- This year we sold 8,153
- Completed the updating of the Literature Procedures
Audio Recording Subcommittee:
- Experiencing a steady increase in usage of MP3’s and a sharp decline of CDs
- 3,591 MP3’s v 185 CD’s YTD
- Identified speakers for the 2018 WSBC
- Facilitated an ad hoc committee to produce an audio version of the FA book
- Identifying speakers for the 2018 Fellowship Convention
- Complete production of FA Audio Book
- Continue with translations of German, Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese literature
- Complete Food Addiction and the FA Solution Pamphlet
SERVICE GROUP SUPPORT COMMITTEE (PAUL B., CHAIR)
- The SGSC continues to support Intergroups, Chapters and Local Service Groups with a bi-monthly conference call. Guest speakers are available to discuss pertinent FA issues on bi-monthly conference calls.
- The SGSC has completed a document titled “Local Service Group Guidelines and Recommendations” which is posted to Foddaddicts.org under Service Groups under the drop-down tab local service groups.
- The SGSC maintains a sub-committee: Guidelines and Recommendations Committee that meets quarterly to review new questions to be addressed in the LSG Guidelines and Recommendations.
- The SGSC core committee consists of the chairs of EAI SGSC and WAI SGSC, the chair of the Forum Planning Committee the chair of the LSG Guidelines and Recommendations Committee and the SGSC Chair. The Core committee meets bi- monthly to discuss agenda items.
- The SGSC brought back the Forum to the Friday of the 2018 Business Convention. There were over 250 FA members in attendance. Four break- out sessions were well attended, Meetings Working Together to Reach the New Comer: LSG driven PI, Demystifying the 12 Traditions, The FA Solution, Why We Do What We Do, and A Day and a Life on the Frontier.
CONVENTION PLANNING COMMITTEE (EBONY F., CHAIR)
2018 Business Convention
- On June 1-3, 2018 we hosted our 17th annual World Service Business Convention in Danvers, MA. This Convention was a special occasion and cause for celebration. FA was incorporated in 1998, and this year marks our 20-year anniversary. What a wonderful time for all of us to be together.
- Six hundred and one members attended from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Israel, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Taiwan, New Zealand, China, and the United States.
- Business sessions included a general overview of FA's structure, opening and closing remarks, our treasurer's report, two motions, acknowledgement of outgoing Chairs, election of the 2018-19 World Service Board, and highlights from the Maine Chapter, the Western Area Intergroup, the Eastern Area Intergroup, and several WSI committees. Members with 20+ years of abstinence also shared on the theme, “FA - Celebrating 20 Years”! Other events included the recording of four new qualification CDs, WSI Committee meetings, an FA song, and our usual annual, lively dance party.
- We also offered the "The Forum” on Friday afternoon. A common definition of “forum” is a “meeting where ideas and views on a particular subject can be exchanged.” This year’s Forum included a series of sharing meetings focused on topics to strengthen individual recovery, FA meetings, and the fellowship at large. The format included an opening session, four breakout discussion sessions, and a closing session in which the various panels were summarized and discussed.
2018 Fellowship Convention
- We are looking forward to hosting the 2018 Fellowship Convention at the Saddlebrook Resort & Spa in Tampa, Florida, Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14, 2018.
- At our last Fellowship Convention in 2016, we had over 500 fellows join us for an amazing weekend of fellowship and recovery. This year we are hoping to welcome even more people from the fellowship to the Convention. The more the merrier!
- For more information, please check out the Fellowship Convention section of the FA website.
2019 Business Convention
- Planning is currently underway to welcome everyone to the 2019 World Service Business Convention taking place May 31 – June 2, 2019 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Danvers, MA.
- Hotel, pricing, and meal plan information has been placed on the Business Convention section of the FA website.
- Each year at the World Service Business Convention, we hold elections for WSI Officers and Committee Chairs. As 2019 is an odd year, we will be accepting nominations for the following positions: Secretary, Treasurer, Literature, Public Information, Service Group Support, and 12th Step.
CONNECTION COMMITTEE (ADRIENNE P., CHAIR)
New connection section!
