Glossary of General Service Terms
A.A.W.S. — Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., one of the two operating corporations of the General Service Board; oversees the operations of the General Service Office and serves as the publishing company for Conference-approved and service literature.
About A.A. — About A.A. is the newsletter from the General Service Office of the U.S. and Canada for professionals of all types who deal with alcoholics, including professionals in the fields of healthcare, law, corrections and clergy.
Additional committee consideration (or, simply, committee consideration) — An item that was discussed by a Conference committee, but with no action taken or recommendation made to the Conference as a whole. Serves as a suggestion to the corresponding trustees’ committee. Ad hoc committee — A committee established on a temporary or short-term basis to accomplish specific tasks not easily provided for elsewhere in the committee system. Each ad hoc committee has a particular goal to achieve or product to provide to its initiating body; when its task is completed, the committee is dismissed.
Advisory Action — Represents the informed group conscience of the Fellowship, as the result of a recommendation made by a Conference committee or a floor action that has been approved by the Conference body as a whole.
Agenda item — The final agenda for any Conference consists of items suggested by individual A.A. members, groups, delegates, trustees, area assemblies, area committee members, and directors/staff members of A.A.W.S. and the Grapevine. Whatever its origin, any agenda item follows the same path to the Conference agenda: the A.A. staff studies it in the light of previous Conference actions, then passes it on to the trustees’ Conference Committee or the appropriate Conference committee to determine when, where and whether it will appear on the Conference agenda.
Alternate — A service worker who, at group, district, or area level, assists, supports and participates in service responsibilities, and stands ready to step into the service position if the person occupying it is no longer able to serve.
Appointed committee member (ACM) — An A.A. member who serves on a specific trustees’ committee (for example, Public Information or Corrections) because of his or her knowledge and experience in the field.
Area — The U.S. and Canada are divided into 93 geographic areas. Conference delegates come from each area. Normally there is one area to a state or province, except in heavily A.A.-populated places, where there may be two, three or more areas in a state or province. Some areas include portions of more than one state or province.
Area assembly — A meeting of GSRs and committee members to discuss area affairs and, every other year, to elect a delegate and committee officers.
Area committee — A committee made up of district committee members (elected by the GSRs in each district) and area committee officers. The area committee generally serves as a steering committee for the area.
Box 4-5-9 — The quarterly newsletter from the U.S./Canada General Service Office. This newsletter includes information about A.A. service, literature, events, sharing from groups, service committees and individual members.
Class A trustee — A nonalcoholic trustee of the General Service Board.
Class B trustee — An alcoholic trustee of the General Service Board.
Conference — The General Service Conference; this can mean either the structure involving committee members, GSRs and delegates in an area, or the annual meeting of Conference delegates each spring in New York.
Concepts — The twelve principles of service that have emerged from A.A.’s service accomplishments and mistakes since its beginning, as set forth by Bill W. in The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service.
Conference-approved literature, videos and films — Pamphlets, books, videos and films produced under the auspices of various Conference and trustees’ committees that the appropriate Conference committees have reviewed and recommended to the Conference for its approval, and that have been approved by the Conference.
Custodial oversight — The term describing the relationship between the General Service Board and its two operating corporations, A.A. World Services, Inc. and AA Grapevine, Inc., which provide vital services to the Fellowship. This relationship is described in Concept VIII.
C.P.C. — Cooperation with the Professional Community. C.P.C. committees at the district, area, trustee and Conference level help carry the message to professionals who work with problem drinkers.
Delegate — The A.A. member elected every other year to represent the area at the annual Conference meeting in New York and to bring back to the area the results of that meeting.
Director — A person who serves on the corporate board of directors of either A.A.W.S. or Grapevine. Nontrustee directors are A.A. members selected for business or professional experience that relates to the activities of the corporation. The directorate of both corporate boards also includes trustees and A.A. staff.
District — A division within an area, represented by committee member(s).
DCM — District committee member. An experienced GSR elected by other GSRs to represent the groups of their district in area committee meetings and to coordinate service activities in the district.
District meetings — Meetings of the DCMs and GSRs of groups in a district. General services — Movement-wide services, performed by anyone in the general service structure (GSR, DCM, delegate, etc.).
General Service Board (G.S.B.) — A board composed of fourteen A.A. trustees and seven nonalcoholic trustees that serves to safeguard A.A.’s Traditions and funds. The board has the responsibility of overseeing the General Service Office (G.S.O.), A.A. World Services, Inc., and the AA Grapevine, Inc.
General Service Conference — A conference linking the A.A. groups to the General Service Office and the General Service Board. It serves as the group conscience for A.A. as a whole. Although the Conference only meets for six days a year, the Conference members are active in Conference affairs throughout the year. Conference members are elected as representatives from each of 93 area assemblies. The assemblies themselves are elected by General Service Representatives (GSRs) from all A.A. groups.
General Service Office (G.S.O.) — The General Service Office — which provides services to groups in the U.S. and Canada and publishes A.A. literature.
GSR — General service representative. The link to A.A. as a whole and group contact with the General Service Office; voting member of the area assembly.
Grapevine (GV) — The international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous is available online and in print. AA Grapevine, Inc. is one of the two operating corporations of the General Service Board and is responsible for Grapevine operations and finances.
GVR — Grapevine representative: the group or district contact with the Grapevine office.
La Viña — Bimonthly Spanish-language magazine published by AA Grapevine.
Loners-Internationalists Meeting (LIM) — A confidential bimonthly bulletin sent to Loners, Homers, Internationalists, Port Contacts and Loner Sponsors.
