World Service Conference Member
About the World Service Conference Member Service Position, from Gratitude in Action, FA's Newsletter about Service
The World Service Business Convention is held annually in accordance with our World Service, Inc. (WSI) bylaws. All are invited and encouraged to attend, regardless of length of abstinence, and guests are also welcome at this event, which regularly draws together over 500 food addicts to strengthen our fellowship, conduct WSI business, and improve our ability to carry the message of recovery to those who still suffer.
One category of attendee—World Service Conference (WSC) Members—are selected by FA meetings as voting members of the conference. WSC members must have at least five years of continuous abstinence in FA and have completed one FA AWOL within their current term of abstinence. Election of one WSC member per meeting is held during the December or January business meeting to ensure that the member has sufficient time to plan travel and, if necessary, apply for financial aid. (See below for more information on financial aid.)
WSC members have specific responsibilities related to participating in the convention:
- Register as a WSC member at www.foodaddicts.org. (Choose “For Members,” “Convention,” “Business Convention,” and select “Conference Member Registration.”)
- Make sure your contact information is accurate in your online FA profile, in order to receive important material pertaining to business motions to be considered at convention.
- Carefully read all materials sent to WSC members in order to prepare for the convention.
- Attend the convention, including all business sessions as a member of the voting body.
Important Points About Being a Voting Conference Member:
WSC members are elected by individual meetings. However, they represent the full body of FA as trusted servants, acting and voting in accordance with their consciences and in faith that our Higher Power will guide our fellowship. In this regard they function in the same way as any elected representatives, bearing in mind the needs and concerns of their meetings while listening and responding to the wisdom of other FA fellows who are seeking guidance through a shared commitment to service.
Typically, motions that have been placed on the convention agenda are sent to all WSC members at least one month prior to the convention. All WSC members are asked to read this material as soon as it is received. The WSB welcomes questions and feedback prior to the convention. The goal is that all WSC members can arrive at the convention feeling fully prepared and having a clear understanding of the intent and impact of all motions, prior to casting a vote.
Personal Reflections...Serving as a WSC Member
When asked how being a conference member has changed me personally, I have to say, “In many ways.” I did not have any confidence in myself, as far as the business of FA was concerned. I learned so much by just watching the process of voting on motions and how our Traditions and Bylaws were taken into consideration. I also learned about our organization and our World Service Board. As my confidence grew, so did a desire to be part of the team working together for the improvement of FA. I developed a passion for the Traditions and for the Bylaws, and by joining these WSI committees, I was able to do service at a different level than our local meetings. I have developed friendships with people from all over the world who attend the business convention annually, and it has become like a large family reunion. For someone who wanted no part of the business, I look forward to being a part of all of it now. It has certainly gotten me out of my isolated world of food.
I refused to go to convention for my first 11 ½ years in FA. I had a million excuses: my wife wasn’t supportive, our kids were too small, and I would miss synagogue on Saturday (never mind that I eventually stopped going every Saturday and that I would always go out Saturdays anyway.) Then my wife spent a year in the hospital, and she could not be left alone at night, and our kids were just about to enter high school.
One day, my sponsor asked me about attending the fellowship convention. My only response was, “I had no plans to go and have never gone to any convention previously.” With further thought, I realized I had no valid reasons for not attending. I committed to going and made the plans necessary to get me there. Not enough money? I set aside money every month just for the convention (the same way I did for other things). Not enough vacation time? Truth is I get plenty of vacation time, so I just set aside that time. My wife does not go to the business convention with me (she is not in FA), and she still needs assistance at night, so we either pay somebody to stay with her, or our daughter, who is 21, comes to stay with her. Once I got clear about how important this is for my recovery, my wife and children became supportive. It was like magic.
Since attending the business convention and now acting as a voting member, my program has gotten stronger and stronger. I have made connections with more fellows around the globe, and I have been able to gain more strength from those connections. Being around hundreds of people doing what I do, one meal at a time, has helped me understand myself better and be able to have feelings today and be able to express them and share them. I believe everyone in FA would benefit from going to the business Convention regularly, whether they are a voting member or not. The fellowship alone is worth every effort needed to attend. It has been a great benefit for me to see how FA works to support our local groups.
I now see that the things that kept me from the convention were keeping me from deepening my recovery. I am thankful my sponsor challenged me to attend, and I was willing to take the step despite the challenges.
My sponsor had previously been involved as a note taker at the business convention. This particular year, she was passing the mantle and recommended me as a note taker to the committee in charge of this service. I thought, “Yikes! Note taker? Me?” I never took good notes in school, so how could I keep up at the business convention? Fortunately, a group of us were serving as note takers. I found solace in the collective body, and in the fact that I was not up at the front table alone. It was during this process that I formed a wonderful bond with a fellow. She was also recommended to be note taker. As we sat together, discussing our thoughts, fears, and logistics, we got to know each other. A comment on her beautifully handwritten notes sparked a discussion about her life. I found out she used that beautiful penmanship in a profession that was linked very closely to mine. We exchanged numbers (hers was international), and that was at least 4 years ago. In the time since, she and I have kept in touch. It refreshes my recovery to have connected with a fellow who understands when I call to talk about the demanding nature of our clients. She knows exactly how I feel, helps me to know I’m not alone, and shares how she gets through these times.
How wonderful that each time I do service at convention I connect with someone from another country or state whom I would not have ever known. Service at convention has allowed me to make connections, strengthening the ties that carry me through life and connecting me to God and this fellowship. Thank you, God, for service, convention, and my ever-widening fellowship!
Document 8, From a Traditions Perspective, addresses a common inquiry of FA meetings about using the meeting’s Seventh Tradition funds to defray some of the costs of WSC members who will attend the FA World Service Business Convention. As stated in this document, the Traditions Committee suggests that meetings not use their funds in this way, for three reasons:
- Seventh Tradition funds are designed to be used at the meeting level “to carry the message of recovery to the food addict who still suffers.” Intergroups are better positioned to provide financial assistance to conference members, based on established criteria for financial assistance.
- Providing financial support for individual FA members to attend the business convention as voting members can lead to controversy. FA members in a meeting group could rightfully ask why Seventh Tradition funds would be used to benefit a particular member attending convention rather than helping us meet our primary purpose of helping food addicts.
- If FA members were to be financially supported or sponsored by their meetings to attend the business convention, they might feel obligated to share specific concerns of the meeting rather than trusting their individual consciences and representing the fellowship at large.
Gratitude in Action (GIA) is a newsletter filled with tips, tools, and encouragement for FA members doing service to reach the still suffering food addict. To read about a specific service position, click the link below.