Frontier Focus Beginning in our July/August 2018 issue
- New and ongoing section will feature articles written by FA members on the Frontier, sharing experience, strength and hope on how they work their program from far and wide.
- Articles from members on the Frontier that are about specific challenges and successes of working program from afar are needed and appreciated. Thanks so much for all your support!
TRADITIONS COMMITTEE (PATTY R., CHAIR)
Traditions Review Committee
The TRC’s mandate is to consider how the Twelve Traditions guide us on various issues raised by FA members or groups. Inquiries are submitted to email@example.com, the committee meets to discuss these issues every other month, then share their thoughts with the inquirer and with the fellowship (when appropriate) through various WSI reports and the GIA. The TRC is not a governing or policing body, nor does it get involved in resolving the issue; rather, it enables the person(s) to deal with the situation or the other person(s) involved.
The number of inquiries submitted to the TRC has grown substantially in recent years, from an average of 12 per year between 2002-2014 to an average of 55 per year since 2015.
Inquiries have spanned all 12 traditions; however, the greatest concerns have historically surrounded Traditions 5 (our primary purpose), 6 (non-endorsement or affiliation), 10 (outside issues), 11 (anonymity and the public), and 12 (anonymity and principles over personalities). Between July 2017 and June 2018, we saw a marked increase in the number of questions asked around Tradition 4 (meeting autonomy), and a marked decrease in those concerning 10.
Introducing the FA Traditions Review Committee Index of Historical Issues and Responses
For many years the TRC has maintained an informal log of its inquiries and responses but, until now, this information was neither fully consolidated nor available in a user-friendly, searchable format. Over recent years, the TRC has been working to standardize the format and method of responding to inquiries, while formalizing, standardizing and editing that log into a searchable “index”. This now serves two main purposes:
- To provide the TRC with ready access to the more frequently recurring inquiries and associated responses so it can more quickly respond to the fellowship when it receives an inquiry about one of the more common, oft-repeated issues;
- To provide a resource, a “self-service” online option for the fellowship, whereby individuals or groups have access to and can search this document to see if their inquiry has previously been considered.
The FA Traditions Review Committee Index of Historical Issues and Responses (the “TRC Index”) is now ready and being made accessible to the fellowship only on the FA website. Its current format is a searchable PDF document, available on the FA website; it is not available for download, as it will be regularly updated, but will be accessible at any time when on the website. The committee’s long-term vision is to create a more fully searchable, on-line database, like the current “search” function on the FA website. Since this will involve significant cost, we will be interested in the website analytics to determine the true level of interest in investing in development of such a database.
This represents a huge amount of work by committee members over several years. It is meant to be a living document with updates at least yearly. The current version spans the years 2002-2016, so the first step will be to add 2017 and 2018. We hope it will be used by the fellowship to learn more about the Traditions and perhaps answer their own questions based on the experience of others and historical responses by the TRC. We are also hoping to hear from the fellowship about their experiences using this new resource – questions, comments, and suggestions will gladly be accepted at Traditions@foodaddicts.org.
Traditions Issues Addressed Since the 2017-2018 Mid-Term Report (January 2018)
- Paid Advertising on Facebook
- Grant Application for Reduced Rent
- Meeting Offered Free Space
- Proposal to the WSB for a new Connections App
- Using Online Booking System to See Doctors and Other Health Care Professionals
- Use of 2nd Language Causing Disunity in Fellowship
- Traditions Should Allow Non Conference-Approved Literature
- FA Member Selling FA Food Journal
1. Paid Advertising on Facebook
A PI rep from a meeting was asked to check with the Traditions Committee about advertising Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous on Facebook. The PI Committee reportedly supports this type of advertising but the TRC has also been asked to “weigh in”. Facebook ads are paid, not attributed to any individual, and do not allow typical FB responses such as “like, share, comment or follow”.
In a previous TRC inquiry it was agreed that the Traditions are not compromised if an FA group chooses to pay for advertising using Seventh Tradition funds if the ad is simply a factual statement about the program intended to attract rather than actively solicit the still suffering food addict (in keeping with Tradition 11). The TRC also considered a group advertising FA on pharmacy prescription bags. The TRC unanimously agreed that such advertising would not be in line with the principles of Tradition 11.