Nontrustee director — An A.A. member who serves as a director on one of the corporate boards (A.A.W.S., Inc. or AA Grapevine, Inc.) who is not a trustee. They also serve as members of most standing committees of the General Service Board. Each corporate board has three nontrustee directors.
Panel — Refers to a group of delegates elected to begin serving at the General Service Conference in a particular year. Each panel is numbered for the Conference at which the area’s delegate will first serve. The two-year cycle frequently applies to area committee officers and committee members, as well.
Public information (P.I.) — Committees at the district, area, trustee and Conference level help carry the message by working with the media.
Region — A grouping of several areas from which a regional trustee comes to the board of trustees. There are six regions in the U.S., two in Canada.
Regional Forum — Weekend sharing and informational sessions held in each region every two years that improve communication at all levels of the Fellowship.
RLV — La Viña representative; the group or district contact with the Grapevine office. Rotation — The spiritual principle of sharing the responsibility for A.A. through changing leadership.
Service Manual — Full title: The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service. The manual explaining the general service structure and its year-round importance; includes the Conference Charter, General Service Board Bylaws and Twelve Concepts.
Sharing session — A group, district, area or Conference meeting in which everyone is invited to contribute ideas and comments on A.A. matters, and during which no actions are taken. Third Legacy Procedure — Method by which delegates to the General Service Conference as well as area officers are typically elected by their area’s assemblies.
Three Legacies — Recovery, Unity and Service. As noted by Bill W., the Fellowship’s chief inheritances from the first 20 years of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Trustee — A member of A.A.’s General Service Board. Fourteen trustees are A.A. members (Class B); seven are nonalcoholic (Class A).
Trustee-at-large — Two alcoholics (one from Canada and one from the U.S.) serve as trustees-at-large of the G.S.B. and represent the U.S. and Canada at the World Service Meetings and the Zonal Meeting of the Americas (REDELA).
District 7 is part of Area 93 of Alcoholics Anonymous.
General Service Information
The A.A. General Service Office is located in New York and serves as a hub of communications for A.A. Groups in the United States and Canada. They coordinate a wide variety of activities and services including: Collection and dissemination of shared experiences regarding group challenges and solutions, responding to correspondence and public information requests, and publishing of books and pamphlets approved by the General Service Committee.
The General Service Office is also the home of A.A. World Service, which oversees the publication, translation and distribution of official A.A. literature. More >>>
In addition, the General Service Office produces a quarterly newsletter, BOX 459, which you can read here. More >>>
The Area 93 Delegate is elected every other year to represent the area at the annual Conference meeting in New York and to bring back the results of that meeting to the area. Since 1951, the area delegates have been elected to participate as trusted servants and to provide important leadership in the Fellowship.
Throughout the year, especially in the months leading up to when the delegate attends the annual Conference, usually held in late April, the delegate will ask the GSRs to give their group consciences about the General Service Conference Agenda Items or any other concerns their group may have. Individual opinions from A.A. members are also welcomed. Usually, group consciences can be shared at the Pre-conference assembly held in March or April but can also be shared via email.
It has been the custom of Area 93 to have the “Delegate Report Back” in May or June each year. After that, the delegate makes themselves available to visit all of the districts in the area to give a report and to answer any questions.
Currently, our Area 93 Delegate is Pablo H. email@example.com
District Committee Member (DCM)
The district committee member, or DCM, plays a vital role in general service. While the GSR is the voice of a group, the DCM is the voice of a district. A district needs a leader. The GSRs will look to the DCM for guidance on being GSRs and serving their groups. They will look to the DCM to lead on forming an agenda for district activities. They’ll want to be inspired and encouraged but not told what to do.
General Service Representative (GSR)
For most A.A.s, membership in a home group is one of the keys to continuing sobriety. In a home group, they accept service responsibilities and learn to sustain connections with other recovering alcoholics. The home group affords individual A.A.s the privilege of voting on issues that affect the Fellowship as a whole; it is the very basis of the service structure. While many A.A. members attend other groups as well, the home group is where they participate in business meetings and cast their vote as part of the group conscience of the Fellowship as a whole. As with all group conscience matters, each member has one vote.
The role of the general service representative, or GSR, is essential to the purpose of general service. Bill W. wrote in Concept I of The Twelve Concepts for World Service: “The A.A. groups today hold ultimate responsibility and final authority for our world services.” The role of the GSR is essential to ensuring that groups can fulfill that responsibility. Only when a GSR keeps the group informed and communicates the group conscience can the Conference truly act for A.A. as a whole. This communication is a two-way street, making the GSR responsible not only for bringing forward the group’s voice, but for taking back to the group Conference actions that affect the Fellowship’s unity, health and growth.
See the GSR page for more information.
The group meets to form a group conscience on proposed changes or actions on matters relating to A.A. as a whole. The group’s elected general service representative, or GSR, is tasked with 1) making sure the group’s conscience is heard and fully considered at the district and the area and 2) becoming part of the delegate’s thinking at the Conference.
The “Group” may be an individual meeting. Meetings come in different structures. A clubhouse may be a set of meetings at an Alano club, where each meeting has its own group conscience and may have its own GSR. Or a Club House where the board has the group’s conscience and the club has one GSR.
You transmit ideas and opinions, as well as facts; through you, the group conscience becomes a part of “the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship,’ as expressed in the General Service Conference.
The Seventh Tradition states: “Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” While contributions cover each group’s rent and other expenses, the Seventh Tradition is essential at every level of A.A. service.
A.A. is made up of 93 areas inside the U.S. and Canada. We are part of Area 93. Each Area is subdivided into Districts. We are in District 7.
In District 7, many Committees and Liaisons are committed to bringing the message of A.A. carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to our communities in different formats and venues.