The TRC researched Facebook ads and found that an ad buyer can target a select audience by age, location, interests, etc., so that if a FB user is in the targeted audience, they will see the ad on the right-hand side of their screen. For example, if someone searches Facebook for diets, they would then see an FA ad.
The TRC unanimously agreed that this seems to be promotion rather than attraction. Committee members found that this type of advertising is “irritating,” “unsought,” “unwanted,” “smacks of promotion,” “sounds like it’s pitching something.” It is different from a newspaper ad because people are “targeted and individualized.” This seems to be directly contravening to the principle of attraction not promotion as presented in Tradition 11.
It was also noted that because these ads can feel intrusive and irritating, it could affect FA negatively by creating bad feeling toward the program, which goes against Tradition 1 “Our common welfare should come first…” and Tradition 4 “…except in matters affecting other groups or FA as a whole.” Ultimately, the TRC consensus interpretation is that purchasing Facebook advertising is not in line with the FA Traditions (specifically 11, 1 and 4).
2. Grant Application for Reduced Rent
A meeting contacted the TRC to ask whether it is in line with traditions to apply for a grant to request a reduction in rent?
After discussing this issue, the TRC was all in agreement that actively applying for financial support from an outside source directly infringes on FA’s 7th Tradition. We also agreed that with the questions asked in this particular grant there is potential for the FA group being seen as affiliated with the city, which encroaches on FA’s 6th Tradition. The TRC is conscious of the difficulties that could be involved in finding a place to meet but feel confident that there are other options that the group could explore (e.g., community centers or hospitals).
3. Meeting Offered Free Space
A member who owns a small commercial building would like to make the building available for a weekly FA meeting and made an inquiry to the TRC about a few questions and concerns that had arisen around this offer. The member stated that they believe that the potential FA meeting would be in line with the FA Traditions, would be self-supporting, and seemed to have had positive response from multiple members in the area with at least six months of continuous abstinence. Although the weekly meeting would be in a room in their office/retail building, the member stated that there would be no affiliation with their business of owning and operating the building. The building would be otherwise closed at the proposed time and only available to FA. On the initial inquiry email, the intent was to offer the space rent free as service to the FA meeting. In a subsequent email it was clarified that that the space has since been leased out to another tenant during business hours and the member suggested that if the FA meeting (which will be held outside of business hours) must pay rent due to the Seventh Tradition, the FA meeting could pay $40 / month to this tenant. The member is about to register and post the meeting to the website and request the meeting start-up kit but agreed to await further instructions.
The TRC reviewed the inquiry and recommends that the meeting group find a different location for the potential meeting that is not financially connected to the FA members in any way. The TRC appreciates the intent of the member, as finding an appropriate and affordable meeting space for a newer meeting that is entirely independent of FA members and their homes and businesses can be a challenging task. Although the member attempted to allay potential Tradition 6 and 7 issues with assurances as to a lack of affiliation with FA and by inserting the member’s tenant as the rent collector, the following questions came up: What would be the impact if, sometime in the future, the FA member who owns the building left program? What would happen if the FA member had a dispute with his fellows? What if the new tenant decided to change their work times or no longer agreed to allow the FA meeting to use the space? The TRC believes that any of these and other scenarios may raise a Tradition 1 or 5 related issues where the welfare of the fellowship as a whole and the welfare of the newcomer are paramount to the autonomy of the meeting. Although the member does not believe there to be an actual affiliation issue, the TRC believes on a best practices basis, a member’s business having a landlord/tenant (or subtenant) relationship with an FA meeting (whether financial or not) could be easily perceived as a Tradition 6 issue.
Although this is not the primary concern in this inquiry, as a reminder, it has been identified in prior TRC responses that meetings accepting outside contributions in the form of free space conflicts with the principle of the Seventh Tradition. Should an FA meeting facility not accept rent, the FA meeting can either make a payment in a fair amount directly to the facility who can then donate the funds to a charity of their choice or the FA meeting could donate in the name of the owner of the facility to reduce the administration.
4. Proposal to the WSB for a new Connections App
The connection Committee has submitted a proposal to the WSB to develop an app for the connection (see attached). Digital subscribers to connection now receive a link to a pdf, which is not ideal given the growth of smartphones and apps in society and the FA fellowship.
TRC members did not see any Traditions related issues with the development of this app at this time, provided it follows the same guidelines as the FA website, particularly being protective of members’ anonymity.
5. Using Online Booking System to See Doctors and Other Health Care Professionals
A member inquired about listing FA on a website used by organizations and businesses to access health care professionals. Pharmaceutical companies, suppliers, and patient support groups like the Alzheimer’s Association register on the site in order to be able to set up meetings with professionals. Members of the general public do not have access to the site to get an appointment with an individual doctor. FA in Australia hopes to use this site to schedule an information meeting and establish FA as a resource for professionals and their patients. An individual FA member would have to list their complete name and phone number.
The TRC saw no conflict with the Traditions, as the person listed as the contact for FA would be choosing to break their own anonymity and the site was not accessible to the general public. It was suggested the fellowship contact the Public Information Committee for guidance on how to set up the listing.
6. Use of 2nd Language Causing Disunity in Fellowship
*This report has been edited to protect the anonymity of the fellowship involved
Early 2016, a fellowship explored the idea of reciting the Serenity Prayer in [a] language in addition to the [standard] version at the end of the FA meeting. The request was raised because of a social/political movement [.…]. The TRC was contacted in August 2016 because the issue caused conflict within the local FA fellowship.
In September 2016, the TRC responded to the inquiry stating that the TRC felt that this practice could be in conflict with Tradition 1 (unity) and Tradition 10 (outside issues) and suggested that the fellows recite the Serenity Prayer only in [one].
During the summer of 2017, the issue was raised again by another member of the same meeting. They explained that in the time since September 2016, a private meeting of local members was held (not an FA meeting or FA business meeting) where fellows without 90 days of continuous abstinence were able to express their opinions about the issue. Also, during this period, the [second] language had been used from the front of the room periodically by some members during their sharing. As well, some members were singing in [said] language during the sharing portion of the meeting with group participation from other members in the meeting. Multiple members in the group are concerned that a motion was recently passed at their business meeting making it mandatory that the Serenity Prayer in [both languages] be said at the beginning and the end of the meeting. The practice was voted to take effect March 31, 2018, giving the fellowship time to learn the prayer in [….].
The TRC reviewed the inquiry and believes that this situation has evolved to a point where it appears to be creating an environment at this meeting, which does not support the newcomer (Tradition 5). The TRC feels that the use of both languages at the meeting and the singing [….] distract the meeting from the meeting’s priority of helping the newcomer in gaining recovery from food addiction.
FA Meetings in languages other than [….] are certainly acceptable and encouraged when appropriate. As with all FA Meetings, the suggestion, based on the principles of Tradition 5, would be that these meetings have multiple members (up to 4 is ideal) who speak the language in question and have at least six months of back-to-back abstinence. As an example, in California, Spanish-speaking meetings were started many years ago. Eventually, due to a lack of Spanish speakers in that area with 6 months or more of abstinence, these meetings closed, but will likely reopen as the Spanish speaking fellowship grows. The TRC believes it would be more supportive of the newcomer for the inquiring fellowship to maintain [….] only meetings until the growth in the number of [….] speaking fellows continues to a point where a new FA meeting could be established in [said] language, with a translated format. In the meantime, should there be [….] members who do not speak [….], the TRC would encourage the meeting to contact the Meeting Effectiveness, Safety, & Accessibility Subcommittee (MESA) of the 12th Step Committee. MESA has assisted other FA meetings with members who do not speak [the primary language] (e.g., assisting with ideas like coordinating translators for these members).
Within this inquiry, in addition to “Traditions” related issues, the TRC identified “Meeting Health” issues that are outside the purview of the TRC’s mandate, such as
- (1) holding separate meetings where members without 90 days have a voice; and (2) singing from the front of the room with audience involvement. The TRC has therefore also referred this issue to the Inquiry Response Committee which will contact the member(s) who initiated the inquiry and offer to provide support with the goal of restore unity to the FA meeting and help the meeting focus on the primary purpose of all FA Meetings, to help the still suffering food addict.
7. Traditions Should Allow Non Conference-Approved Literature
A meeting requested clarification concerning the use of AA literature at FA meetings. As FA already uses AA literature, the meeting would like to incorporate the AA “Daily Reflections” booklet and “As Bill Sees It, The A.A. Way of Life” to be used as additional FA group reading material. They cited Traditions 3, 4 and 9 as being supportive of meetings choosing to use this literature, although the Meeting Standards and Requirements seem to suggest they would be de-registered.
The TRC considered the meeting’s request and argument and found that although display and use of this literature would not necessarily go against FA Traditions, it would call into question the meeting’s compliance with decisions made by the World Service Conference.
In June 2011, when the Conference voted to have meetings register and agree to use the same format and literature, the decision was based on the desire that when someone goes to an FA meeting anywhere in the word, there should be unanimity including using the same format and literature. (Tradition 5) Using something different would impact the health of FA as a whole. (Tradition 4)
The Traditions Review Committee reviewed this statement in “Document 1” both when it was drafted and approved and again in response to this inquiry, and the TRC continues to support the Conference decision. In its response to the meeting, the TRC provided a summary of the documents regarding conference-approved literature:
- Only FA conference-approved materials may be used at meetings.
- If a meeting group would like additional literature used or would like new literature created, it may contact the WS Literature Committee.
- FA meetings must follow some basic requirements in order to be considered FA meetings. One of those items is using only conference-approved literature.
- If a meeting decides to not adhere to the FA meeting requirements, that group will not be registered as an FA meeting.
Concerning the question regarding requirements for an FA meeting to be registered, the meeting was referred to “Document 1” on the FA website and to the Continuing Effect Motions Manual.
8. FA Member Selling FA Food Journal
A member contacted the Traditions Review Committee initially seeking permission to include the 12 Traditions as adapted by FA in a food journal she has created for members of FA to purchase online.
After initially addressing the legal copyright issues involved (the 12 Traditions are copyrighted by AA not FA), the TRC expressed strong reservations about selling such a journal, in light of the spiritual principles embodied in several of the Traditions. Most prominently Tradition Six, but also Two, Five, Eight and Twelve, guide us against using the fellowship as a way toward personal financial gain.
Tradition Six cautions us against any practice that would directly “endorse, finance or lend the FA name” – or give the appearance of such – to any outside enterprise, so that we will not be diverted from our primary purpose. Thus, neither the FA name or logo, nor any material content may be included in this journal or in its marketing.
Using a meeting’s phone/email list for online marketing would also infringe on Tradition Twelve, which protects members’ anonymity.
Tradition Two (there is but one ultimate authority in God; our leaders are but trusted servants) suggests that no member should be seen as a leader or an expert. The TRC is concerned that an FA member selling their own tool for FA recovery would inadvertently be seen as an expert, which would be confusing to the newcomer, who could be highly sensitive to suggestion and interpret an offer as a requirement to buy the product in order to join the program.
Whether marketed online or in a meeting, we must also be mindful of Tradition Eight, which reminds us that FA should remain forever nonprofessional. For our own spiritual recovery, we must not sell our service but must give it freely, as it was given freely to us. In the case of an in-person (or in-meeting) sale, the solicitation of a newcomer to purchase something may be perceived to be a requirement to receive help though the FA program, which would be a detriment to our program.
Although the inquirer stated that the journal was to be sold online, the TRC also commented on a situation where such a journal might be sold within a meeting. This would not be consistent with Tradition Five – our primary purpose in a meeting must be to carry the message of FA recovery to the newcomer. Any time taken at a meeting to sell the journal could distract from time helping newcomers. Similarly, such a journal may not be included on an FA meeting’s literature table (see also the FA Meeting Requirements).
CONCLUDING REMARKS: DAVID I., WSB CHAIR
My name is Dave. I’m a food addict.
I approach these last few minutes with you with joy and gratitude beyond measure. With increasing certainty, I am convinced that FA is safe and protected and will remain so, as long as we stay committed to our recovery, to unity, and to the service that is demonstrated by each and every one of us.
In speaking to my roommate last night after coming in from the evening of celebration, I asked him if he had a good day.
“I love this fellowship, he said, “We are a remarkable, caring group of people who would never have met were it not for the circumstances that brought us here together.”
Dr. Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps, spoke of the ultimate meaning of suffering. He speculated that the highest level a person can achieve in life is to survive a difficult fate with dignity and courage … and then teach others how to do it.
To me, this statement applies perfectly to the members of our program. My own journey through the darkness of addiction and into the light of recovery has truly brought meaning to all of my suffering and amounted to the highest level of achievement in my life. Facing my addiction honestly, overcoming the depression and anxiety that were my constant companions for years, transforming unpredictable rage into serenity and compassion, breaking the cycle of addiction, trauma, and mental illness from my upbringing, and perhaps above all, learning to be more accepting of myself and others – these are the true achievements of my life. And even as I say this, I know that these are not my achievements at all, but rather gifts of grace from the God of my understanding…
As we prepare to head home, I’d like to leave you with three things to reflect upon. First, I’d like to shine a light on the progress we have made as an organization over the past two decades. Second, I’d like to address the ongoing challenge we face as a fellowship regarding unity. And finally, I’d like to leave you with a call to action.
As we so joyously celebrated this weekend, this is the twenty-year anniversary of the official incorporation of FA. I am fortunate to have been around for these past two decades. I have listed some of our accomplishments we have made as an organization during this time, the progress that has taken place as a result of us living the FA way of life. Some of these accomplishments are very personal to me and I am sure if you take a moment you can add to the list.
- When FA was born in 1998, I was just eighteen months in this program. Now I am twenty-one years in – and still young in my recovery. The first meeting of the then General Service Office was held on May 31, 1998.
- When FA was born, all work to maintain its business was operated out of the home of a few dedicated FA members. We now have a fully operating office with two staff persons running a very efficient organization to assist the public, FA members, WSI, Intergroups, and Chapters.
- FA’s first newsletter was “On the Frontier.” Now we have the Gratitude in Action and a self-supporting connection magazine, both in print and digital formats. The connection committee developed the Connection Site in 2013.
- Cassette tapes of our stories were once copied in a member’s living room. Now you can download these stories in MP3 format.
- The first FA Book written by FA members was published in 2013 and is now in large print and E-Book format, and the literature committee is working to produce the audio version.
- The First Fellowship Convention took place in 2007 with the number of attendees over 700.
- The 12 Step Committee continues to develop and address the needs of those on the Frontier through a Frontier subcommittee.
- Intergroups and Chapters were formed to further address the needs of the meetings and the public, such as homebound FA meeting, teens and twenties, and financial resources to assist members to attend the business convention.
- Local Service Groups, along with local service support weekends, have been created and are now thriving throughout the fellowship.
- For 20 years, the development of FA has been founded on individual members staying abstinent and telling their stories - to family, friends, health care providers and clergy. Over the last decade, with the increased importance of the Internet, the PI Committee developed the FA website and our media outreach program to accelerate our efforts. Our Weblinks committee continues to lead FA on the digital frontier, using analytics to increase our Internet presence while continuing to break communication barriers in languages other than English.
The sun never sets upon FA’s Fellowship. In May 1998, 20 years ago, FA had just 177 members attending just 18 FA meetings, most of which were right here in the Northeastern US. Today, through our individual and collective efforts, we have 603 FA meetings around the globe in nine countries, with Beijing, China our most recent addition this year.
In short, today we have a well-functioning, vital organization, and so much to be grateful for. And we have our challenges that need to be addressed. Like our own individual recovery, we are making progress – in our own human and imperfect way. What’s important is that we have a solution that is given freely, that guarantees freedom from food addiction. That we have met the requirements for abstinence, advancement, and contribution to a troubled world is surely cause for us each to feel a deep sense of joy, satisfaction, and unity.
Now allow me to say a few things about unity…
The program teaches me to focus on the solution and not the problem - to see the good and the growth opportunity in everything.
We have a common problem: Food Addiction;
We have a common solution: Abstinence by working the Steps;
And we have a common purpose: “To carry the message to the still suffering food addict.”
All three make up the glue that keeps us unified through the storms. If we focus our attention on that which unites us rather than divides us, we can and will continue to accomplish great things.
Whenever people come together, there will be differences: political, religious, socio- economic, gender, sexual orientation, racial, or how we work our program. Diversity is vital to a healthy community. Some of us are committed to keeping the program the same. Some of us want to change the program. Most of us like to hear ourselves talk. And, if you are anything like me, we’re addicted to being right.
I think we are all aware of the perception of different “lines” of sponsorship in our program. Today there are, indeed, many “lines.” But the idea of “lines” is actually a fabricated concept in our minds. We each interpret the principles of the twelve steps differently. This is the reality of every fellowship. But I don’t think this has to divide us.
Fear, judgment, worry, and complaining have a short shelf-life. If we carry around these emotions for too long they fester and poison our dispositions. So, what we need to do is pour them down the drain like a container of sour milk. Then we can go back to the storehouse of our being, find a source of gratitude, faith, love, and a commitment to service, and drink from that vessel.
With that mindset I think we can all let go of any need to change others and do our part to understand others.
A member, over lunch this week, left me with a profound and simple thought. “To be loved is beautiful,” she said. “But to be understood is profound.” This is what makes this fellowship so precious, this deep knowing that we will never be alone again, that we are profoundly understood – often for the first time in our lives. This is the work of unity: to foster understanding, not necessarily agreement; to attend rather than condemn; to take the time to listen deeply rather than criticize freely.
Will this kind of genuine understanding make a difference? I’m not sure it will make a difference to our fellowship. What I do know is that it will make a difference to my own recovery and to the quality of my own life. The most important word, in my view, in the 12 Steps is in Step Three. It’s the word care. We turn our will and lives over to the care of the God of our understanding. How can we find a caring God without practicing care in our own lives? The two go hand in hand. From this place of compassion and understanding we are able to then practice and truly believe in the spiritual principle of live and let live.
Don’t get me wrong. This issue has not been easy for me. I can be as judgmental and critical and anxious about personality differences and program divisions as anyone. I’ve struggled often with judgment, as my sponsors can tell you.
But struggle is also a gift. Before I came into program, I could not appreciate the value of the struggles in my life. I just took them to my psychiatrist to be fixed. But FA gave me a new set of glasses. FA taught me to search out the good in everything, to see what I can learn, and hopefully to see how my experience can help someone else.
My sponsor taught me early on that it is a sign of spiritual maturity to be around people who do things differently than me and be okay with that - and to love them all the same. Today I live more comfortably with differences, because I have acceptance. No one can threaten my program without my participation. When I practice acceptance of the differences among us, the gaps between us doesn’t seem so large, or such a big deal, or even worth focusing on for very long. Instead, I focus on our commonalities.
Our common ground becomes obvious when I am helping someone off the ledge of food addiction.
In the words of Bill W., “We come together in our weakness; we grow together in our strength.” Together with our differences, let’s be sure to celebrate the gifts of our collective and individual recovery… What we appreciate appreciates.
Now, some calls to action from me to you:
First, keep doing service. Service is the life-blood of this organization. Service starts with abstinence and making your recovery your only priority. Once the roots of abstinence are established, then get involved in service positions in your local groups. Sit on committees, roll your sleeves up and do whatever you can. There are no unimportant acts of service. No service positions in this room and in this program are more important than any others. Whether we are sitting in the chair at the front of the room or setting up chairs in the back of room, we make a difference. There are no small service positions. In all the time I have spent in this program and on this board, I can tell you that I have not yet met someone in our fellowship who wasn’t important. I have deep respect for the efforts that I have witnessed among my colleagues on this board. However, let’s remember that we all do good work and we each make a difference in our small and sincere way. For me, the real recognition comes not from the world but from God, such as when I retire at night and sit for a few moments of stillness and experience with gratitude the peace and self-respect that comes from a day of abstinence and the choice of service over self-interest.
I have discovered that what matters in a life of recovery are not the big shiny moments of excitement or achievement, but rather the small and dependable acts of helping others. What gives me a kick now is being abstinent, returning a call, sponsoring and being sponsored, coming to this business convention and getting involved. It’s all about small and consistent actions of imperfect contribution. Rather than endless striving for perfection and recognition, what I’d rather have is what I have today: feeling good about myself, being useful in the world, and learning to love. To paraphrase the words of Dr. Paul, “I used to strive to be famous. Today I have become grateful that God made me anonymous.”
Second, remember our roots.
Certain species of bamboo trees in Southeast Asia grow less than an inch in their first four years, but in their fifth year will grow over a hundred feet. A root system develops below the surface that enables the plant to support its enormous growth in that fifth year.
Like the roots of a tree, the unseen virtues that hold us up as a fellowship are hidden to the world but are foundational to upholding a sustainable life through the demands of reality. It’s not the fierceness of the storm that determines whether we break, but rather the strength and stability of our roots.
What holds us together today is what held us together twenty years ago and will continue to hold us together for years to come. It is the roots of our program that form the beliefs and our practices that sustain our individual recovery and our common welfare.
This program has been my foundation. I don’t mess with it because I rely on it. My life, like everyone’s, is filled with ongoing change. In the past eight years, some of the changes I have been through include: A son-in-law destroyed his life with an opioid addiction and I assisted my daughter and her son to leave that relationship. Another daughter completed university and moved across the country to launch a career as a teacher. My youngest started university. I have made changes in my business. I have been there for my dear wife through her brother’s life altering stroke and her mother’s dementia. I walked with my own brother through his cancer journey for three years until his passing last year.
With all these changes in life, what doesn’t change are the roots of my life - my FA program. All of us live in the midst of disruption in one form or another. With constant changes in our lives we rely on something constant and unchanging. While continual pruning and trimming are required, you don’t want to dig up the roots and start going at them with a chain saw. We depend on our roots to keep us stable and sustained through life’s many challenges.
Third, Be the light
Dr. Carl Jung, who greatly influenced the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous, once said, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” This is what recovery has meant to me. I no longer live in the darkness of addiction. I have been brought into the sunlight of the spirit.
In the Twenty-Four Hours A Day book this week [June 1] we read about being “born with a spark of the Divine” within us, but it is smothered by the life of addiction. This “Devine light” can be experienced only through the cracks, the wounds, the places we have been damaged. I have learned, through recovery, to be accepting of the flaws.
Abstinence is a growth process. I’m convinced that when food addicts suffer, we either grow or we eat. If we don’t run back into the food, our pain becomes our teacher. When we survive a difficult situation without eating addictively, our light brightens, and we grow spiritually.
From a Chinese proverb we find:
If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
This is the pathway of recovery and the pathway to changing the world. All change starts from within. This is our sole purpose: to kindle our inner light and then bring that light more brightly to those we serve. Abstinence, leaning into a strong recovery program that is right for us, and doing service all brighten our light and fulfill this opportunity.
Spending the past eight years on this board, four as a vice-chair and four as your chair, has made me a better father, husband, friend, leader in my business, and a little more courageous and caring human being. I’ve learned the difference between being a “servant” leader and a “pleasing” leader. Servant leadership is about doing all you can to give people what they need so they can reach a still suffering food addict. Pleasing leadership is about giving people what they want so they will be happy. I have learned, and will continue to learn, that this work is not about rescuing people from their unhappiness. You can’t please people or make everyone happy, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I have actually made some progress in accepting my imperfections, relaxing, and learning to let go and let God. If I thought I had to do all this perfectly up here, I would never have even started.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to each and every one of you for your trust, your support, and your patience with my errors and imperfections, and for the deep privilege and honor it has been to serve you in this capacity.
Being from Irish decent, I will leave you all with a traditional Gaelic Blessing and
May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be ever at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields, And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Thank you all so much, and safe travels to you all. Easy does it.